The Tahitian Islands are said to be the most beautiful place on earth and I have to agree! The lush volcanic landscape juts straight up and out of the crystal clear lagoon water. I would also have to say the people of Tahiti are equally incredible.
TRANSPORTATION – Air Tahiti Nui from Los Angeles to Papeete, Tahiti and back. A late afternoon flight in which we slept comfortably most of the way. The seat arrangements in economy are 2-4-2 and we were happy to be sitting near a window. The return flight left at midnight, and again we slept comfortably for almost the entire ride. Each seat had a sanitized sealed bag with a blanket, pillow, socks, ear buds and eye mask … NICE! These eight hour flights just flew by.
Windstar, Wind Spirit sailing 7 days around the French Polynesian islands of Tahiti. Newly refurbished in May this year and the one week temporary home of just 148 fellow sailors. The many common areas offered ample seating options and we never had the feeling of being crowded. It was necessary for the stabilizers to be engaged when sailing between the islands, and this made for a comfortable ride. This was the only time I’ve returned from cruising where I didn’t get vertigo for weeks afterwards.
FOOD – Early morning on the pool deck, there was a selection of teas, coffee and juices, along with fresh fruit and pastries. Breakfast was serviced either buffet or a la carte at the casual indoor/outdoor Verandah restaurant.
Lunch was also serviced here daily accept for the one day the Windstar staff held a fabulous barbecue buffet on the private Motu. For dinner, some nights we had a more elegant open seating experience in the AmphorA restaurant. The menu had a wide variety of options, leaving us struggling to choose each night. The other dinner option is the very popular Candles restaurant, which is by reservation only and is set up on the pool deck each night. The very delicious menu is completely different than the dining room, and is prepared poolside as well. A very nice evening!
One night on the pool deck, a French Polynesian celebration took place with a traditional meal served buffet style and traditional Polynesian dancers as the entertainment. At the end of the second day at Bora Bora, a very well orchestrated Motu Festival takes place. The Wind Spirit guests are swiftly tendered to the Motu, directed to the traditional Polynesian buffet, displaying a roasted pig and open seating. Immediately upon finishing dinner, the Fire Dancers appeared and the Festival continued.
If at any time the guests didn’t want to participate in the above dining options, 24 hour room service offered a long list of options as well. – The option of signing up for the Alcohol and Beverage package is offered on the day of embarkation, well priced, and convenient. The “Plan” as the crew call it, is available both on and off the ship when Windstar is hosting your activity.
ACCOMMODATIONS – We were surprised to find our stateroom so spacious, with Windstar taking advantage of yacht style storage spaces in both the living area and the granite bathroom. A wide variety of L’Occitane Bath products were replenished daily, along with plush bath and beach towels. A plate of fresh fruit was also on the table throughout the cruise. The queen size mattress and pillows are new and very comfortable.
ONBOARD – The Wind Spirit offers daily, early morning stretching and yoga classes on the open air, top deck. The yacht also offers a Fitness center, Casino, Library/Business center, gift shop, The Lounge with live nightly entertainment, pool bar, pool and hot tub. On deck 2, Aft, when conditions were right, the Watersports Platform was wide open and offered water skiing , paddle boards, kayaks, sunfish sailing boats, snorkel and diving equipment. The water staff were always helpful. On the day of the private Motu off the island of Taha’a, the water staff set up all of these activities on shore so everyone could take full advantage.
We booked a Windstar excursion for each day of our trip, spending all of our shore time, on the water.
In Moorea we did the Snorkel Safari, where we swam with Black Tip Sharks, Stingrays, and many colourful reef fish. I have underwater video of sharks swimming straight for me, and turning away quickly. AMAZING!
While at Raiatea, we kayaked the Faaroa River. It had rained the night before leaving the water murky, but at a level easy to maneuver. Viewing the landscape from the river is interesting as the fruit and flowering trees hang low over the river creating lush tunnels to paddle through.
At the nearby island of Taha’a we started the day on a Coral Garden Drift Snorkeling tour. We boarded a motorized outrigger and headed toward two private Motus with a thin channel of swift water flowing between. Located at one end of the channel, the waves crash at the reef’s edge. We walked from one end of the Motu, up to where the fast moving white water begins, geared up with snorkel equipment, and jumped in. We drifted between the tiny Motus and maneuver through almost a kilometer of Coral Gardens. Sadly we only had time to do this 4 times, then our tour operators delivered us to the Windstar Private Motu barbecue lunch. The staff put out a variety of land and water games and the Spa offered their massage services in a private beach environment.
We had two days in Bora Bora. On the first day we boarded another motorized outrigger and headed just outside of the reef’s crashing waves, stopping in calm clear deep blue water. Here our guide anchored, invited everyone to jump in, then with a hand full of fish chum he dove half way to the bottom. With everyone snorkeling on the surface, he threw his feed above him, swam out of the way, then as the tiny fish nibbled away, three 8 foot Lemon Sharks merged from the bottom, with mouths wide open, gulping in breakfast just a few feet away and stayed to swim around everyone for a while. OMG! Getting back into the boat we sailed to a private Motu for a traditional Polynesian lunch. The picnic tables were knee deep in the water and while we ate, fish swam around our legs. Here we learned how the tie dyed beach cover-ups, woven palm leaf crowns and plates are made.
On the second day at Bora Bora we took a Jetski tour around the entire island, viewing the nearby over-water bungalow resorts, and stopping for a snack of fresh coconut, fruit, and juice.
Our last shore excursion on the island of Huahine, we snorkeled in the clear water of the lagoon, then stopped to have a traditional lunch again sitting in knee deep in the water with fish swimming around our legs. After lunch, we hiked to the Ocean side of the island for more snorkeling. The interesting part of this adventure was walking in waist deep water to where the lagoon and the reef met. The waves would crash against the reef wall sending many interesting fish over the top.
The Wind Spirit Captain and Crew are a great collection of happy people which were a pleasure to spend vacation time with. I look forward to planning my next Windstar holiday!
Contributed by Bonnie Burr of
Vision Travel, a Direct Travel Company