Tahiti family yacht hire: luxury without the price tag

Remember the old ad for Cussons Imperial Leather?

A woman, reclining in a spa bath on a private plane (as you do), says to her husband, “Tahiti looks nice”

He promptly picks up a gilded phone to call the pilot: “Simon, Tahiti.”

Tropical fun: Kayaks are used by passengers to get ashore. 

In the foreground is their angelic child, playing with bubbles.

The premise is, while the average family can’t afford to travel to Tahiti, we can all enjoy everyday the luxury of a fancy cake of soap.

Yeah, right!

Bound for glory: Taj leaps off the boat into the crystal-clear waters of Tahiti Photo: Jason Thompson

Well, it turns out Cussons got it wrong.

Believe it or not, there is a way you can play in paradise without paying a hefty price.

The Moorings hires yachts and motorboats, with or without crew, from the most exotic locations on earth – without it costing the earth.

In Tahiti: Tracey Spicer loved yacht life. Photo: Jason Thompson

A week on one of these beauties is about the same price as a mid-range resort. (Especially when you take into account the cost of eating at the restaurants on-site.)

So, as I sipped my gin and tonic, watching the kids dive-bomb into the aquamarine waters, I made a promise to share this secret with my readers.

Ah, the sacrifices one makes!

On the ocean wave: Moorings, Tahiti, is the starting point for an sailing adventure. 

Here are the top 10 reasons you should go on a family boating trip:

– It’s a lot more comfortable than you might think. Our catamaran had a double bed, wardrobe, drawers, shower and toilet in one hull, and two smaller bedrooms and an en suite in the other hull. We all slept like babies (deeply, I mean, not wah-wah) because of the soporific motion of the ocean.

– Unlike a hotel room, there’s plenty of space. Often I’d be reading on the front deck, while hubby was fishing off the back, and kids playing cards on the dining room table. I was worried we’d drive each other crazy, but after eight days there wasn’t one discussion about divorce.

–  The sailing stuff is simple. Why? Because we had a skipper. Laurent navigated the at-times treacherous reefs ringing Raiatea, Le Taha’a and Bora Bora. There’s also the option to self-skipper, if you’ve had experience. All of the boats have the latest marine electronics.

– You can go where you want, when you want, if you want. Each morning we’d check the weather forecast then sail to a protected beach to swim, snorkel, or kayak. If the wind changes, you simply haul anchor and go to the other side of the island.

– No need to pack and unpack, repeatedly. Everything you need is on board. We kept our snorkelling kits, water bottles, and a small camera on the dinghy for each adventure. If you forget something, it’s a quick trip back to base.

– Budgeting is easy. At the start of the week, we did a big shop at the local market, with plenty of fruit, veggies and fish. You can buy a kilo of fresh tuna for the equivalent of $A6, block of Roquefort for $2 and warm baguettes for 50c. If you’re time-poor, you can pre-order provisions through The Moorings.

– So is cooking. Sure, you can choose to have a chef on board. But it was easy to eat fruit or croissants for breakfast, salad or baguette for lunch, and sashimi or  barbecued fish for dinner. One night, Laurent said, “I hear some fish!” He threw in a line and, within minutes, we had five snapper.

– There’s a fully equipped kitchen with two gas burners, a microwave, fridge, freezer, and every utensil known to man. Despite Grace and I being rather clumsy, there were no scaldings, burns, or unnecessary amputations.

– It’s an exclusive pass to secret snorkelling spots. At the Coral Garden, you walk into waist-deep water at one end then let the current take you through schools of butterfly, parrot and trumpet fish. It’s simply magical. Laurent also took us to a stingray colony where he was surrounded by a dozen creatures, each more than a metre in diameter. “Hello ladies!” he exclaimed, as they appeared to hug him.

– You can pretend to be pirates. I’m not suggesting securing a parrot to your shoulder. Simply speak of “scurvy dogs”, “gold doubloons” and “arrharrr, me hearties!” The kids role-played for hours, while we drank wine on the deck.

If sailing doesn’t suit, you can hire a motorboat, or even a river cruiser through The Moorings’ sister company, Le Boat. It’s perfect for a group of families, or a multi-generational trip, using a flotilla of vessels.

Hubby summed it up on our last night, sailing past a wad of over-priced bungalows.

“You know what? That over-water accommodation costs a fortune,” he said. “And here we are, on the water, for about a-third of the price.”

So, repeat after me: “Tahiti looks nice…”

The Spicer family travelled on a catamaran, with skipper, courtesy of  moorings.com.au

TRIP NOTES

GETTING THERE

Air Tahiti Nui flies from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Papeete via Auckland, code share with Air New Zealand, Qantas and Emirates. Then, it’s a one-hour flight to Raiatea. See airtahitinui.com.au.

CRUISING THERE

A seven-night trip on a six-berth Moorings 3900 in March, yacht only, starts at $5775.

TOP TIPS FOR KIDS

– Buy ginger beer in case of seasickness. Fortunately, Taj and Grace fell asleep as we sailed between islands. But it can get a tad rough.

– Let the kids entertain themselves. They made a cubby house, had drawing competitions, and played chess.

– Enjoy the multifarious marine life. Incredibly, the day Grace saw reef sharks circling our boat was the day she (finally) got over her fear of the water. Gotta love exposure therapy.

– Load books onto your iPad or Kindle: space is limited and hard covers are heavy.

– Cut off connectivity. Our eight days felt like a month because we had no wi-fi.

Read more: http://www.traveller.com.au/tahiti-family-yacht-hire-luxury-without-the-price-tag-12m7fy#ixzz3rHMXMhtW