View from the paddleboard // (c) 2010 Skye Mayring
Without a doubt, I enjoyed spending a long weekend at Le Meridien Tahiti this spring, relaxing by the pool by day and attending its annual guitar festival featuring local bands and guitar virtuosos from France on two back-to-back evenings. But for me, the best part of my South Pacific adventure happened at the very end of the trip.
Some of my newfound friends at the resort had a local connection and suggested we borrow his kayak and stand-up paddleboards to take advantage of the rare weather and oceanic conditions. The day before, the island was issued a tsunami warning (thankfully, the warnings were lifted later that afternoon), causing an unusually low tide. The muggy afternoon rain shower had just cleared, leaving low-hanging clouds that delicately hovered over the island of Moorea.
Since the main island of Tahiti is surrounded by an atoll reef, we planned to navigate its shallow lagoon and dock at the reef’s end. If we found that the tide was low enough, we would actually be able to walk along the reef — an opportunity that only happens once or twice a year.
I opted for a stand-up paddleboard and, after wobbling a little bit in the beginning, I got the hang of it easily. After about 10 minutes of paddling, one of my friends offered an untimely caveat.
“Don’t freak out, but you should keep an eye out for sharks,” she said. “There are tons of them here, but don’t worry. They are nice sharks.”
Not wanting to fall off the paddleboard in the first place, I now knew it was no longer an option. In addition, the low-tide effect had revealed landmines of coral gardens, which, although beautiful, certainly didn’t help my confidence level.
The startling ocean views helped calm me, however. The water was crystal clear and glassy, and the sun began to glow a warm orange hue, preparing for its inevitable decent into the horizon.
As the sky began to darken, we approached the end of the lagoon and, to our pleasant surprise, the reef was just above water level. We climbed up the side and carefully walked along the algae-covered coral, giggling as the untrodden reef tickled our feet. We watched as the ocean swallowed the remaining speck of sun. Tiny waves trickled over our toes, and we could hear larger waves crashing in the distance.
“Pretty incredible isn’t it?” my friend asked. “I think we can safely say that this is part of the magic of Tahiti.”
I couldn’t have agreed more.