Today I am back with the last post on our recent Tahitian holiday and I am going to take you all the magnificent island of Fakarava, in the Tuamotu Archipelago.
If you follow Manu’s Menu, you will probably know that my family and I recently visited French Polynesia. We had already visited the Society Islands (Moorea and Bora Bora) in 2013 – click HERE for that post. This time we visited the Tuamotu Islands and you can read all about our holiday HERE.
After our stay in Tahiti, Tikehau, and Rangiroa we left for Fakarava. The flight between Rangiroa and Fakarava is 45 minutes long. The view from the plane was simply breathtaking!
The view from the sky is amazing!
In Fakarava we stayed at Havaiki Pearl Lodge. This is apparently the best hotel of the island, even though it is more like a “pension”. The colours of the lagoon in front of the room, however, were just dreamy. So I spent most of my time relaxing on our deck and looking at the water!
What I really liked about our stay in Fakarava was the fact that we had the possibility to walk to the main village, which was about 1 km away.
We even went for mass in the local church on Sunday morning. This beautiful church is made out of coral!
Masses in these islands are renowned to be an amazing sight. People dress up nicely and many still wear traditional clothes and flowers.
The local community is mainly Catholic and the mass is in the local language. The best part of it was the hymns. So beautiful. You don’t need to understand the words to get touched by the way they sing.
There is also a little cemetery behind the church. It’s near the side of the island where the ocean hits the reef. Interesting how shells substitute flowers on many tombs.
And this statue of the Virgin Mary has a pearl necklace around her neck!
During our walk, we saw plenty of chickens and even a little pig! So cute! It really felt like we were inside the Disney movie Moana/Vaiana!
I found people here to be extremely nice and relaxed. It is a nice island with a fabulous lagoon. I just wish we could have explored it more.
Havaiki Pearl Lodge – Accommodation
Havaiki Pearl Lodge is apparently the best hotel of the island, even though it is more like a “pension”. It is very quiet and not big at all. It is more like a little family business.
The lodge representatives come pick you up from the airport and take you to the hotel with a fun local van. The transfer is quite nice and comfortable. And the flower necklaces are always a nice touch.
There are both Beach Bungalows (like ours).
And more rustic Garden Bungalows at the back.
The Garden Bungalows still have a sea view as they are on stilts.
The lodge is nice, but the bungalows are quite small – they would be ok for 2, but a bit too crowded for 4.
The décor is very simple, yet nice. It recycles local things like broken corals, shells and wood.
Havaiki is also a pearl farm. In fact, the Tuamotu islands are famous for their pearl farming. We got to learn a lot about how pearls are cultivated, which was very interesting.
And pearls are indeed beautiful!
They also organise a Pearl Lottery. For a small amount of money, you get to choose a closed oyster and you are rewarded with whatever pearl you find inside. The girls were absolutely thrilled by this.
The snorkelling at the hotel is very good. There is not much coral or fish, but the coral they have is so colourful. I had never seen anything like it. Usually coral is bleached/dead because of el nino, but in Fakarava you can still see some good colours!
However, we were not able to do any excursion. It was too windy and it was not recommended. If you go to Fakarava, head to the south as well. Apparently the snorkelling there is even better. We had planned to go on a day trip, but couldn’t. The south is much more basic. I think there’s only one place to stay and it has no electricity (or very little of it).
There is no pool, but who cares… that sea is a huge pool anyway!
And a couple of big sharks come to swim right near the shore every day!
We also got to see some beautiful sunsets!
The Lodge lets you borrow bikes for free, which is great.
There is also a play area and a little gym.
And a few cute animals!
Havaiki Pearl Lodge – Food
The food is ok, but nothing to write home about.
The snack bar on the beach has a good menu. Unfortunately, it is open only for lunch.
Dinner is at the only restaurant and it’s a fixed menu. So there is no choice. You get what you get and you don’t get upset.
I must say they tried to cater to my lactose intolerance, but it was hard as all the food was made with butter, milk and cream. I kid you not. So in the end, it became very sad and boring.
You can see the “normal” menu on the boards and have an idea of what kind of food they serve.
Breakfast was a buffet.
Nothing fancy, but nice.
There is also a little bar opened at night, where you can have a drink or two before dinner.
Fakarava was a completely different experience for us. It was the less touristy and more “real” Polynesia. Where you can attend mass with the locals and walk around pigs and hens, without being enclosed in a luxurious resort. The sea was also spectacular. So even though the food at the hotel was somewhat of a letdown, I would still go back. It is highly recommended if you want to experience the real French Polynesia and you don’t care about luxury.
TAHITIAN RECIPES ON MSM