Renee Robinson on 26 November 2013

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Picnic in Moorea for Air Tahiti Nui’s 15th birthday celebration. Turquoise water, overwater bungalows, black pearls and Marlon Brando.

The retro cover on Air Tahiti Nui’s November Issue was a runaway success, a black and white photo of Marlon Brando and his Tahitian co-star, later to become his wife while filming Mutiny on the Bounty, set the scene for me. As a movie buff my first impressions of Tahiti were formed by films such as this.

I was extremely fortunate to be invited to attend a three night ‘picnic’ in Tahiti to celebrate Air Tahiti’s 15th birthday. Flying from Sydney to Papeete via Auckland on Thursday morning and arriving Wednesday night having crossed the dateline meant reliving Thursday twice!

Le Meridien Resort was the first stop and hard to orientate until darkness gave way to a beautiful surprise next morning finding a huge pool with goldfish and lotuses below the balcony, turquoise water and those quintessential thatched bungalows.

French language and cuisine adding to the romance of the setting, plus tropical weather and a breakfast of fresh fruit and made to order omelette brought on that relaxed feeling of being on vacation.

On to the ferry terminal for a ½ hour trip across to Moorea, which means ‘yellow lizard’. I understood then why some of the buses were a beautiful bright yellow colour. The café on the ferry typically French, selling croissants, baguettes and fabulous pastries.

Then to the beautiful Sofitel Moorea la Ora Beach Resort. A lovely thatched bungalow nestled in the tropical gardens with balcony looking onto that exquisite turquoise lagoon. A delicious Caesar salad and cold local beer made the perfect lunch overlooking the lagoon and then an afternoon of swimming, relaxing and reading before drinks and dinner.

The moment: sun setting, no sound except for the waves breaking on the edge of the lagoon, at the end of a jetty with a glass of French wine. One of those moments you will always remember, it’s as good as it gets! Well almost… Dinner, sitting at a table bare feet in the sand under a unique woven wood cathedral ceiling. Stunning food and wine and stylish entertainment. Topped off after with drinks down on the beach with a full moon, I felt very blessed to be experiencing something so very special.

Next morning and our boat trip and picnic on a Motu (islet). We are in Cook’s Bay which interestingly to hear from our expert local guide Captain Cook never actually visited, it was the bay around the corner, and the name was a clerical error made many years ago and never corrected. These things can only ever be discovered by listening to a local. The bay was however used for many film locations including the remade version of Mutiny on the Bounty with Mel Gibson.

Mooring then for our swim with small sharks and rays - an experience to remember. As a colleague remarked after touching a ray it felt like a mushroom! Onward to a picnic on a beautiful small island, that turquoise water surrounding us and a barbecue of beautiful fresh tuna and salad and the famous Tahitian dish Poisson Cru (ask me for the recipe).

Time then for ferry back to Papeete and a charming stop for dinner at the local “Roulottes” dining carts by the harbour, a great selection of choices, one being a creperie which was my choice, a delicious three cheese crepe with gruyere, Roquefort and goats cheese, and the local cider.

Lastly our last night at the Radisson Plaza Resort, the sound of breaking waves on a black sand beach and where Captain Cook moored for some weeks makes you so aware of such history and yet in the present here we are enjoying drinks by the stunning infinity pool and to top it off fireworks thanks to a wedding party made this an unforgettable experience.

A truly memorable ‘weekend picnic’.

Turn this from your dream list to your do list! (I forgot to mention the pearls!)

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