People: The award for friendliest locals of the South Pacific goes to…Samoa. But French Polynesia came close, at least the Tahitian part of the inhabitants of the Society Islands. The originally French were less nice, often not wanting to speak English, and we somehow met less nice people in the Tuamotus. While we did meet some other cool backpackers, a lot of them were also French and often not willing to speak English. Seriously, I found their attitude a bit embarrassing: I mean French is only my FIFTH language and therefore, I don’t speak it well. But to grow up in a Western country nowadays with good schools and not speak ANY other language? Embarrassing.
Food: We mostly cooked for ourselves to save money, and even that was expensive (high supermarket costs). Sometimes we ate out at roulottes (food trucks) and we had some delicious food on our lagoon tours. I guess if you can afford to eat out, French Polynesian food is really quite nice!
Weather: Overall, we were quite lucky – while there were some grey/rainy days, it was usually not on the most important days. And all in all, we did get lots of sunshine and heat!
Costs: French Polynesia is not cheap. The only thing cheap is probably the baguettes which are luckily readily available on most islands. Our daily spendings ended up being about 75€/person/day, including everything, even the flight pass. This required us to re-think the purchase of every little cookie package we felt like buying though!
Accommodation: We camped almost every night of our one month stay in French Polynesia – sometimes in beautiful spots directly on the lagoon or pretty beach, but also in someone’s back garden on hard coral rocks which was not so nice. Only in Huahine, Bora Bora (kind of) and Papeete we had a „proper room“. We really started to like camping though and are going to miss it!
Infrastructure: There are not many public buses or ferries, hence we decided to buy the Air Tahiti flight pass for both the Society Islands and the Tuamotus. While it was not cheap, it was by far the easiest way to see as many islands as possible in just a month. On the islands, we often had free bikes or rented scooters.
Illnesses: Mathijs had to fight his new wound and I had a bad throat infection at one point, so it wasn’t all perfect, but we made it work.
Safety: All good.
Itinerary: We took advantage of the flight pass as much as possible. The only island we failed to include was Maupiti which we were very sad about – but there was just no way: All flights into and out of Maupiti were fully booked. I guess we’ll have to return one day to see Maupiti, and maybe some of the more remote island groups like the Marquesas or Austral Islands. Since we really liked the country, we would definitely like to return one day!!
Highlight: Difficult to choose. As for islands, Huahine and Bora Bora were the best and I will always remember the „wall of sharks“ in Fakarava.
Click on the photo below to see our full photo album of French Polynesia: