The Sixth Day of National #PlanForVacation Day: Rangiroa, French Polynesia

The first thing that comes up when people refer to Rangiroa is its fantastic marine life. Rangiroa or Ra’iroa means Endless Sky in the native language. It is the largest atoll within the Tuamotu Atolls, located almost 250 miles (one hour flight) away from Tahiti. The atoll consists of a string of 240 islets tied together for over 110 miles.

Narrow sandbars and mini isles preserve a prolific marine life and offer some of the world’s best diving and fishing. The abundance of the underwater world displays an array of live colors. See schools of multicolored butterfly fish, turtles, dolphins, and sharks. Whether you are an advanced diver, beginner, or enjoy snorkeling, an incredible paradise awaits.

Having had the opportunity to visit French Polynesia myself and meeting many of the local hoteliers, I was super excited when Josh & Lindsey came to me and asked to create a unique honeymoon, partially off the beaten path. Although Bora Bora, Moorea, and Tahiti all were part of their fantastic itinerary, they wanted to include an even more secluded, less visited area.

Rangiroa happened to be a dream come true. It is home to Hotel Kia Ora, a boutique luxury hotel located on the northwest part of the atoll, set in the heart of a beautiful coconut plantation, offering the most stunning turquoise lagoon and white sand beach. With only 60 villas and bungalows spread across the grounds, the beach, and over-water, the recently renovated hotel offers an intimate experience to anyone looking for a peaceful stay in paradise.

We picked the hotel for exactly that reason, but also because it offered Lindsey and Josh the opportunity to stay a couple of days on the hotel’s private island called “Le Sauvage.” It is, as the name indicates, “the wild one.” About one-hour boat ride from the resort, the private island offered five bungalows only. At the time, there was no electricity or air-conditioning. Food was provided by the only two resident staff members at a communal table for all guests of the island. Le Sauvage is currently closed for updates, so we will see what has changed once it reopens to welcome guests.

Thank you Josh & Lindsey, for sharing some of your Rangiroa photos!

This is the sixth destination highlight of twelve, leading up to the National #PlanForVacation Day on January 29, 2019. Don’t let your vacation days go to waste, plan a trip!

stefanie pichonnat aavtravelSTEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel; a boutique travel firm specialized in creating customized travel itineraries. Having personally traveled to Hawai’i, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, and Tahiti, she can help you create a wonderful South Pacific experience. To plan a trip contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

The Second Day of National #PlanForVacation Day 2019: Swim with Spinner Dolphins in Waianae, O’ahu

oahuwestsideSwimming with Dolphins is highly popular, but also very controversial with many traditional Dolphinarium facilities shutting down in recent years. If a dolphin encounter is on your bucket list but you want to make sure the animals are happy, and in their natural surroundings, I have a fantastic suggestion!

On O’ahu’s West Side, Waianae Harbor to be exact, you will find a company called Wild Side Specialty Tours. Offering small group experiences (six people maximum, unless it is a charter tour), you become a guest on a ship operated by a crew deeply in love with the ocean and marine life.  There are many things to love about this company, but what I would like to highlight is how this woman-owned company is committed to the ocean, its inhabitants, and their preservation. While you get to experience swimming with dolphins, you can rest assured, that your team makes sure the animals remain safe and protected and that you are doing no harm.

Unlike swimming with dolphins in captivity, Wild Side Specialty Tours makes it possible for you to swim within a group of spinner dolphins in the wild – if you dare that is! The experience is beyond amazing. What might initially seem daunting becomes easy and natural, once you allow yourself to blend into the pod. Watch mothers teach their young dolphins how to swim. Try to keep up. Time flies as you share the ocean with these beautiful mammals!

 

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Written by STEFANIE PICHONNAT 
stefanie pichonnat aavtravel
Stefanie Pichonnat is an O’ahu Master Agent and Hawaiian Travel Specialist at AAV Travel; a boutique travel firm specialized in creating and customizing personalized travel itineraries. You can contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

Finding Paradise in Tahiti – The Brando – Tetiaroa

Imagine a place, far far away, somewhere close to the equator, in the middle of the South Pacific, 17.0000° S, 149.5500° W to be precise.

the brando, tetiaroa, french polynesia, tahiti, private island, castaway, atoll, motu, marlon brando, brando

A place where you will find yourself blinking your eyes, just to make sure it is real.

A place with colors so intense, like you’ve never seen them before.

A place where you hear the gentle lapping of  waves, the light humming of a honey bee every now and then, and a bird screech ever so often.

A place filled with the smell of sea salt, warm air, and tropical plants.

A place where you become one with nature, where time seems to stand still, and all of a sudden you feel at peace with yourself. It is as if you had arrived in paradise and the paradise’s name is Tetiaroa.

Beach at The Brando

The atoll of Tetiaro is located in French Polynesia, also referred to as Tahiti, in the outer parts of the Society archipelago to be precise. Until about 2 years ago, the atoll was known by very few (non Tahitians that is).

Marlon Brando had discovered this paradise when scouting possible locales for the movie “Mutiny of the Bounty.” He was immediately fascinated by this particular collection of motus, their incredible beauty and unique ability to make one feel that much closer to paradise. In 1967 Marlon Brando succeeded in acquiring the atoll and for many years Tetiaroa was his paradise, a place where he, his family and close friends, could escape to.

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Marlon Brando however, wasn’t just a wealthy celebrity. He was also a visionary. He dreamed of an island paradise that would be a model of sustainability. He wanted Tetiaroa’s natural beauty and everything it had to offer, preserved. He wanted to create a center for research and education, that eventually could benefit the entire world.

Although Marlon Brando died in 2004, his dream to create a self-sustaining, top-class, luxury resort that acted as a center for guests, residents, as well as scientific research, became reality. Today, Tetiaroa is likely one of the most unique resort properties you can imagine. Not only is it unlike anything else, it is also very exclusive and the hotel buzz is brimming with many people wondering, if this concept and idea can survive.

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Whether it will or not, only the stars can tell (and there are plenty on Tetiaroa where stargazing is at its best). And whilst the idea might seem crazy to some, the product and concept is solid. The resort is top-notch, every detail paid attention to. The food, despite the fact that you find yourself miles out in the South Pacific, is flawless. The service is impeccable and very personable. You feel welcomed to paradise from the moment you step off Air Tetiaroa’s plane.

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What originally seemed like a place that could quickly become boring, turned almost immediately into a place you would never want to leave.

Here are a few of my favorite images taken during my stay.

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stefanie pichonnat aavtravelSTEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating customized travel itineraries. Having personally traveled to Hawai’i, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, and Tahiti, she can help you create a wonderful South Pacific experience. To plan a trip contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

Sneak Peek of what’s to come: Tahiti, Tetiaroa, Bora Bora, and more

As I am sitting in my office chair, typing on the laptop, my hands slightly chilly from the cooler fall like air, I cannot help but feel the excitement in me grow. This December, I will have an incredible opportunity. Granted, I get quite a few of them and they are always exciting. But this one, this one, I have been waiting for, for quite a while. It is one of these opportunities that only gets extended to very few specialists, and truth be told, most of the time they are located along the West coast, not necessarily from the Midwest.

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Photo courtesy of the Brando Resort

Thanks to Classic Vacations and the Tahiti Tourism Board, I will be traveling to Tahiti coming December. I will get to experience Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Tetiaroa.

Tetiaroa will be our first stop. It is a privately owned atoll in the Windward group of the Society Islands and up until recently was solely enjoyed by its owners, the Brando family. Marlon Brando had discovered the atoll whilst looking for movie locations for the Mutiny of the Bounty in 1960 and eventually purchased the atoll a couple of years later.

Last year however, The Brando resort opened, and now over 50 years later, we all have the opportunity to experience this small piece of paradise.

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Photo courtesy of the Brando Resort

After Tetiaroa we will be heading to Bora Bora, a volcanic island, surrounded by sand-fringed motus (islets). Bora Bora is famous for its spectacular scenery with Mount Otemanu, a dormant volcano, as well as scuba diving and some of the most prestigious luxury resorts.

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Photo courtesy of the Brando Resort

As the leaves are starting to turn, and as it is getting chillier outside, I cannot wait for this exciting adventure to start!

Written by AAV Travel’s South Pacific Expert

stefanie pichonnat aavtravelSTEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating customized travel itineraries. Having personally traveled to Hawai’i, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, and soon Tahiti, she can help you create a wonderful South Pacific experience. You can contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

Visit Hawaii: Which Hawaiian Island should you go to?

Hawaii is unique. Especially for a malihini (newcomer) it can be hard to determine which island to visit.

The first thing to do is asking yourself: What do I imagine my Hawaiian vacation to be like? What kind of pictures do I see in my mind?

  • Have you always wanted to see a live volcano?
  • Do you picture hula dancers on the beach?
  • Have you always wanted to play on one of the many phenomenal golf courses?
  • Or, are you a history buff and Pearl Harbor is a must?big island hawaii, kohala coast, dining, oceanfront, beach, hawaii Image credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

Once you have a good idea of what it is you are looking for, check out the grid we created. This check-list allows you to determine what experiences are available on which island. Check the ones you are looking for, see on which island/s they are available. The island that offers the highest amount of experiences you are looking for should be your top pick.
aavtravel, hawaii, which island to go to, where to travel toYou should leave enough time to properly experience an island. The Island of Hawaii for example does not only have a lot to offer but is also quite big. Travel times are longer and you need a couple of days, if you want to experience most of what the island has to offer. If you only have a week, I would suggest sticking to one island. If you have 10 days or more, a combination of 2 islands is a great option. If you have limited time but want to see them all, you might be interested in one of the cruises.

hana, waterfall, maui, hawaii, hikingImage credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

Every island is distinct in what it offers (from urban to rural and private), which makes choosing the right one a little difficult. Hopefully our grid makes finding the one that suits you best a little easier. No matter which moku (island) you decide to visit (or if you choose to island hop!) you will have an experience of a lifetime.

Written by AAV Travel’s Hawaii Expert


stefanie pichonnat aavtravel
STEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the Hawaii Specialist at AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating and customizing personalized travel itineraries. Having personally travelled to Hawaii she can help you create a wonderful experience. You can contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

Kauai: The Garden Isle — Napali Coast, Waimea Canyon & Poipu Beach

plumeria, kauai, hawaii, aavtravelKauai is the oldest and northernmost of the six islands. It is full of natural, dramatic beauty that you wouldn’t believe until you saw it for yourself. Some parts of the islands are only accessible by sea or air–which makes for views beyond your wildest imagination!

Kauai Attractions: 

Napali Coast – 17 miles of panoramic views of the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean. Picture this: velvet green cliffs and cascading waterfalls. Does it get any better?

napali, north coast, kauai, hawaii, aavtravelWaimea Canyon – Called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” it stretches for 14 miles, one mile wide and over 3,600 feet deep! The lookouts provide panoramic views of deep valleys, gorges and vistas that for on for miles.

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Kauai’s North Shore – Home to the small town of Hanalei which is filled with colorful shops, restaurants and art galleries. Hanalei is also famous for the beautiful taro fields which you will see at the foot of Hanalei’s green mountains.

hanalai, kauai, taro, hawaii, aavtravelKauai’s West Side – At the end of Waimea Canyon you will find the Kalalau Valley Lookout. From there you can see the majestic Napali Coast rise from the sea. It is a beautiful spot to observe light changes which make your view look different from moment to moment.

kalakau, kauai, napali, aavtravel, hawaiiLihue – known for its many beaches, e.g. Kalapaki, this area is great for windsurfing and body boarding. The Lihue area also has numerous historical spots like for example Alekoko, a roughly 1000 year old aquaculture reservoir or Kilohana, a historic plantation.

Lihue BeachesWailua Falls – Not far from Lihue you will find the Wailua Falls. These falls are best know from the tv series “Fantasy Island”. They can be seen from the roadside and are easily accessible. Morning visits are best as you might be treated to a rainbow over the fall.

wailua, waterfalls, kauai, aavtravelPoipu beach – located on Kauai’s South side, Poipu is known for it sunny weather and beautiful beaches. It is a great place for all things vacation. Whether you want to lounge on the beach, snorkel, go shopping or try one of the many excellent restaurants. During the months of December to May it is not uncommon to see humpback whales spouting offshore.

poipu beach, palmtree, kauai, aavtravelKauai Surfing – Poipu Beach, Nawili Harbor in Lihue, Hanalei Bay on the North Shore and Makua “Tunnels” Beach are Kauai’s surfing hot spots. You can watch surfers hit a wave or try it out yourself. November through February waves are particularly massive and surfing is best left to experienced wave riders.

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Written by STEFANIE PICHONNAT
stefanie pichonnat aavtravel
STEFANIE
PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the Hawaiian Travel Specialist at AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating and customizing personalized travel itineraries. You can contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

 

in conjunstephanie jellett aavtravelction with

STEPHANIE JELLETTE

Stephanie Jellett is interning as a travel writer and social media manager at AAV Travel. You can contact her at stephanieljellett@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

The Island of Hawaii – The Big Island: Island of Adventure – Kailua-Kona, Hilo & Volcanoes National Park

big island, black sand, beach, hawaii, aavtravelThe Island of Hawai’i is the largest and youngest of the main six islands. “Big” Island indeed, as it doubles the size of all of them combined. This is definitely one of the most unique islands because it has 11 of the world’s 13 climate zones. You’ll see white sandy beaches, snow capped mountains, waterfalls, botanical gardens, rainforests and active volcanoes. You will find traditional heiau (temples), rich culture and timeless beauty. Can you name another place where you can experience all that?

Hawai’i, The Big Island Attractions:

Hawaii Volcano National Park – Home to Kilauea volcano. It’s one of the world’s most active volcanoes. This extraordinary place is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s one like no other.

kilauea, volcano national park, hawaii, aavtraveKailua Village – This seaside little town is in the heart of the Kona Coast. Rich with history, it used to be a fishing village and an escape for Hawaiian royalty, but today it’s a popular destination for great shopping, dining and learning about the Hawaiian culture.

kailua, hawaii, kona, surfing, aavtravelHilo – The islands capital city. The region is filled with dramatic waterfalls, rainforests and blooming gardens. It’s the complete opposite of the volcanic Kohala coast! Here you can visit the nations only rainforest zoo–you can see lots of exotic plants and animals, including Namaste, a white Bengal tiger.

akaka falls, hawaii, waterfall, aavtravelAncient Hawaiian History and Culture – Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Park provides a look into early Hawaiian culture. Many archeological sites await and it is the perfect place to take a glimpse into Hawaii’s past. Pu’uhonua o Honauau looks particularly beautiful at sunset.

puuhonua, tiki, hawaii, culture, aavtravelKona Coffee Plantations – The Big Island of Hawai’i is home to some of the world’s best coffee. Make sure to stop by a plantation, learn what makes a good coffee, how the beans are harvested and roasted. You’ll have a whole new appreciation for the world’s favorite wake up drink afterwards.

coffee, kona, beans, big island, hawaii, aavtravelActivities abound – Kayaking, helicopter tours, hiking, horseback riding, there are so many opportunities to experience this beautiful island. Take your time, soak it in. Allow the Aloha spirit to enchant you.

Snorkeling, Diving & Sports Fishing – Rich in marine life the Big Island is one of the best places to discover Hawaii’s extraordinary underwater world. The protected waters of Kealakaekua Bay for instance are wonderful to snorkel, or you can find one of the island’s many dive shops if you would like to dive deeper. Keep in mind that marine mammals are protected and should not be approached by boat or swimmers.

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Written by STEFANIE PICHONNAT
stefanie pichonnat aavtravel
STEFANIE
PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the Hawaiian Travel Specialist at AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating and customizing personalized travel itineraries. You can contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

 

in conjunstephanie jellett aavtravelction with

STEPHANIE JELLETTE

Stephanie Jellett is interning as a travel writer and social media manager at AAV Travel. You can contact her at stephanieljellett@gmail.com