It is always hot in the islands and, well… Chocolate surely is not the perfect thing to buy.
But as this little box with 4 chocolate-covered macadamia nuts – made in Tahiti - was the only appealing item to be bought in conjunction with the tin box of coconut tea and the Gauguinesque coffee to match the amount of CFP we had left, we took it.
It reminded me of the chocolate you could buy in GDR before the reunification of the two Germanies, a bit whitish on the surface from being stored at not really adequate temperatures. But it was still edible – but given the price of about 6 or 8 Euro, of course, not worth the money we had paid for it. The nuts, however, were in perfect condition ;-)
I was very sceptical about buying this coconut tea in the beautiful Gauguin-inspired tin box. When I first tasted it I regretted that I had not bought more of it. Now I stretch it by just adding one spoonful of coconut tea to two spoonfuls of green tea… The coconut tea is strong, so it totally overwhelms the flavour of the green tea, there is a wonderful coconut scent in the room when I make it, and the taste is similarly beautiful.
Funnily enough the tea of the tea does not even come from the islands but from Asia. I hope at least the ground coconut comes from French Polynesia LOL
But really, the reason for buying it was the beautiful tin box with the Gauguin-style “Noa Noa” (= sweet smell) design. I thought this is a lasting souvenir and a reminder of this beautiful trip, and apart from that I love Gauguin’s paintings.
The tea (125 grams) cost 660 CFP (5,50 Euro), so not even expensive.
We also bought half a kilo of coffee with Gauguin design ;-) It was roasted in Tahiti and had the typical flavour of French coffee. Normally we would have bought coffee but we had some CFP left and looked for something with the right price, and there was not a lot more for exactly this amount and somehow useful ;-)
On photo 2 you see the beautiful design of the coffee bag.
That is the basic piece of clothing of all Polynesians. It is nothing but a rectangular piece of cotton fabric handpainted or printed with mostly floral designs. You can wear them as dresses or skirts, long or short, and as shorts (what men often do), just tied around the neck, crossed over the breasts, around the waist… The locals have special techniques of tying the pareos together, so you do not lose them ;-)
In Tahiti I bought an especially nice short pareo which also serves as an elegant scarf.
In other countries the pareus are called Lavalava (Tonga, Samoa) or Sarong (Malayan).
In pre-European times the pareus and lavalavas were made of textile mats made of pandanus leaves or wild hibiscus bark.
Generally if you are planning to buy something in French Polynesia, it is best to haggle with a local market trader than try and buy something in a shop.
Haggling is very much the word though. Never pay the original price.
The other nice thing about market traders is you tend to be able to have more of a conversation with them than with a shop worker. In this case, you can see the father looking after his daughter, and you get to see a bit more of Polynesian life.
What to buy: Carvings, necklaces hats etc
What to pay: It will not be cheap!
These colourful Batiks are sold all over the island. They are very colourful and look great blowing in the breeze.
As with all things Polynesian, never pay the first price you are told, always haggle hard!
This picture shows a Batik on the right that has a Paul Gauguin design on. He is a famous artist who lived in Polynesia for 4 years from 1897 to 1901 and painted a lot of 'Polynesian' art.
Note:- Being English, I use the correct English spelling for colour, and not the corrupted American spelling of it ;-)
What to buy:
If you have seen Pirates of the Caribbean, you may have thought that the curse of the Black Pearl was just a name right? No, in French Polynesia, some of the pearls are actually blackish in appearance.
As all things are in extremely expensive in Moorea, you could end up re-mortgage your house to buy one (well OK, that is a bit of an exaggeration, especially if you buy a poor quality one), but almost everything in French Polynesia is seriously expensive. People expect you to haggle, so try your luck in several places to see what price you can get.
As French Polynesia is so expensive, it may be advisable to buy the pearl unmounted, and get it mounted when you get home. I didn't actually buy one, but they are pretty to look at!
What to pay: Probably down to your skill at haggling...
What to buy:
Monoi is a wonderful product made from coconut oil and different flowers and herbs. The most popular fragrance is that of the Tiare Tahiti. But you can also buy vanilla, coconut and sandalwood scented monoi products.
Monoi oil can be used as a moisturizing lotion, a perfume, suntan lotion, mosquito repellent, hairdressing and a massage lotion.
Monoi oil, soaps, shampoos, bath gels and balms can be bought in pharmacies, super markets, hotel boutiques and even in souvenir shops.
What to pay: Most monoi products are inexpensive.
What to buy:
The Tahitian black pearl is French Polynesia's biggest export product and, together with the traditional souvenirs, the most sold item to tourists visiting French Polynesia. The beautiful black pearls are produced by the black-lipped oyster living in the lagoons of the Tuamotu and Gambier Islands.
When you shop for your black pearls you can make a better choice if you know what to look for in choosing a quality pearl. The main criteria are size, shape, surface quality, luster and color.
On the website below, you can find more info.
What to buy:
Most of the islands have souvenir shops and arts and craft centers, where you can find hand-painted pareos, carved Marquesan bowls, ukulele, tikis, woven hats, shell jewelry, vanilla beans, and much more.
What to pay: More than you would expect
There are many pearl farms around the Polynesian lagoons, producing black pearls, from a special oyster found in abundance in this region. The colours of the pearls actually range from pearl white to black and also deep purple, grey and champagne. They are cultured meticulously and used to make various jewellery.
Most tourists do not go all the way to the Polynesian islands to stinge. So black pearls should make very special souvenirs and presents. There are many jewellery shops in and around Le Petit Village at Hauru Point in Moorea.
As for me, French Polynesia was the end of my 1-year trip. My friends and family members certainly DID NOT GET the chance to say, "My daughter / sister / friend went to Tahiti and all she got me was this black pearl necklace."
Moorea had a history of vanilla plantation. Many made fortunes from vanilla production during the early 20th-century. However, due to a disease and tourism, the industry died off.
Still, there are some vanilla pods available for sale as souvenirs here.
These just crack me up and yes, COCONUT BRAS are for sale in the souvenir stores around Le Petit Village at Hauru Point in Moorea Island. There are even tiny little shells sewn on them.
All together now: EWWWWW….
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Motu Tehotu, 98730, French Polynesia
Good for: Couples
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