David and Lili's World Tour

FRENCH POLYNESIA

November 2010 - Tahiti, Maupiti, and Raivavae

Just before we arrived at Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia on the island of Tahiti, we saw Bora Bora emerge from the sea like a fantasy, an impossible spec of land with a turquoise lagoon. This is where movie stars go for their thousand-euro-per-night honeymoons. We prefer Maupiti, the next island down. It boasts the same fantastic beauty but with no resort hotels (in English), only family-run pensions with kayaks and bicycles. We found a place with a kitchen on Tereia Beach (wow!) and with broken French, we bought groceries in the village. The view from the summit of the extinct volcano is stunning.

One can only imagine what Tahiti was like before Europeans brought disease, missionaries, and pests, because the old ways are gone. But French Polynesia is synonymous with paradise for a reason, and we recommend it as a family friendly destination (except for Bora Bora, which sadly can no longer be recommended to anyone). The only downside is the high cost of everything, the most expensive place we have ever visited. Indeed, we would not have come if we didn't have free airfare (we changed planes in Papeete on our way from New Zealand to Japan).

We also visited Raivavae, an island so remote that few tourists go. As we arrived, smiling locals greeted us with fresh flower leis, and as we prepared to leave, musicians and dancers entertained, the best airport departure lounge ever. There were zero security checks. We recommend Raivavae for travelers who love beauty and culture, and who are not in a hurry.

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