This might be simultaneously the easiest and hardest blog post I’ll ever write. Thinking of five experiences will be a breeze - the hard part will be limiting myself to only five.

Because they’re my two favorite places in the world, I’m going to focus this list on Hawaii and Tahiti. As I sit here typing, I have a feeling I’ll need to make this kind of blog post a regular thing, because the number of authentic experiences in the Pacific is way too long to be contained to one list.

Counting down my favorites, starting at number 5:

5. SKYDIVING OVER BORA BORA: Don’t let its ranking on the list fool you - willingly jumping out of a plane from 11,000 feet over the jaw-dropping beauty of Bora will forever be burned into my mind. It was terrifying, but I loved it. The reason it’s not number one is because I will never, ever do it again. Let’s just say, I don’t want to challenge my good fortune of landing back on the ground in one piece. One successful skydive was enough for me!

Kaytee Skydiving in Bora Bora 20160.jpg

4. DOORS OFF HELI TOUR IN KAUAI: I’ve seen a handful of islands from the air, but none of them were as stunning as Kauai from a doors-off helicopter ride. I thought Maui from a helicopter was beautiful, but you don’t realize how intrusive the doors are until they’re removed. Don’t worry - you’re strapped into a very tight 5-point harness! Just wear warm clothes and prepare to be awed.


3. A TRADITIONAL TATAU IN MOOREA: About 9 months before I left for a 22 day adventure through French Polynesia, I stumbled on to an article about traditional Polynesian tattoos, known as tatau. These tattoos are hand tapped into the skin using various tools, such as a sharpened boar’s tooth. I immediately knew I wanted to bring home this unique souvenir and scheduled my appointment with James Samuela, a respected and talented native of the islands. The entire experience was incredible, from the laid back atmosphere to the finished artwork. I look forward to visiting Moorea again someday and adding to my collection.


2. LE SAUVAGE IN RANGIROA: For two whole days and nights, my husband and I stayed on the tiniest speck of land, called Le Sauvage. With no electricity and virtually no other people, Le Sauvage is the private island sister resort of Hotel Kia Ora. We slept in traditional hand built Tahitian huts just feet from the shore. We could look up and see what seemed to be every star in the sky. We were looked after by the motu keeper Michele, a warm and kind Tahitian man who cooked our meals and brought us our lanterns as the sun fell below the horizon. It is by far my all time favorite kind of lodging we’ve stayed in, and it ranks high on my list for a return trip. Learn more about Rangiroa by following this link.


1. SWIMMING + KAYAKING WITH WHALES: This is a definite tie between two very unique experiences. In Maui, I kayaked alongside humpback whales during the migration season. These gentle creatures glide quietly beneath the kayak before surprising visitors with a peek above the water. It’s magical. But it’s hard to rule out the time we swam in the open ocean with the whales off the coast of Bora Bora. I joke that I vacation wherever the whales are, but there is some truth to that. Unless you’ve experienced it, it’s hard to explain what it’s like to be mere yards from a 40 ton animal. It’s powerful, awe-inspiring, and humbling all at once - and I recommend that everyone tries it once in their lifetime.


Do any of these experience have you thinking about a trip of your own to the Pacific? I promise it’s worth the long flight.