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Hoopster95

MARINA/French Polynesia Mar 4-19,2018 REVIEW w/lots of photos

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Amazing review--thank you so much. Friends were on the Feb 3 sailing and had heavy rain every day--she would be so jealous of your great weather and snorkeling.

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Hoopster, you have brought back so many memories and I am lucky to be able to return next year. We ended in Huahine last year and loved the relaxing day that we spent with Claude and Martine on their boat. We had snorkeled in every other location so it was time to wind down. We did luck out in that the water was clear on the day that we snorkeled but there was no wind so we did not sail. :) It's great that there are choices. Hope that you get back to FP try Marc's tour at some point in the future.

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+1

 

Marc's tour was amazing. The motu lunch with the picnic tables in the water, the amazing food, the drift snorkeling, the guides - all a great way to end this awesome cruise! The best part was our group. It was the last port, we had our established group of tour mates, and I never thought that I would have so much fun with all new people. We had a really awesome mix that made the second half of the day one of the best memories of the entire vacation.

Well, unless certain tour mates from a certain West coast state (not Washington or California) are reading this....then I take it all back ;p!

Marc has a few options, but we took the snorkeling day with the motu picnic lunch. There was a snorkeling stop for at least 45 minutes, then a stop at a pearl farm (where we weren't shopping, so it turned into snorkeling stop #2), drift snorkeling, and then the motu for lunch and swimming. We had at least two hours at the motu. Crystal clear water, delicious food and great company! Marc even stopped by for the afternoon.

 

I would highly recommend Marc's if you are looking for a fun day in Huahine!

The motu where we had lunch:

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The lunch options for those of us who don't eat meat:

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Patrick enjoying the water:

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Hmmmmm. I think we Oregonians should be offended by that remark. I hate to admit it but we had a fantastic time with the Philadelphia and Massachusetts group. It was the perfect day. While we were in the South Pacific it turns out our son was in Philadelphia for work. He did have nice things to say about the city and that the people weren't rude like we have been told. I have just started to read the blogs from the trip and it's like being on the ship all over again.

 

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Wow, this stuff is really what dreams are made of.

 

This was a fantastic review, your pictures, videos and writing skills are spot on!!

 

Thanks for sharing your amazing journey.

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Did you have any issues with glare on the LCD screen? Without a viewfinder I'm concerned it will be difficult to see what I'm shooting.

Sea42 - - there are better choices than the GoPro. I used a GoPro for three years before I relegated it to the closet, still there. Lesson learned. IMO way overrated.

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Sea42 - - there are better choices than the GoPro. I used a GoPro for three years before I relegated it to the closet, still there. Lesson learned. IMO way overrated.

Sorry I wasn't clear. I'm interested in information on the Olympus TG -5.

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What a great review and perfect timing for me. We are looking at this for next year. Few quick questions as it would not let me message u. Is it worth going to Hilton for one night pre cruise, What time do you have to board as it shows departure a.m. of next morning and what was average age group? Thanks if u get a chance.

 

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Hmmmmm. I think we Oregonians should be offended by that remark. I hate to admit it but we had a fantastic time with the Philadelphia and Massachusetts group. It was the perfect day. While we were in the South Pacific it turns out our son was in Philadelphia for work. He did have nice things to say about the city and that the people weren't rude like we have been told. I have just started to read the blogs from the trip and it's like being on the ship all over again.

 

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The wife and I lost in paradise. Resized952018031895124902.thumb.jpg.404b19d3debb67c95e3286d8920050b6.jpg

 

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The wife and I lost in paradise. [ATTACH]420125[/ATTACH]

 

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Words cannot begin to describe how beautiful the sunsets in Tahiti were during our extended stay after the perfect cruise.20180319_181403.thumb.jpg.fffb7ed9d32302e2a48db21daa651200.jpg

 

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20180320_180709.jpg.4d0c78d9bff93b226443be0b56c2f0cb.jpg

20180320_181033.jpg.a2c12713eb601ef99f4a167455fbc5e6.jpg

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What a great review and perfect timing for me. We are looking at this for next year. Few quick questions as it would not let me message u. Is it worth going to Hilton for one night pre cruise, What time do you have to board as it shows departure a.m. of next morning and what was average age group? Thanks if u get a chance.

 

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We are booked for this cruise next year and also did it last year so I can answer some questions. We did the Hilton for 2 nights and it is a beautiful property. Its easy to get back and forth on the ferry but you will be so tired and probably not have time to enjoy it. Personally, I would stay on Tahiti unless you can squeeze out 2 nights.

 

You can board at anytime up until a few hours before departure - so, yes, you could stay on Moorea for most of the day and catch a later ferry back.

 

I don't know the average age. We did some pretty extensive snorkelling trips and our groups consisted of active 40-70 year olds. There were plenty of people in their 50's and 60's on our cruise but not sure of the averages.

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Is it worth going to Hilton for one night pre cruise, What time do you have to board as it shows departure a.m. of next morning and what was average age group? Thanks if u get a chance.

 

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Hey everyone! The word "busy" is an understatement for me the last 3-4 days regarding business... I'm going to try to finish off this review this evening.

 

delee and allstar thanks for the great photos! Yep, sunsets are magic in FP.

 

pmcue... Yes it's worth going to the Hilton if you are a savvy traveller. If you arrive in the early morning at Tahiti International, you'll be in Moorea by 9am like I was. delee can explain further, she booked a rental car at that Avis I showed you all a picture of at the Vaiare Moorea ferry terminal... that was post cruise. They drove around Moorea for the morning and afternoon until check-in, then went to the hotel. In the morning they checked out by 11am and then drove around a bit more until returning the car to get the 3pm ferry back to Tahiti....

 

Or super easy to get off the ferry and book taxi from the hotel... they'll come and get you.... just book same taxi next to to get back. Because Marina doesn't leave until the early hours of the next morning you'll have no problems checking in late afternoon on embarkation day.

 

Average age closer to 50-55... and easily over 50% likely were in this age bracket. There were a few newlyweds on board in their 20's. No way there were many 70+. I witnessed zero scooters and one or two canes maybe. I feel this is not an itinerary where anyone who is mobility challenged can have a good time. I would think as a majority of the port stops would be really difficult to get around to see anything, let alone the logistics of the long flights and cost to get there.

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Did you have any issues with glare on the LCD screen? Without a viewfinder I'm concerned it will be difficult to see what I'm shooting.

 

Hi Sea42... no issues for me. Note the video's I posted in Fakarava where I'm above the water, insert the camera in the water, and back out again.... crystal clear. I think it's a great camera.

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Patrick wanted me to take this specifically for you:

[ATTACH]419960[/ATTACH]

 

Hahaha!!! Rockstar! :cool::cool:

Too bad we live so far apart. We've got to come to Philly for visit (and then down to DC for example) :D

Or... what other adventures are you guys planning for in the next year or two? I'll touch base via email

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I've got a few more photos around the ship on this morning as I grabbed coffee for the last time up at Baristas... note to my RCL readers, Baristas was open for specialty coffees unlike Royal ships where the Concierge/Diamond Lounges, as well as the specialty coffee venues are shut down on disembark. I'll keep this part short. My last photo I'll share from my balcony was to show that the Crystal Serenity was in town. I think this created major havoc not only in port but at the Hilton as I'll explain as I go.

 

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Gotta love breakfast up at the Terrace. We did not leave our room until about 8am as we took our sweet time. As you can see we had a table right at the railing... while still busy, it was not packed with no where to sit.

 

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From this vantage point we had a leisurely breakfast... the Terrace closed at 8:30am but did not kick us out of our table. We got to enjoy our views of Moorea in the distance, the Arameti and Terevau ferries coming in and leaving, and the Air Tahiti Nui 747 throttling up on the runway and lumbering up and away other fellow passengers on that charter.

 

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Alas it was time to head down to deck 5 at the Grand Reception area to leave. Again, everything orderly, no long lines, no one whining/complaining, guest services hardly any one there. For those RCL friends, as you know Guest Services is a nightmare the night before and morning of disembark... so many issues. I just don't get it. Not here at all.

 

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And here we are facing our final exit from the ship..... WAAAAAAAAAAH! :loudcry:

 

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A yes, the final walk down the plank with our last look of the ship as we walk out

 

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Finding our luggage was a breeze actually. We had asked for the latest luggage tags on our survey that we received about 4-5 days before, and that's exactly what we received. as you an see still quite a bit of luggage to retrieve as we weren't the latest of the ship

 

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This is where everything went crazy. The port area has two lanes of traffic.... one through lane and the other for the taxi/buses to stop to load/unload. That wasn't happening, major backlog... so much so that people were walking way down the line of cars to grab taxis. Therefore the taxi "line-up" was way far from the ship. It would've been just great maybe, just maybe, if the Tahiti port had even one sign... that's all I ask.... one sign.... that said "TAXI LINE-UP STARTS HERE." Pretty easy right? Not here.... a port worker was out on the road trying to direct traffic, it was pandemonium as many cruisers were butting in grabbing taxis and buses/taxis were strewn all over the place. The port did a terrible job of traffic and cruiser management.

 

I understand that those early off the ship on the Air Nui charter had zero people out there.... just taxis awaiting. Well it took us at least 45 minutes to get a taxi and we had to fight with a couple of other belligerent sets of cruisers wanting to butt in, there was actually an argument at one point. Zero class by those involved. Three of us guys in the line took control, told the port wortker to mind his own business and not tell us where to go as we;d been waiting there for 45 minutes, andf approached all the taxis at the back of the line telling them what was happening and not to move ahead... to actually let us next in the line load. Remarkably they were totally fine with this, I assume they had seen this before perhaps. So our line that had been there for so long started to move and finally get serviced. Anyhow, just a warning for those of you getting off later

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The taxi ride was about 10-12 min to the Intercontinental. As we arrived, my jaw dropped as both check-in lines were at least 15 people deep, and the check-out line at least 10 deep. The entire lobby was packed like sardines with people and luggage both coming and going. So several things affected this morning... many fellow cruisers on both Marina and Crystal likely had the same timetable as us, getting off the ship late, then grabbing a taxi here... Crystal Symphony and Marina cruisers were both leaving the hotel to get to the cruise pier. Not only that, we found out later that a large portion of the hotel had been reserved for a company event for that evening only, thus they were all checking in. And the final straw? A large wing of the hotel was shut down for renovations, thus less room available. Sigh....

 

Think how long it takes to stand in front of hotel reception, hand over passport and credit card, they fill out the paperwork, come back with your room card, explain the amenities, etc... you know the drill... so maybe 5 minutes minimum each person? Remember what I just said... 15 people deep. AAAAGGG!! I have to give them credit an hour and half line-up took only about 45 minutes. And we were taking our first look at the property from the balcony of the reception area bar

 

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We walked down to the pool area, looked at various pamphlets, checked out the bar and restaurant menus, etc... just trying to figure a few things out as we went. We grabbed a couple of loungers at the people to call home for the day until check-in and enjoy the property while we waited for our room

 

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Besides a bit of chilling, tanning and swimming in the pool, we walked around the entire property.The outdoors of the Intercontinental is totally awesome. The lagoon is gorgeous and stocked with a ton of fish.

 

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Another shot of the lagoon a little bit closer to the infinity pool

 

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Looking out over the infinity pool over the lagoon, with Moorea peaking through the trees in the distance

 

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There's a rock water fall on this property you can swim into. Here's a pic from within

 

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Snorkeling is the name of the game in the lagoon here on the resort as they have a ton of fish stocked. Just head on down past the infinity pool along the walkway and there's a couple of entry points. Equipment is available at the pool shack up where we had our loungers, however it was really nice that I had my own good equipment to use.

 

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Truth be told, the snorkeling here was better than a couple of the stops on the cruise! There was plenty of variety's all over the place. I also snorkeled the next day with a few better pictures and lighting, so just a couple to share with you now regarding the variety

 

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We were ready for lunch midday. Like the Moorea Hilton, food here is very expensive.

 

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Their best value is their buffet, with glass of wine included. If I remember correctly, 3100xpf without wine, 3400xpf with.

Lots of great stuff... ceviche, poisson cru, fresh salads and other goodies

 

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And great tiered seating with big booths at the restaurant looking out over the pool area

 

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We went up to the front reception after lunch as they had said come back earlier than 3pm just in case your room was ready... nope, it wasn't. So we headed back to our stuff to sit by the pool a bit and swim. After a short time, we were done with the sun and needed a break away from the pool. Approaching 3pm, we gathered our belongings and headed up to reception to get our room.... still not ready. Finally at 3:30pm it was ready. Grrr... minor inconvenience I did not make a huge issue out of.

 

We were taken to room 299.... the very very farthest "Panoramic Ocean View" suite from the entire property property. I don;t have an issue with that. We entered our room and were not impressed at all with the accommodations, no where close to the level of the Hilton. Having said that I wanted to check out our "view"....

 

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Ok? I see foliage, not a panoramic ocean view. Let's step out on the balcony... yep, not panoramic. Instead it's peek-a-boo.

 

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Disappointing... just a couple of rooms over are unobstructed views of the ocean and Moorea. I called front desk, which I normally don;t do, to voice my displeasure. Nothing they could do, fully sold out hotel. So I had to settle for my view of a big tree and the lotus restaurant just below me... let alone the open staff area where we can hear them talking, smell smoke and hear then clanking garbage/bottles around. Oh.... the toilet did not flush well... again. another call to front desk.

 

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So, the outdoor areas of the property is 5 star +++, the room is a 3 at best in my humble opinion... compare this to the Marina cabin we had for example which is truly 5 star. I do not recommend a short stay here, way way WAAAAAY better value to do a day at the Moorea Hilton like delee did for a day rather than stay here. Thumbs down for the Intercontinental Tahiti.

 

And then again... 1st world problems right?? Yes, right. After all, this is where I was at this moment, how gorgeous.

 

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Like the Hilton, here they advertised a happy hour.... a true happy hour for only one hour from 4:30-5:30pm... whereas at the Hilton it was 4-7pm. Nonetheless, we wanted to enjoy a drink or two and then check out the sunset. Herre's a view of the Panoramic Ocean view buildings walking to the Restaurant/Bar areas. Note our room you can't see as it was on the second level behind the huge tree at the very farthest end

 

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At the Tiki Bar we had a great seat with view over the pool. Looking at the menu we thought we could anything... not so.

It was only the "drinks of the month" which are basically the first 6 on this menu.... note only the first 4 have alcohol! So basically only these 4 choices.

 

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We tried all 4... they were all sub-par, no where close to the quality pours on Marina or the Hilton. They sure looked pretty, but that's about it. Another Intercontinental let-down. I guess that was why the venue was a ghost town compared to the Hilton.... everyone else there already knew the drinks weren't worth it even at half price. I'll mention now, we did not do Happy Hour the next day.

 

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We headed back to our room to grab a couple of waters and then down to the ocean where we grabbed a couple of loungers to sit and chill while the sun set over Moorea. This part of the day was worth it's weight in gold!

 

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No words for this... pictures don't do this justice. Totally awesome watching the outriggers racing back and forth with the sun finally slipping under Moorea

 

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Now we were ready for dinner... and we struggled with our decision. Initially we did not want to go off property there was not a whole lot close by. We did not feel like taking a taxi anywhere, and plus we were on a taxi tomorrow with Denise/Patrick to the food trucks, so we decided to chance our dinner on the property. Our struggle was based on price surprisingly enough as for most of the trip we did not penny pinch. However were somewhat tired of opulent fancy dinners and wanted something rather simple. We checked out the Le Lotus menu, which is the over the water venue, and it was very high priced with most entrees at 4000xpf ($50'ish US) and higher. Back at the main restaurant by the pool called Te Tiare where we had lunch, dinners were still upward to 4000xpf. In the end, Te Tiare was our choice. They glammed up the tables in the evening with table clothes, wine glasses, candles, etc and it was very nice. We regretted it at first (Buyer's remorse?) as we thought we should have actually just bit the bullet at Le Lotus for an over the water experience and view of the ocean, however dinner was excellent thankfully... GF had the Mahi Mahi and I had the tuna. Both better than the Hilton main restaurant meals we had, so credit where it's due

 

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We stayed up for a while, walked over to where the company was having their private party (we weren't allowed in), and then hung out on our balcony for a while star gazing before calling it a night.

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Sunrise next day from our room balcony...

 

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We reserved our room with the breakfast included option. Like the lunch buffet, it was a very good spread with a ton of options... I'll give the Hilton breakfast a slight nod. Today's day included a walk around the property again, noting the pineapple and vanilla bean growing areas on the property, as well as the turtle pond. The fauna and flowers here are awesome if you're into that

 

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We swam some more

 

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and I snorkeled... a lot! The sun was out and the colours/lighting under the water were superb

 

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As mentioned the variety of fish is outstanding. There's various excellent coral formations throughout the lagoon. I have plenty of photos but I'll limit them here with the variety again and one of my favorite fish of all, the Parrot fish.

 

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The lagoon area of resort is great, however there is another smaller infinity pool right in front of our panoramic ocean view building with a very cool man made beach area and a bridge leading out over to a private little "island" of sorts with only 4 loungers... omg what a view of Moorea and the ocean from here!!!

 

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Yep, we parked our butts here for the afternoon, swimming and enjoying the day... this is the life

 

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Cheers!

 

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So Denise & Patrick went over to the Hilton Moorea for only one day, then they would take the ferry in the late afternoon and check into the Intercontinental this evening.... this turned out to be a brilliant choice. They got to tour Moorea with their rental car and enjoy the Hilton a little bit, especially sunset from their overwater cabana. While I had probably one of the worst rooms in the resort, Denise/Patrick arrived the day after the big company event, and thus the hotel was looking very sparse of people today. Lo and behold, they were upgraded to another overwater cabana even though they paid for a panoramic ocean view like me. Lol!! Can't win'em all. No worries once done at the beach and cleaned up, we headed over to their room to enjoy the sunset from the deck.

 

I will let the photos do the talking....

 

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Our final sunset was epic! Basic and simple iphone6 photos everyone... this is what you see with your own eyes, no photoshop or editing. Unreal.

 

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GF and I had initially decided to try the "Roulette" food trucks on night #1, however delee & Patrick mentioned they wanted to give them a shot as well, so we delayed by a day so we were sure to meet up for this evening. What are "Roulette" food trucks you ask?

https://www.tripadvisor.ca/ShowUserReviews-g294352-d2143255-r216487783-Papeete_Roulottes-Papeete_Tahiti_Society_Islands.html

 

They are a bunch of mom&pop food trucks all congregated in a park area close to the ferry/cruise pier downtown. They are open every day, with a variety of ethnic offerings, however mostly Asian. The link above has reviews, and you can easily google many more expansive images of the location, plus a google map from any hotel on Tahiti... here's a few of my photos

 

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We chose Tuk Tuk Thai and Asian food. We based the decision primarily on the number of people sitting at the location as this truck and one other seemed to have the most business.

 

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We had quite the feast that last night with several different mains which we all shared

 

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Delicious meal, very casual, great final night with our best buds.... just what we wanted!

Having said that, note the menu prices.... each dish at least 1500xpf... 4 dishes later for us plus beverages was a little over 7000 xpf ($80-85 US). Now add the taxi there 2000xpf, and then back 3000 xpf (taxi's charge more after 8pm... grrr). This was a very expensive meal actually with the taxi fare. Just keep that in mind, like I said the very first page regarding costs in FP, for those of you thinking you can be economical in French Polynesia you just can't. Everything is on the expensive side.

 

We did nothing else this evening once back at the resort... dead tired we needed to wake up at 5am the next morning for our 6am taxi ride to the airport, so we headed for our room to do our final packing of various things in order to be ready first thing without a panic.

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Leaving Tahiti, getting to the Airport, figuring everything out, etc.... turned out to be extremely simple.

We had booked our taxi the night before to pick us up at 6am. Remember that we had the breakfast incl option.... however main breakfast is not ready util 6am... instead the Intercontinental had a continental breakfast set up at the reception bar by the front desk at 5am with coffee, juices, fruit, yogurt, and anything needed to get on our way other than hot foods.

 

Fro our perch up at the reception bar, the morning sunrise was gorgeous. Denise's picture is better than mine... this is what I got that morning

 

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Only 10 minutes tops by taxi and we were at the airport. The Air France line-up was interesting in that the non-checked in line was long but if you had checked in on-line, the line was only 3 people. I always thought it was normal to check-ion ahead of time, but not in this case.

 

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Once bags were checked-in we headed over to the customs booth only a very short walk down the concourse. With regard to the more expensive purchases, proof of VAT tax rebates were in order.. so with the vendors filling in documents, we just had to hand them over to the gentleman in the booth and he gives the the stamp of approval. I get back one copy to put in the mail back to the vendor to prove it's been handed in. Very simple, just like the vendors said it would work.

 

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Although it was busy that morning, security was a breeze

 

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