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View Full Version : French Polynesia: What you wish Hawaii was



H60DoorGunner
01-22-2019, 04:59 PM
Nobody replied to my previous request. I'll assume that means nobody else has been to PF, so I'll post a quick synopsis.

I decided on a whim to take my wife this month, and i have to say... it's a spectacular destination. And as the title States, it's what I wish Hawaii was(I haven't been back to HI in 10 years. I doubt it's better), but isn't. Furthermore, I'm of the mindset that if I can't take a gun with me, the destination will be somewhere more exotic than anywhere in the US. To that end... PF encompasses 118 islands, some of which are uninhabited, a few others are off limits to outsiders or reachable only by boat. Typically, people only go to a few of the islands, as they are the primary ones adapted for tourists. Some more, some less. We went to the islands of Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, and Fakarava.

Tahiti: Tahiti is likely what Hawaii was 30 or 40 years ago (this is also what I've been told by those who've seen it themselves). Its grown in population compared to the other islands, and has most modern amenities such as Carrefour (a higher class European walmart). It is very laid back though. There are several nice hotels, we stayed at the InterContenental. I highly recommend this place. However, even if you don't stay here, at least reserve a table for the polynesian buffet and dance/fire show. It's a full production show that rivals anything you've seen on Hawaii.

Some shots at Intercontinental
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Moorea: Moorea is where people from Tahiti go to take weekend vacations. The island is visible from Tahiti, and is a 40 minute ferry ride away. The snorkeling and diving here is really good, compared to places like Mexico or Honduras. There are some good hikes here that we took.

I can't seem to find the pictures, but the views are very nice. We also ate at a very good restaurant here, where the chef tossed scraps to his "pet" sharks off the back porch... it was kinda cool


Bora Bora: Again, a very nice place. It is made up of a singular island in the middle, surrounded by smaller islands at the outside of the lagoon. There are many nice hotels here, and there are some that aren't as good as others. There is one public beach, it's nice, but your hotel will have a private beach that is much nicer. Also several good restaurants. We hiked the island and found some old coastal defense guns emplaced by the US during WWII, as well as attending a polynesian protestant choir festival. I was very impressed at the festival, and if you're there in January, it is worth seeing

We stayed at the Sofitel private island for a week, in an overwater bungalow. The rooms here were nice, as were the views. I'm glad we tried it once, but the service just wasn't on par with the $700 a night price tag. Those of you who have stayed in a place in this price range will know what I mean. I spoke to a chef who worked at the Four Seasons, and a few other people in the hotel industry around the island. They all recommended Le Meridian. I haven't stayed there, so my recommendation here goes only as far as "everyone else said so."

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Fakarava: Fakarava is a small atoll, has only one village and not many accommodations. But, it is a UNESCO protected bio site, and the reef is absolutely spectacular. We went here to dive and snorkel. We were not disappointed in the slightest. We stayed in some nice bungalows right on the ocean, and wound up making friends with the hotel owners and the island sheriff, who lived next door. They all took us speer fishing, and booze cruising around the atoll. Again, we had a blast. If you're into speer fishing or diving, Fakarava is a must see. Even if you don't dive, the lagoon side beach here is killer, and snorkeling can be done from the beach. No paid excursion necessary

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Overall impression: PF isn't quite third world, but I would call it underdeveloped. It's a French colony that hasn't been paid much attention to in most places. For those of you who have worked in East Africa, it will remind you slightly of there... except it's much safer, and the people are far more friendly and less murderous. There is crime, but it is mostly relegated to petty theft and drug smuggling. Avoid the shady looking areas, and you're good to hook. We did come across some "thugs" who acted tough, but I got the sense that most people don't give them any lip. I told them to get out of my way, and they did. As with anywhere, don't be an easy target. The Gendarms aren't busy here at all, and I rarely saw any. Most of the gendarmeries are even closed on Saturdays. I think they deal with domestic disputes, drunkenness, and drugs for the most part. I didnt see then hassling any tourists or giving anyone a hard time who didn't deserve it.

Generally, you will fly from island to island. Airport security isn't invasive, and unless you fly out of Tahiti, there are no security screenings. Between islands, I brought knives and cans of beer onto the airplane unimpeded

Knife on a plane.
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Generally, the people are extremely friendly. Except for the aforementioned group of thugs, we had zero problems. The language spoken there is French. I don't speak it, but my wife does. There are also many who speak varying levels of English. We got around fine, but i will learn more French for next time.

The currency is the polynesian franc, and it is severely inflated... but the prices generally aren't. Buying things on the economy was the same, or slightly less than in Hawaii.

Overall, this is a destination worthy of your money and time. I would even plan high priority business trips here if you want to wow a client or whatever. My wife and I are also considering buying property there in the near future.

I'm posting from my phone. My apologies if the photos are rotated incorrectly. I will fix in a few minutes if they are.

Gabriel Suarez
01-22-2019, 05:57 PM
Sounds very nice brother. I have had that place on my radar for a while. And je parle un peu

H60DoorGunner
01-22-2019, 06:46 PM
Sounds very nice brother. I have had that place on my radar for a while. And je parle un peu

We really enjoyed it. I don't know what you enjoy in a vacation, but PF probably has most of it. If you want less people and more privacy though, I really recommend getting away from Tahiti and onto the smaller islands.

EDELWEISS
01-22-2019, 06:50 PM
Ive always wanted to visit Pitcarin Island....of course I want to visit the Falklands too.

H60DoorGunner
01-22-2019, 07:05 PM
Ive always wanted to visit Pitcarin Island....of course I want to visit the Falklands too.

I don't know about the Falklands, but Pitcairn, the Galapagos, and Easter Island are cheap and quick flights from PF.

I had considered adding Easter Island into the trip because my wife wants to see there, but the flights between PF and those islands need to be planned carefully as they only occur once a week. We only spent three weeks there (we just got back yesterday) and just didn't have the time.

My point is, you could probably do PF and Pitcairn easily if you wanted.

EDELWEISS
01-23-2019, 06:57 AM
Thanks Bro. I had forgotten about Galapagos. Your pics are great. What was the flying time to PF?

Mervo
01-23-2019, 07:09 AM
Great write-up. Thanks for taking the time.

H60DoorGunner
01-23-2019, 12:22 PM
Thanks Bro. I had forgotten about Galapagos. Your pics are great. What was the flying time to PF?

Three hours from Austin to LAX, and around seven hours from LAX to Tahiti. Not bad at all.

And Air France/KLM is a great airline...far better than any US airline. No matter your ticket class, everything, including booze, is gratis.

Captain Ron
01-24-2019, 11:41 AM
This is extremely timely, thank you. We were just discussing an alternate vacation to a previous plan and Bahamas came up just as a quick tropical choice. This sounds much, much better. I also parle un peu. Mais ca fait longtemps!

SEANSTRAIT
01-24-2019, 07:05 PM
Three hours from Austin to LAX, and around seven hours from LAX to Tahiti. Not bad at all.

And Air France/KLM is a great airline...far better than any US airline. No matter your ticket class, everything, including booze, is gratis.

I love Air France and KLM. Sucks when you have to go from them to Delta

H60DoorGunner
01-24-2019, 07:41 PM
This is extremely timely, thank you. We were just discussing an alternate vacation to a previous plan and Bahamas came up just as a quick tropical choice. This sounds much, much better. I also parle un peu. Mais ca fait longtemps!

I've only been to the Bahamas for work. It was nice, but it seemed crowded as far as tourists go.


I love Air France and KLM. Sucks when you have to go from them to Delta

The worst part of the trip was switching back to Delta at LAX hahaha

MichaelJames
02-18-2019, 08:45 PM
I've been looking for a good place to take my next vacation....this may be it. Thanks for the great write-up.