Golden Silver Anniversary

By Diane DeVaughn Stokes

Our silver anniversary was GOLDEN! No doubt about it! We had saved up for this big celebration for two years and had talked about it and planned it for the ten years prior. Yes, the blue and aqua seas coupled with the over-the-water bungalows were calling our names. I’m sure all of you who have seen photos of Bora Bora and Moorea have drooled like we did for this magical adventure. We were fortunate to be able to make it happen.

Flying over Tahiti was breathtaking. Looking down on a mottled mix of blue and green hues reminded me of a painting by Paul Gauguin. We were sandwiched between the ultramarine sky, the cotton candy clouds and watercolor masterpiece below. It was what I imagined heaven to look like. I didn’t care if the plane ever landed. That was the most extraordinary view I have ever seen.

As we flew over Moorea, which Condé Nast lists as the third most beautiful island in all the world, the jagged volcanic mountains resembled those drippy sand castles we used to make when we visited the beach as kids, except much larger and greener. Each structure varied in size and shape overlooking the sandy beaches, pressed against, and melting into the turquoise body of water. If you have read James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific which is all about French Polynesia, you would know that this is an incredibly picturesque island and only ten miles from Tahiti. And for those who are into theater like me, you know this is Bali Hai as described in the Broadway show South Pacific.

Most of the service staff spoke English, but the islanders spoke French and Tahitian. Therefore we loved visiting the local restaurants where everyone had their own take on the local dish known as poisson cru. It mimics ceviche as it consists of raw fish marinated in lime juice and coconut milk that will melt in your mouth almost instantly. I don’t even like sushi, but I loved this concoction. As for their freshwater shrimp, which they call chevreffes, it seemed to monopolize every menu:  Chevreffes in cream sauce, fried chevreffes, blackened chevreffes mounded on top of steak. You get the picture!

Our bungalow here was not over the water as we chose to save that experience (and dollars) for Bora Bora, but we had our own enclosed garden pool. As for the scuba diving, it was a totally different experience than the Caribbean underwater life. One day as we were returning from a dive, the boat captain said there was a humpback whale with her calf in the water just ahead. He suggested that we jump in and gently snorkel over close to them, but not to frighten them. When I look back on this, it’s hard to believe we did it, because if I even stopped for a moment to think about it, I would have not attempted such a thing as the mother might have tried to kill us thinking we were going to harm her baby! But she did not bother us thank goodness and seemed proud to show off her offspring. Once we were right next to them, we realized how huge she was, as her infant twirled around like a circus performer. What a once in a lifetime thrill.

Four days later we flew to Bora Bora and the over-water thatched hut was simply adorable. Fish swam beneath our feet as we looked out over Mt. Otemanu, a dormant volcano. We even had our own mini-dock and pier so that we could open the door to the hut and jump into the aquamarine water. The sunsets were unmatched to anywhere we have ever been, and the diving was spectacular, but not because of the coral, as the Caribbean is much better in that regard. The diving was a “wow” due to the many Manta Rays that paraded over us, and the multiple sharks that seemed to sniff us out knowing we were newcomers to their environs. Of course we were told by the dive master not to fear the sharks as no one had been attacked there in over a hundred years, but I was still scared stiff! Talk about an adrenalin rush!

Food was much the same as Moorea, but Bloody Mary’s Bar and Yacht Club was surely the liveliest and most famous hangout, though very expensive. It was somewhat of a let-down compared to the build-up on its website. But the island and the Motus were each serene, and archeologically different than anyplace we have ever been. Bora Bora was even more extraordinary than we had dreamed and the brochures and web photos could not compare to the glorious reality of being there amidst the colorful splendor.

And so, our twenty-fifth anniversary celebration was surely the best yet. This year it’s our thirty-fifth, and we are headed to Martha’s Vineyard. There is no doubt in my mind we could never replicate the magical spirit of Bora Bora and Moorea. Who knows, maybe for our fiftieth we will return to Bali Hai. As the song lyrics say, “Bali Hai may call you, any night, any day. In your heart you’ll hear it call you. Come away, come away.”

About this writer

  • Diane DeVaughn Stokes

    Diane DeVaughn Stokes

    Diane is the host and producer for “Inside Out” as seen on HTC TV Channel 4, and serves as a commercial spokesperson for several local businesses. She and her husband Chuck own Stages Video productions in Myrtle Beach and share passions for food, theater, travel and scuba diving.

    They own three four legged kids that they adore!

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