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"TROPICAL ROMANCE"

by

Philip Barrington

 

When you live in a tropical paradise like Los Cabos, Baja, Mexico, the last place you’d think of for a vacation would be another tropical paradise like Tahiti. Well if you love the romantic feel of tropical paradise and spending your birthday on Bora Bora, Tahiti is the place to be. Now if you want to kick it up a notch, why not throw in cruising around the islands Windstar style. If the world is your oyster, Tahiti is the home to the Pacific Black pearl and a super vacation. Visit their Official Tourism Bureau: www.tahititourism.com for a taste.

French Polynesia and her 189 islands, mostly Tahiti though, has experienced significant tourism growth in 2002. Air Tahiti Nui flew in over 200,000 visitors from Europe, the Far East, Australia & the US – thankfully it has been good for their economy with little ill effects on the old world charm. Offering three classes of service, this relatively new airline operating the newest of Air Buses, makes one feel a special Tahitian welcome when stepping on board. We flew the eight hours from L.A., a long flight, save to say you have six movies, games & music to choose from to pass away the time, but as soon as you step off the plane and are greeted by a Tahitian hostess with a fragrant Tiare lei…ahhh you feel revived. Off to the ship for a casual check-in, cool libation and dinner. Listening to the departure ‘signature tune’ from Vangelis as you set sail into a starry starry night headed for Raiatea, your topical romance has begun.

Our ship was the 148 passenger “Wind Star” with 96 of us aboard we were, in inimitable Windstar fashion, well catered to by their ever attentive staff. Whether it be your cabin steward, barmen, waiter, excursion directors or the ship’s Hotel Manager, they all magically seem to know your name. You cannot help but be impressed with this level of service which is maintained on every deck through out the cruise, even if you are Alumni and might expect it, it is genuinely sincere and consistent every time you sail on a Windstar cruise be it in the Mediterranean, Caribbean or as in this case Tahiti – first class, casual elegance all the way! As one writer/critic said before, as a critic one is here to show impartiality, but when it’s this good, it’s hard to find fault. You be the judge. www.windstarcruises.com

I overheard one repeat passenger say to another, ‘Tahiti is as beautiful as it looks in all the aerial photographs you’ve seen.’ It’s true, colors that astound, blues that defy description, vivid jungle greens, ink black skies dotted with a million silver points of  light and sunsets that will literally take your breath away. And that’s just the scenery. One thing that you absorb in time is the tranquility and pace of the islands and their people. (Well, Papette might be the exception, but what it looses on peacefulness, it makes up for in the French/Polynesian influences on every corner). For life in Tahiti is a cultural blend and where a quite life does exist. After 12 o’clock on Saturday’s that’s it, the shops are closed and most likely all of Sunday. There is no feeling of a mercantile mentality. Maybe it is a ‘hang-over’ of  by-gone missionary days or just the natural pace of  island living unspoiled by commercial interests.

So on with our journey among the friendly smiling faces and islands, with waving hands or tropical breezes in the palms as we come and go in this sleek unobtrusive ship we have come to call home. Huahine, the magic island. As with all islands in the Pacific, each has their own special story, steeped in legends of old, together with their own ‘Mana’ life force or spirit. To miss the connection is to miss the heart & soul of such beauty. We tapped into Huahine’s magic in a place you can again only get to by boat, the remote Te Tiare Beach Resort – www.tetiarebeachresort.com  This get-a-way with it’s over water bungalows inside the reef lagoon was definitely the days treat. Swimming is crystal aqua-marine colored waters, the occasional rum punch, a light lunch and to top it off a ride back to the ship by personal zodiac – does it get any better than this – read on.

Bora Bora the name itself evokes tropical beauty & romance. What a place to spend your birthday, it literally made me wonder why I was  born and so thankful I had been allowed  to see and share this place with the new found love in my life. We marveled at the high peaks, the white laced reefs and again those blues of so many hues which seem only to be intensified by ones sunglasses. An around the island drive (in one of the smallest car I’ve ever seen), once again brought us to a slow meandering pace, stopping and staring and occasionally talking in broken English /French to a playful group of kids playing in the street. An obligatory drink at Bloody Mary’s, watering hole & eatery for the famous & not so famous. Speaking of which, it would be remiss no to mention probably the most famous of all who have drawn attention to the islands, the adventurer of the arts, Paul Gauguin. For raving fans of his work there is much to see.

Tonight we were guests of  a private Tahitian dance troupe who came on board, the hips are fun to watch but it’s the hands that tell the story, what a magical expression, the music, the rhythm the smiles. Dinner on board this evening was a tropical buffet, which although not madly keen on buffets (we actually had made a reservation in this cute little bayside French Bistro on the island for dinner) but on seeing the display put on by the Wind Star’s Executive Chef & his team, together with the gaiety being shown by our fellow cruise mates, it was irresistible and a gastronomic feast of untold proportions, with the Southern Cross high above to guide us back for more delectables and on into the night and our next surprise anchorage.

Breakfast at 7:30 on the Veranda deck over looking the water to dense tropical jungle, seeing distant waterfalls and colorful rainbows, you understand why this place is so special and that it is right in the middle of the biggest ocean on our planet…amazing to think we are really here. Something also dawns on you as you savor island fruits, coffee and a fresh baked croissant, Tahiti has not become spoiled with over population, high rises and massive housing developments, touting paradise found. It has somehow managed to escape modern mans ability to take something beautiful and alter it’s true essence. For those interested in the legendary Noni plant, it’s juices and creams, your best to visit your favorite search engine on the net and research from there – there are wonders to be found in this not so great tasting extract, but mixed with some other favored juice, well discover for your self the powers of Tahitian Noni.

Before long and a couple of days on Moorea, like all good things, our trip has to come to an end.  A Windstar cruise is a beautiful way to experience you first kiss with these islands. One can only imagine what the first  peoples felt when the arrived. Watching the original Mutiny on the Bounty on the plane ride home was yet another insight of what she has endured and the love she has given. I have long been drawn to Tahiti, and would like to say, “MARURU” (thank you from the bottom of my heart) for Tahiti is a place unique unto herself, like an un spoilt child, precious in her innocence, like the blessing of true love newly discovered – do do Tahiti, for you shall find, tropical beauty and romance in abundance.

 

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The author, Philip Barrington can be contacted at: philip@cpbw.net