Moorea’s Club Bali Hai

By Len Nadasdy
This item appears on page 55 of the January 2013 issue.
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I made my 24th annual visit to the island of Moorea in French Polynesia, March 3-31, 2012. Tahiti and its neighbors in this archipelago are the loveliest islands I’ve visited in the South Pacific.

Cook’s Bay on Moorea is the most beautiful tropical sight in the world. It’s framed by 2,000- to 3,000-foot mountains covered with a vibrant green jungle of flowering trees. The best things about this tropical Eden is there are no snakes or wild animals, and sea breezes seem to keep mosquitoes and other bugs to a minimum.

On my first trip to Moorea, in 1959, there was only one unfinished road around part of the island. Now a hard-surfaced road goes completely around it, and many shops and hotels, both budget and luxury, line the way. However, a lack of visitors, discouraged by high airfares, has caused serious economic difficulties for all businesses.

My accommodation choice has always been the Club Bali Hai Hotel, on the shore of Cook’s Bay. It’s a perfect place for families because it’s not a big, formal hotel.

Swimming pool at Club Bali Hai Hotel, Moorea. Photo: Nadasdy

Among the resort’s rooms are over-the-water units that are not crowded together along a dock. There is always a cool breeze, so you don’t have to turn on the A/C. Also, every unit has a kitchen. (Within walking distance, four grocery stores with full lines of food products and wines also sell fresh French bread for 50¢ a loaf.)

The Club sells timeshares, and I have owned one in an over-the-water unit for about 24 years. At first, I purchased only one week, but I increased it to four weeks a year as I became more enchanted with the place. My annual fee is now $710 per week.

However, you don’t have to own a timeshare to stay there, and rates are far less than those of 4- to 5-star resorts elsewhere on the island. Excluding 14% tax and breakfast, nightly rates run $140 (bay-view room) to $298 (over-water bungalow), single or double occupancy.

Prices at the Club’s restaurant, The Blue Pineapple (open 7 a.m.-2 p.m.), are probably the lowest on the island. Their fresh banana pancakes ($7) and Tahitian-style donuts are a good start in the morning, and, in my mind, they serve the best grilled mahi mahi ($32) on the island. They also serve poisson cru, the fresh Tahitian tuna salad ($18).

Allo Pizza is an easy walk from the Club, and there are several excellent restaurants nearby whose staffs will provide free transport from your hotel. Rudy’s offers rack of lamb and excellent steaks ($27-$34) as well as a special available only there: crab-stuffed parrot fish ($32). Kaveka Hotel has a variety of dining choices, with musical entertainment some nights.

A visitor could eat at a different restaurant every noon and evening for a month. Prices of entrées run $25-$35.

Club Bali Hai is great for people who want to kick back on the beach under a palm tree or in the swimming pool, and all kinds of tours are available, such as swimming with rays, snorkeling and sightseeing by boat or jeep.

The airlines flying from the US to French Polynesia are Air France, Air Tahiti Nui and, departing from Honolulu, Hawaiian Air. Between Los Angeles and Papeete, the round-trip fare is presently about $1,200.

There is a fast ferry for the 30-minute ride from Papeete to Moorea (about $13 one way). Once on Moorea, it’s about a 20-minute ride by bus ($4) to Club Bali Hai Hotel, or you can take a taxi ($35). Exchange dollars at the airport to pay for these.

This is one trip I look forward to all year.

LEN NADASDY
Independence, MN

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

I made my 24th annual visit to the island of Moorea in French Polynesia, March 3-31, 2012. Tahiti and its neighbors in this archipelago are the loveliest islands I’ve visited in the South Pacific.

Cook’s Bay on Moorea is the most beautiful tropical sight in the world. It’s framed by 2,000- to 3,000-foot mountains covered with a vibrant green jungle of flowering trees. The best things about this tropical Eden is there are no snakes or wild animals, and sea breezes seem to keep mosquitoes and other bugs to a minimum.

On my first trip to Moorea, in 1959, there was only one unfinished road around part of the island. Now a hard-surfaced road goes completely around it, and many shops and hotels, both budget and luxury, line the way. However, a lack of visitors, discouraged by high airfares, has caused serious economic difficulties for all businesses.

My accommodation choice has always been the Club Bali Hai Hotel, on the shore of Cook’s Bay. It’s a perfect place for families because it’s not a big, formal hotel.

Swimming pool at Club Bali Hai Hotel, Moorea. Photo: Nadasdy

Among the resort’s rooms are over-the-water units that are not crowded together along a dock. There is always a cool breeze, so you don’t have to turn on the A/C. Also, every unit has a kitchen. (Within walking distance, four grocery stores with full lines of food products and wines also sell fresh French bread for 50¢ a loaf.)

The Club sells timeshares, and I have owned one in an over-the-water unit for about 24 years. At first, I purchased only one week, but I increased it to four weeks a year as I became more enchanted with the place. My annual fee is now $710 per week.

However, you don’t have to own a timeshare to stay there, and rates are far less than those of 4- to 5-star resorts elsewhere on the island. Excluding 14% tax and breakfast, nightly rates run $140 (bay-view room) to $298 (over-water bungalow), single or double occupancy.

Prices at the Club’s restaurant, The Blue Pineapple (open 7 a.m.-2 p.m.), are probably the lowest on the island. Their fresh banana pancakes ($7) and Tahitian-style donuts are a good start in the morning, and, in my mind, they serve the best grilled mahi mahi ($32) on the island. They also serve poisson cru, the fresh Tahitian tuna salad ($18).

Allo Pizza is an easy walk from the Club, and there are several excellent restaurants nearby whose staffs will provide free transport from your hotel. Rudy’s offers rack of lamb and excellent steaks ($27-$34) as well as a special available only there: crab-stuffed parrot fish ($32). Kaveka Hotel has a variety of dining choices, with musical entertainment some nights.

A visitor could eat at a different restaurant every noon and evening for a month. Prices of entrées run $25-$35.

Club Bali Hai is great for people who want to kick back on the beach under a palm tree or in the swimming pool, and all kinds of tours are available, such as swimming with rays, snorkeling and sightseeing by boat or jeep.

The airlines flying from the US to French Polynesia are Air France, Air Tahiti Nui and, departing from Honolulu, Hawaiian Air. Between Los Angeles and Papeete, the round-trip fare is presently about $1,200.

There is a fast ferry for the 30-minute ride from Papeete to Moorea (about $13 one way). Once on Moorea, it’s about a 20-minute ride by bus ($4) to Club Bali Hai Hotel, or you can take a taxi ($35). Exchange dollars at the airport to pay for these.

This is one trip I look forward to all year.

LEN NADASDY
Independence, MN