Your Fantasy Dream Guesthouse in the Tuamotu Archipelago!
Have you heard about our Tahitian Guesthouses or “pensions” as we say in French? Are you looking for a more authentic encounter with Tahitian culture and our “way of life”?
Let us here at Tahiti Travel Services reveal for you our ultimate choices in guesthouses!
You’ll be surprised to see that some of the guesthouses rival in fact with our gorgeous 5-star luxury hotels!
We will be covering the best guesthouses in all 5 archipelagoes (Society, Tuamotus, Gambier, Austral and Marquesas) in 5 different emails.
So, let’s begin first in the Tuamotu Archipelago where the notion of “slomo” travel is truly brought alive!
OK! TELL ME MORE!
First where is this archipelago? It is north-east of the island of Tahiti. Depending on which atoll island, the flight takes little over an hour from Tahiti. There are 78 atoll islands stretched over 328 sqm. roughly the size of Western Europe! And about 16,000 inhabitants throughout the archipelago. But… what is an atoll island you ask? An atoll is a ring-shaped coral reef, island, or series of islets. Originally, there was an island created by the volcano. Over 1000s of years, the island erodes and the coral reef ringing the island builds up. Finally, the island itself disappears leaving only the coral ring and a beautiful lagoon in the middle. The widest point of the ring often only measures about 1000 feet! So you can easily cross by foot from the lagoon side to the deep ocean side. The most well-known and popular atolls to visit are (in alphabetical order) Ahe, Fakarava, Rangiroa and Tikehau. Which one(s) do we recommend? All 4 of them!
With our domestic airline, Air Tahiti, there are 2 Air Passes (Bora-Tuamotu and Lagon) covering flights to 3 of the 4 atolls (Fakarava, Rangiroa and Tikehau). For Ahe, there are round trip flights from Tahiti several times a week.
What can we find in the atolls that we can’t find in other islands like Bora Bora or Moorea?
Well I mentioned “slomo” right? I talked about authenticity? What about simply getting back to nature and in touch with yourself, your real values? Living the atoll experience truly allows you to disconnect from our busy lives and reconnect with others. Just slow down… You’ll feel just like Robinson Crusoe! Also the geography of an atoll island is out of this world! Just a ring of coral and earth around an immense, stunning lagoon speckled with coconut trees and endemic flowers and plants. So different from our mountainous islands of Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, etc…
And in the atolls, you can be as busy as you want or as relaxed as you want.
So shall we first fly to Ahe to discover our choice of gorgeous guesthouse? Let’s go!
Ahe: is the smallest of these 4 atoll islands yet it packs a wallop! There are two guesthouses in Ahe but we vote overwhelmingly for “Cocoperle Lodge” managed by Frank (the local MacGyver, he’s capable of doing everything) and his Tahitian counterpart Janine!
Description: You know that you set foot on Ahe when you find yourself in the midst of the dark blue ocean, in an azure oasis surrounded by a lush coconut tree forest. A boat with the Cocoperle Lodge livery takes you from the airport into another world across areas of pearl oyster farming from where the famous black pearl of French Polynesia is harvested. Cocoperle Lodge is a small family guesthouse with 6 authentic bungalows sitting on the beach respecting ecology and sustainable development. Cocoperle Lodge takes you straight into the life of a remote atoll island. The Lodge is designed as a place of rest, of truth, of sharing, of harmony and respect towards natural resources while combining the commodities of modern life on an atoll. Cocoperle Lodge is an ecolodge and classified 3 Tiare just like a 3-star hotel.
Accommodation: The Lodge features 6 bungalows with terraces overlooking the lagoon. These are Polynesian-type dwellings built with local materials blending in harmoniously with the environment.
• 4 comfortable bungalows have private bathrooms with hot water. They accommodate 1 to 5 persons (1 double bed, 1 single bed, 1 baby cot on demand) as well as 2 single beds in the mezzanine.
• 2 bungalows have an external private bathroom with hot water and can accommodate 1 to 3 persons (1 double bed, 1 single bed, 1 baby bed on demand).
The bungalows are equipped with mosquito net, ventilators or fans, safety box. Linen and bath towels are provided
Restaurant: The open-air restaurant showcases local, fresh produce particularly fish and seafood and is renowned for its style, elegance and service. Instead of a buffet family-style service, Frank transforms into a magnificent “Maître d’hôtel” and provides a plated service while Janine reigns over the kitchen! The table is always prettily decorated with freshly-woven place mats and fresh flowers at every seat.
Activities: Remember when we said you could be as busy as you want or as relaxed as you want? Well you can choose to either be lazy and simply enjoy the curved lounge chairs on the lagoon’s edge or get up and play! Grab a stand-up paddle, a kayak, snorkeling gear, go hiking or play ping pong. You can even learn how to waterski! Looking for some fishing? Frank offers lagoon, deep-sea, spear and net fishing. And the highlight is a memorable full-day “Cocoperle Supreme Survivor Challenge” on a beautiful pink sand beach on the oceanside, with net fishing and preparing the fire for cooking your own lunch!
So doesn’t this all sound incredible?
Well let’s continue our voyage and fly from Ahe to Fakarava!
Fakarava is the second largest atoll in the Tuamotu archipelago (you’ll discover why as you continue to read) and more so is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The marine world is well-protected here and whether snorkeling or scuba diving, you’ll constantly run or should we say “swim” into sharks, stingrays, Napoleon, manta and leopard rays, turtles and clouds of colorful fish. The North Passknown as Garuae is near the main town of Rotoava. The South Pass Tumakohua (Tetamanu) where National Geographic filmed for several years hosts one of the largest concentrations of gray sharks in the world. So it is only natural that we highlight not one but two special guesthouses each located in the North and South Passes.
Garuae North Pass: The most well-known guesthouse is Havaiki Lodge. Why? It’s exceptional location and environment!
Description: Between heaven and earth, on the lagoon’s edge, the Havaiki team welcomes you for a stay full of Polynesian smiles! More than just a guesthouse, Havaiki Lodge is a mélange between a small hotel and a traditional guesthouse. Featuring 15 bungalows, a spacious restaurant, full-service bar and beachside snack/bar, the lodge offers the comfort of a small hotel. The exceptional feature of this guesthouse (and very instagrammable) are the concrete round tables and benches covered by a woven pandanus roof planted in the blue lagoon waters, perfect for that lunch or sunset cocktail! Don’t be surprised when you see a nurse shark or black tip shark silently glide by only a few feet from where you are sitting in the water! Yet, meals remain family-style with a buffet breakfast and a single-choice menu for dinner with a starter, main and desert.
Accommodation: 10 beach bungalows and 5 garden bungalows. The beach bungalows are equipped with A/C, wifi, hot water, mini-fridge, coffee service, hairdryer, terrace, 1 queen size bed, 1 single bed, 1 extra bed, ventilator, round table and beach chairs, bathroom with shower and toilet, electricity 220v. The garden bungalows feature the same amenities excluding A/C.
Restaurant: Buffet breakfast and a fixed dinner menu (starter, main and desert) are served in the Meko Bar. Lunch is à la carte at the Sleeping Shark Snack and Bar on the beach and the exceptional tables in the water!
Activities: Scuba diving of course, first and foremost! Complimentary activities are bikes, kayaks and canoes, fins / masks / snorkels, table tennis, babyfoot, library and gym. Other not to be missed discoveries are the pink sands, the green lagoon, snorkeling in the North Pass, lagoon and deep-sea fishing, massages, visiting the South Pass and more!
And now moving down to the South Pass where we can find Tumakohua (Tetamanu) Pass! By heading to the South Pass – about a 90-minute boat ride depending on the swell in the lagoon- you cannot escape further from civilization! Waiting for you on the edge of the world, is Raimiti Lodge where the “sky meets the sea”!
Description: If you go onto their web site, it starts out like this… “If you prefer a sophisticated, superficial, organized vacation with no surprises, then do not bother to read any further, because this is not the place for you.” And continues with this and I find it so beautiful that here is the entire text!
Raimiti Lodge is a privileged place that we need to respect and protect. This is an ideal setting where you can get in touch with your inner being, find peace to renew your energies, and let go of the useless encumbrances that block your modern life. In this unspoiled wilderness you can attempt reconciliation with nature, this fragile gift that is so often mistreated by the world.
Raimiti Lodge guarantees:
• A total change of your familiar environment
• A complete break with your daily lifestyle
• New colors and scents
• No stressful noise
• Kilometers of walks beside the reef or lagoon
• A wealth of aquatic flora and fauna
• Beaches of fine sand and seashells
• Magnificent sunrises and sunsets
• A warm and clear turquoise lagoon, songs by the native birds, pure air free of pollution
Seductive isn’t it! And it truly is. We here at Tahiti Travel Services aren’t saying this; all of our wonderful travelers for whom we recommend staying here, experience this!
Accommodation: 4 Fare Crusoe (fare means house in this case a bungalow) on the reef side and 5 Fare Robinson on the lagoon side. The Fare Crusoe is larger than the Fare Robinson and is equipped with a King-size bed, a single bed, a private inside shower with hot water and toilet. The Fare Robinson is smaller with a Queen-size bed and private outside (enclosed but separate from the room) shower and toilet. Everything was conceived and thought out by using local materials to their best advantage. Electricity is supplied by renewable energy with a concern for protecting the environment. Each bungalow is sufficiently isolated to preserve intimacy and privacy. There is no door nor key. A locally made fabric or pareo covers the entrance to each bungalow. The bungalows are well ventilated from the ocean breezes. There is no electricity in the bungalows; light is provided by hurricane lamps and candles adding to the magic of Raimiti! There is solar-powered light in the bathrooms. There is daily housekeeping and all linen/towels and soap are provided.
Restaurant: Open air full-service bar and Polynesian restaurant and separate beachfront lounge are perfect for relaxing at any time of the day. Due to the remoteness of the South Pass, and lack of dining options, all guests reserve the Full Board with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dinner is a single-choice menu with starter, main and desert showcasing all the fresh produce from the sea.
Activities: Scuba diving first and foremost exactly where the National Geographic team stayed to film the stunning underwater world of the South Pass! Excluding scuba diving, the rates include a daily excursion led by one of the two local guides Raimaru or Eric who will carefully listen to what you would like to do and then they create the experience for you!
So have your dreams been fulfilled here in Fakarava? But the voyage doesn’t end yet… let’s go on to our next atoll island, Rangiroa!
Rangiroa means “wide skies” in the Tahitian language and it truly is where the blue of the lagoon blends seamlessly into the blue skies… Rangiroa is also the largest atoll island in the archipelago and the 3rd largest atoll island in the world. The lagoon of Rangiroa is so large that you can fit the island of Tahiti in it! Rangiroa is also known historically as the 5th most popular dive spot in the world. So it is always a toss-up for scuba divers as to which atoll – Fakarava or Rangiroa – is the best for scuba diving. Our recommendation: do both! They are both so different. Rangiroa has two narrow passes in Avatoru and Tiputa whereby the North and South passes in Fakarava are very wide! And the fish population is different between the two atolls. So between an immense lagoon perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving or escaping to the small islets “motus” hidden amongst white sand and coral, Rangiroa offers the perfect getaway!
Such an amazing atoll boasts a huge variety of guesthouses as well as even nice 3 and 4-star hotels. We have managed to narrow down the choices to two guesthouses: Le Coconut Lodge and Les Relais de Josephine.
Le Coconut Lodge
Description: Known as the “Cool and Chic” family guesthouse, Alice, Nicolas and their two children parked their bags in this remote atoll yet offering so much charm and beauty! The couple is very keen on creating an eco-friendly home in total respect of the environment! Their approach is to produce as little waste as possible. So they naturally appreciate that guests limit their waste during their stay since the guesthouse is on an atoll in the middle of the Pacific and waste treatment is not the same as in Europe or USA. The 6 generous garden and sea-view bungalows are fanned out across the spacious garden peppered with coconut trees, hibiscus and bougainvillea. Their guesthouse is the only one to have a small, private beach and access into the lagoon (although you do still need to wear plastic sandals or beach shoes).
Bungalow Garden View – The 3 garden view bungalows feature beautiful proportions, a smart design as detailed with white walls and ecru curtains, warmed by a sublimely romantic king-size canopy bed and a large exotic wood parquet floor. There is also a single bed. The space is accented with especially selected traditional Polynesian art objects. Each bungalow is air conditioned and offers a zero-waste minibar, filtered water available, a kettle and tea / coffee making facilities. High speed wifi. The bungalow measures 300 sq ft + private terrace of 170 sq ft.
Bungalow Sea View – 1 bungalow in this category. This bungalow is identical in decoration and features as the Garden View Bungalow except for the large private terrace of 250 sq ft offering a magnificent view of the lagoon.
Bungalow 2-bedroom Sea View – There are 2 bungalows in this category as follows:
Bungalow n ° 4:
We recommend this 550 fq ft bungalow for families. The huge master bedroom offers a spectacular view of the lagoon and the King-size four poster bed brings a romantic touch. A separate bedroom with two small beds (90cm x 190cm) is ideal for children. The bathroom is also very spacious with a walk-in shower. This bungalow has a small private terrace of 172 sq.ft. with lagoon view, overlooking the beach. Possibility of adding an extra bed for a child. Max capacity: 4 adults + 1 child
Bungalow n ° 5:
We recommend this 550 sq ft bungalow for families or two couples: The entrance to this bungalow is through a living room opening onto the terrace with a living room and a single bed. Two separate bedrooms each offer a four-poster king-size bed. Huge 500 sq ft private lagoon view terrace. Max capacity: 5 people
Restaurant: Breakfast and dinner are served under the open-air patio covered by a thatched roof right on the lagoon’s edge. Highlighting always local and seasonal products to guarantee a delicious home-made cuisine, Nicolas and Alice only work with the local fishermen guaranteeing the quality of ultra-fresh fish! For lunch, Alice and Nicolas give great suggestions as to where to eat in the local snacks and restaurants close by to the guesthouse. Just grab your bike and pedal over!
Activities: Jump onto your complimentary and new mountain bike and peddle the 12km between Avatoru and Tiputa passes. In Avatoru, you can do some sight-seeing, eat at a local snack, pick up sundry items at the small supermarket, visit the picturesque church. Or use the snorkeling gear provided by the guesthouse to explore the wonderful marine underworld! Complimentary kayaks and stand-up paddles are also available to observe from above water the myriad tropical fish to be found in this immense lagoon! You can visit the Gauguin Pearl Museum for free and see how they graft pearls. Other unforgettable tours are scuba diving, drift snorkeling, full day excursions to Blue Lagoon and Reef Island and visiting a black pearl farm.
The other option for selective accommodation in Rangiroa is… Les Relais de Josephine!
Description: The motto for Relais de Josephine is “Charm and Refinement” and the motto fits the bill! This upscale family guesthouse is in an exceptional location – in the heart of Tiputa Pass – where the bottle-nose dolphins jump and play in the waves all day long! Whether relaxing in the lounging chairs, having your Instagram moment in the Art Deco style orange chair with dolphins and the pass in the background, sharing an intimate glass of wine at sunset saluted by the dolphins (again) or a candlelight dinner on the water’s edge with the melody of waves in the background, you will always live a truly memorable experience at Les Relais de Josephine! The big draw of this guesthouse are the bottle-nose dolphins always frolicking in the waves of the pass; particularly when the current is rushing in or out!
Accommodation: From your bungalow, whether reading or falling asleep, the sound of the waves from the pass will create a beautiful music. The 7 bungalows are light, airy, decorated colonial style with a private terrace and solarium, a bathroom with shower (hot water) and separate toilet, a hairdryer, beds with mosquito nets, a dressing room with a safe, a ceiling fan, a mini-refrigerator and coffee and tea making facilities. All bungalows sleep 3 adults with a double bed and single bed
Restaurant: “Le Dauphin Gourmand” (the Gourmet Dolphin!) is well known for its fine dining and French cuisine showcasing local specialties such as Korori in Curry, Mahi Mahi Chinese Style and a Coconut-Rum-Chocolate Tart! Continental Breakfast is served on the terrace overlooking the pass as well as a fixed dinner menu (starter, main, desert). Once again during your meal, the main event are the dolphins!
Activities: Situated directly on the pass, it is not recommended to swim nor kayak direct from the guesthouse. However, within easy walking or biking (complimentary) distance are local beaches with some access into the water. The guesthouse can also take you to visit the local black pearl farm. Other activities (with a fee) are scuba diving, drift snorkeling in the pass (where you could possibly meet the dolphins also), excursions to the Blue Lagoon and Reef Island, game, coastal or fly fishing and even Tamure dancing lessons!
Now to round off our marvelous voyage through the Tuamotu Archipelago, let’s finish at the exquisite atoll island of Tikehau!
Aaahhh Tikehau! The Pink Sand Island
Tikehau encapsulates the meaning of going off the grid. This small, cherished atoll consists of countless tiny white and pink sand islets engulfed in coconut groves and hidden alcoves. In Tikehau, which actually means “peaceful landing,” you will find nothing but absolute serenity on her calm and graceful shores.
Tikehau is a small, circular atoll neighboring Rangiroa in the Tuamotu Archipelago. The lagoon, formed by an almost unbroken ring of continuous coral, resembles an immense natural swimming pool. At only 16 miles (25 kilometers) across and no more than 100 feet (30 meters) deep, this underwater aquarium is teeming with marine life. According to the legendary marine researcher Jacques Cousteau, it has a higher concentration of fish than any other lagoon in French Polynesia.
Thus, as you can imagine, diving and snorkeling are the two main attractions in Tikehau. The best diving is found on the western shore around the Tuheiava Pass, the only navigable entry into the lagoon. You will encounter reef sharks and the occasional manta ray, but the appeal here is the enormous population of colorful fish. Some of the more common species include tuna, snapper, barracuda, lionfish, clownfish and parrotfish.
So what better way to enjoy this atoll than staying at one of the most charming, authentic family guesthouses, Relais Royal Tikehau!
Description: Imagine being surrounded by a blinding white stretch of beach contrasted by the crystal azur lagoon. When on the other side is the intimacy of the “hoas” or small, shallow channels through which the ocean waters mingle with the blue lagoon to create the most astonishing color of turquoise! Then a wild reef bordering the ocean completes the trip around this small motu where this singular family guesthouse welcomes you warmly. 5mn by boat from the small airport and 7mn from the small village of Tuherahera, this delicious motu reserves many surprises for you from your arrival to your departure! The family guesthouse blends authentic charm with Polynesian décor!
Accommodation: There are 7 bungalows beautifully located to benefit from either a beach view, a garden view or a “hoa” (shallow channel between the ocean and the lagoon). A private terrace, a bathroom with shower (hot water), a double bed, a single bed, a mosquito net and a fan allow for maximum comfort for all. 2 of the 7 bungalows can be converted into family bungalows accommodating 6 or 7 adults and/or children.
Restaurant: A gourmet cuisine with fresh fish and seafood enchants your taste buds as you feast your eyes on the beauty of the lagoon surrounding you! The restaurant and terrace are perched semi over the water so that you can see below the tropical fish and even black-tip reef sharks glide by while you eat. They are of course hoping you’ll drop a tempting morsel into the water! A 3-course pre-defined dinner is featured along with a continental breakfast. Lunch can be organized upon request.
Activities: Even though you may consider yourself to be lost on Robinson Crusoe’s island with nothing to do… on the contrary you are not! Grab a kayak, play volleyball or French bowling, start a competition on the billiards table or tennis table or at babyfoot! Numerous board games also entertain you without talking about going snorkeling or swimming in the natural swimming pool at your feet.
Finally to our last ultimate Guesthouse selection in the Tuamotus Archipelago… Ninamu Resort Tikehau!
Description: Welcome to our French Polynesian island retreat, hidden away on a remote motu in the southwest corner of Tikehau atoll. Our small slice of paradise serves as the perfect launch pad for luxury seeking outdoor enthusiasts; divers, fishermen, kiteboarders, surfers, paddlers, or anyone who simply loves relaxing in and around tropical waters that are bursting with life and energy. Ninamu is a unique resort with only 10 handcrafted bungalows which ensures all of our guests receive a personal, intimate experience.
Accommodation: The resort features eight hand crafted bungalows, with a total of ten rooms. Each bungalow is built with natural, locally sourced materials. Every bungalow is unique in design and character, and can accommodate different guests needs; from large families and groups of friends, couples, and solo travelers. Whether on the waterfront or in the gardens, their names will enchant you: Oaha, Miki Miki, Kaveka, Kahaia, Tamanu, Vini Vini, Teahupoo and Varo & Kaveu! Contact us for more in-depth information and photos as these bungalows are truly luxurious and unique blending perfectly within their natural environment.
Restaurant: The restaurant is located right on the beach with endless views of the gorgeous lagoon. Living off the grid doesn’t mean going hungry, or skimping on food. In fact, many guests have said that the cuisine at Ninamu was the best they had during their stay in French Polynesia. The resort follows the principles of permaculture, and all of the meals start with fresh, local, organic ingredients. All of your meals at Ninamu are included with the price of your reservation. Breakfasts typically consist of cereals, homemade bread, organic honey, yogurts, jams, bacon, sausages, and eggs cooked to order. For lunches and dinners the guesthouse sources organic produce, poultry, beef, and pork products. Fish is caught (often times by you!) and prepared daily. You’ll dine on mahi mahi, yellow fin, wahoo, bonito and more.
Activities: You can be as lazy as you want or just as active! Given such crystal-clear water, you may want to simply dive right in! Avail yourself of the stand-up paddles, kayaks, snorkeling and equipment. Go fishing for your dinner or even scuba diving instead. At night, organize a competition at the pool table with your neighbor or just enjoy reading and listening to music. Kite surfing is also available. Excursions are organized daily on their catamaran and you should visit the “Eden” motu!
So we have come to the end of our spectacular journey through a few of the atoll islands and their stunning guesthouses in the Tuamotus Archipelago! We hope you enjoyed the ride and the view!
Coming up next are the Windward Islands of the Society Archipelago better known as Tahiti and Moorea!