Call it selfish, call it what you want, but surfers have been giving their significant others gifts they can “both enjoy” since the beginning of time. You got me a new bikini? Of course! We’re going to Bali? We sure are, babe! If she couldn’t have foreseen you two honeymooning at a gorgeous place with (coincidentally) one of the best lefts on the planet — then she surely doesn’t know her man. To keep up with the tradition of generous surf spouses, reserve two flights to Tahiti following the ceremony and check yourselves into an idyllic overwater bungalow. She’ll be blown away, and a little later, you’ll be getting blown-out of draining lefthanders. See: not selfish, just win-win. –Beau Flemister
At A Glance
Best airlines: Air Tahiti Nui or Air New Zealand (average $1,200 round trip from LAX) Hawaiian Airlines (about $1,000 from HNL)
Best swell: South-Southwest
Best months: April-October
Best boards: A good shortboard that works well in hollow reefbreaks and a step-up or semi-gun if the swell’s looking serious. A tow-board if…c’mon, who brings a tow-board on their honeymoon?
Before I book, what conditions am I looking for? It’d be smart to know what the wind is doing, as dead winds are always favorable, but since honeymoons are booked in advance, you’re just going to have to roll the dice on this one. Any week in the summer is safe, but don’t book in August when the Billabong Pro ‘CT is happening (August 15-26). Unless, of course, you want to battle the best surfers in the world in the lineup and/or have your new bride leave you for Taj Burrow. Yeah…didn’t think so.
So, where do I surf? Well, ya ain’t traveling to Tahiti not to surf Teahupo’o. And don’t get all clammy on us — it breaks at any size. Four-foot Chopes offers some of the easiest, most gorgeous tubes you’ll ever get. Other reefbreaks like Taapuna and Vairao are also great lefts and if the wifey wants to try and surf, Papara and Papenoo are mellow beachbreaks. Haapiti on the neighboring island of Moorea is another world-class, freight-train lefthander and you can jump over there on the Aremiti ferry out of Papeete.
I’ve heard of the term “reef pass,” but can I still paddle out? Yes, you can. But be prepared for a 20-minute paddle — most likely solo — to a break you can barely see from shore. Most breaks offer boat taxis or kayak rentals, and going that route is much safer. Plus, we’re sure your babe would prefer lounging somewhere she can actually see you.
Is Tahiti really that expensive? Yes and no. That depends on how hard you wanna ball. Sure, if your lady wants you guys staying in the overwater bungalows, like the Sofitel Ia Ora — that’ll cost around $450 a night, on up to $800 for the ones on Bora Bora. Hotels around Tahiti aren’t cheap and rental cars can be pricey too. But there are other options (read on).
Tahiti’s more than one island, right? Oh, indeed. There’s the main island of Tahiti, which is one island in the Society Islands. Then there are the Gambiers, the Australs and the Tuamotu atolls, making up the expanse known as French Polynesia. You can hop domestic flights or ferries to many of these outer islands, and we recommend you do.
The wife is pissed I’m surfing so much. God forbid you want any “me time,” right? Not to worry. If she’s keen, there’s incredible snorkeling, diving and hiking on Tahiti, and plenty of amazing waterfalls. Or, if you really have surfed too much, take her shopping for black pearl jewelry and pareos (sarongs). If you time it right, you can both go watch the Heiva (a huge annual Tahitian dance festival in July) or the Hawaiki Nui Va’a (a massive canoe race in November). Both events are nationwide cultural phenomena.
What if we f–ked up and got married in the winter? Well, you’ll never f–k up by visiting Tahiti. But if you’re referring to the waves, you may still be in luck. Tahiti and Moorea both have northerly-facing breaks, and if the swell is big enough, Michel Bourez’s boyhood home in the Tuamotus has a few firing right and left reefs that funnel in the winter swells that hit Hawaii (albeit a couple of days later).
So actually we’re kind of, um, broke. Was that open bar at the wedding really worth it? That $5,000 cake? Those swanky little invites? That said, you can do Tahiti on the cheap. Stay at bed-and-breakfast-style pensiones for half the price of hotels. Eat like the locals do from the roulottes (food trucks) that sell an array of amazing Tahitian delicacies: crepes, waffles, chow mein, poisson cru, baguettes, breadfruit and steak frites. There are actually some campsites too, if you’re really struggling. But c’mon, you’re on your honeymoon! Whip out that plastic and charge it to the game!
Any other useful tips? Learn a few French phrases and the locals will respect you; learn some Tahitian and they’ll love you. The Tahitian people, by the way, are some of the warmest and most beautiful people you’ll ever meet and should be the highlight of your trip. The local beer, Hinano, is delicious, too. Oh, and don’t get ahead of yourself at Teahupo’o. Over 6 feet, leave it alone. Your new wifey ain’t ready to become a new widow.