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The Well Traveled Hat

Updated on April 27, 2019

Where is French Polynesia

French Polynesia Map
French Polynesia Map

The traveling hat

Read about the daring and adventurous travels of the hat, my hat, in fact. It's been to some of the world's most beautiful and exciting places. It's climbed the steep, sacrificial steps of Chichen Itza, trekked the mountainous jungles of Saba, snorkeled the aqua waters of Fiji with reef and lemon sharks and kayaked the waters of Antigua. And I was lucky enough to accompany him, every step of the way.

What is The Hat made of?

Good question, is it made from straw? Oh no, my friends, this magnificent hat isn't made from mere straw, no indeed! That would be far too pedestrian for a hat of his character. He is made, so I was told by the Mexican gentleman on Isla Mujeres who sold him to me, that he is, in fact, made from algae. (pause for audience gasp of astonishment). That's right, algae. Sea algae. Why? No idea, really. I mean I'm not a professional hatter or even a hobby hatter. The Mexican fellow said something about it resisting the sun more without cracking (so far so good) and it handling wet weather conditions better than straw (seems about right).

Any serious traveler knows that a good hat is essential for good traveling. It keeps you dry, it protects you from the sun and it keeps you company when you are kayaking the shark infested waters of Fiji (see story below). But more than that, the right hat makes you a better person. Cooler, more interesting, it gives you more style. Whilst science has yet to prove this phenomenon, all hat wearers know it's simple truth. So, if you're not quite good enough, never fear because there are hats out there that might make you a better human being.

Tales of the South Seas

The Hat visits Bora Bora

Romance, adventure, piracy on the high seas, these are the kinds of movies the hat likes to watch, but this story is not about movies, it's about paradise on earth...Bora Bora. It was February 2011 when The Hat and I landed on this eden like tropical island and it was breathtaking. If you only travel to one place in your life, make sure it's Bora Bora. It is indescribably beautiful and filled with so many fun things to do that you could spend a life time there. This photo was taken at the Sunset Lodge owned and operated by Bion, the friendliest man in the South Pacific. It's also worth noting that out of all of the places we stayed during our tour of the South Seas including Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea, Huahine and Raiatea THIS WAS THE CHEAPEST AND THE HAT'S FAVORITE!

French Polynesia

Sunset Hill Lodge, Bora Bora

Cheap, comfortable and peaceful

Sunset Hill Lodge in Bora Bora may be the greatest place to stay anywhere on the planet. It's comfortable and relaxed and within walking distance of grocery shopping, the beach, bus stops and down town. The Hat stayed there in February 2011 which is the official off season but the weather was still incredibly sunny and warm. At $5,000 (South Pacific Franks) or just $US60 a night, Sunset Hill Lodge is cheap! But even though you can stay here for a backpackers budget, the Lodge is far from roughing it. In fact, it's one of the most scenic places you can imagine. There are three kinds of bananas growing right outside your door. Bion grows them himself and we had them every morning with breakfast and often when we returned from hiking or snorkeling.

Right outside our door was a man made stream with waterfall and Buddhist statues (see above). This lodge will stay with you for the rest of your life, I promise you. Highly recommended by The Hat.

"Bion (the owner) truly is the friendliest human being on earth. Such a generous and caring person, you couldn't ask for a better host. I'd go stay at Bion's no matter where his B&B was, even if it was on the edge of an active volcano. A really great person with a great sense of humor." - the Hat, 2011.

The Society islands

The Hat arrives on Huahine

The Hat arrived in Huanine at the end of a very active, island hopping tour and you would have thought that after weeks of one perfect, white sand beach after another that one more would have just been...well, old hat (that one even made me laugh!) But you'd be wrong. Huanine was another gorgeous jewel with a beauty all it's own. Admittedly it rained for the day we were there but you have to remember that it was the off season and, despite the very solid, tropical rain storm, we still loved the experience.

Pension Au Motu Mahare

On Huahine, The Hat stayed at Pension Au Motu Mahare and it was a complete immersion in island style living, right down to the sand floor of the private huts. No air conditioning and no fan but not uncomfortable at all in February. There's a common, open air dining area for the guests, a kitchen hut and even a bbq pit you can use to cook your own food. It's a self serve affair where you bring your own groceries to the island but the hosts will take you to the store to get whatever you need. Kim and Walter Fabre, the owners of Pension Au Motu Mahare, were both as friendly as could be. Walter speaks next to no English but Kim is British so we had no trouble communicating our needs. Our biggest disappointment on this whole trip was not getting to spend more time with these two lovely people and this relaxing hotel. The Hat wishes he had stayed longer.

"You will love this place. Single and double ocean kayaks are provided for free. Complimentary transport from the airport to the motu. Whether you are looking for tranquility in a wild and natural atmosphere or tempted by aquatic activities in the crystal-clear waters, you are sure to fall under the charm of this magnificent motu. Hat approved!" Rate: $US78.50 per night in February 2011

Raiatea, Pearl of the South Seas

The Hat had a lot of fun on Raiatea, second largest of the Society Islands (after Tahiti). The friendliest man in the South Seas a.k.a. Bion of Bora Bora, made arrangements for us to stay at the Sunset beach Motel and we were glad he did. Firstly, it's not an actual Motel, you actually get a whole house to yourself! Sitting on the deck, eating a tasty breakfast freshly delivered to you by the smiling French lady that runs the place is a great way to start any day. The house is right on the beach and this is just a great place to stay. HIGHLY recommend it. Warning: the towels were a little like sandpaper though so you might want to make sure you have one of those nifty camping towels in your travel kit. The best thing about this motel is that it makes you feel like you are home because it's a real house, separated from your neighbors houses by a good distance.

RIP hat

Sadly, last year, the hat was lost at sea. At least he went while on an adventure while we were fighting to keep our boat off the beach. A few weekends ago I went back to the beach where he went overboard and looked on the rocks for any sign of him but, alas, there was no sign. I can only hope that he found a new head to call home.

© 2012 Dale Anderson


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