Sunday, November 9, 2014

Tahiti Trip May 2011 - Vahine Island

You know how, well... life intervenes and interests change and blogs were made to be abandoned?  Yeah, that happened here.  But here's the funny part!  I found some old friends hidden in the closet!  Old reviews from Tahiti I never posted..... all the waaaaaay back in 2011!  Since it's a shame to waste the work, here's what I wrote about Vahine Island back then!  (Note: in 2013 we went back to Vahine Island and some things had of course changed, but that'll have to wait for another post!  Hopefully less than three years from now!!)

Meanwhile, welcome back to 2011:

We just returned from 15 nights in French Polynesia! This was my 5th time visiting this country, and my husband's 4th! (Yeah, we like it there.) We visited 3 islands, and stayed at 4 different resorts (three of which we hadn't been to before). We came back tan (well, I did anyway, my husband avoided it), happy and very relaxed, and are already planning our return for two years from now!

Our first stop was a small resort of only 9 bungalows off the island of Taha'a called Vahine Island Resort. We stayed for 4 nights in an overwater bungalow which showcased a beautiful view of Bora Bora in the distance. The bungalow was nicely appointed, with a king sized bed, glass coffee table with hinges to open to the water, and a huge deck with two sets of chairs (one set under the roof and one out in the sun), and a ladder so you could join the fish...
ours was the one on the left

Besides the bungalows for the guests, there was a restaurant bungalow where we ate breakfast and dinner (with lunch on the palm-lined beach outside), and a two-walled clubhouse bungalow where you could sit on couches and enjoy a drink from the bar.

The rest of the island was beautiful. Lush grass that looked like a golf course, studded with palm trees. The ocean side of the island, all coral and volcanic rock, was similar to the "lunar landscape" we saw at Raimiti in Fakarava. This was were the best coral was. Snorkeling was amazing. A 5 foot black tip reef shark was a thrilling highlight, probably twenty feet away from us. We had been in the water with them before, but only on guided tours, so this was both exciting and a little nerve-wracking. We know that that species is widely considered non-threatening to humans, but.. they're sharks, after all! We snorkeled every day, and it turned out that this was probably the best snorkeling of the entire trip.

love this yogurt!
Vahine Island had a mandatory meal plan that included a bountiful breakfast and a three course dinner. Breakfast consisted of a big basket of breads and croissants, several homemade jams, fruit, eggs any style, and best of all, the most amazing homemade vanilla yogurt! Near the end of breakfast each day, the server would come over to take our dinner order from a scrolled printed menu tied up with raffia. Most dinners included a chef's amuse-bouche, a salad option, a meat or fish option and a dessert. Our favorites were an excellent mahi mahi prepared with vanilla sauce and a coconut cake with a pot of melted chocolate. Bruno, the chef-owner, does a great job with the meals.

Lunch, not included in the meal plan, sports a diverse menu. We usually stuck with one of several preparations of local fish, a very good poisson cru (a Tahitian staple of ahi tuna cooked in lime juice with coconut milk), or a burger and fries. Our favorite meal, though, was definitely off the menu. Another guest asked us to join his table with his family of four, including two young children. It seems he had just that morning caught 3 barracuda, and needed some help eating it all! The chef did a terrific job with the fish, serving them whole with a soy glaze and sauteed shallots. It was one of the best and most memorable meals of the trip. Not every day you get fresh barracuda... and for free...

We didn't do many excursions on Vahine, but we did enjoy an island tour of Taha'a, visiting a vanilla plantation and a pearl farm, and another more adventurous afternoon taking a small motor boat to a nearby motu to snorkel. It was not so pleasant, sadly, since the boat was a little harder to operate with than we'd thought it would be. Tough to keep it from stalling, and tougher to keep the blades from scraping the coral below. It was like floating through a maze whose walls you can't really see... Also, I put our little compact camera in its underwater case wrong, and... well, water got in and killed it. Oh well, it was definitely an adventure!

Since there were never more than 12 or 14 people on the island at at time, one of the nice things about such a small resort, we ended up talking to most of the other guests at one point or another. One of the other couples lives about 10 miles from us back in LA, and in talking to them we found out we had a lot in common, not least of which was our next resort, the Four Seasons in Bora Bora! We had dinner with them one night at Vahine Island, then they followed us over to the Four Seasons a few days later.

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