Wine, Cheese & Paradise

Who in the world are more famous for their wine and cheese than the French?  What some people don’t realize is French Polynesia is a territory of France and therefore all the amazing French culinary aspects flow right into the islands and blue lagoons.   In fact each year the Sofitel resorts put on an incredible not be missed event.

Master chef Olivier Poulard

Sofitel’s ambition is to become the ambassador of French art de vivre around the world. Sofitel French Polynesia has organized the annual cheese and wine event for the past 18 years. It is a unique occasion to taste French terroir in the exceptional grounds of Moorea and Bora Bora. This year, events will take place directly on the white sand beaches and in the properties’ restaurants.

Bora Bora Champage

Sofitel French Polynesia in partnership will welcome one of the most famous Cheese Masters, Mr Olivier Poulard, for a series of events around cheese and wines. Exceptional dinners as well as Chic Apéritifs will be organized on the beach at Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort, Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach Resort and Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island from September 20 to October 4, 2017.

Mr Olivier Poulard will work closely with Sommelier, Mr Fabrice Jarry, and Chief Consultant, Mr Guillaume Burlion. These three professionals will work together to showcase an exclusive French gastronomic experience.

While it may be to late to plan our trip to Tahiti for this year’s functions, it is an annual occasion and for all you Foodies out there, why don’t we work on planning your trip to paradise next year around the event?   And if you are not into this culinary event – know that you can still get a great French culinary experience in the islands anytime you visit!!

Bon Voyage!!

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.

 

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

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!