Honeymoon Part 1-Santa Monica and Moorea
Jay's wedding gift to me was a stack of cards that were marked with different life events. I'm supposed to open each card at the time that the event occurs. There is a card for when we have our first baby and even a card for when that baby gets married! Luckily, I got to open the first note on the honeymoon (holy delayed gratification for the rest of them...gees). Jay wrote about the 'bedtime stories' that I used to make him tell me when we were long distance (I am SO low maintenance...I know) and how many of them were about us honeymooning in Bora Bora. We dreamt of going there for as long as 'we' were even a thing. So, once we got engaged, we spent A LOT of time brainstorming and researching how to make that dream a reality.
A big road block that we faced was my back pain and how long the travel is (especially after the beating that it took at the wedding). We ended up making a plan to leave on Wednesday so that I could have solid time to rest and recover after the wedding. Another solution was for us to spend time in the LA area on either end of the trip so that I could rest and not be on a plane for longer than 8 hours in a day. Annnnddd I flew first class while my poor husband sat in economy (the dramatics over separating were as real as the weird looks that we got for splitting up on our honeymoon). I'm so thrilled that we made it work and were able to go to The French Polynesia!
We worked with a travel agent, Lauren Saiger Machowsky, who helped us explore all different locations around the world that we were interested in. She assisted us with narrowing down our choices to French Polynesia and Greece and guided us towards which hotels to stay at. She got us packages and great rates at our hotels, arranged all of our transportation, and planned all of our meals and excursions. I had never worked with a travel agent before and really enjoyed working with her! She is so responsive and quick to give information via email and was patient with our indecisiveness in the beginning (whoops). Her email is Lauren@SmartFlyer.com and if you reach out I know you won't be disappointed!
The downfall of working with a travel agent is that you can't use points to book but the upside is that everything was so easy! We just showed up places at the time listed on the itinerary that she made. It really helped the mega-zen state of mind that we were in. I also highly recommend planning everything for your honeymoon well in advance and having all of your dinners and what not booked before the last few months of wedding planning because you will be plenty busy. We made a honeymoon registry through Wanderable, which was awesome because so many people bought us activities for my bridal shower! We got the gift of memories and they are some of my most precious of all time!
We stayed in Santa Monica for the first part of our trip, which we booked on our own. We spent a night at the Viceroy Santa Monica (shout out to Chase Sapphire Reserve's amazing reward points). The hotel was very chic and the service was amazing. They had cool couches out by the pool that we posted up at for both days that we were there. We went to Ivy At The Shore for dinner that night and then walked down to the beach to watch the sun as it set over the pier.
Staying in the LA area on either end had some advantages. Obviously the travel days were not as brutal or tiring. Also, we were able to acclimate to the time zone half way in between home and our final destination. Still...if it weren't for my injuries, I wouldn't have spent the time and money in LA (because its easy for us to get to from where we live in the future) instead of French Polynesia. It adds more legs of travel with your bags (Jay BEASTED it by pushing 2 full size suitcases, 2 rolling carryons, his backpack and my tote) and more time in the car on the way to and from the airport.
We got kicked out of our room in Santa Monica at 11am but our flight wasn't until 11:30pm. The only thing that I could do is lay so we went to the pool (so nice) and naturally sweat our butts off. We didn't have a room to shower in but they said that we could shower at a spa 10 minutes away (in the opposite direction of the airport). Jay thought of the smart idea to shower at the airport lounge (win). We also thought that it would be a great plan to stop at In and Out on the way to the airport since Jay had never had it before. We must have requested 15 Ubers to get us from In and Out and everyone canceled. By the time that we got to the airport lounge, Jay realized that he read the military time wrong for the lounge access hours online and they wouldn't let us in. I am a PSYCHO about showering (seriously, you have no idea the crazy stuff that I have pulled post-op to get a shower in insane levels of pain--I'm THAT crazy) so I had two options: 1. Get an annulment 2. Take a pathetic bird bath in the sink of the airport with paper towels. I chose the latter while simultaneously considering the former.
We landed in Tahiti before the sun rise and took a car to the ferry station. Our ferry didn't leave for another 4 hours so we wandered around the town, ate protein bars on a park bench and explored a market. We took the ferry and were in AWE pulling up to Moorea. It looked like the islands that Lost or Jurassic World took place on. Luckily the only similarity to our reality on this island and those faux tv-realities was the landscape. It was insanely lush and had such cool mountainous peaks. It was un-freaking-believable.
We stayed at the Hilton Moorea for four nights in a Garden Bungalow room. It had beautiful views and cool rooms but definitely had an 'all inclusive' feel to it, especially because there were a lot of families there. We opted out of staying in an overwater villa because of pricing. We decided to save the money to use towards an over water villa in Bora Bora since we heard that they are not as private at the Hilton. Also, they were in much shallower water near coral reef so you can't safely jump off your villa necessarily. That being said, if you can swing it, stay in an over water villa the whole time..it is such a unique experience, so WHY NOT! Our garden bungalow had a little dipping pool and deck area with two lounge chairs. Lauren got us the first one on the beach so if we looked over the walls of our deck area we could see the ocean.
We went to Moorea Beach Cafe for dinner the first night. We loved getting to sit outside in the chill atmosphere and eat good food. It was definitely our favorite restaurant in Moorea! We aimed to make all of our dinner reservations early for my back but it was perfect regardless because the sun set super early (its French Polynesia's winter). In Moorea, the restaurants offer free shuttles that stop at each of the hotels so you have to plan your dinners around their schedules.
The next day we went on a tour of the island that was gifted to us by some of my bridesmaids. It was supposed to be a group tour but no one else signed up so we majorly lucked out and got a private tour. This provided me with the perfect opportunity to ask our tour guide 10398505830 questions. Jay relentlessly made fun of how much I acted like a child in school but we all know that he secretly loved it. I am so curious about the culture, the history, the languages, the traditions, the nature and basically everything else. I was so interested in the history of how the islands were discovered and who reigned and inhabited them throughout time. Can you imagine just aimlessly riding in a boat far enough to get to these islands and discover them?! It was hard enough getting to them via airplane in 2017! Props to those guys because that must have sucked but I'm sure that when they discovered this place they were pretty pumped! We learned all about Tahitian culture...the symbolism of their tribal tattoos, wedding customs, how they hunt and gather, their social lives, schooling and SO much more. He said that its impossible to have an affair on the island because everyone knows everyone else so I added that to my LONG list of reasons to move to the area. I'm obviously kidding...Jay would never be able to find someone else who would want to do fake 'falling off the cliff' bits over and over again like we did that day, so I know he wouldn't ever risk losing me (our kids are seriously going to be constantly embarrassed by us).
We loved seeing all of the plantations and fields where they grow crops. They grow so many kinds of fruit and vanilla in fields that are all owned by the government but operated by individual people. No one can live in these areas because there is a higher chance of the rocks from the mountains falling down on it (he says, as we are standing at the base of the area). Jay thought to wear his pineapple bathing suit, which made me want to marry him all over again...I LOVE a good outfit theme!
Mainly, I was blown away by the natural landscape. It is CRAZY that tectonic plates and volcanic activity could create this insane setting. Some of the peaks of the mountains were so steep that trees can't grow on them. The rock is so soft that you can't climb or drive to the highest parts but we were able to go to a couple of cool view points. I haven't spent much time out of school thinking about all of that science and it genuinely felt like a really 'big' moment as we stood there and took this crazy world in. No picture will ever do it justice but we were blown away by the beauty. I felt on top of the world in more ways than one.
We had a big day touring the island so we ended up calling off our dinner reservation at Mahogany and stayed at the hotel instead. We ate at the crepe bar, which was nice because we got to sit outside and see the sharks swim beneath us. We ended up doing this a second night as well because it was just easier on my back to not have to travel in a car and wait for shuttle times. Also, it was such a nice experience to see the fish and sharks swimming right below us.
The next day we went to the spa to get the macdaddy treatment. We each got a body scrub and polish (thanks to Jocelyn and Lauren), a facial (thanks to the Yeagers) and then finished off the time with a couples massage (thanks to Kathy and Mary). It was so legit to spend 3 hours being pampered! I felt extra relaxed and happy knowing that it was all gifts and that I wasn't being a frivolous princess...just a princess! The French culture definitely does not have the same nudity customs that we do and they did not shy away from nudity! We finished off our time at the spa in a jacuzzi with chocolate covered strawberries and champagne. It was rough.
We went to Rudys that night for dinner after enjoying the sunset. I am a vegetarian so I don't eat the number one thing on the island...fish! Therefore, I am not the best person to judge the restaurants there but Jay said it was good. I gave a thumbs down for ambiance though.
Between the island tour the one day and the spa treatment the other day, we hadn't spent time at the beach. So, the next day we spent the majority of the day chillin' at the beach. Jay did stand up paddle boarding and eventually cut himself on some coral reef. I also had a minor lapse in judgement during which I thought that I could sit in a canoe if Jay paddled becuase it was 'just sitting' then. Clearly one minute into 'just sitting' in a canoe seat my back had something to say about it. We read our books and moved lazily throughout the day. It was nice to relax and stay put.
We brought a bottle of champagne to the dock and watched the sun set for an hour. We toasted to our last night there and soaked in all of the beauty. I loved sitting with our legs dangling off of the dock as we looked at the seemingly endless ocean in front of it. It literally looks like the world just continues on flat like that for forever. The atmosphere was so different there and the clouds were so low. The stars were also the most vivid that I've ever seen them. It was the perfect place for stargazing so after dinner that night, we downloaded the app, Skyview (for free). I highly recommend a date night where you grab a blanket, a bottle of wine and download this app. We were able to point the phone at the sky and it would tell us what constellation we were looking at. We could see Jupiter and Saturn and must have said 'whoa' about 200 times. I was just a small person in this gigantic universe, having a big moment with the guy that's my whole world.
...I know that sentiment is corny but it was immensely true. It's hard to report back about your honeymoon in that everything I have said to people sounds so cliché that I feel like it comes off as something non-genuine. It just was cliché because it was amazing and it was absolutely incredible and it was mega romantic.
We were distraught about leaving that last day. We were so excited for Bora Bora but we didn't want to go onto that next phase of our trip because we knew that it meant that our honeymoon was half over. It was wayyyyyy too short and so we were heartbroken to move on and accept that fact. Luckily, what came next was twenty times more amazing! Next post on Bora Bora coming soon...