I always knew that we would goto Tahiti for our honeymoon; we didn't know what the venue would be for the wedding and in fact, hadn't even set the date yet, but I knew for sure that I wanted to splurge on a trip to Tahiti. I mean, when else do you get an excuse to blow tens of thousands on a mere trip?

Planning for this trip was exhausting and time consuming, but with each tidbit of information that I gathered in my anal-retentive way, I was hyping myself up for an amazing time. I hope that this mini guide can help others as well. Please note that all information is current as of our June 2008 honeymoon.

Islands: The first question you must ask yourself is, which islands do you want to visit? Tahiti is comprised of many many beautiful islands, some developed, some not. We chose to stay with the more developed islands of Moorea and Bora Bora, mainly for it's range of activities (Moorea) and beauty (Bora Bora).

Flights: I did a lot of comparison shopping with flights from different companies. I first visited Liberty Travel to find out what my options were. The two main airlines that fly to Tahiti are Air Tahiti Nui (ATN) and Qantas, and what made sense for us was ATN. They offered direct flights from NYC only once a week, whereas a direct flight departed LAX on a daily basis. With this in mind, I decided that we would stay overnight in LA for one night and then fly to Tahiti from there, but return to NYC on a direct flight. My decision to stay overnight in LA stems from the fact that I am forever fearful of flight delays that may result in missing our connecting flight, and with an itinerary that depended on an airline that only flew once a day, I did not want to take that chance. After shopping online on various websites (Travelocity, Orbitz, Expedia, Air Tahiti Nui website), I decided to purchase from Expedia because the rates were practically identical and I am used to Expedia's format.

Now comes my nightmare. I booked my flights - NYC to LAX, LAX to Tahiti, Tahiti to NYC, along with interisland flights (Papeete to Moorea, Moorea to Bora Bora, Bora Bora back to Papeete). Everything seemed confirmed and my credit card was fully charged, as was noted on the website. I went back to the My Itinerary page to check the flights and print out a copy, which is when I noticed that it did not display my interisland flights and noted for me to call Expedia. When I finally got a customer service rep on the phone, I was told that due to a delayed update of the site by the interisland airline, the flights I wanted to book were already cancelled and that I did not have any interisland flights booked at all. If I were to try booking yet again, I may still run into this same problem. There was nothing Expedia could do at this point. I only have the flight into Tahiti and no interisland flights.

I scrambled to find an agency that would book interisland flights for me, and please note that many, many agencies will not book them for you because you did not book an international flight with them. They usually do it as a package deal, where they will book your international flights as well as the interisland flights. I was panicking, but finally found an operator in California who felt compassionate to my situation and went ahead and booked my tickets. In fact, the interisland tickets he booked for me were much cheaper than the price I had originally booked them at on Expedia, so it was a win-win (aside from the minor heart attack I almost had).

I high recommend John, from Travel Portfolio
John Bell, Travel Portfolio
4345 Van Nuys Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

Hotels: How did I go about picking the hotels that I wanted to stay in? This is one of the most important questions when planning for a Tahiti honeymoon, because where you stay, and what accomodations you choose within that property, will dictate just how many zeros you add to the end of your honeymoond budget. There was no doubt in my mind that if we were travelling all the way out there, we'd splurge for an overwater bungalow. There is no point in going to Tahiti if you are not going to live in one of those beautiful little huts that they are so famous for. You might as well just goto Hawai'i.

We are part of the Starwood Preferred Guest program, where we get points for amounts charged on our credit card, so I decided to stay within the Starwood family for our stay in Papeete and Moorea. We were able to use points for a free night in Sheraton in Tahiti (Papeete) and use points for a few nights stay at the Sheraton in Moorea. However, please note that the Sheraton in Moorea is also very well-known for its amazing snorkeling and after seeing it first hand myself, I would have to agree 110%.

For Bora Bora, I searched long and hard, debating between somewhere luxurious and new (St. Regis) or something that was a little more dated, but always within the top 3 for best hotels in the South Pacific (Hotel Bora Bora). After a discussion with the hubby, we decided to stick with Hotel Bora Bora, and it definitely didn't disappoint. Yes, it's dated; their bungalows are older, not as luxurious, less amenities (there is no television, no fridge) but it has such charm and beauty, not to mention the staff is top notch. (Picture on the left depicts their activities center, with the amazing view). Each staff member remembered our name, the activities desk would remind us each day of what we had planned, the food was simply AMAZING and out of this world.

Next entry: Activities, Food and Sightseeing in Tahiti
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I've always admired Morimoto on the Food Network; he was such an amazing and inventive chef, yet he was just so humble.

I had visited the first Morimoto restaurant in Philly a few years ago but did not get to meet the chef himself. On a special occasion two months ago, we got to visit his NYC location.

We were seated promptly even though we had arrived 15 minutes after our reservation time.

Ambiance: There was a very clean feel to this restaurant. If you are looking for old school Tokyo, then you will be disappointed. All the staff are dressed in black and there is a lot of white in the restaurant, with dim lighting and special pink/purple/blue lighting effects. There is an area that is quiet (which is where we were seated), and then there is a more "happening" area towards the middle of the restaurant and into the lower level, where there is a bar.

Food: We had originally planned to order one omakase and then an appetizer and entree to share (which is what we did for Nobu). It just doesn't make sense to order two of the same things. However, we were told that in order to get the omakase, the whole table had to order it, which we ended up doing. I didn't particularly like this, since when I was in Philly, we had one person order the omakase while the rest ordered their own entrees.

one of the best toro tartares i've ever eaten in my life
with osetra caviar, creme fraiche, wasabi, dashi-soy among other "dipping" sauces

whitefish carpaccio in hot oil

Compared to the Nobu omakase, I am afraid Morimoto's is a bit lacking. A good majority of the food was good (toro, oyster, whitefish carpaccio, grilled lobster) but some of the things, such as sushi and wagyu were lacking. I definitely did not enjoy the clam sushi; it had a really disgusting aftertaste. The wagyu seemed very bland and wasn't seared the way I normally liked it; it just seemd to be cooked with no seasoning.

Service: The service was superb. Our waiter was great.

Facilities: I'm not sure what the hoopla is about Morimoto's bathrooms. The one upstairs was very minimalistic; don't forget to pull the door to the side (I, along with other women, had issues with trying to pull the door out). The flush mechanism is that little mysterious box on top of the toilet; you'll know what I mean when you look at it. The women's bathroom downstairs had typical Japanese automatic toilets; the toilet seat would rise once it sensed a person in front of it and it had warming seats as well as many other functions to your left. It is cute and novel.

Morimoto NYC
88 Tenth Avenue
New York, NY

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November 2007
New York to Detroit to Shanghai, China
Business Class

Seating: On this flight, the Business Class seating were divided between the first part of the lower cabin, and an upper cabin. I chose to sit on the upper cabin. This had it's advantages and disadvantages. It was very quiet in the upper cabin and there were very few other passengers there; the seat next to mine was empty. The main disadvantage was that when disembarking, you didn't get to leave first as with the lower cabin; by the time you came down to the lower cabin, most of the economy class people were pushing and shoving already.

Food & Drink: Being in Business Class, meals were a luxury. The flight attendants would supply a tablecloth (yes, a TABLECLOTH for your folding table) and serve food on real plates with real silverware. The meals included things like steak and seafood and each was pretty good. There was also top shelf liquor offered after each meal. Snacks included sandwiches and cup o' noodles and even ice cream.

Attendants: Were friendly and very helpful.

Check-in: Was a breeze but of course, this was Business Class. I was given a pass into the lounge, which had pastries and drinks, along with ports for your laptop and TV's to watch.

Flight Time: We flew relatively on-time, considering that we had one layover in Detroit (Northwest's hub)

Amenities: We were given slippers, and a small amenities bag which included chapstick, a pen, eye-mask and ear plugs all in a small Northwest pouch.
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September 2007
New York to Narita, Japan to Taoyuan, Taiwan

Economy Class

Seating: Tight, tight, TIGHT. K and I are not large people, and even with our size, we were super cramped in our seats. I had major cabin fever after only a few short hours because of these uncomfortable seats. The "cushions" were a mere single layer of cotton (or at least it felt that way). After maybe 3 hours, I felt like I was sitting on a wooden board.

Food & Drink: I was a bit disappointed with the selections on Japan Airlines. Aside from the main entree, everything else was cold (ie: side of cold soba noodles). There are only two meals served on the 14+ hour flight, and "snacks" offered were cookies and rolls. There is no cup o' noodle available, which is a huge dealbreaker for us. BIG PLUS: Green tea and plum wine are available (as are other Japanese beers) and all are complimentary.

Attendants: They did not speak English and the ones that did only did minimally. We had to point and charade our way to getting things. This was not an easy flight for us whatsoever. We would say something in English, they would reply back in Japanese. Yes, they were extremely polite and nice, but for all we knew they could've been cursing us out in a super nice manner with a super polite smile.

Check-in: No issues checking in on our way to Asia. Coming back was a different story. We encountered two big issues. One was the fact that I had a huge 30+" framed blown up wedding photo that I did not trust checked-in. I had to fight them to let me take it on the plane and have a flight attendant store it for me in one of the closets. Second, and biggest, issue was the fact that out of our 4 luggages, one of them was slated for Narita, and not for New York. Meaning that while we, and 3 of our luggages, went on to New York after the layover in Narita, one of our luggages was to be dropped off. Don't ask me how this happened since all of our bags were checked in together.

When we got to Narita, a JAL representative was holding my name on a placard. I went over to their customer service desk, which is where they explained what had happened. The lady asked me to identify which luggage it was, which flabbergasted me. How was I suppose to know WHICH luggage the airline mislabeled? And each of our luggages were slightly different. She gave me a plastic picture card of different styles of luggages and asked me to point one out.

Throughout the 14 hour flight back to New York, all I could think about was my lost luggage. Would it arrive in New York? Would it arrive in one piece? Which luggage was it, what were we in the process of losing? We had gone on this trip for wedding-related errands and who knows what we'd need to replace. This was the most nervewrecking flight of my life and I don't think any passenger should have to bear through it.

Flight Time: The Japanese are known for their promptness and their planes are no exception. We left on time and arrived on time and there were no delays whatsoever.

Amenities: In the bathrooms were very nice Shiseido items.
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