ATV Tour in Moorea

A Photo-op on the ATV Tour

A Photo-op on the ATV Tour

During our five day stay at the Sofitel Moorea, we really wanted to relax and enjoy our overwater bungalow.  However, one of the mornings in Moorea turned out to be overcast and rainy.  Given the less then ideal weather, we decided to spend one afternoon on an ATV tour around the island.  The staff at the Sofitel Moorea took care of the arrangements and ATV Moorea Tours picked us up from the hotel in the early afternoon.  The actual ATV tour took us around the outer part and inner part of the island.  Four hours later we had a much better perspective of Moorea. My wife and I were able to ride on the same ATV so she was able to capture photos while I was driving. The lush vegetation and fertile land on the inner part of the island was impressive.  We took the ATV’s off road on several dirt roads that took us around plantations filled with pineapples, bananas and coffee beans.  The highlight of the tour took us up a steep path to the top of Belvedere lookout.  The tour guide was very informative and allowed us to stop for plenty of pictures.  Amazing panoramic vistas awaited us at Belvedere lookout which included views of Cook’s Bay, Mount Rotui and Opunohu Bay.   Overall, the ATV tour was highly enjoyable with just the right amount of adventure.  Here are some pictures from the ATV Tour:

Off roading on the ATV tour

Off roading on the ATV tour

 

Rich farm land of Moorea

Rich farm land of Moorea

 

One of the steep roads of the ATV tour

One of the steep roads of the ATV tour

 

Shark tooth mountain tops of Moorea

Shark tooth mountain tops of Moorea

 

The blue water surrounds Moorea

The blue water surrounds Moorea

Review of the Sofitel Moorea

The Sofitel Moorea

The Sofitel Moorea

Our first morning in French Polynesia, we took the ferry from Tahiti to Moorea.  As the shark tooth mountains of Moorea came into view, we quickly realized what a beautiful island it is. We wanted to get to our hotel, the Sofitel Moorea as early as possible to enjoy the resort.  The hotel was very organized upon check in.  In the days leading up to our honeymoon, I had researched on Trip Advisor which overwater bungalows had the best location in the resort.  I emailed our request to the hotel and they graciously delivered.  After check in, we were escorted to our overwater bungalow by the staff.

Our overwater bungalow at Sofitel Moorea

Our overwater bungalow at Sofitel Moorea

Upon entering the bungalow, we were blown away by the setting.  We could see fish swimming beneath us through the glass window on the floor of the bungalow.

Glass window in the floor of the overwater bungalow

Glass window in the floor of the overwater bungalow

The crystal blue water glistened in the sunshine as we looked out from our private deck.  It was a dream come true to stay in an overwater bungalow and our initial impressions only confirmed what an amazing experience it would be.

The crystal blue water below our bungalow

The crystal blue water below our bungalow

Most of our days at the Sofitel Moorea consisted of spending time at our overwater bungalow.  There was a beach just adjacent to the resort which we walked on but the resort was so nice that we didn’t feel compelled to leave very often.

Deck of the bungalow

Deck of the bungalow

Both my wife and I enjoyed sitting out on the deck of the bungalow, catching up on some reading, relaxing and soaking in the sunshine and warm temperatures.

Relaxing on the deck

Relaxing on the deck

Snorkeling equipment was provided complimentary by the resort and we were able to snorkel right off our deck.

Snorkeling right off our deck

Snorkeling right off our deck

Food prices are very steep in French Polynesia given the remote location.  We did dine at the restaurants in the hotel but we found room service to be a more affordable and enjoyable option.  F0r several meals we ate on our deck enjoying the water and scene around us.

Enjoying lunch on the deck

Enjoying lunch on the deck

The only disappointing part of our stay at the Sofitel Moorea was that it came to an end.  It was tough leaving the overwater bungalow and beautiful island as we had looked forward to this vacation for almost a year.

Indoor/outdoor bathroom

Indoor/outdoor bathroom

 

 

Inside of the overwater bungalow

But to this day, we are grateful for such a wonderful honeymoon.  Our five day stay at the Sofitel Moorea could not have been better.  It was filled with relaxation, great food and a setting that can only be described as storybook.

Sunrise in Moorea

Sunrise in Moorea

It was a week we won’t soon forget and we can only hope to be fortunate enough to visit again in the future.  The Sofitel Moorea was a perfect place for a honeymoon.

View from just above the Sofitel Moorea with Tahiti in the distance

View from just above the Sofitel Moorea with Tahiti in the distance

Planning A Honeymoon

Our first view of French Polynesia

As my wife and I planned to get married, I was given the great task of planning our honeymoon.  Out of all the wedding planning, this was a task that I relished.  We started to think about possible honeymoon destinations and discussed the possibility of going somewhere in Europe versus a beach type vacation.  After a little bit of discussion, we quickly came to the realization that we wanted to go somewhere relaxing.  In addition, we wanted to make sure our honeymoon destination was somewhere memorable.  The most immediate honeymoon destinations that came to mind included Hawaii or one of the many islands in the Caribbean.  Both my wife and I had been to Hawaii in the past so we eliminated this from our list of possibilities.  Certainly, the clear blue water of the Caribbean was enticing, but our honeymoon would be the last week of July.  In the back of my mind, the threat of hurricanes in the Caribbean during summer was a concern so this was eliminated.

View of Moorea from the shores of Tahiti

Just about the time I started to plan the honeymoon, my wife and I were watching Ali Fedotowsky’s season six of the Bachelorette.  Yes, both my wife and I are big fans of the Bachelor and Bachelorette series and we never miss a season.  The end of Ali’s season took place in French Polynesia, specifically Bora Bora.  After seeing the beautiful water and overwater bungalows in French Polynesia on the Bachelorette, the decision for a honeymoon was made.

View of the shark tooth mountain tops of Moorea

View of the shark tooth mountain tops of Moorea

After we knew we were going to French Polynesia for our honeymoon, we then had to decide which islands to visit.  Due to the wedding and my work schedule, we had eight days for our honeymoon.  The eight hour flight from Los Angeles to French Polynesia lands in Papeete which is the capital city on the island of Tahiti.  However, most honeymooners spend the majority of their time on one of the outer islands.  We narrowed our choice of islands to Moorea and Bora Bora, considered by some to be the two most beautiful islands in the world.  The downside of visiting Bora Bora is that it is located farther from Tahiti, thus requiring another forty-five minute flight and more expense.  However, Moorea is located right across from Tahiti, and is a short twenty minute ferry ride.  In the end, we decided to stay on Moorea for the duration of our honeymoon. This ended up being a perfect spot to spend five relaxing and wonderful days.

Beautiful view from Moorea

Beautiful view from Moorea

Review of Korean Air and Seoul Incheon Airport

Korean Air took us from Chicago to Bali via twenty hours of flying

Korean Air took us from Chicago to Bali via twenty hours of flying

During our trip from Chicago to Bali, my wife and I flew Korean Air with a day layover in Seoul.  Out of the many airlines that I have flown over the years, Korean Air stands out as the top in-air experience that I have encountered.  Given that we fly economy class, spending hours upon hours in a metal tube is usually not met with great enthusiasm.  Initially, this trip was no exception.  However, Korean Air makes flying a very pleasant experience.  With this in mind, I have never flown some of the industry favorites such as Singapore, Cathay Pacific or Emirates but Korean Air’s product is very solid and surely holds its own.  During this trip, my wife and I had four separate flights on Korean Air with total flying time of around thirty-eight hours and a distance over eighteen thousand miles.  Each flight was consistent.  The flight attendants were superb on every flight.  They were curteous, well dressed, and extremely professional in dealing with passengers.  In between meal service, they did not just disappear but made water and juice runs just about every hour.

 

Moving map- part of the IFE on Korean Air

Moving map- part of the IFE on Korean Air

In addition to the flight attendants, the in-flight entertainment was excellent.  With many on demand movies and TV programs, there was no shortage of entertainment options, even after flying thirty-eight hours.  Besides the pleasant in flight experience, transferring at Seoul Incheon Airport was amazing.  The airport is best that I have experienced in any part of the world.  After arriving from Chicago, the transfer process through security took just a couple of minutes and the whole experience was extremely efficient.  The airport has a modern, very fresh feel to it.  The large windows throughout, give the airport a very open layout with plenty of light which is especially nice after being in an airplane for thirteen hours.  Overall, I commend Korean Air on their product which I believe is outstanding.  Their marketing slogan, ” Excellence in flight”, is certainly appropriate.

A Day Layover in Seoul

Concrete Jungle and skyscrapers of Seoul

Concrete Jungle and Skyscrapers of Seoul

As we landed at Seoul Incheon Airport on an overcast Saturday morning, the tropical feel of Bali quickly disappeared.  My wife and I hoped a day layover in Seoul on our way back from Bali would lessen the blow.  However, this logic was flawed from the start.  Going from the sunny skies of Bali and temperatures in the mid eighties to the gray skies of Seoul with temperatures at least forty degrees cooler was a harsh reality.  None the less, my wife and I were determined to see a little bit of Seoul.  We took the KAL (Korean Airlines) Limousine Bus from Incheon Airport to our hotel in central Seoul.  The KAL bus has drops at certain hotels all around Seoul so we picked our hotel, the Ramada Seoul, based off where the bus stopped.  The bus drop is directly in front of the hotel so it was very convenient.  Once we arrived at our hotel, we were both going on less then a couple hours of sleep.

Unfortunately we didn't make it to the Mug and Hug Festival

Unfortunately we didn’t make it to the Mug and Hug Festival

After a quick coffee to awaken us from our post-flight coma, we set out on foot to walk around the central part of the city.  We had no particular agenda other then to soak in the atmosphere and get a general feel for this large city.  What was a typical Saturday like for the people of Seoul?  Well, like any other city, it appeared people enjoyed shopping and eating.

A Typical Saturday in Seoul

A Typical Saturday in Seoul

As we walked along a pedestrian mall, throngs of consumers soon filled the streets.   The sun gradually poked its way through the overcast sky warming us up a little bit.  After walking for several hours, we worked up quite an appetite. Soon, the smell of street food overcame us and we enjoyed a few Korean treats.

Street Food in Seoul

Street Food in Seoul

The newfound energy allowed us to continue our walking tour around Seoul.  To put it plainly, there is a lot of concrete in Seoul.

Walking path along a man made stream in the middle of the city

Walking path along a man made stream in the middle of the city

We missed seeing parks or green spaces as it just seemed to be endless skyscrapers.  There was nice walking trail along a small stream in the middle of the city but open spaces were lacking.

The only green we saw in Seoul

The only green we saw in Seoul

Finally the time had come for dinner.  We entered several restaurants but the menus did not contain any English so we really didn’t know what type of food was being served.  Finally after walking around for a couple of hours we settled on Korean BBQ.  We were the only english speaking patrons but managed to order by pointing to pictures of the food.

Korean BBQ

Korean BBQ

Our day in Seoul had come to an end after walking well over ten miles, sampling street food and Korean BBQ, and getting lost walking back to our hotel at night.  Seoul is certainly an energetic and large city but it is not a place I would make any effort to return to unless on a layover during a trip to other parts of Asia.