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.

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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