Dress Like a Tahitian

Polynesian pareos

Travelers often ask me, “Carl, I’m going to Tahiti. What should I wear?”  And my reply is to dress casual and comfortable.  And, well, if you would really like to look like you live there – the answer is to wear a Pareo.

The classic Pareo

Colorful, lightweight, comfortable and hand painted, the “Pareo,” also known as a Pareu, is an essential part of Polynesian life. Elsewhere in the South Pacific, you may hear them referred to as a “Sulu,” “Lavalava,” “Sarong” or a “Tupeno.”   Pareo’s remain unique as they reflect the living and breathing life that is unique to Tahiti. While mainly worn by women, it is not uncommon to see them on men too.

Functional beauty

Pareos for sale
Pareos for Sale

Pareos are about two square meters in size and traditionally made from light cotton. These days, polyester and rayon have been added to the mix. Silk is rare but available and more expensive.

You’ll note that I mentioned that these are traditionally hand painted. Natural and man-made dyes are used. The tints, diluted with water are artfully applied to the cloth. Following this process, they are laid out to dry in the Tahitian sun. Bright colors depicting fauna and island life are often the choice of the Pareo artisans, but designs are really limited only by the Polynesian inspired imagination.




How to Tie a Pareo

It is true, in our day to day world you wearing a pareo is not the norm so most people have no idea how to tie a pareo or have any idea the large number of ways you can tie it and give yourself different looks – for both men and women. Here are a couple of video links you might enjoy to learn how to tie your pareo:

Pareo Tying for Women – click here

Pareo Tying for Men – click here

Where to find your Pareo

Markets and artisian shTahitian Pareo Artisanops throughout the Tahitian islands offer a wide selection of Pareos. The price will be highly dependent upon whether you are drawn to a cotton/polyester mix, the luxurious silk and the time and effort put into the design by creator.    Of course, like everything in our world today a less expensive mass produced versions are available as well.   The most memorable souvenir is to find a local roadside artist hand painting pareos and see the process in action and support the artist.  Choose to wear it or even hang it on a wall as a colourful reminder of your time in the islands.

When I fashion your holiday to the islands, let me know of your interest in Pareos. I’ll make sure that I include a tour of the markets, a self drive tour, or an island excursion that has stops at Pareo shops for you.


10 Ways to Prepare for Your Flight to Paradise


Tahiti island mapThere is truly no place in the world like Tahiti. But let’s face it, getting there takes a bit longer than your average short haul flight to the Caribbean.  However, it is much closer than many think.   In fact, I like to say the eight-hour trip from Los Angeles to Tahiti is only, “two movies, two meals, and a nap away.”

Today it’s infinitely faster to get to these treasured Isles than it was back in the days of Captain Cook. However, there are always a few things you can do to make your flying adventure more enjoyable. With this in mind, let me share ten ways to prepare for your flight to paradise.

1) Seats

Book the best seats you can afford! I cannot stress this enough. While the upgrade will be more expensive, you will discover that your vacation truly starts when you step foot on the aircraft.   Air Tahiti Nui’s “Poerava Business Class” offers warm and friendly Tahitian service that is as refreshing as an island breeze with French inspired cuisine and spacious seating that reclines 160 degrees.  Definitely the most relaxing and enjoyable way to start such a special vacation!

However, if the front of the plane is not fitting your budget I totally understand, there are some smart ways to navigate the main cabin. Most importantly book early.  The sooner you can let me know your travel plans, the better. Seats are assigned on a first come, first served basis, and not all of them are created equal.  The configuration of the planes allows 2 people to sit together on the side without anyone in the middle so you can be comfortably situated together without a stranger in your space.  Of course, these seats go quickly to the early bookers!

Also, if you don’t mind sitting towards the back, typically planes fill up from the front to rear. This tendency means that if there are empty seats, will often find them in the aft section of the cabin. These empty slots may allow you more room to spread out and stretch for a more comfortable flight and snooze.

2) Before you fly

Instead of thinking about your flight the day before you travel, plan for it “days” before you fly. Tahiti Time (TAHT) runs 10 hours behind Universal Time Coordinated (UTC). For example, in the summer, when it is 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), it is 2:00 p.m. in Tahiti. Knowing this, you can begin to adjust for this chronological change in two ways. First, start by aligning your bed time and rising times to Tahiti time. Secondly, fix your meal schedule to mirror where you are going.  Meals have a lot to do with your overall body clock, and this will help you get into the swing of your destination.

Air Tahiti Nui Economy Class3) Preboarding

Plan your schedule accordingly, giving yourself plenty of time to get to the airport, through security, and to your gate. The old adage, “try to build in enough time to accommodate a flat tire” comes into play here. It highlights the fact that if you pad your agenda sufficiently, you will constantly be on time and have the luxury of enjoying yourself along the way.

4) Settling in

Make your carry-on bag a workable bundle of fun. Bring your music, books, pillow, tablet, eye mask, noise-cancelling headphones, a few toiletries to freshen up and whatever else is light and pleasurable.  hen it comes to clothing, think function, not fashion. Loose fitting, comfortable clothing and easy on-off shoes fit the bill.

5) Awake

While you are awake, enjoy your little world. Get lost in the small, trivial details and take pleasure in the things that you usually don’t have time for. Air Tahiti Nui runs great video and audio entertainment.  Make sure you check out the Tiare TV channel where you can get lost in hours of shows that showcase the islands and culture.  And the meals served aboard the transpacific flights, even in the main cabin, have a reputation for being very good quality – Tahitian’s love to eat and you definitely won’t go hungry!  But again, don’t overeat.

6) Sleep

Shut the world out with your eye mask and noise-cancelling headphones. Cozy up under your blanket, pull on your turquoise Air Tahiti Nui socks and sink back into your pillow. Your rest time will contribute significantly to how you feel after your flight so you land in paradise feeling refreshed.

7) Move

Not too long ago, the World Health Organization released the results of a study about travel and blood clots. They advised that you should get up and walk around the cabin at least every two hours. While in Air Tahiti Nui Mealsyour seat, try periodically straightening out your legs as far as possible, point your toes back and forth and move your ankles in circles.

8) Stay fresh

It’s amazing how the simple act of brushing your teeth can make your entire body feel better. Likewise, antibiotic wipes are the perfect solution when a full shower is not available. Top it all off with a bit of deodorant, and you’ll be well on the way to feeling human again.

When you exit the plane and enter customs you are hit with the warm South Pacific air.  Consider bringing a change of clothes in your carry-on so you are not overheating in that unair-conditioned customs line and start your trip off in comfy shorts and shirt and sandals – the way you will spend the rest of your vacation. (as a side note – I have a service to whisk you to the front of that customs line if you want the VIP service just let me know!).

9) Drink Lots

Regarding the beverage of choice, think water or still, non-acidic fruit juices. Water is always best, and lots of it since the air in a metal tube at 45,000 feet is pretty dry. I always bring a large bottle of water with me onboard as those small cups they provide just don’t cut it.   Avoid fizzy drinks since the carbon dioxide gas will only expand and make you feel very uncomfortable. Lastly, as much as most of us enjoy it – avoid drinking alcohol on a long flight. Not only will it cause dehydration, but it also disrupts your ability to rest and sleep.

10) Going wheels-down

Air Tahiti Nui over Bora Bora
Air Tahiti Nui

The overhead speaker crackles to life, “Ladies and gentlemen, as we start our descent, please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position. Make sure your seatbelt is securely fastened, and all carry-on luggage is stowed underneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead bins.”

Your ears perk up. The butterflies of excitement start to flutter. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Before you know it, you’ve touched down at Tahiti Faa’a International Airport. Congratulations! You’ve arrived and sure you will be like most people – “Hey, that flight wasn’t that bad at all!”

 Making the experience real

Now that you know how to make a long flight manageable let’s convert your dream into a reality. As a Certified Tahiti Specialist and a leading Tahiti agent in North America, tips on travelling there is just as small part of what I can provide.  Having been to every major resort and island, I can help you make your dreams come true – give me a call! 


Tahitian Body Art

Tahitian tattoos

To many, the word “Tattoo” conjures up images of bikers, sailors, and pop icons. However, in the South Pacific, Tahitian body art opens a window to the soul. Did you know that the word, “tattoo” comes from the Tahitian word “Tatau,” which means, “to mark something?”

A Polynesian tradition

As the Polynesians sailed eastward, they established their dominance in what is commonly referred to as the “Polynesian Triangle.” To envision this area, draw three points from the Easter Islands to New Zealand, and back up to Hawaii, with Tahiti as the bull’s eye.


Polynesian Triangle
1. Hawaii 2. New Zealand 3. Easter Island 4. Samoa 5. Tahiti

Evidence of Polynesian body art dates back 2,000 years. The naturalist aboard “the HMS Endeavour” (Captain Cook’s ship), Joseph Banks, first mentioned the word “tattoo” in his journal.  It was then Cook who introduced the  word Tattoo top Europe upon his return.

In the Marquesas Islands, famed for their tattoos, a tattoo artist is known as a Tuhuna Patu Tiki. It is thought by Tahitian traditionalists that the body art masters possess the inner nature that embodies the images they ink. This allows them the ability to weave key meanings and memories into the work they do for each person. They are believed to be able to articulate various meanings by combining different Polynesian symbols and icons together. As a result, an artist’s work can become highly regarded in the Tahitian community and lore.

Tattoos carry a signature

local Tahitians tattoo
Carl with locals at a Tahitian Restaurant

In Ireland, the British Isles, and Scandinavia, it is common to have sweater knit styles that designate who a person is, where they are from, and so forth. In Tahiti, tattoos traditionally follow this same idea.

The tattoo patterns of each Polynesian region vary, as do those who wear them. For example, back in the day, all high-ranking officials were tattooed, but those occupying the lowest social status were largely tattoo-free.

Body art has also never been relegated to one sex. While men exhibit the highest tattoo density and variety, women often display them on their feet, hands, arms, ears, and lips. For both sexes, the face is always considered the most sacred place for tattoos as they are highly visible, painful to apply, and time-consuming for the artist.

Getting a lasting remembrance of your trip to Tahiti

Tattoo Artist James Samuela – Moorea Tattoo

During the 18th century, Catholic and Protestant missionaries started to push hard for the abolition of the art. Their case was grounded in Leviticus 19:28, the one and only place in the Bible that mentions tattoos (“… and do not mark your skin with tattoos.”). Adding fuel to the argument against tattoos were the cleanliness and hygiene issues of the early ages.

While traditional, antiquated, tattooing instruments were banned in Tahiti in 1986, thanks to modern tools and sterilization, the practice is back in full fashion for both Polynesians and their guests.  And if you really want to get a tattoo done in the traditional manner this is available for those willing to brave the pain for the bragging rights and experience.

Are you interested in the ultimate Tahitian souvenir?  Let me know when we are planning your trip and I can put you in touch with a Tattoo artist in advance so you can confirm an appointment and plan your unique and lasting souvenir!

start planning now

Working in Paradise

Carl in Rangiroa
Working in Rangiroa

Two or three times a year, I travel to a place I call, “paradise.” Where’s Paradise? Well, it’s the Islands of Tahiti, of course! There is so much to see and so many places to explore, and it’s a stay I never have a problem enjoying.

Every December, Tahiti Tourisme North America has a conference for both current and prospective Tahiti Experts. This one-day event gives me a chance to network with the destination’s top travel suppliers, including resort managers, sales representatives, excursion operators, pearl vendors, Tahitian vanilla farmers, and more.

It is unbelievable how such a small destination continuously goes through so many changes. My work trip is a chance to catch-up on staffing changes, new tours, room renovations, category additions and even complete resort closures and renovations.   No one can be a true Tahiti expert agent without visiting regularly to stay on top of all these changes and updates, and I can’t imagine trying to do that from afar.

This year, in addition to the one day conference mentioned above, I stayed at six different properties in

snorkelling tiputa pass
Snorkelling Tiputa Pass

my 7-night visit, tried out many new tours, and explored independently as well. Throughout the week, I was also able to sample many of Tahiti’s wonderful restaurants.

In Rangiroa, I stayed at the Kia Ora, Le Sauvage and Motu Teta while snorkeling Tiputa pass with the sharks, eels, turtles, and thousands upon thousands of fish. I also had the chance to visit the beautiful Pink Sands beach, along with a brief stop to bird island.

On the main island of Tahiti, I spent 2-nights at the Tahiti Pearl Resort and received a sneak peak of one of their newly renovated rooms.  Later, I thoroughly enjoyed touring the quiet and remote area of Tahiti Iti, staying at the tree house Vanira Lodge, and spending some time on the water at the famous Teahupao’o wave where the annual Billabong surf tournament takes place.

Carl and Michel Sauvage
Meeting Resort staff

On Bora Bora, I had the chance to see the new Conrad Bora Bora Nui Hotel and stay at the lovely St. Regis Bora Bora in their incredible Royal Estate (over 10,000 square feet!).  I also stopped by to see Motu Tapu and was privileged to take a new private lagoon tour. It included snorkeling the coral gardens, swimming with the sharks, sting rays, manta rays, all capped off by an amazing Tahitian feast on a stunning little motu in the lagoon.

You may ask why I take this trip every year. Is it because it’s fun? Absolutely! Because I love it? For sure! But, more importantly, I do it for you. You see, if I can hone my skills and knowledge on this destination, it’s a sure bet that I can create the perfect trip for you, your family, and your friends. It’s the little details that make a big difference in building your dream Tahitian experience.

Life is too precious and short. Don’t wait any longer to contact me, the Tahiti Expert, when planning your Tahitian Holiday!  Don’t let a special trip like this get planned by someone who doesn’t truly know the islands.

Call me – Carl – 1.877.972.2275

Excitement in a Construction Zone – A visit to the new Conrad Bora Bora

Conrad Bora Bora NuiI write this blog post as I sit on the plane returning from my annual business trip to Tahiti and her Islands. I am reminded how important it is that I continue to visit at least once a year. Although a small and quiet destination, it is unbelievable how many updates continually take place. Changes in resort ownership, property management companies, managers, tours, renovations, and more!

For this post, I just wanted to share all the exciting news about the new Conrad Bora Bora Nui Resort and Spa. The resort was previously the Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort and Spa and has been closed for some time to completely renovate and redo the whole property before they relaunched as a new and upgraded Conrad resort.

Upon arrival, we were dropped off in what looked like a very chaotic shipping or warehouse dock. At first, I was completely shocked by the state of the resort, expecting it to be much more complete. However, we were assured things are moving forward as planned. There are currently about 300 crew working 24-hours a day to get it complete and ready to accept guests in early 2018.

As we toured the resort, the initial shock of the construction zone slowly disappeared, and excitement and an image of the finished property were coming together in my mind. Conrad’s goal is a more modern design with unique and entertaining features coupled with events around the resort and excursions to draw in the Polynesian history and culture.

The updated bungalows were gorgeous. A wall has been removed from the original structConrad Bora Boraures giving them an open concept; very bright and airy. In front of the bed are sliding glass doors that grant a magnificent view of the beautiful lagoon. Décor is a bit more modern with black furniture, a luxurious round bathtub, and an abundant use of beautiful wood that keeps more of a Polynesian feel.

For the technology lover, the rooms are state-of-the-art. I loved the built-in Bluetooth speaker system that allows you to control three different sound zones, including the built-in speakers outside on your deck. Televisions have input plugs that allow you to hook up your electronic devices. This is great for viewing and editing pictures from your trip. There’s also a handy switch at your bedside to control all lights and the ceiling fan from one spot (I hate searching all over a 1,000-square foot bungalow for light switches!).

Conrad is also building two new beach bungalows with private plunge pools and adding similar pools to many of the existing overwater cottages. In the end, every bungalow will have been completely renovated from top to bottom.

Around the resort, there are some fun new features being added too. Look forward to:Motu Tapu

  • A fun 18-hole mini golf course
  • An exciting kids club (specially divided into two age categories)
  • In-water dining at the pool
  • A mixologist on site for creative cocktails
  • Access to beautiful Motu Tapu
  • Million dollar dinner – A dinner service at the top of the Motu with a million dollar view!
  • Rumours of an ice cream trolley strolling the property, and much more!

Overall, on the surface, it appears there is still much work to be done before they begin accepting guests, but once completed, I think the resort is going to be an incredible hit! I look forward to returning to experience the food and service as well as all the great amenities and features I learned of on this tour.

Promotions as of the time of this post

Currently, I have a soft opening launch promotion of 40% off the regular rates for a stays from January 25, 2017 until May 31 2017 . I also have some combination promotions available as well, for when you stay at both the Hilton Moorea and the Conrad Bora Bora Nui. Contact me  or fill in the planning form to get your visit to the newest resort in Bora Bora in the works!

Swimming with the Humpbacks

Travelling is incredible!  It allows us to have experiences and build memories that we may never have been able to do otherwise.  To see sites we can’t see at home.  Taste exotic foods we have never tried before.  Meet new people and in this case – interact with wild life…..BIG wildlife.

Mama & Baby Humpback
Mother and Baby Humpback Whale

Every year they return.  The humpback whales come back to the warm Polynesian waters where they have their babies and stay until the young are old enough to move on.   Tahiti is one of the few places in the world where you can have an opportunity to get out onto the water to see these magnificent giants and if the conditions are right, get in the water and swim with them!

This past October I was fortunate enough to have an incredible experience snorkeling with the humpback whales.  Watch this short video and view it right to the end, when the inquisitive baby swims right up to us before Mama dives down deep and she follows.

A bucket list experience that is forever locked into my memory!  Thank you Tahiti!


Bumping up the Luxury Level in Bora Bora

As I mentioned in my past post, the islands may be small but things change.   Having known this was coming for some time, the official announcement was just made this past week – Conrad Hotels are coming to Bora Bora.  The 5 star Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort which has been undergoing extensive renovations is closing down completely on August 31.

Hilton Bora Bora NuiCome March 2017 the property will reopen after their multi million dollar renovation as the Conrad Bora Bora Nui Hotel.   It is a very exciting change for the resort with all the new upgrades.    If you are not aware, Conrad Hotels are highest end brand for Hilton hotel chain.  Currently there are the 2 Hiltons in French Polynesia – the 5 star Hilton Moorea Resort and Spa and the Hilton Bora Bora Nui which will soon be the Conrad.

The Hilton Bora Bora Nui holds a soft spot in my heart as it was the first resort in Bora Bora I ever stayed at.    I have always loved their overwater bungalow and without a doubt, they have THE best sunsets of any resort with unobstructed views looking west over the lagoonConrad Bora Bora Nui Hotel and the open South Pacific.

I can’t wait to see this new and improved property that is setting itself up to compete with the likes of the Four Seasons and St Regis.  New bungalows, new restaurants, upgraded service – exciting changes.   Stay tuned for more next spring!

Pearl to Manava in Moorea

As the saying goes, the only constant in our world is change – okay, that along with death and taxes.  Manava Beach Resort Pool And even in the remote South Pacific where it appears time stands still, change still takes place.  Resorts change, staff change, rooms are renovated and occasionally new rooms are built.   But as your Tahiti Expert I am here to keep up to date with any of the changes taking place in the islands so we can plan the best Tahiti vacation for you with no unexpected surprises!

Today I am writing this quick blog post to let you know the Moorea Pearl Resort and Spa is changing their name to the Manava Beach Resort and Spa as of July 01 2016.  If you are booked or planning on going, don’t worry – there are no changes at the resort.  The management, staff, rooms, entertainment etc are all the same.  It is purely just a change of name.

Behind the scenes it has to do with South Pacific Management who manage a variety of resorts in the islands.  Their contracts are changing with some of the Pearl resorts but they are keeping both the Manava Beach Resort and Spa Moorea as well as the Manava Beach Resort Tahiti and aligning the branding of the two.

Manava Suite Garden Pool BungalowIn Tahitian the word, ‘Manava’ means a ‘warm welcome’ which is what they would like to extend to you.   A key feature I love about The Manava Beach Resort Moorea is the location.  It is the only resort where you can walk into a local village that has a few shops, a bank and a few restaurants.  The resort has recently redone their pool area and offer a variety of rooms from standard garden rooms to Overwater Bungalows at a variety of price points to match any budget.

Have a look here for more details about the Manava Beach Resort & Spa Moorea, formerly the Moorea Pearl Resort.  Click Here



Romantic Sunset Beach Dinner – Sofitel Private Island Resort Bora Bora

The Sofitel Private Island Resort in Bora Bora is a boutique property that sits on its own motu in the clear, turquoise waters of the Bora Bora Lagoon.  The resort offers incredible views looking back towards the main island andSofitel Bora Bora stunning lagoon. When you are in Bora Bora most resorts offer special romantic dinners.  Here at the Sofitel Private Island resort they have a very unique experience different than any other resort.

What they offer is a romantic beach dinner that is a two part evening affair.   You start your night at the top of the motu where you have incredible views of Bora Bora.  As the sunsets, staff pop open champagne and you sit and enjoy a cold glass of bubbly, canapes and incredible sunset views.    It is beautiful and very romantic.  In fact, when I was enjoying the experience in Dec 2014 someone dropped to his knees and proposed to his girl friend!  Thankfully she said yes as a few of us watched on taking some photos and videos for them to capture the moment.

Sunset Sofitel Private IslandAfter the sun sinks below horizon, you make you way down the tiki lit path to the beach.  Here the staff have set up tables for 2 (I was with a group in the video which is why our table is larger) by candlelight.  With your toes in the sand, the stars and moon twinkling in sky above, you are served a delicious meal complete with Polynesian dancers.

Often it is the added experiences you have when you are in destination that create the best long lasting memories. This is one of those evenings that you will look back fondly of and remember many years down the road.   Have a look here at this short video for more about the experience…

More about the Sofitel Private Island Resort