After 3 weeks in Oahu, we packed up all our stuff and headed to French Polynesia for some extra hot sunshine, and humidity. We knew it was rainy season when we booked, and read that although it might rain every day, it was usually just a quick shower, most likely in the afternoon to cool things off, with the remainder of the day being hot and sunny. Excellent. Done deal.
We spent the first 5 nights in Tahiti, the island that accepts international flights. Unfortunately there was a cyclone passing through the Pacific (hitting Tonga the worst), giving us a considerable amount of all day rain. When the sun poked out, or even just when the rain cleared up for a few moments we hit the pool. Sometimes we got caught out under the umbrella’s in a ferocious downpour, but already being wet, it was no big deal, until the beach umbrella’s got saturated and started to leak through. We did an island drive one day, and headed to Teahupoo (a big wave used in International surf competitions), only after driving about an hour, it was super windy and rainy and the town was virtually non-existant at this time of year.
Later that week, we took the 45 minute long, Aremiti inter-island ferry to Moorea for two weeks, and stayed in a cute little bungalow with a patio, a yard, and a full kitchen. Downsides of this place were distance to the beach (while still on the property, there were many other units between us and the water making for a little jaunt for the kids and our stuff), the house was slatted up in the rafters allowing mosquitos full entry for an all night game of “clap to kill”. Swarms of them flocked inside for a delicious Canadian feast due to the super rainy week prior. The beach here was gorgeous, and the location was unbeatable, so we tolerated the bugs for 8 nights, until no one was sleeping anymore! The girls and I slept in the bedroom where there was some A/C and darkness, but all night leg scratch-fests were affecting everyone’s rest. Poor josh got the pull out couch out in mosquito land (his sheets were speckled with blood from the battles), because those who have slept in a bed with a toddler know there is no room for anyone but them, let alone two parents.
Aside from doing a short “hike” up at Belvedere lookout, through the forest before getting hammered with pouring rain, we spent a lot of time at the beach on the north west side of the island, and were able to rent kayaks and paddle out about 150 feet or less from shore (where the water was chest high, and crystal clear), where we tied up to buoy’s and swam with beautifully coloured fish of all shapes and sizes, along with black tip reef sharks and giant sting rays. We did this twice because the experience was so neat, and we just had to take my aunt and her husband there to see it when they coincidentally arrived on the island during our stay.
There was a super friendly tour guide from Moorea Miti tours there with a small intimate group of travellers and he called us over to let the girls see and pet the sting ray’s. Ry wasn’t too sure about the whole thing but she WAS brave enough to get in the water; when the sting ray bumped up to her looking for a fishy snack she was no longer impressed. Zo was thrilled by them and wanted to pet them forever, squealing with delight as they came near. I had to make sure her little hands stayed on top of their smooth silky heads where eye balls were safer than big open mouths underneath. They had such funny personalities, almost like puppies who come and rub up on you for pets. I guess that’s a bucket list item crossed off for all four of us, after breathing a sigh of relief that no one was speared with a ray spike (some didn’t have them actually) or eaten by a decent sized shark (regardless of his food preferences)!
For the last six nights of the trip we moved to a resort complete with over-water bungalow’s (which we didn’t risk staying in with the little non-swimmers), but it was neat to see them anyway. We had a large unit with an upstairs, all of it fully enclosed to keep out the bugs, full blackout blinds, decent wifi, and A/C throughout. A parents dream! It even had one english tv channel, though we were kinda hooked on watching this french karaoke game show anyway.
In Moorea we still had our car (which made the ferry crossing extra easy), so we stocked up on groceries from Carrefour before we left. It was a small island, very natural, and very little retail aside from small corner grocery stores, pearl shops, and the odd restaurant. Again, we spent lots of time at the pool, did a bit of snorkeling and stand up paddling around the over water bungalows, and the girls adopted a new pet named “Ralphy” (a huge cockroach that I caught in my kitchen sink in the bungalow house). We kept him for two days in a little container, and let him go in a field far away from home. Zo would bring the bucket to me and say “awwwww, Ralphy… hiiiiiiiiiii!!!!” and then shake him vigorously with love. Ry was nearly in tears because she “loved” him too; it was humorous to us how attached they were to such a horrid, ugly creature.
When it was time to take the red eye back to Oahu we were pretty much all ready to go. It was SO hot, and humid in French Polynesia (32 feels like 42 most days), and we were quite tired of the limited food choices (mostly french baguettes and cheese, very limited vegetables), and lack of good coffee. That said, we truly enjoyed the beautiful blue water, the fish, and other sea life, the friends we met (from Utah, the UK, and from Finland), daily swim sessions in amazingly warm water, the escape from the cold, and the natural ways of living a simple island life.
We stayed just over 24 hours in Oahu at the airport hotel (venturing by bus to Waikiki briefly for some summer clothes shopping and delicious smoothies) before heading on an evening flight to Vancouver the next day. A half nights stay there, and a super early flight back home from there. The kids did really well considering we spent four days and nights getting back home. Zo was a trooper after we pulled her out of bed at what felt like 3am and she slept through all of our airport shenanigans including security and boarding, and most of the last one hour flight home. Ry was also super patient, and easy going after a couple of very short nights with little sleep. Next trip we hope to take half a stroller less, swap a carseat for a booster, and ditch the baby crib. Yay for packing light.
There are two things that make a person appreciate the little things in life, one is personal illness or injury (or loss of a loved one; it’s been nearly 10 years since we lost my dad to cancer), the other is travel to far away places with such different cultures, languages, traditions, people, and ways of life. Another eye opening trip for these girls who will hopefully grow up to embrace the differences all over the world. Rylie was exposed to lots of French during our trip, and since we found out she was accepted into the french immersion program near us, it was fitting and helpful for her to witness another language first hand, as the concept of this was completely foreign to her before now.