Thanks to Isle, my husband Matt and I were able to enjoy our honeymoon in Moorea and Bora Bora with our very own, Isle inflatable SUP’s. Until we received our inflatable SUP’s in the mail and saw how small they pack down, we never thought it would be possible to “check” full size stand up’s as regular size luggage. At the airport in L.A., we had to laugh a little as we watched our two inflatable SUP bags complete with paddles and pump, scoot down the baggage belt. Our honeymoon was officially starting!
The flight out of Los Angeles was an easy 8.5 hours overnight to Papeete, Tahiti where we were greeted with heaven scented lays and sent off to board an early morning ferry, escorted by dolphins, to the island of Moorea. Upon arriving at the boat dock, we took a van to our hotel and baggage wise, we were so happy to not be carrying regular SUP’s (which we debated) – the inflatables transported easily from plane to boat to van.
Moorea is insanely beautiful. The mountains are tall, jagged and covered in green. “Lush” is the perfect word for Moorea. It’s teaming with flowers, trees, and vines. We enjoyed the trip around the island, watching the aqua water peak out from behind the palms as we hugged the shoreline towards the northwest corner of the island where our resort was located.
When we arrived, it was still early so our room was not ready and we hit the sandy beach. I could not believe the water colors and fish. I was blown away – and eager to get to our inflatable SUP’s for a better view! Soon, local surfers started to to show up in the lagoon to paddle out to the reef where a perfect left and right wave were breaking. Yes, we were in a good spot. This is about the time I completely stopped thinking about Michigan, discarded my cell phone for the entire trip and completely checked out.
After being upgraded to an over water bungalow (adjacent to the sea turtle sanctuary), we followed the little maze of paths, docks, and bungalows which weaved in and out of land and over water. The bungalows were very secluded feeling. We’d swear we were the only ones at the resort. About an hour after settling in to our bungalow, complimentary champagne and a congratulation card was delivered. These are the sweet little perks of honeymooning!
Days in Moorea went slowly. Sometimes we’d go for an early paddle board session before the wind picked up or we’d go for a run before it got too hot. If the wind did pick up strong enough, we were ready to go kiteboarding in the lagoons and Matt was anxious to make it out to the break. When it was calm, we used our inflatable SUP’s to explore two little motus a mile or so away from the resort. The resort actually did rent SUP’s but there was a small fee and renters were not allowed to leave the lagoon. Using our own SUP’s, we had no limitations so we took advantage of this and explored the amazing reefs and 50 shades of turquoise water. One of our favorite things to do was to pack food and Hinano (Tahitian beer) and paddle out to one of the motus for lunch.
My most memorable paddle in Moorea: Moorea is known for sharks so I had been preparing myself for the inevitable encounter which I preferred to experience on a paddle board first before experiencing kiteboarding. My fear of sharks is likely my biggest limitation with water-sports in the ocean, however, I know I need to get over this and was ready to on this trip. On our first paddle, sure enough, I saw a 4′ black tip approaching the side of my board. I felt pretty safe and it looked small so didn’t panic. However, Matt wanted to go in to the shark and ray feeding area now! Normally, you have to take a jet ski or boat to this spot and schedule it but with our SUP boards, we had the freedom to go right now, on our own. We didn’t know if we were in the right spot when we got there but all of the sudden, just like the photos, there were about 20 sharks and a bunch of rays. A guide was feeding them for a family of tourists on a shark feeding excursion. It was incredible. Matt jumped in, he has way less fear than me and has done this before… It took me a while but finally, I jumped in too and even went underwater to swim with them! The sharks didn’t have much interest in us at all. The rays, on the other hand, came right up and swam around our waists and arms. They feel like velvet.
When it was time to pack up for our next stop, Bora Bora, we again were reminded how easy the inflatable SUP’s are to pack. Matt deflated them quickly, rolled them up, and popped them in their bags. To get to Bora Bora, we would be taking an inter-island flight. Unfortunately, they charge for luggage per kilo and have stricter bag size limitations. Still, we were able to fly with the inflatable SUP’s even on these smaller flights. This time, instead of chuckling at the fact that we were checking SUP’s, we were entertained by the chickens and cats running around our gate!
Arriving in Bora Bora is an unforgettable experience. First, the island is striking from the sky, then you land on a small patch of land accessible only by boat (or plane) that is beautiful enough on it’s own to be a vacation destination! The resort staff greeted us again in the airport with lays and water then helped organize all of our baggage so it could be checked on our water taxi. Everything was super easy and our hotel in Bora Bora was up to par with the one in Moorea however it was much more focused on the water.
The water in Bora Bora is the most breathtakingly gorgeous water in the world and paddling is HUGE in Bora Bora – what a great combination. The protected lagoon is a playground for water-sports of all kinds but paddling dominates. Many of the people who worked at the resort, paddled to work everyday and every house we saw in Bora Bora had a full stock of surfski’s, outrigger canoes, and SUP’s in back.
Our over water bungalow maintained our inflatable SUP’s tied to the deck so we could enjoy the convenience of paddling everyday and often more than once a day. The wind was usually too light to kite but just strong enough to give us a good workout on our SUP’s before enjoying a downwinder back to our bungalow. Like Moorea, there were plenty of Motus we could paddle to also. Wherever we went, people were always surprised and then impressed that our boards were inflatable. They thought inflatables paddle boards would be smushy or gigantic. We were even skeptical at first but that changed right away. The inflatables sup boards are really solid and track well. Beyond that, they are light weight and durable. We did hear from some people on the island that inflatables are becoming the board of choice for use on sailboats which seems like a great idea.
On Bora Bora, our favorite place to paddle was Matira Point. The lagoon there is so large, clear, and blue, that the horizon nearly disappears and the sky and water meshed together at times. We never saw any more sharks but there were many rays and colorful fish to admire. The lagoon at our resort offered SUP’s and kayaks but no one except for locals were paddling where we were so again, we were thankful to have brought our own iSUP’s to explore. One other great spot to check out in Bora Bora are the Coral Gardens. It’s another place usually just accessible by boat unless you have your own SUP.
A few days in to the trip, we meet a friend of Matt’s, Moe, who lives in Bora Bora who told us about a SUP race he and his wife were participating in. Both Moe and his wife, Uranui are likely the fastest paddlers in Bora Bora so I was excited to check it out but didn’t think I’d be racing until Matt asked if Moe had extra raceboards… Moe did, and he graciously offered them to us. I was a bit nervous as I haven’t paddled hard lately (it’s winter in Michigan) but Moe wouldn’t take no for an answer. I’m glad he didn’t, the race was awesome and an experience I will not forget. The course and view were picture perfect. The island girls were fast and it was a hard paddle but full of great, positive energy. Everyone thought Matt and I were from the neighboring island of Raiatea during the race so there was a lot of laughing when we said we were honeymooners from Michigan afterward. It was easy to tell why paddling is so popular in Bora Bora. I love the paddle lifestyle everyone there lives and would love to be able to spend more time there!
At the end of our stay in Bora Bora, we deflated our SUP’s and packed them up again but this time, it would be for the long haul back to Michigan. What started out as a once-in-a-lifetime, honeymoon only, bucket-list trip, has now become something we are going to try to repeat many, many times and we will be bringing Isle Inflatable SUP’s every time we go.
Thank you ISLE!!!!
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