You absolutely must go to...
You absolutely must go to Tikehau in the Tuamotu's Islands. It has the fishiest lagoon in French Polynesia and people there are absolutely lovely and very easy going. Most members of my family live there. Waking up with the Sunrise over the lagoon is something out of this world, along with laying on the beach at night, you would never believe how shiny stars are and how many of them there are spread in the sky.
"Tikehau ' Bird Island'"
Visiting these uninhabited motus and 'bird' island was a great experience !
"Take care of the falling coconuts ;-)"
"Sylvester 'Party' at the 'Tikehau Village'"
A Honeymoon in Paradise...
How could a honeymoon be more perfect ? A loving husband, fantastic landscapes, turquoise waters, friendly people, tasty food... This is a dream come true !
The embodiment of the perfect Honeymoon !
Inspite of our wish to relax, we decided to visit 3 of the Society islands. In a way, travelling to the end of the World like that and remaining 2 weeks at the same place would have been a bit shameful... So, we had to pick the most romantic among all those little gems, which was no easy job :-) Finally, Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora proved to be an excellent choice ...
In everybody’s mind, French Polynesia is already a synonym of paradise. Southern Pacific, Papeete, Cook’s Bay or Bora Bora... so many evocative names that play with your imagination and instantly display paradisiacal sights in front of your eyes... But when you check on a map, you are surprised to see how vast this territory actually is ! Almost the size of Europe, in fact : 118 main islands covering, along with a large number of atolls and motus, a total surface of about four million square kilometres.
It is subdivided into 5 archipelagoes quite distant from one another.
The best know and also the most popular is the Society archipelago, regrouping the Windward Islands (Tahiti, Moorea,...) and Leeward Islands (Bora Bora, Tahaa, Raiatea,...).
Then you have the Archipelago of the Tuamotu (Tikehau, Manihi, Fakarava,...), the largest one, very famous for the pearl oyster farming. This is where you'll find the most beautiful atolls and motu.
Deeper south are the archipelagoes of the Austral Islands (Rurutu, Tubuai,...) and the Gambier (Mangareva, Taravai,...), the most remote.
And then of course, the Archipelago of the Marquesas... so dear to Jacques Brel and Gaugin, and famous for its dramatic submarine walls.
Each of them will offer an array of activities ranging from backpacking trails to the exploration of turquoise lagoons, home to millions of colorful fishes. An activity for everyone...but not for every purse ! This is probably the main drawback of this little paradise on Earth...
Typical beach scene on Tikehau
View from the 'floating Restaurant'
The biggest lagoon on French Polynesia
Snorkelling from the Bungalow - Plus Matira Point
Thanks to everyone who has helped me with narrowing down an itinerary in Tahiti to celebrate our anniversary in July / August 2011. I am leaning towards spending most of our time on Bora Bora ... and finding choose resorts really difficult after reading dozens of tips on VT and TripAdvisor. The top three at the moment for us to have 3-5 nights in an overwater bungalow:
1. Pearl Beach Resort
2. Four Seasons
3. Le Meridien
I have read raving reviews of the Four Seasons, but the Le Meridien has the turtle santuary ... and the Pearl is a little cheaper therefore we could afford to stay a little longer. The Four Seasons and Le Meridien are closer to the Manta Dive site (I'm dying to snorkel / dive with mantas).
I read one review of the Pearl saying the snorkelling is non-existent ... can anyone clarify / confirm if the snorkelling is good from the overwater bungalows at any of the three resorts above?? Snorkelling is one of the main things I plan to do while in the overwater bungalow, so I will be really disappointed if there is no coral or fish at all, just to find out I could have stayed at a different resort which had better snorkelling.
We are also thinking about spending a few nights in a mid-range room near Matira Point to do some of the bigger excursions from there (half day dive trips etc) while we are paying less per night. Any suggestions for where to stay (or not to stay) would be welcomed.
Re: Snorkelling from the Bungalow - Plus Matira Point
I think that you are putting too much emphasis on the reviews. Here is my standard response regarding how to read reviews.
Just a tip on how to read reviews on hotels, tours or any travel services, including TripAdvisor.
Understand that the review process is often confusing, if you don't know what to look for. If the review is absolutely WONDERFUL, it could be a fake review, made by the business itself. If it is absolutely TERRIBLE, it may be an attempt at revenge for some alleged disservice by someone who felt that their own lack of information was the business's fault (No one told us there would be sand on the beach!!) The rest is usually fairly accurate.
Some of the wonderful ones often sound like they came right out of the brochure, and some of the terrible ones, may condemn the whole place, but often focus on a specific unfairness.
After a while you will learn how to get a good sense of what is really going on.
Try TripAdvisor again, using these guidelines, and you may see a pattern. Hope this helps achieve a perspective. Good luck......d:o)
So, when a review says that snorkeling at the Pearl in non-existant, - compared to what?? Diving into the ocean from inside your bungalow, does not mean that you are diving into a tropical fishtank. There are better snorkeling sites on the island than right under the bungalows, but that does not mean that snorkeling is "non-existant".
My favorite is the Sofitel, which has been completely renovated, but any of the ones you mentioned is a good place. Take a snorkeling tour while there, and you will understand the difference.
Don't make yourself miserable worrying about what you are going to miss. Take a deep breath, and pick one! Then stop worrying. I have seen too many people on a vaccation, who never had any fun, because they were constantly wondering what they were NOT getting, to enjoy what they were getting.
.....I wish I had your dilemma......d:o)
Re: Snorkelling from the Bungalow - Plus Matira Point
I cannot comment on the hotels on the motu but I do know Matira Point.
The hotels right by the beach are the Intercontinental Beachcomber and Hotel Matira. I do not know how the quality is - but the beach surely is fantastic. Matira Point is indeed a good place to start excursions, land-bound activities in particular.
What you should not forget is that there are smaller private pensions in this area, so you could save huge amounts of money if you book in there. They are surely not luxurious - but you could save the money for more activities like diving - and perhaps buy black pearls??