Best way to see Tahiti and French Polynesia

Jan 12th, 2007, 07:58 AM
  #1  
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Best way to see Tahiti and French Polynesia

I'm trying to plan my honeymoon, and need some advice. I know I want to go to Tahiti and French Polynesia, but I don't know the best way to do it. The two options I was considering is the Princess 7 day cruise, or just flying there and spending 3 or 4 days on Bora Bora, Moorea, and ..... maybe 1 or 2 other islands. Any ideas??

Thanks!
beej210 is offline  
Jan 15th, 2007, 09:03 AM
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Hi Beej210,
How much time do you have? 1-2 weeks? We did 3 days in Papeete upon arrival and 4 days of Moorea, then we boarded the Paul Gauguin for a 7 day cruise, taking us to Raiatea, Taha'a, Bora Boara and back to Moorea. I loved the combination, but if you have only one week, it depends what you like. Personnally, if I had one week only, I would do Moorea/Bora Bora or Moorea/Taha'a on my own and ditch the cruise. The cruise is nice, but I'd rather spend more time on the islands rather then on the ship. The Paul Gauguin was much smaller than the Princess and it still felt like we were in a hotel most of the time. We liked our stay on Moorea because we could immerse in the culture and mingle with the locals. We are planning to go back in 2008 and we're planning to take 3 weeks and do Moorea again, Taha'a, Bora Bora or one more island maybe. Hope this helps; it's a fantastic trip no matter what you'll decide to do.
AndieB is offline  
Jan 15th, 2007, 12:51 PM
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I agree, if you only have 1 week and want a relaxing HM, I would opt for the land vacation as well. If you're leaning towards cruising, you might want to check out the message boards on www.cruisecritic.com. People there can answer every minute detail of the cruise you're interested in...and everyone is very helpful.
junkgalore is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 09:43 AM
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We have about 11-12 nights to spend there. I know the Princess ship we'll see more places, but the reviews on cruise critic are only so-so about the ship. If we do it on our own, is there enough to see doing moorea for 3 nights, bora bora for 4 nights, and a 3rd island or will we be board? Also, has anyone done a 3 or 4 night small sailing cruise?

I'm just looking for some suggestions on the best way to see tahiti and FP in the 12 or 13 days we have there.

Thanks!
beej210 is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 02:52 PM
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beej210,
I haven't done a cruise in that area...but generally speaking, I think whether you go land or cruise will depend on your main objective. If you want to see as many islands as possible, then obviously the cruise. But I find that with cruising, you don't really get the full flavor of the place since you are only there either a full day or sometimes even, half a day. That barely gets you enough time to rush out after breakfast to meet your day tour group or head off on one or two activities before you get back. Also, there is the factor of food. With cruising, many are compelled to eat most of the meals onboard since it's "already paid for." And I think this also leads to some missed opportunities to try local fare...and local interaction. Don't get me wrong, I love cruising but I think cruising and land vacations provide truly different experiences.

As for getting bored...I think if you research all that Moorea, Bora Bora or another island have to offer, you'll find plenty to do and see. What's more, you'll find time to relax, go snorkeling after breakfast...or scooter around the island making discoveries for yourself.

Btw, which cruise itin are you looking at? I noticed the Tahitian Princess offers cruises to Cooks, Marqueses or Hawaii paired with Polynesia. Does the itin offer several at sea days or is it island hopping daily?

Lastly, which fits into your budget better?

I guess if it were up to me, I would choose land for a HM because I would be looking forward to de-stressing from the wedding and some quiet moments to enjoy with my new husband.
junkgalore is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 03:18 PM
  #6  
 
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I understand that you want to "see" everything and don't want to miss anything. Believe me, I'm that type of traveller. However,keep in mind that eventually, all the islands pretty much start to look the same: beach, lagoons and palm trees. Although Bora Bora is legendary, many people are of the opinion, including myself, Moorea is actually more stunning, scenery wise, than Bora Bora. The smaller islands are nice, but you'll get the same as you will get on Moorea, Bora Bora, Taha'a and all others: beach,lagoons and palm trees. I'd be very happy just spending 10 days in Moorea, but since it's your first time, you need to see Bora Bora; it would be a shame not to! With 11-12 days, remember that you need to allow a couple of days to travel back and forth from wherever you're going to be to get back to Papeete to fly home; this reduce the time you have to fly around. I honestly don't think you'd miss anything if you don't do a 3rd island. There are basically not much to do when the sun's down and especially on small islands. FP is paradise for relaxation, not night life. There are nice excursions to do on Moorea and Bora Bora and you can spend the rest of the time basking in the beautiful hot sun and take in the incredible warm blue lagoons. If you feel the urge of a 3rd island on your itinerary, I would add Taha'a. You also don`t want to live out of your suitcase for 10 days and frankly, seeing a 3rd island won't make a difference in your experience. When we arrived in Moorea after 3 days in Papeetee, I was ready to just stay there for the whole 2 weeks and do nothing but snorkle!! Spend less on traveling inter-islands and treat yourself to nice excursions and accommodations. It's very cliché, and very expensive, but the overwater bungalows are worth doing at least once in a lifetime. We splurged in Moorea and don`t regret it for one minute. Yes, it`s overpriced but oh so neat!

AndieB is offline  
Jan 20th, 2007, 07:36 PM
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I would highly recommend a 10 day cruise with a pre or post hotel stay. I have done it twice and it is a great way to see F.P. I would recommend the option that includes an overnight in Bora Bora. The whole area is very expensive and a cruise is a very economical way to experience the Islands. Stay and eat on ship and expore during the day.
jagoffee is offline  
Jan 20th, 2007, 11:27 PM
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When are you planning to be there?
If you will be there during 2 weeks before or 1 week after 7/14, you might want to consider synchronizing your schedule with the Heiva festival.

As for me, I don't do cruise. After going thru all the hassles of getting there, I want to soak in the environment 24x7.

Each island has a different feel. They don't get mixed together. Go to many islands as your heart desires. The inter island air trip process is very simple, as if from the bygone days once you leave Papeete.

Tahiti, which usually means Papeete, is highly populated. The feeling there is just like other tropical city, and therefore gives the least South Pacific island feel that the visitors usually look for. It has least interesting lagoons and barrier reefs of the three often visited islands.

Moore is an island with decent lagoons, barrier reefs, motus, and tall mountains.

When you fly into Bora Bora over its gorgeous lagoon, you canít believe how there can be such a beautiful island. However, its beauty is attracting hotel constructions and cruise ships. While the scenery remains unforgettable, the island life is getting touristier. There seemed to be more huge cruise ships in port during early part of the week. If you do stay on the island and not cruising, you might want to check the cruise schedule to avoid being there when the cruise ship passengers overwhelms Vaitape and anything near it.

Rangiroa is an atoll; that is to say, there is no island -- just barrier reefs. It has a huge lagoon. In fact so huge the other side of the lagoon is invisible from one side. This creates an infinite expanse of mirror calm turquoise water when there is no wind. The development so far has not taken toll on this atoll and therefore my favorite place to stay. The only negative part is that I had to contend with water rationing, as fresh water is hard to obtain when there is no mountain.

As for things to see and do, let's see, doing nothing is probably one good thing to do. Besides that, each hotel has cultural events on selected nights. Also, if want to take advantage of the excursions offered, remember that it rains quite often in the afternoon. We couldn't do a sunset cruise in Bora Bora even though we stayed there three nights because it rained every evening at sunset.
nickn is offline  
Jan 21st, 2007, 03:48 PM
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Which months of the year should one avoid planning a trip to French Polynesia? Also, for those interested in a non-cruise trip, what would you recommended as the best flight route from the US? Thanks to all of you in advance for advice.
Acacias is offline  
Mar 7th, 2007, 02:34 PM
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I've just returned from my third trip to Polynesia - two have been on land, and one on the Paul Gauguin. There are definitely pros and cons to both.

If fine food and service are crucial, the ship is a far better option. Many visitors to the resorts have high expectations for service that are not met (and they pamper you on the PG). Moreover, no one goes to FP for the food (but it's great on the ship). It's also a nice way to see many islands (and you do spend two days at BB and Moorea) without having to lose large chunks of time flying from island to island.

On the ship, your costs are more fixed - food is very expensive when on land, and when you sail on the PG, other than excursions and souvenirs, your trip is paid for up front. Agewise, there's a real mix on the ship, and definitely more to do at night than on land.

The cons... it's nice to be on the island and be able to soak in the atmosphere. THe crew on the PG is largely Filipino, with a handful of Tahitians, and while it has a local feel, it's not the same as staying on the island itself.

Another pro for staying on land - it's a little easier to call your own shots. If it's 8 am and you want to snorkel, you can. That's tougher on the ship. While the PG typically is at sea at night, there are still limits on what you can do when.

Overall, it's a question of what's important to you - if pampering and luxury are critical, the ship is a safer bet ... so many people go to FP with unrealistic expectations ("I'm spending $600 a night, so therefore I should be pampered" - but not realizing the price is driven by the real estate, not the pampering you will receive)...

My last trip was to Moorea / Tahiti - I'll be glad to answer any questions about either. I can highly recommend the renovated Sofitel on Moorea - we had a great week!
beckaboo is offline  
May 20th, 2008, 04:45 PM
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It depends on how much money you have. We just returned from FP sailing on the Tahitian Princess. We had a great time. We talked to people who had spent three or more days on land before boarding the ship and you could not believe the prices they paid. 800-1200 per night for hotel rooms, $134 for cont.breakfast. It was amazing. I guess if you have the money you might want to try the land but....
richhb is offline  
May 20th, 2008, 05:00 PM
  #12  
 
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You may want to consider taking the Aranui to the Marquesas.
mistadobalina is offline  
Aug 9th, 2008, 01:01 PM
  #13  
TC
 
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We spent 3 weeks in FP. One week on the island of Ragiroa at Relaise Josephine. It was amazing to sit over wine each night overlooking Taputa Pass and watch dolphins play in the tidal surf.

We then took a sailboat - bareboat - and sailed amongst the island for two weeks. It was unbelievably breathtaking. From the boat we were able to see both the magnificent water and the stunning islands. We spent many, many days in lagoons or on islands with no one else around -- just us and the blue, blue water and the most pristine reefs for snorkeling.

If you don't sail on your own, look into chartering a boat with a captain. I believe this is truly the best way to see these spectacular islands and it is much less expensive than over water accomodations.
TC is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2008, 12:50 AM
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Hi TC,

Just wondered which company you used for your bareboat charter?And would you recommend them?Have you any tips you could share on the sailing round FP--where to go and whats not worth the effort etc.

Thanks
Penny
Penny_T is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2008, 10:13 AM
  #15  
TC
 
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Hi Penny, We used SunSail charters. We've used them in many locations around the world. They are a great company. The web page for SunSail out of Raiatea has a lot of good information regarding the sailing.

We are experienced sailor, so the four of us (two couples) take the boat alone. We found most of the sailing pretty easy going as it is done inside the large lagoons that surround the islands. Having said that, the tides were a bit of a beast and one had to be mindful not to run aground as the tides changed. We sailed around Raiatea and Tahaa and then on to Bora Bora. Our guys are divers, so they wanted to dive Bora Bora. Frankly, I didn't think the island was worth the effort, but it was o.k. We never made it to Huaine as the weather changed and the sea outside the lagoon was quite rough the day we had planned to go.

The lagoons and islands were so amazing that we could have stayed for days without much forward movement. We would anchor in a spot and snorkel right from the boat into our own private crystal clear aquarium. There was seldom another boat nearby. The guys would fish (we caught a 30 lb. yellow fin tuna to eat) or we would go ashore in our dinghy for dinner at a local restaurant. We were taken one day by a local pearl farmer to his overwater harvesting shack to watch the process of making the black pearls. It was amazing. We spent one day doing an island tour on Tahaa with a local naturalist learning about the farming of vanilla, etc. We had spent the night anchored in his private lagoon. We took our dinghy up the flower laden river at the boat basin on Raiatea. I would be happy to share more specific information if you decide to go this route. However, the SunSail boats have tons of specific information in notebooks on-board and they do a great pre-sail briefing.

http://www.sunsail.com/yachts/destin...ynesia/raiatea
TC is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2008, 10:17 PM
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Hi TC,

Thnaks for your reply.I will do as you suggest and search the website.If I need further info I will post a message.

Kind regards
Penny
Penny_T is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2008, 08:22 AM
  #17  
TC
 
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I'll watch for your posts, Penny. Or you may contact me at [email protected].

Cheers.
TC is offline  

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