Saturday, January 26, 2008

Danielle - Bora Bora...Paradise found

After many months of searching for just the right place, we finally agreed on Bora Bora as our belated honeymoon destination. It was quite a voyage getting there from the Pacific Northwest, but as soon as we could see the bright blue and greens of the scenery we knew we had chosen well. Bora Bora welcomes you with the views and imagery you see on postcards. It's dramatic scenery and total privacy offers you what I think of as the most romantic island in the world. If you are looking for white sand and crystal blue waters with a backdrop of lush green mountains and hibiscus flowers, this is the place for you.

We were greeted at the St. Regis with a welcome fit for a king, and queen. The staff and the resort left nothing to be desired. If you are looking for true luxury accommodations, the St. Regis offers you just that and more. It comes at a price but if you have the option, go for it. Many resorts offer the classic overwater bungalow accommodations. We loved ours. We were diving off the deck like little kids and snorkeling right outside our room. Where else in the world can you stay in a bungalow like that?

The food was a reflection of the French culture fused with the Polynesian culture. There is plenty of seafood and lots of french delicacies. Croissants and crepes for breakfast and local fish for dinners. We spent most of our time at the resort but a great local restaurant was Bloody Mary's. It was one of the few nightspots on the island. Bora Bora isn't a big late night place. It's pretty quiet and romantic. The wines were amazing thanks to the link to French culture and champagne was available everywhere. An interesting point to note about French Polynesia is that it is not expected or encouraged to tip. The price on the menu is the price and tipping is not expected. Kind of nice since everything was quite pricey.

Tahitian black pearls are a big deal around there as well. We shopped at one of the many pearl shops in town for a whole day looking for just the right ones. Be sure to educate yourself about pearls before buying any. It is quite an investment and the details of it are quite similar to purchasing a fine diamond. Lots of things to learn before purchasing one.

We did a few days of scuba diving as well. The visibility was fantastic and the sea life was plentiful. Large lemon sharks, sea turtles, and giant barracuda were just a few of the fish we spotted. TOP Dive was wonderful and we would suggest using them for your diving. Their equipment and boats seemed the nicest and most up to date.

We spent 10 days in paradise and loved it all. If you are looking for privacy and a low key romantic trip in a gorgeous setting, you will love Bora Bora.


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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Stacie - St. Martin

My husband and I have traveled to St. Martin five or six times now. The island is owned half by the French and the other half by the Dutch, so the island has two distinct personalities. The French side has a more European flavor with fine restaurants, boutiques, pristine topless and clothing optional beaches. But be prepared to pay the price. The French side uses the Euro, and the current exchange rate is 1 Euro = 1.47 us$. The Dutch side is more Americanized with lots of bars, fast food, more conservative beaches and a more outgoing nightlife. The Dutch Guilder is at a fixed rate with the US dollar so there is no devaluation.

We always stay at Le Flamboyant Hotel, on the French side at Baie Nettle. The hotel is located on Simpson Lagoon, the largest natural lagoon in the Caribbean. It is not necessary to speak French but it is helpful to have some knowledge of the language. Most of the French people we meet enjoy trying to help us speak their language better. A three minute drive from the hotel is Baie Rouge, one of our favorite beaches. This beach is very long and offers soft sand, blue surf and two local restaurants. All of the beaches on the French side are topless and a few (Baie Rouge & Orient) are clothing optional.

Just over the border on the Dutch side is our other favorite beach, Cupecoy. This is the only clothing optional beach on the Dutch side. Johnny and Danny offer drinks and cook the best barbeque chicken and ribs on the island.

After sunning in the mornings we usually head over to the Sunset Beach Bar. This unique beach bar is located at the end of the Queen Juliana Airport (SXM). 747’s and other jumbo jets pass just 50-75 feet over your head! Photographers flock to this bar to capture photos like none other in the world.

Since there are so many great restaurants in St. Martin, all-inclusive hotel packages are not recommended. Marigot (capital of the French side) has a beautiful marina with plenty of wonderful water-side dining and shopping. Grand Case is renowned for its fine French restaurants. Simpson Bay on the Dutch side offers a more relaxed, causal international dining experience. Our favorite is Bavaria, an authentic German restaurant; be sure to get the potato soup!

If you ever get tired of St. Martin, trips to Anguilla, St. Barts or Saba are only a 1-2 hour boat ride away.

Thanks for all the great emails when I post photos on Malibu Strings. I hope to have my new website up very soon. Until next time…

Malibu Stacie

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