Society Islands - Les Iles de la Société

The Society Islands, which I visited from inland and by sailing boat from the sea, were rather disappointing for me except for the island of Maupiti. The islands do not reflect what travel reports in television, travel guides and brochures want to make us believe. Moreover the prices in French Polynesia are 2 to 6 times higher than on the Cook Islands. A special case are the expensive resorts of above 300 Euro per night. There the paradise merely is put on stage and if necessary even with masses of sand carried to the spot.

Following quotation of Bruno (Tahaa) will give a view to the economical understanding: "if God sends me people I earn money - if God sends me no people I relax". If you read "at competitive prices" this simply means that you can't hope to get it cheaper anywhere else. Turnover is an unknown word, if they earn too little they rise the price like on Tahaa.


Island Hopping

Moorea

When I arrived on Moorea I had a good impression first until I discovered that the transfer along the north coast showed the beautiful side of the island only. The Hotel Hotel Hibiscus was the only accommodation where I simply trusted the advice of my travel agency. Certainly it was the most expensive on my voyage but I should have considered warnings in the Internet because the surrounding was awful. Laying in lee meant humidity and mosquitoes, the beach was a concrete wall back-filled with sand and without shade where also the sewage of the washing machines was flushed into the lagoon. Here most of all I would have liked to break off my voyage.

Then I rented a very expensive car for two days. Beware that even when you purchase extra full-comprehensive insurance without participation all tire damages are excluded and you must not leave paved roads. In the car at least it wasn't humid, there were no mosquitoes and I had a roof against rain and sun above my head. So I went as slow as possible along all roads I was allowed to go and had seen everything in not much more than half a day. The north coast and the route to the famous Tiki Village I went once more forth and back. From outside while daylight the Tiki Village did not look welcoming and the wide driveway was covered with water filled potholes you could not escape. Because of the rental conditions I was not able to reach the entrance. Visitors of the Tiki Village told me that they only arrived in the dark and were transported by bus directly to the entrance and then enjoyed the show - but this certainly has nothing to do with the reality on the island.

I had to discover that there are a lot of already closed accommodations between Tiki Village and Les Tipaniers, including one my travel agent had offered me before Hibiscus. Next time that I passed Les Tipaniers this day I decided to enter and reached a different world. Only 1,3 km away from Hibiscus but around a corner of the island having a smart breeze without mosquitoes was a wonderful sandy beach changing into grass and with shadowing palms. I suddenly felt well. Also the restaurant was what I wanted. The following day I left my rented car outside Les Tipaniers since there was nothing more to discover and spent the remaining days and evenings there. Only for sleeping did I go back to the Hibiscus for the remaining days. Moreover, Les Tipaniers would have been less expensive than Hibiscus.


Huahine

Most of what is to be seen of Huahine I was able to see while on the transfer to my accomodation since I sat beside the driver and we went along the whole island to the Pension Mauarii quite in the south of Huahine Iti. In this pension I always somehow had the feeling that guests who did not speak French were annoying for the staff until I heard that also a French speaking German lady requested to be treated as a guest. On the other hand the facility was pristine beautiful. To take half board does not pay as you can have your meal cheaper à la carte.

On my last day in the Mauarii I had a birthday, which the owner knew but intentionally ignored. Much thanks to Klaus from Germany who made an unintended present to me in kayaking with me to the south point for snorkeling.

Near that point was a tiny "Magasin" where I had a morning walk for my daily baguette which was to be ordered in advance by name. Exactly two weeks later the sailing trip led me again to the bay in front of the Mauarii and I wanted again to order a baguette. I was impressed that the young lady at the Magasin still knew my name.


Tahaa

What is to be seen on Tahaa can easily be visited by excursions also from Raiatea so a stay on this island does not pay. Two accommodations raised their rates by 50% from 2005 to 2006. I had one of them but paid the old rate because of my early booking. At Le Passage I was the only guest except for two days. Breakfast and lunch were prepared by Marie-Thérèse with love and the accommodation was nice. But the Landrover and the motorboat shrouded me with their exhaust gases so much that the excursion became more a torture. The only accommodation that left me with a good impression was the Pension Vaipoe. Next to it was the Hotel Hibiscus Tahaa, which we visited during the sailing trip twice and I would not recommend.


Raiatea

The last five days before the sailing trip I spent at the Sunset Beach Motel next to Marina Apooiti where I nearly felt best. The best lunch I had in Uturoa at Le Quai des Pêcheurs. Requesting by telephone, you can be picked up and returned for free. Unfortunatelly I was not able to move the sailing group to have lunch there.

The most beautiful part of Raiatea the Baie Faaroa and the Marae Taputaputea I visited at the end of the sailing trip. Against my planning this nearly would have been sacrificed to the numerous landings at Tahaa. Unfortunately this had been quite in the air to the very end. To my statement that this would be the most important to me on this trip I got the answer I could not lay claim to it.


Yachtcharter

Raiatea - Huahine - Tahaa - Bora Bora - Maupiti - Bora Bora - Tahaa - Raiatea

A sailing trip certainly is a good way to get to know the island since you are approaching from the beautiful side - the sea. Since this means of travel is rather intimate, it is important that the participants get along with each other. Nearly every one of our six yachts had difficulties with quarreling among the participants, even amongst those who already knew each other. On one boat the skipper was flatly removed. I especially want to thank my cabin partner, Eduard from Switzerland, who helped me by his calmness to overcome some anger.

One problem was the cashbox on board. Why the skipper installed by the organizer had the absurd idea to take Euro for currency on board stayed hidden to me. The trip started on Holy Thursday and the following Friday the banks kept closed too. So it was first possible on Monday to change Euro in cash on a bank. This was especially annoying because the organizer performs this trip already for twelve years always at the same time and should know this. For the necessary purchases for the first four days I had to step into the breach for 72000 CFP (600 Euro). At ATM it would have been very easy to get money but the most of us wanted to change Euro in cash and one special smartie traveler checks. No one in particular the traveler check smartie listened to my advise how much money they should change so they became a second time insolvent. On the other hand at the banking desk you have to pay a lot of charge.

Nowadays I strictly would insist not to buy alcoholics means the cashbox on board. Some boats had reasonable majorities who earlier regulated this in a better way. Some statistical data regarding our boat for 14 days: 170l water, 72l beer and 20l vine. Water was drunk by 8 persons with 1,5l per person and day in average. Beer and vine was drunk by 5 persons with 1,3l per person and day in average. You easily can realize that there were a few drinking more alcoholics than water. Beer and vine with approximately 450 Euro used one quarter of the cashbox whereas the high percentage alcoholics are not yet taken into account.

The island of Tahaa certainly had too many approaches what was profitable for Leo of the Hotel Hibiscus. There are more reasonable and better possibilities but the chief skipper and his son often had different preferences. On the whole we were not sufficient or even not included in the decisions regarding the route.


Bora Bora

On no other island is the contrast between luxury accommodations and poverty of the locals closer to each other and more dramatically to be seen than on Bora Bora. Careless new accommodations are built and the environment is heavily mistreated.

The smog of the open air burning of garbage just in front of the new resort of Four Season can be seen from the neighboring island Tahaa. Nearly nothing of the resorts' profit is going to the island's infrastructure.


Maupiti

Here you most likely can find what you might imagine by the South Sea.