A tour of the Coral Garden with Turo as the pied piper

Turo leads the girls through the Coral Garden

DAY 4 — The fish are eating out of our hands-literally.

We are at a tiny motu or islet off the island of Taha’a called Tau Tau, in a famous snorkeling spot called The Coral Garden that is nothing like I’ve ever seen before, teeming with striped banner fish and Sergeant Majors, long skinny trumpet fish, iridescent parrotfish, triggerfish and more. Our captain, Turo, has brought us over in the dinghy from our sailboat moored a short distance away just off shore of the oh-so-exclusive Le Tahaoq’a Island Resort and Spa, where we’ve been invited for dinner.

Click: PHOTO GALLERY We walk through the palm trees, feeling we’re on Gilligan’s Island — it is, after all, a deserted island –except for the five-star resort with the thatch-roofed bungalows over water within eyeshot. We get in the water to play with the fish. Turo has brought bread that the fish eat out of our hands. I’ve never seen so many kinds of fish or such clear water. There’s a big ugly Moray eel and lots of small barracuda.

Again, because we are on our own sailboat from Tahiti Yacht Charter (www.tahitiyachtcharter.com), we literally are masters of our own destiny. We go where we like. We snorkel when we like..we eat when we like. Our schedule is our own. It’s everything vacation should be and more — because we don’t have internet access, all the better!

The current carries around the coral garden so snorkeling is no effort at all. The fish seem as oblivious to our presence as a bunch of high school kids when parents show up. The water is crystal clear…the fish multicolored…. the island ringed by green. It is paradise.

Because the dingy is a bit crowded with all of us, the four girls have spent time sunbathing back at the boat. Turo takes us back and brings them along – they are eager to tour the Coral Garden after our descriptions. My husband Andy takes photos from the shore as Turo, like the pied piper, leads them through the waist-deep channel. Suddenly he turns around – a barracuda in his mouth. The girls jump up and scream! Then laugh and laugh. Turo grabs another barracuda – about six inches long – and Melanie puts it in her mouth. They come upon the ugly Moray eel and there are more screams and laughter.

Later in the afternoon, we leave our sailboat (temporarily) for the kind of digs that attract Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, among other Hollywood luminaries. Le Taha’a Island Resort and Spa — just 60 bungalows, most over the water, is considered the most exclusive resort in French Polynesia and it’s easy to see why (target=”new”www.letahaa.com) is designated as a Relais & Chateaux (target=”new”www.relaischateaux.com) hotel — it’s built in traditional Polynesian style with thatched roofs and only accessible by boat. If you don’t have an over water bungalow where you can see the fish swimming from a glass partition at the end of your bed, you will have a private pool and outdoor bathtub at a beach front villa. The resort will gladly arrange a sitter for young kids so you can enjoy a romantic dinner on a tiny island just off shore where you’ll be treated to a private fire dance and performance from locals.

Of course non e of this comes cheap — over $1000 a night — but occupancy is down, the general manager tells me so perhaps there are deals to be had. There also seem to be more families here, though traditionally it has been a honeymoon spot. Could it be the families are attracted by the kids-fly-free on Air Tahiti Nui? Somehow, I doubt it. This is a place people come to relax and it seems designed for just that — spa rooms open to the tranquil lagoon, a pool with an infinity pool seeming to spill onto the sand, hammocks swung on trees, scattered beach chairs. It is everything a remote resort should be.

We lounge at the pool for an hour where the bartender whips up some pineapple juice for me by blending fresh pineapples. Later, we’re treated to a tradition dinner of Poisson cru — a marinated raw tuna, grilled mahi mahi with coconut sauce and a traditional “poe” banana desert. Yum, the girls agree this wouldn’t be a bad place to honeymoon. But like Cinderella, we leave our over the water bungalow and head back to our Catamaran.

Even in paradise, reality intrudes. We are having a trouble with our generator so rather than heading straight to Bora Bora, we take an hour and a half detour back to Raitaea to get the generator fixed. NO problem! Nothing is a real problem in paradise.

Next: Sharks and sting rays and our own mahi mahi

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