French Polynesia

Tikehau via Bora Bora

When planning the French Polynesia island hopping trip, staying on an atoll was my high priority so I was debating between Tikehau and Rangiroa. I ended up choosing Tikehau because of its lesser expensive overwater bungalows at Tikehau Pearl Resort (versus Hotel Kia Ora) and its pink beaches! The logistics of getting to Tikehau was a challenge as somehow Air Tahiti did not show the flight from Raiatea to Tikehau on that specific date. I searched separately that there is a flight from Raiatea to Bora Bora and another one from Bora Bora to Tikehau that has sufficient layover time. I ended up have to book each as individual segments but it did not matter in pricing because of the multi-island tours “BORA BORA-TUAMOTU PASS” which offers a fixed price to visit multiple islands covering the islands in our trip. There are different multi-island tours that have different pricing and covering different islands, you can check it here:

After our 45 minutes or so “private” boat trip from Le Taha’a to Raiatea Airport, we waited for our flight to Bora Bora. We lined up before the announcement hoping to board first so we can sit in the left side of the plane to have the awesome view of Bora Bora. However, when the announcement for boarding started, massive local families with kids just walk up in front of us; we know at that point the chance is slim! We were lucky to have an empty row in the left side so Jason and I can sit together whereas Evita had to sit with someone else few rows in front of us.

Leaving Raiatea…..

The plane flew through Tahaa and I spotted our hotel, Le Taha’a (see on the right side that island with overwater bungalows) below us….wow!!!!

Approaching Bora Bora – we saw you again!!! It really brought back memories; our wonderful time at the Intercontinental Bora Bora Thalasso & Spa! The clouds were covering the famous mountain peak of Bora Bora. Isn’t Bora Bora amazing?

We had a two hours layover at Bora Bora Airport so we walked out to see its eye blinding turquoise water! The Hilton Bora Bora is now a Conrad.

Bora Bora Airport is probably the most comfortable island airport for a layover besides Tahiti; it has clean bathroom, a coffee shop, two souvenir shops, and magnificent views. The airport is located in an island itself! One thing we noticed different compared to our Bora Bora trip two years ago was significantly increased in tourists to Bora Bora. In the two hours layover, we saw two flights of passengers arriving and boatloads of passengers leaving of whom many were Asians! Our flight from Bora Bora to Tikehau, the clouds were cleared up! Goodbye Bora Bora, not sure when I will see you next time 🙁

Our flight made a 15 minute stop at Rangiroa to drop off and pick up more passengers; our Tikehau flight was very empty! Approaching Rangiroa; my first view of an atoll woah!!! The atoll is much larger than I expected!!! Look at those little islands, I couldn’t wait to be in Tikehau!

Rangiroa has a much bigger village as well!

I wondered which hotel’s overwater bungalows are these:

At Rangiroa, the plane loaded more passengers and most of them were heading back to Tahiti. Departing Rangiroa….

Tikehau!!!!! We sat on the right side of the plane so that was all we could see when the plane changed course to land….couldn’t locate our hotel…

Tikehau is a much smaller atoll compared to Rangiroa but the size is still much bigger than i expected; I couldn’t even see the other side of the ring from up here! There is a very small island in the middle of the atoll!

The pinkish sand of Tikehau, getting excited!

We landed and there is a check in desk for our hotel where the guy greeted us with flowers.

There were a lot more guests arrived as well so we were squeezed into this 4 rows van yikes! We were dropped off at a harbor down few streets, Tikehau village is very small; scattered with houses and no sign of a real “town with shops” like Huahine.

The boat was probably the crappiest shuttle boat we have ever seen and the sea was very rough. The staff even brought towels for the guests sitting in the front of the boat to cover themselves because the waves could splash inside which happened. We finally arrived and were checked into our room, room 15 I think which was the left most room from the picture below. It located at the end of that pontoon branch and with the view of the backside of the ocean (versus the lagoon). The worst of that room was the view from the deck was facing those ugly black rocks, not paradise looking at all!

The day we were there, they were having electric works so no electricity for few hours until 5 pm. No electricity means no water as well because due to the remote location, their fresh water is processed through saline ocean water. No electricity, no water, no lights; we left our room and took a walk around the hotel…we passed by the other garden bungalows and even they have a better view than ours 🙁 We rather to have this view on land than our ugly “ocean”.

We walked to the very tip of the hotel island and the pink color of the sand was very noticeable when wet and overcast sky!!! Looking closely at the sand were very fine pink shells and corals; that’s how the pink sand came from.

We waited for clouds to move away so the sun can peek out but not much luck. We walked back to the hotel reception and Evita (who is a travel agent) asked the staff to see if there’s another room with a better view that we can move to since we are staying for 4 nights so the view is very important to us. He moved us to room #1 which was so much better!!! Even though it is facing the boat deck and the hotel reception; Tikehau is not a busy nor big hotel so the boat activity was minimal. Another plus is the close proximity to the reception that we were able to get free wifi signal!!! Free wifi is only available at the reception area or the restaurant; the room doesn’t even have paid wifi so room #1 was perfect!

Our Polynesian styled overwater bungalow and no AC….being a 4 stars hotel in very remote location, can’t complain about it!

View from our deck, much better, ahhh paradise was back!!!

The right side of our deck was facing the boat deck and the hotel reception (on the right side of the photo). Many guests hang out at the reception to use the free wifi.

Enjoying the view and waiting for the sun to set on our deck with our favorite Rotui mango juice; Evita was having her glass of red wine.

The ocean breeze was so comfortable!

After sunset, we went to our hotel restaurant (only 1) for dinner. The bad news is that the menu did not change for the 4 nights we were there, we regretted that we didn’t brought extra cup noodles from Huahine! The good part was that the price weren’t outraegous for such a remote location!

We were the only room with 3 people and room #1 so after our first meal, pretty much the staff in this small hotel know our room number LOL!

Jason and I both ordered the grilled steak since lack of choices and a choice of side: rice, salad, or fries.

The meal was 8750 xpf (~$78 USD) for three of us, not bad in price but not good in food! After dinner, which by the way the restaurant closes at 9 or 10 so don’t be late, we went back to our hotel to get online. The free wifi was a big plus so we don’t need to hang out at the reception or restaurant (like we had to in Le Taha’a); we can share photos right on our deck. On our deck, we saw many fishes swimming by and even small reef sharks; it was our fun night time activity along with chit chatting 🙂 The hotel does not offer any activities at all unlike in Aitutaki, Cook Islands!

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