FAB TRAVEL TIPS - Tahiti
FAB TRAVEL Tahiti and Paul Gauguin Info:
Paul Gauguin Notes/tips/suggestions
Check your arrival flight times carefully as the Air NZ flight, and some of the Air Tahiti flights get in at 12:30AM on the Friday. NB Our flight left Australia on mid morning on the Friday and arrived before we left, make sure you understand and check how the date line impacts arrival times. Coming back it adds a day. When we were traveling there was no flight that got to Tahiti until 10pm on the Saturday. That is too late.
Car hire in Tahiti is very expensive. Eco is by far the cheapest. Being French they are slow to respond to email. You can book online but their web page is buggy. If you are arriving just after midnight on the Friday morning I’d suggest booking a car for two full days.
Eco will send a car to collect you but it’s difficult to call them. If you don’t have two many bags it’s easier and quicker just to walk directly ahead across the car park to their depot.
They are pretty strict with dents and dings. I’d suggest you take out the extra insurance they offer.
The Airbnb I recommend it is basic but is right on the beach and is only 10 minutes from the airport. We had trouble finding it in the dark and in the rain. I’m trying to get the guy to add a flashing light to help you find it.
If one of your party is not registered for Airbnb it's worth getting them to register using this link as you will get $50 to use on that booking. I get $25.
The Airbnb guy generally meets you. There was bread, butter, juice, jams and cheese. I can’t remember if there were eggs. There are two bedrooms, (I think you can book one only at a lower price) and a kitchen. You can swim off from the back yard. I suggest you pre-purchase reef shoes at rebel sport or similar.
A great day trip once you wake up after a sleep in is along the coast to the second small island of Tahiti called La Plage de Maui which is linked by a bridge. Head to restaurant which will be on the right. Only about 5/10 minutes from the bridge.
It’s an awesome sand floor seafood restaurant right on the beach. Wonderful combination of French and Tahitian food. And reasonably priced. Unlike the rest of Tahiti.
Just before the bridge linking the two islands is a massive Carefour supermarket. Wonderful range of everything you’d possibly need. There is also one closer to Papeete.
Two other things to see on this side of the island are the grotto and the Paul Gauguin museum.
If you have loads of time after lunch you can drive back around the other side of the island. But if like us you need an afternoon nap on that first day just head back the way you came.
Every Friday night there is a food truck event in Papeete. Which is about a 20/30 minute drive from the Airbnb. Some of the food is basic but it’s a much cheaper option than most restaurants in Papeete. If you are there by about 6pm you will have front row seats to watch your ship sail into port about 7PM. The crepes and French waffles are awesome. Alternatively there are a few reasonable pizza/cafes across from the food trucks.
On the Saturday we drove to Venus Bay where Cook watched the transit of Venus on his discovery voyage of Australia. The crew of the infamous Bounty also spent time in the same location.
If you love history I’d urge you to read up on both Cook and the Bounty as Tahiti is central to both stories. And it really adds another dimension to your trip.
Don’t get too excited about Papeete or even the island of Tahiti for that matter. It’s the least scenic of everything you are going to see. Additionally Papeete is very run down. Being the furthest outpost of France there is little or no money from government coffers or generated by the local population. To this day it really has the feel of a pirate town. Which is exactly what it was.
If you’ve hired a car from Eco just head to airport to return it about 2:30 PM. They will then drive you to the dock where boarding will commence at 3PM.
You will just need to show photo ID to get on board and complete the illness survey. If you’ve had a minor cold or anything don’t mention it because they won’t let you board.
The ship does not sail until about midnight to allow pax arriving from the USA.
It’s time to explore your ship. There will be a very basic afternoon tea in the specialty restaurant. It’s a good idea to make a reservation for a couple of nights here for later in the week as it will book out. The same applies for the restaurant on the top deck.
I think I’d book the degustation one for the second night. But it’s your holiday go with how you feel. If you get a great waiter ask for their table each night.
Check the daily activities list in the lift or reception can provide a copy. Plan your dining time around the piano bar where Antonio plays great ballads. Also find the bar high at the stern of the ship for ships band that play great stuff like ABBA etc. It’s so nice going to dinner after you have had a few drinks over live music. If you miss one of these acts you can normally catch them after dinner.
There are three dining venues. Main, specialty and the alfresco on the top deck. They open for different meal times but all three open for dinner and require reservations with the exception of the main dining room.
The specialty one has a menu that doesn’t change which is high end French with a full. degustation as one option.
The main dining room will have a different culinary theme every night.
Once your bags arrive it’s nice to unpack everything. Then kick the samsonite under the bed.
Your room will be cleaned twice a day and complimentary mini bar restocked each time.
It’s open bar except for very high end options. All tips for all staff are included in your fare. But if you find a staff member who is truely exceptional it’s up to you if you leave a bit extra on the last day.
The ship uses USA plugs and it’s an idea to buy a converter at some where like Big W or Kmart before you go. If you’ve got multiple electronics I suggest you take a mini power board. You only need one adapter then.
The only thing you might need to buy on board are the day trips. You can view these on the website. But be warned all day trips offered by cruise lines are very expensive.
Bora Bora it’s worth doing a sting ray swim and coral garden snorkel. Patrick’s lagoon tour is by far the best. It’s probably the only expensive day trip you need to really try to do. The other islands you can do stuff like hire bikes, car or just a Taxi to a nice beach. Ask the tour desk for advice.
Whether you do Patrick’s tour at sometime during your trip you should obviously snorkel in a coral garden, the reef sharks are not scary and so are the stingrays. You should be able to get a tour that’s ticks off all of those.
On Huahine the ship provides a bus into town. We visited the old deserted resort that was wiped out by a hurricane about 15 years ago. It was once the best resort in Tahiti and has a great beach. I’ll try to find some more info for you on it. You’d have to get a Taxi and walk in. Or perhaps bike.
As for shows on board. The cruise director we had was a French woman who has a jazz background. She did an amazing diva show. The local Tahitian acts are awesome.
If you love history there is a university lecturer who did a spell binding talk on cook and the bounty. He is a kiwi with a very wicked warped sense of humour. I could have listened to him for hours. It was so good the only day trip I paid for was his tour of ancient Tahitian sites.
On the seven day cruise the ship will return to Tahiti on the Friday night at about 7pm. You can go ashore anytime you want. The restaurants in Papeete are expensive and personally we prefer to stay on board for the last dinner as the food and service is so good.
It is possible to catch an early morning flight out of PTT on the Saturday as you can walk off the ship at any hour. Air NZ leaves about 9am I believe.
Otherwise the next NZ flight is at 6pm on the Sunday night.
It’s no good getting to the airport too early as customs doesn’t open until 3 hours prior.
I highly recommend purchasing your own snorkel, there are some new ones which make it so much more enjoyable and comfortable.
SUGGESTIONS from someone who sailed on PG in May:
Hi James, the Beach day was on the first day.
Off the top of my head some ideas- the run down but charming Bora Bora Yacht club for lunch - very good food and beautiful view; Hire a car and drive to The Moorea Beach Club for lunch also great food and great view; The shark and ray tour Moorea is an absolute must - was nervous at first , but it was great. With all the fabulous snorkeling being done buy a full faced mask - much better experience. Some people we met on the cruise got to Tahiti early and spent a couple of nights on Moorea before the cruise, others did that after it. I think that’s a great idea, as it’s very close to Papeete and easy to get to.
I’ll come up with some more.
If I can help in any other please let me know.
Fodor’s Tahiti & French Polynesia: Written by individuals who have lived in a certain area for years and who
therefore know the ins and outs, Fodor’s gives travelers quality information about the most famous highlights
of an area and some of the hidden sights.
Frommer’s Complete Guide to French Polynesia: Find detailed, candid restaurant reviews, insider tips,
suggested itineraries for self-exploration, and ideas for finding the best bargains in this renowned guide.
Insight Guides: Tahiti & French Polynesia: Packed full of information regarding art, culture, and history, Insight
Guides abound with colorful illustrations and plenty of information about the people, land, and culture of each
destination covered, in addition to useful tips.
Lonely Planet Tahiti & French Polynesia: The Lonely Planet guides are full of detailed information and
practical suggestions, and are particularly useful for exotic destinations such as French Polynesia.
Moon Tahiti: This complete guide to the five archipelagos of French Polynesia includes easy-to-read maps,
photos, a glossary, and other essential information.
Tahiti & French Polynesia Guide — Jan Price: Jan Price draws on 40 years’ residence in French Polynesia
to provide complete coverage of Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Huahine, Rangiroa, Raiatea, Taha’a, and more,
complete with maps and photos.
Frommer’s Fiji: Find well-detailed insights and advice for exploring the authentic Fiji.
Paul Gauguin & the Marquesas: Paradise Found? – Caroline Boyle-Turner: Caroline Boyle-Turner is an expert on artist Paul Gauguin. Her latest book is based on the detailed research that focuses on the writings and the works of Paul Gauguin. The author’s discussions with Gauguin’s Marquesan descendants, archeologists, anthropologists, botanists, and historians who specialize in South Pacific studies broaden the understanding of Gauguin’s surroundings, both real and imagined.
Mystery Islands: Discovering the Ancient Pacific – Tom Koppel: Tom Koppel's personal odyssey across a vast ocean and through time explores new theories and discoveries surrounding life throughout the Pacific. From celestial navigation and the sweep of the ocean currents, the hardships of survival and settlement, to the rich tapestry of Pacific Island customs and traditions, Mystery Islands shows how new archaeological findings have changed out entire picture of when and how the Pacific islands were first discovered and settled, beginning over 3,000 years ago.
The Bounty Trilogy — Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall: The island of Tahiti plays a key role in this
trilogy, the first of which is the famed Mutiny on the Bounty.
The Moon and Sixpence — W. Somerset Maugham: A fictionalized account of the life of Paul Gauguin.
Myths and Legends of Fiji & Rotuma — A. W. Reed and Inez Hames: Richly dramatic tales of gods and
fabulous creatures fill this fascinating collection.
Tales of the South Pacific — James A. Michener: This series of interconnected stories set during World War II
inspired the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, South Pacific.
Typee — Herman Melville: The author’s fictionalized account of his experiences as a captive in the Marquesas
during the 1840s.
Tiare in Bloom: A Novel (Materena Mahi #3) – Célestine Hitiura Vaite: Tiare in Bloom is the heartwarming story of a couple facing big changes on a small island--and a love that outlasts it all.
The Bungalow – Sarah Jio: A sweeping World War II saga of thwarted love, murder, and a long-lost painting set in Bora Bora.
The Trip – Sean Donovan: Two brothers decide to escape ‘civilization’ and take a Trip to the South Pacific for a few months to surf and experience stress-free island living.