Who didn’t dream of Tahiti as a child, or as an adult even! We did and we were determined to go there. It was quite difficult to choose from all those 113 islands but once we did, we could start preparing...
All this time we were dreaming about French Polynesia and now we are going there! The über-paradise surrounded by humongous whiter than imaginable powdery beaches that never end... palmtrees of course and exotic Polynesian girls in banana leaf skirts, strong men with flower garlands, fresh fruits, cocktails... and... and...
...and we were so disappointed.
All we really wanted was a really really really white beach, but when we discovered they are inaccessible for the ‘normal traveler’, we went through the classical stages of grief. No-no-no, this is not true, there must be something wrong with my eyes. Are we even on the right island?
The anger, THIS CANNOT BE TRUE! They lied to us, all these years...
Oh but maybe it’s not too late to change our air pass... we can still go to another island! Bora Bora? Let’s spend another fortune there!
And then... sadness. A tear for spending all this money to see a paradise that probably doesn’t exist. French Polynesia is a hype.
So now, what can we do? Maybe we should try to make the most of it. We straighten our back, wipe the tears from our eyes, resign to the fact that this adventure has cost us a small fortune, and... we accept our fate. (As if that’s such a drama: we are still going to French Polynesia!!)
Thus, we enter French Polynesia blank and immediately see that it isn’t all that bad. Actually, quite fantastic! We discover the true beauty of paradise is not a white beach, it’s much more than that... it’s OOMPFF and we absolutely loved it!
So, visiting this expensive destination probably doesn’t sound very inviting but please... let us convince you, it’s a must!
Now that we have the knowledge of what beauty is all about, we have to warn you... not everything is perfect in paradise. We’ve easily put together our most annoying things (apart from French tourists) top two:
number 1: roosters, there are many and they are not afraid to make some noise. Most are sane enough to start at dawn but some dare to ruin your nightly rest from three in the morning.
Number 2: mosquitoes, they come in big numbers and ignore any repellent. These little triggerhappy bloodsuckers are everywhere and climb through the smallest hole in your net.
That’s it... now enjoy the four pages we’ve put together for you!
The first island we visit and immediately our favourite. The green mountains and candy blue sea, colourful flowers and houses you’d want to live in with a view to die for. Raiatea is just incredibly instagrammable. Besides that, the people are authentic and the tourists haven’t really discovered it yet...
Click the button to read all about Raiatea!
Our expectations were high. Especially the beaches had to be paradisal because that was the only thing we missed on Raiatea. We were not disappointed by what we found. Close to perfection, white sand, palmtrees, azure water... just the way we like em. Authentic and unspoiled.
Mo’orea, that paradise right next to Tahiti. This island has it al, rough proper shaped mountains like oomf! (seriously!) and Côte d’Azur-ish lagoons surrounding it. The nature on this piece of paradise is unique and the underwaterworld is wild and healthy, I’m talking big sharks, stingrays and A-quality corals!
We start and end our adventure in Tahiti. Eventhough we’ve expected a lot of Tahiti that did not turn out to be true, again we were not disappointed. Same as the other islands, we had to adjust our expectations before we could see the true beauty of this paradise...
Click to see what Tahiti truly looks like.
The main language in French Polynesia (you probably guessed) is French, but most native locals speak Polynesian to eachother. This is a weird language if you don’t know what they’re talking about and made no sense to us. Some useful frases you might need:
Ia Orana (yo-rah-nah) – hello
Maeva (mah-yeh-vah) – welcome
Maururu (mah-roo-roo) – thank you
Nana (nah-nah) – bye, see you later
Manuia (mah-nwee-ah) – cheers
E (ay) – yes
Aita (eye-tah) – no
Uua here vau ia oe (oo-ah hay-ray ee-ah oh-ay) – I love you
But of course it’s easier to (try to) speak French! ;-)
Most guesthouses and hotels offer free WiFi but the line is weak and incredibly slowwwww. A sim card with 4G is a lot faster but also unaffordable. You won’t have a good reception on every island and you’ll pay the astronomical price of €25 per gb. So, tempting but no.
We did buy a basic simcard at Vodafone for €5 with 30 minutes to make local calls and 50mb internet which was finished as soon as we turned it on.
Less phone time, more real-time... back to asking the way!
In French Polynesia there are no wild or dangerous animals. In fact, the only insect that is a threat to humanity is the mosquito.
During our 4 weeks in French Polynesia we’ve had a lot of rain. A LOT. From nice tropical showers to clouds falling down in big drops. The humidity was high. It rained in the afternoon or during the night, or all day... a lot of rain.
The days were hot and the nights quite cool. May is the end of the rainy season so we’ve probably just had bad luck. Of course, without rain the islands would not have looked this lush green, huge fruits and tasty veggies. It’s just so much more fun when it’s not raining...
Currency: 100 Polynesian Franc = € 0.84
In these 26 days in French Polynesia we've spend:
Transportation: € 897.70 (includes air pass)
Accommodation: € 1894.10
Food and drinks: € 615.65
Entrance fees: € 0
Other: € 27.50
That brings us to an astronomical daily budget of: € 132 for two persons including everything except international flights and scuba diving*.
A painful big chunk of our total budget, but money well spent. A once in a lifetime experience too ;-)
With this budget we've stayed in double rooms and bungalows with or without private bathroom, a fan and sometimes a small breakfast. We did not have airconditioning but didn’t miss it for a second.
We’ve eaten in simple restaurants a few times and cooked our own meals most days. Eating in a restaurant can be quite costly. Having a kitchen is definitely an addition. Your dinner gets an upgrade while you’ll pay much less. There is very much fresh fruit and a diversity of vegetables available for a low price (or sometimes for free!) and we bought fresh fish a couple of times for just a fraction of what we would pay in the Netherlands.
Here are some examples of products and prices in euro:
French bread in supermarket: € 0.45
500 gram fresh red tuna: € 4.00
1 liter milk (long life): € 1.00
Pizza in restaurant: € 10.00
Coffee with milk in a cafe: € 3.75
Beer (250 ml) in a cafe: € 4.20
Beer (500 ml) supermarket: € 1.85
Main course in restaurant: € 20.00
Petrol per liter: € 1.07
Simcard with 50MB data: € 5.00
On Raiatea we have done 3 scuba dives by boat to different sites of the island with Hemisphere Sub. For this we paid € 52 per person per dive including all gear. The dive centre has excellent gear a new boat. We were satisfied with the guiding skills of Farid and the sites were breathtaking. Stunning soft and hard corals, Blacktip-, Whitetip and Grey Sharks, Napoleon fish, Baracudas and Trevally’s.
On Huahine we did 2 dives with Annie Brunet’s Mahana Dive. We had to make a reservation through email and pay 25% ahead by PayPal. The rest we paid by PayPal too. In total we pay € 52 per dive person.
Annie has a small dive centre on the beach, her gear and boat are excellent and her guiding skills are even better. The reef isn’t always the best but there are many different fish unlike other places we’ve seen in the South Pacific. Grey Sharks, Blacktip and Whitetip reefsharks, Eaglerays, Baracudas and more...
On Mo’orea we’ve chosen to dive with Mo’orea Fun Dive, where Christian and his wife have more than 20 years experience in finding their way through the corals. We pay € 104 for a double dive per person.
Christian is an excellent guide and does everything according to the rules. He has his rituals and habits that might come across as auto-pilot. Nevertheless, safety is a big thing. Both dives were quite short, but that might have been the level of the other divers in our group. In Mo’orea the corals aren’t exceptionally gorgeous but they look very healthy and there are a lot of different fish, as well as Reefsharks, Turtles, Eaglerays ánd Lemonsharks!
In Tahiti we dived twice with Scubatek in Papeete. We paid € 50 per dive per person. This was a strange experience because for the first time ever, due to language problems there was no briefing and we felt a bit ignored. The gear was alright and we were confident enough to jump in anyway. Our guide Jerome never left our side, but clearly did not speak any language under water either.
With our without the help of our guide we discovered the underwaterworld to be incredible, huge never ending canyons with good hard corals and loads of fish.