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When and Where in the South Seas?

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Aug 20th, 2009, 02:59 PM
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When and Where in the South Seas?

Posted by: cmstraf on Aug 16, 2009 at 01:26 PM
Posted in: Australia & the Pacific
Tagged: Tahiti & French Polynesia
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DH and I are just beginning to plan a 2 week trip to the South Pacific next summer. We are leaning towards spending a week on Bora Bora and a week on Morrea, but are also curious about Cook Islands and Fiji. We prefer exploring one place in some depth to changing hotels every couple of nights and so don't want to stay in more than 3 places maximum (perhaps excluding arrival and departure nights near airports). We are interested in snorkeling, hiking, diving (DH only), culture and time to do nothing being surrounded by beauty. We will be on a moderate budget, but if possible would like one bungalow over the water experience.

Is it true that May to October tends to have the mildest weather? We have also heard that there is a small cruise ship that tours the islands and is quite wonderful.

Any input at this point would be welcome
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Sep 3rd, 2009, 09:57 AM
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I am doing one of the small cruise ship tours of the islands in French Polynesia this fall and will post a report when I return. I find that there are very few trip reports on the South Seas to gather info, so if you check back during holidays, hopefully I will have posted a report.
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Sep 6th, 2009, 06:40 PM
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Thanks---I'll look forward to it. When in the fall are you going?
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Sep 9th, 2009, 02:04 PM
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We have been to the Cook Islands, Fiji and French Polynesia. The best snorkeling was French Polynesia, but also the most expensive trip. We stayed at the Sofitel Motu and Hotel Bora Bora on Bora Bora and the Sheraton Moorea (now the Hilton, I think). The Sheraton was the easiest place to snorkel with great sightings. We went in March and days were hot, water warm and very little rain.

Cook Islands: We stayed on Raratonga and Aitutaki. Some snorkeling but not as good as Tahiti. Buses to get around the island and some hiking. Great weather in Feb.

Fiji: We went in August and weather was quite cool that year. I think our resort is now closed, Bamboo Beach on Nanu-r-ra (sp.?)Island. Diving was quite spectacular, but also remote and not for beginners. Snorkeling was also a bit tricky with currents and wind.

If we go again, it will be to French Polynesia, but not a budget trip.
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Sep 9th, 2009, 09:55 PM
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Thank you for the useful post. We are in fact leaning towards French Polynesia--for the beauty, the chance to practice our very rudimentary French and because friends told us that there are places for baguettes by the mailboxes. Our worry was that it could be too "spoiled", whatever that means.

We will probably be going around late May to late June for two weeks, hoping to have cooler weather but still much warmer than the ocean by San Francisco Bay. My DH will be turning 50 and this is a lifelong dream for him. He is an Italian national and our most usual vacation destination is there to see relatives (with a week in another part of Italy tacked on), still magical for me, but much less exciting for him.

Did you stay in two different hotels in Bora Bora in order to see two different parts of the island?
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Sep 10th, 2009, 04:43 AM
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I've been to Tahiti a couple of times, including several days on Bora Bora, which were wonderful. Very, very beautiful. But it was also very very expensive. It's quite a small island so I'm not sure it would be necessary to change hotels. I would change islands instead, perhaps combining with Moorea. As beautiful as it is, I cant personally see spending more than 5-7 days there before wanting to move on - there's only so much to see and do.

Have you considered the north of Australia (Queensland) instead? Seems ideal considering your interests (snorkeling/hiking/beauty), plus a lot cheaper than French Polynesia.
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Sep 10th, 2009, 08:46 AM
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The only South Seas destination we've made so far was a small-boat cruise of the Society Islands of Fresh Polynesia. I believe the Paul Gauguin is leaving Regent the end of this year, but will continue with a different company. I personally found this a good introduction to different islands (we thought of the boat as a mode of transportation, only unpacking once, with really good food), while saving money compared to being land-based in a hotel (a rental would also save on costs). We stayed two nights pre-cruise at the Moorea Hilton (loved the overwater bungalow!!!), but hotels and food are very expensive. I loved FP, and look forward to visiting other places in the region.
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Sep 10th, 2009, 10:26 PM
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Thanks everyone. Can someone give me a ballpark idea of what very expensive translates into in dollars?

Ralph R--when you said 5-7- days there did you mean Bora Bora or Bora Bora and Moorea both? Australia is not an option for this trip although we would like to go sometime. A South Pacific island is DH's lifelong dream and we are both now at an age where we need to carpe diem.
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Sep 11th, 2009, 04:53 AM
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cmstraf: Sorry, I meant Bora Bora only.
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Sep 12th, 2009, 06:06 AM
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Hi Cmstraf (and fellow Bay Area resident!)

While I'm certified as an Aussie Specialist, I'm not in these other areas, although I have been to them all....

The first thing that jumped out at me from your post was "moderate budget" - those words and Tahiti just don't go together! As RalphR said - "very very expensive". As for a ballpark figure, to illustrate costs I tell my clients, "Tahati - home of the $25 hamburger". Actually, that was a few years ago, it's probably more now! The over the water bungalows? Figure the "low end" ones start at $500/night.

Granny and RickandPat have the best idea in taking a cruise; of course, that's not a moderate budget item either, but if you compare the quality of service you're getting, the food, sailing to different islands (as opposed to factoring in flight costs) etc., IMO it's the way to go.

Hope this was helpful!

Regards,

Melodie
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Sep 12th, 2009, 10:10 AM
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The Society Islands are definitely expensive, but it can be done on a moderate budget if you are a little careful about where you stay and where you eat. Moorea, in particular has a goodly number of mid-range pensions and small hotels on very nice beaches. It is a little tougher to get by on a moderate budget in Bora Bora, but there are pensions there too that are not too bad. Yes, if you want the classic over-water bungalows and fine French cuisine, you may want to consider a home-equity loan, but I see no reason to break the bank for a really nice tropical vacation.

You really should look into the Cook Islands, which are more laid-back, less expensive, and just as beautiful. The flight is longer and more expensive, but you will quickly make back that extra cost in cheaper accommodations and meals.

Al F.
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Oct 22nd, 2009, 10:57 AM
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cmstraf, I'm researching a trip to FP now and am reading the Frommer's guidebook (can I say that on here?!), but it has a lot of good ideas as to how to do FP more cheaply...things such as not eating at the hotel restaurants, ordering room service for breakfast because you can order more cheaply a la carte than the buffet per person price, etc. I havent gotten too far into it yet, but there seem to be a lot of ways to go to FP for less. I still plan on enjoying some nice dinners and OTW bungalows, but since our trip will be long, am definitely looking to save on portions.

I'm sure Fodors has a good book as well, I'm just reading what was brought to me from the library.

Have you decided on an itinerary yet?
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Nov 12th, 2009, 08:08 AM
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I am back from a two week cruise on Clipper Odyssey in French Polynesia. The ship made stops on various islands, the geological variety was amazing. Those that snorkeled and dived saw amazing fish, sharkes, rays, turtles, and areas where the coral is very healthy. I didn't do either, but fortunately the ship had a glass bottom boat option on almost every occasion that was offered to the others that were not snorkeling or diving. The glass bottom boat was a good option for me (due to physical limitation) and offered good viewing ... I even saw a shark, eel, clams, lots of colorful fish.

I have not posted any photos or written my trip report and this may not be done until after the upcoming holidays. I must agree it is a beautiful place, but is one of the most hot and humid places I've visited. Be ready for HOT and HUMID. We had one day when we were hiking on the Marquesas island, when it rained and we were still 'sweating'. It was the type of climate where you just didn't have a breeze. Most of the places we visited were out of the way, sparsely populated, with small villages and the interaction was with the people, culture, and few sites that could be seen, such as cemetery, water falls,museums, pearl farms, tiki statues, etc. All these gave us a picture of the culture and people. We did visit Bora Bora and Moorea and Tahiti, but basically on bus tours or village hikes on the islands with stops at several touristy spots. If you like to dive and snorkel I suggest Rangiora.

Since our trip was all inclusive costs, I can't comment on the expense of hotels or restaurants, but I would say don't expect anything too luxurious or gourmet.

This is a trip that I had always wanted to take, and probably should have done when I was younger. It is off the bucket list and don't think I would return, but am sure for those that dive and snorkel and are adventurous it is the most beautiful place to do so.

granny joan
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Nov 12th, 2009, 09:05 AM
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Hi, GrannyJoan - I am off tomorrow to join the Odyssey in Tahiti. From there we will cruise to Fiji visiting many islands in between that I have not been to before. I am curious - the passenger list shows just 38 whereas when I have been on the Odyssey previously the list numbers around 100. How many were on your cruise? Sounds like you enjoyed yourself - I have done the Marquesas previously on the Aranui. Glad I will be in the water snorkeling a lot if it is so hot.
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Nov 12th, 2009, 12:54 PM
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Louise,

We had only 57 out of the 100 on our trip. It was a nice group and size and meshed well together. There seemed to be a larger number of single individuals as well on the trip.

It will be hot. Enjoy the snorkeling. Beware of sunburn while snorkeling. My husband wore a full length wetsuit (which was comfortable) to avoid over sunburning. But he still got some on his ankles and ears and head. The sun is strong and many suffered from excessive sunburns.

Have a great trip! The staff, food, and accomodations are excellent on the Odyssey.
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Nov 12th, 2009, 03:55 PM
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Hello again, GrannyJoan - wonder how they are operating with so few passengers. I will be careful of the sun although sometimes I am a bit lax. The top of my head suffers too. I have been on the Odyssey about 8 times now and love it - the staff and crew are like old friends.
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Nov 28th, 2009, 02:15 PM
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Thank you everybody for your ideas so far. We are waiting to find out what the amount of 15 year service award my husband should receive in December before going on to plan in more detail. I am sure I will have more questions then. In the meantime, how HOT is HOT and how HUMID is HUMID? Both of us prefer cold to heat but we also both love Hawaii.

We will be planning our trip sometime between late May and early August. Does anyone know if there is a period in this time range which is significantly cooler than others?

Mille grazie.
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