personal travel & adventure

Sailing & Exploring French Polynesia

Sailing French Polynesia - roomfortuesday.com Hi friends! I’m back from my long, restful, and adventurous vacation. I’m excited to be back to work, as I’m feeling rejuvenated, inspired, and have a fresh perspective. I love how travel does that. This was actually the longest time period I’ve ever stepped away from work or the blog. I think it’s something I’ll probably begin doing more regularly… hello newfound work / life balance! Someone please hold me accountable to that. Ha! Anyway, today I wanted to share some fun snippets from our trip and a peek at French Polynesia through my lens. Click through for a virtual escape to the islands, vacation recap, and for a glimpse at the beginning of my new favorite hobby: diving. 

Sailing French Polynesia - roomfortuesday.com This was my first trip to French Polynesia and will definitely be back! It was a trip that was three years in the making, and I’m still in awe it actually happened. We had cancellation after cancellation, jumped through multiple hoops, took lots of tests, and travelled in taxis, planes, and boats to get to our destination. The whirlwind of planning and the trouble to get there was well worth the effort and our flexibility! The Tahitian people are so friendly and willing to share their culture (which was also a great opportunity for me to practice my French), the food is incredible, and the water color ranges from the most unbelievable aqua to sapphire blue. Naturally, I made Emmett take a photo alongside the water (pictured below) to compare it to the color of his t-shirt… although I have no idea what’s happening with his pose.

Sailing French Polynesia - roomfortuesday.com It truly feels and looks like the island paradise you’re accustomed to seeing on screen savers- photos really don’t do the color palette justice! I kept taking my sunglasses on and off to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me.

Sailing French Polynesia - roomfortuesday.com We began our vacation with a day & night in Tahiti, followed by a couple days in Huahine, before boarding our sailboat in Raiatea. We were most excited about the boat and sailing. It felt like a fun adventure and unique way to see the islands.

Sailing French Polynesia - roomfortuesday.com We spent the majority of our trip on the water, sailing, exploring the lagoon, and scuba diving multiple times each day. It far exceeded my expectations, and Emmett & I both agreed that we’ll be chartering a boat again someday for future beach vacations.

Sailing French Polynesia - roomfortuesday.com This trip was an absolute dream… diving, fishing, exploring secluded beaches, snorkeling, hiking jungle ruins, discovering off-the-beaten-path local spots, and just treating everyday like a new adventure. That’s our kind of vacation, and I have to say- Emmett, myself, and our two friends did a pretty good job planning an epic vacation.

Sailing French Polynesia - roomfortuesday.com We swam with tropical fish, sharks, manta rays, and explored the reef & coral gardens. I even descended on my first shipwreck dive (Nordby wreck)– which was my favorite dive of our trip. It was an early 1900s ship and I enjoyed imagining what it looked like when it was floating on the surface, in tact. I wish I had good photos of it, but the visibility was poor. You can catch an IG story of it here.

Sailing French Polynesia - roomfortuesday.com I definitely unearthed a strong excitement for diving. I know some of you love diving too (I’m looking at you, Danna!). It’s really too bad we don’t live near the ocean… all the more reason for me to convince Emmett we should save for a beach house renovation someday. Interesting fact- before I decided on a career in design, I thought about exploring marine biology. Basically, I lived my best life in the water the entire vacation. We even got picked up in the dinghy after a couple drift dives… that felt like a cool moment.

Sailing French Polynesia - roomfortuesday.com Emmett and our friend, David, took their GoPro cameras underwater, so I can’t claim the beautiful underwater photography… but I do think I’m going to sign up for a scuba photography class. We’re pretty close to getting our advanced diving certification after diving so much on our trip, and an extra curricular course is necessary- I’d love to expand and play around with getting creative underwater! If you’re a diver or underwater photographer, I’d love to hear your recommendations.

Sailing French Polynesia - roomfortuesday.com Emmett and I (as well as our two friends we travelled with) are the type of travelers who crave adventure and enjoy trying the local favorites. One thing we were most excited about was discovering les roulottes– or local Tahitian food trucks. In fact, we loved the food so much- we went back a second time on our last day, during our airport layover…. just to have one more local dinner. I’m not going to lie- we didn’t ever eat at the photographed truck below (we opted for the trucks that offered local fish), but this one looked the prettiest for a photo. Haha! I highly recommend the Chez Dominique truck for the chao men and poisson cru. You can also visit small rum distilleries, pearl farms, vanilla plantations, and other interesting local industries. We squeezed in as much as we could, but the roulottes were a highlight!

Sailing French Polynesia - roomfortuesday.com After parting ways with the boat that was home for over a week and saying goodbyes to our new local friends, we landed at the most recognizable French Polynesian island (the one you always see in photographs!), Bora Bora. I’ll admit, the resorts are filled with couples celebrating momentous occasions and honeymooners, but having a few restful days at the end of our trip was a nice change of pace and the perfect way to bid farewell to the islands.

Sailing French Polynesia - roomfortuesday.com The over the water bungalow definitely felt luxurious. We stayed at the Intercontinental Thalasso in Bora Bora, for those who messaged asking for details.

Sailing French Polynesia - roomfortuesday.com The view was really beautiful, and we had a private pool (we shared a bungalow with our friends)– which was pretty wonderful for lounging & relaxing after all of the diving… though I probably spent more time floating & swimming in the lagoon. Not having an ocean nearby our home always makes me spend as much time in the saltwater as possible when on vacation.

Sailing French Polynesia - roomfortuesday.com Of course the designer in me also picked up a lot of inspiration from French Polynesia. As you might expect, the use of rattan, bamboo, teak, grasscloth, lightweight linen, palm fronds, and textural woven materials was abundant.

Sailing French Polynesia - roomfortuesday.com Instead of coffered ceilings and bulky millwork, I really appreciated the use of woven palms and rattan installed on the ceiling as a decorative treatment. The majority of the window treatments I noted were sheer, white panels that looked lovely blowing in the soft ocean breeze. Everything felt very lightweight, appropriate for the climate.

Sailing French Polynesia - roomfortuesday.com Typically, I’m always eager to come home at the end of vacation, but closing the chapter on this special trip was bittersweet. Perhaps it’s because we hadn’t travelled internationally in SO long, but I was sad to leave. It also reignited a passion for exploration & travel, learning about new cultures, discovering newfound places, trying new food, and embracing new hobbies. Last year certainly taught me to enjoy and appreciate these moments because we never know when our next chance for new experiences will be.

Sailing French Polynesia - roomfortuesday.com Let me know if you’d like any specifics, if you’re also planning a trip to French Polynesia in the future! I’d be happy to share additional info. If you’re a diver, I’d highly recommend the dive shop Hemisphere Sub in Raiatea… our crew loved Julien and we’d be lucky to dive with him again someday.

Sailing French Polynesia - roomfortuesday.com I think French Polynesia would be a versatile spot for whatever type of vacation you prefer- luxury, adventure, relaxation, etc. There are plenty of ways to customize the experience based on your wants & needs- I think that goes for any trip though!

Sailing French Polynesia - roomfortuesday.com Emmett & I are already dreaming of planning our next big getaway for 2022. Do you have any fun vacations you’re looking forward to or are excited to plan for the future? We actually have one more beach trip planned (that is rapidly approaching)… we’re meeting my siblings for family vacation. It’s the first vacation we’ve all taken together (ever!) and hopefully it won’t be the last. I’m excited to squeeze my niece and nephews after not seeing them for a few years! Are family vacations a thing or tradition in your family? If so- where do you like to meet? Do you travel well with friends?

Sailing French Polynesia - roomfortuesday.com I’ve got some fun blog posts lined up for the remainder of the month, and I’m excited to get back to work. We rolled up our sleeves and made some progress on my office renovation over the weekend, and I ordered more materials for our entryway. I’ve got quite a few painting projects and posts to share in the coming weeks that I think will be helpful! Let me know what other types of posts you would enjoy reading this summer, and I’ll add them to my list. Thanks for being here!

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  • Reply
    Sally
    July 12, 2021 at 4:02 am

    I am officially Horribly Envious™️! I have always wanted to go to FP, but being in the U.K. it is an absolute horror to get to – we’ve been to both Australia and New Zealand before on separate trips and know well the joys of such a long journey! Roll on the idea of full sedation for 24 travelling hours!

    Your photographs and descriptions paint a glorious picture – maybe for our next long-haul it really will be time…

    • Reply
      Sarah
      July 12, 2021 at 11:02 am

      Haha! It was definitely an adventurous and beautiful trip, Sally! I’m really happy we kept rescheduling and were able to make it happen. The long trip was well worth it… just a bit longer than New Zealand from your direction! I’d definitely recommend it for your next long haul or beach vacation. Happy you enjoyed the photos. Have a great week! xo

  • Reply
    Peggi
    July 12, 2021 at 5:07 am

    Sigh. Definitely the dreamiest of trips! Although the diving scenes make my chest tight, I adore being on or near the ocean. (I grew up inland, but I was actually born in a beautiful little Maine coast town.) I have had a tropical vacation on my wishlist for eons. I’ve definitely ogled those over the water bungalows a time or two! My travel bestie, though intrepid, isn’t one for water adventure, so islands aren’t near the top of our shared list. I am headed to Seward, Alaska in two weeks to see my brother. Plenty of water and exploration, but certainly no diving.😂
    I’m glad that your special getaway was finally realized, but it’s great to have you back! I look forward to office and entry updates! Here’s to a lovely week at home! 💜🌴☀️

    • Reply
      Sarah
      July 12, 2021 at 11:00 am

      It really was a dream! There is just something about the ocean and salty air. I can’t wait to visit Maine someday! And you’re off to Seward?! I’m envious!! When our Alaska trip got cancelled in 2020, we were supposed to take the train there. Have a wonderful time, enjoy the beautiful Alaskan landscape, and family time with your bother! That all sounds incredible. I can’t wait to follow along and live vicariously through your photos. I’ll also have to get some local recs from you once we’re able to reschedule next year. Have a fantastic week, my friend! xo

  • Reply
    Lauren
    July 12, 2021 at 7:59 am

    When AD unveiled their article about the best over water bungalows last week, I instantly thought of you! Island getaways will always have my heart, and being near the water is something that my soul cherishes. Perhaps that’s the island heritage in my blood, or perhaps I would have loved the water anyway…we’ll never know. Ha! The views you’ve shared with us are picturesque and capture the quintessential island vibe. I’m drooling!
    Jeff and I are overdue for another long vacation, and beach getaways are our favorite travel destinations. At the top of my list is the Greek isles, but you’ve made a case for FP! How dreamy, relaxing and adventurous! Island cultures hold a special place in my soul and I find it fascinating to learn more, immerse myself in the local eateries, and soak in all they have to offer. It seems we share that aspect of traveling to new places.
    Speaking of adventurous-how you were able to dive in such close proximity to sharks without absolutely losing your mind is admirable! I have always wanted to learn to dive, after growing up hearing my dad’s diving adventures. The idea of being isolated in the deep, near sharks though…that’s a panic attack in the making for me! I commend you for being cool as a cucumber.
    Welcome back Sarah and Emmett! I’m so happy you both had an amazing getaway; you definitely deserve the respite. While I missed our mornings together, work life balance can easily get away from all of us. I have no doubt you and Emmett will strike that balance again now that things are opening up, but just in case, I’ll be certain to hold you accountable to that!! You wasted no time in jumping back into the office project, and I’m very excited to see the progress, and of course the entryway…so much to look forward to! Happy Monday friend. Xoxo

    • Reply
      Sarah
      July 12, 2021 at 10:57 am

      I missed that article! I’ll have to go back and search for it. The construction of the over the water bungalows is crazy! We were actually really impressed with the craftsmanship of the one we stayed at. I’m envious you live by the ocean. Maybe someday we can have a vacation property or something. Greece is definitely on our list as well! Diving is my new favorite hobby- it was incredible. I’m already looking forward to diving again in a couple weeks. I have a feeling many of our future vacations are going to revolve around the best dive spots. Haha! Very cool that your dad is also a diver! Thanks for holding me accountable :) I seriously need it. Ha! Hope you have an awesome week, Lauren! xo

  • Reply
    Morgan
    July 12, 2021 at 2:01 pm

    Hi Sarah! This post was absolutely beautiful. I’m 50/50 when it comes to the type of vacation I prefer. I either want the entire trip to be fast-paced and adventurous, or I like to sit and relax and do nothing. French Polynesia is at the top of where I’d like to vacation. It would definitely fall into the latter category of how I like to vacation though, ha! Anywho, I always love your posts on paint colors. I find your eye for tones to be impeccable. I have a massive project coming up- painting the exterior of my transitional style home. I would love to see a post on your favorite exterior paint colors, as well as architectural details you prefer (who knew deciding on gutter materials could be so daunting!). As always, it’s a pleasure to hear from you!

    • Reply
      Sarah
      July 13, 2021 at 4:57 pm

      Thank you so much, Morgan! I’m happy to hear you enjoyed it. I think I’m probably 60/40 (adventure/relaxing) when it comes to vacation. I was definitely ready to relax by the end of our trip! I really appreciate your kind words- I’ll add some more paint related posts to the calendar, as well as architectural & exterior posts. Having just replaced our roof, I know how daunting the gutter and material selection is. So many options!!

  • Reply
    Kelly
    July 19, 2021 at 12:51 pm

    Your vacation sounds amazing! Are you or your husband pro sailers or did you have a guide/captain?

    • Reply
      Sarah
      July 20, 2021 at 9:06 am

      It was really wonderful! We hired a local captain for this one.

  • Reply
    Danna F
    July 20, 2021 at 8:55 am

    Your trip looks so incredibly beautiful and relaxing! Impressed that you and Emmett just got your scuba certification and your first big dive is in Tahiti! “Go big or go home…ha!” Seriously, my dives have been in murky lakes. Snorkeled in a lot of beautiful places but since the rest of my family is not certified (mom fail) we have not scuba dived in the ocean. It’s on our to do list.
    The best vacations are those that you get out and experience the culture. Discovering local food is what makes it that more memorable. My husband would be all about the rum distilleries. Some of his favorite rums where from trips we took. You guys really did it right with sailing, scuba diving and just enjoying the island. Our favorite trip of all time is sailing the BVI on a 44′ sail boat with friends.
    What a great idea to do a scuba photography class! I am always intrigued by the simplicity and beauty of the decor at island destinations. You captured it well! So happy you were able to take that trip and have a great time! Sorry for my late response. We were in Lake Tahoe for a week.

    • Reply
      Sarah
      July 20, 2021 at 9:49 am

      Haha!! Go big or go home, I guess. We’re at ~30 dives right now (we did a LOT in Tahiti), and we’re meeting our siblings in Florida this weekend, so we’ll be doing more diving. I’m definitely addicted to exploring underwater. Maybe your kids will want to get certified and go ocean diving with you? Emmett and I are kicking ourselves for not doing it sooner (I guess mid 30s is better later than never). We did lots of other certifications during our college years and this would’ve been perfect for that phase of our life. I’m with you on experiencing the culture and food- that’s always our favorite part. We tried some very strong rum samples and whew- some of them were hard to swallow (120 proof, yikes). They had some unique flavors though- passionfruit was my favorite! We usually bring back or ship a bottle of alcohol during our travels (whatever is local), but this time we didn’t have room. The sailboat was the way to do it! It sounds just like your BVI trip with friends. It’s a fun and adventurous way to explore! How was Lake Tahoe? That’s another gorgeous spot! I hope you were also able to unwind and relax :)

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