French Polynesia

Tahiti is paradise on earth! We emerged weary eyed and exhausted after our 20+ hour flight from Frankfurt to Papeete but were instantly rejuvenated by choruses of “Maeva” or “welcome”. Tahiti covers over 2 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean and is made up of over 118 islands. We felt blessed to lounge around on two (Tahiti and Moorea). Here, the South Seas lured us into scuba diving and snorkeling. Everyone in Tahiti is super friendly….even the sharks! Yes, we dove with sharks every day and were amazed to find that we had logged over 30 dives in a few weeks. Our days were spent admiring the phenomenal hues of turquoise that surrounded our private motu (island) off the coast of Moorea. White-coral sand beaches, warm lagoons and incredible reefs were our playground for two stress-free, blissful weeks.

Our Air Moorea airline ticket...a 10 minute flight between Tahiti and Moorea Our first view of Moorea's jagged peaks Its a tight squeeze on the island hopper plane linking Tahiti and Moorea Village of Ha'apiti, gateway to our motu (island) off Moorea Getting settled in at Dream Island, our retreat for the next few weeks Exploring our Moorea motu by outrigger canoe Fantastic snorkel opportunities around our motu Beautiful vistas of Moorea Pretty view of Moorea (as seen from our motu) Dream Island beach (our bungalow mere feet away); Moorea Motu Robby and Luke monkeying around Posing on our private island No shoes necessary for the next two weeks...pure bliss! Stuck on kitchen duty Luke and Robby wearing their welcome leis; Dream Island Waiting for our ride to Moorea’s Beachcomber Resort for our daily SCUBA session Moorea dive center The best way to start our day - diving in Moorea was fantastic! Posing with our awesome dive crew! Overwater bungalows; Beachcomber Resort Getting ready for our first dive of the day Luke and Robby swarmed by fish; Moorea Triggerfish, yellow longnose butterflyfish, clownfish and angelfish...diving in Tahiti is fantastic! A school of angelfish checks us out Blacktip reef sharks - a common sight in Tahiti! View of Moorea from our dive boat Another view of Moorea from our dive boat Playing with friendly stingrays Robby stroking a playful stingray Enjoying the sunset view from our motu Our guide shows us our route on our "Inner Island Safari Tour"; Moorea Beachcombers Resort, Moorea A 4-wheel drive vehicle is necessary to explore the interior of Moorea Posing by a waterfall; interior Moorea Stopping to admire the views of Moorea Moorea viewpoint Another view of pretty Moorea Nice views of Opunohu and Cook's Bays from the Belvedere lookout Belvedere lookout point - the best views of Moorea can be seen from this location Family photo at the Belvedere lookout Mt Rotui, Moorea's scenic mountain Road side view of Mount Rotui It's wedding time! This is the way to get, in swimsuits and stress-free Getting picked up in an outrigger canoe and transported to our wedding venue - Tiki Village Its not too late to get cold feet - our final moments of freedom before we tie the knot in front of friends and family Pulling up into Tiki Village, where everyone is waiting to celebrate our wedding Our Tiki Village welcome committee The official conch shell blower - indicating the start of our Tahitian marriage ceremony Robby belows commands in Tahitian (much to the amusement of the Tiki villagers) Becky's Tahitian helpers getting her ready for the wedding ceremony Reunited at the beach - let's get married! Binding the ceremony with coconut leaves - our Tahitian wedding at Tiki Village Kissing the bride! Our wedding photo Enjoying an outrigger canoe ride after officially becoming husband and wife; Tiki Village Carrying the bride over the threshold...Tahitian style! Photo with our wedding helpers; Tiki Village Family wedding photo Tahitian boy playing with an outrigger canoe; Tiki Village Our Tahitian wedding became a reality because of this wonderful lady! Judy looking lovely with Mov and Turia; Tiki Village Stone statue; Tiki Village Tiki village band members - the dancing portion is about to begin! Dancing in front of the crowd at Tiki Village! Time for the professional dancers to step in Robby leading the men in a Tiki Village dance off The ladies shake their stuff; Tiki Village Preparing our meal in a Tahitian earth oven Getting inked; Tiki Village Cooling down after our dance session at Tiki Village It requires teamwork to slice a piece of our traditional Tahitian wedding cake! Enjoying sunrise on our floating bungalow; Tiki Village Robby admiring the view; Tiki Village Our parting view of lovely Tiki Village as we get rowed back to our motu; Moorea Polynesian dancers at a restaurant in Moorea The ladies showing us how its done before seeking volunteers to join them on the dance floor Demonstration on how to husk a coconut Luke shaking his hips next to a Tahitian beauty Getting ready to shop at the Municipal Market in Papeete foto gallery lightboxby v6.1

We love Tahiti. What a beautiful and special place on earth. One of the reasons for our trip was to celebrate our wedding with family and friends. However, the real reason we decided on Tahiti is because it’s world renowned for its unbelievable scuba spots. We were quite anxious to get back into warm waters after having spent over 7 years in frigid Germany (where the lakes are never warm unless you pee in your wet suit). Becky’s family has friends who visit Tahiti every year and they recommended that we rent our accommodations on our very own, private motu (Dream Island) off of Moorea. What an excellent idea it turned out to be. Not only were we in the middle of the Pacific idling our time away, but we were on one of the most beautiful private islands in the world, where hours, days, weeks passed along in virtual paradise.

Every morning, we’d leisurely wake up and have breakfast, hop in a boat for a short ride towards shore, and drive towards Moorea’s Beachcomber Resort for a session of diving. Diving in Tahiti is absolutely amazing. We fell in love with the warm waters, fascinating sea-life, and friendly dive-masters. We have been all around the world diving, but our underwater experiences in Tahiti rate as one of the top. Especially the shark feeding dives! Imagine your blood pumping furiously at the sight of 12 foot long lemon sharks feeding just beyond your grasp…lemon sharks are absolutely massive as they can easily dwarf a human being. Such graceful, magnificent creatures, the lemon sharks never failed to thrill. We never wanted our diving experiences to end, so whenever we weren’t diving, we were snorkeling around the length of our island. Puffer fish, turtles, star fish, trigger fish, and sting rays were just a few of the marine life that we would see on a routine basis right around our island!

Oh, in between the diving and snorkeling, we even made time for a traditional Tahitian wedding ceremony – ours! Tiki village was the perfect setting for our ceremony, complete with our very own Tahitian priest, musicians and dancers! Talk about zero stress and complete spontaneity. We had no idea what a traditional Tahitian wedding would be like but boy, would we ever find out!

On the day of our traditional wedding ceremony, we were all relaxing on the patio getting pre-loaded with chilled Baileys. Attire for the women consisted of a swimsuit, complete with sarong. As for the men, swim trunks and a sarong plus some flip flops finished the low-key look. Becky showed up for her own wedding in a bikini with Robby following suit with just a pair of shorts. Talk about one of the least stressful weddings ever! We had no idea what was in store for us that night.

We were picked up from our motu by a private outrigger, complete with ornately tattooed Tahitian men dressed in lion cloths and nothing more! 30 minutes later, we arrived at Tiki Village, the site of our Tahitian wedding ceremony. We had requested the complete wedding package, complete with champagne, dancing, and an underground barbeque pit-type feast for all of our guests.

The drama and pageantry of a Tahitian wedding ceremony is unforgettable. Upon arrival at Tiki Village, Becky was immediately separated from Robby and brought to the “women’s only” section of the village. Meanwhile, Robby was escorted by several Tahitian men to the “men’s only” area where he was stripped naked (in full view of Becky’s family of course!) and rubbed down with oil and dressed in a white pareu.

Robby’s experience couldn’t quite top Becky’s though! She was rushed off to the other side of the village and led into a grass hut filled with half a dozen Tahitian women. They immediately pulled off her bikini top and forced her to lie in the middle of the hut on top of a mattress. The women surrounded Becky in full circle and proceeded to slather oil all over her body. Can you even imagine receiving a massage from 6 pairs of hands synchronized in simultaneous motion? Becky thought the entire experience hysterical, and couldn’t keep a straight face when the women suddenly stopped, held hands, and began chanting a Tahitian prayer to bless the upcoming marriage.

After this ritual was complete, Becky was bedecked in white pareus, topped with a massive shelled necklace and feather crown. Once she emerged from the hut, the Tahitian warrior standing guard at the front entrance raised his conch shell and bellowed her arrival to the awaiting audience on the beach front. Robby was awaiting his future bride on a boat. Before the Tahitian men rowed him back to shore, they urged Robby to yell Tahitian phrases at the top of his lungs. He had absolutely no idea what he was saying and they kept laughing at his attempts to mimic the Tahitian phrases.

Finally, the official portion of the ceremony was underway. We were led to a Tahitian sacred ground, where we were the only participants allowed to enter a stone enclosure, accompanied with our Tahitian priest. He performed the marriage rite, complete with symbolism and prayers. We had our hands bound in coconut leaves, and coconut milk was liberally poured over us. Coconut is highly revered in Tahiti as it is considered the tree of life, from which all else springs forth. We were dubbed with Tahitian names, and given Tahitian names for our first born son and daughter. (Tahitians LOVE children…in fact, immediately after our ceremony, while our guests were celebrating on the beach side, we were rowed to our honeymoon suite and urged to “make babies”….talk about pressure!) After the wedding ceremony, the musicians and dancers took center stage, and we joined suit soon after. It was a very fun, spontaneous, and extravagant affair…one we will not forget anytime soon!

You can tell we absolutely adore Tahiti….it truly is paradise on earth. The Polynesian way of life (friendly people, beautiful flowers, easy going lifestyle) is something we hope we can adopt more of. Highlights of Tahiti that we will never forget are its beautiful and life-loving people, over-water bungalows, diving, snorkeling, and pristine white sandy beaches. Tahiti ranks high in the world for “most romantic spot in the world”. Go visit it yourself and discover the unforgettable islands of Tahiti!!!

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