Travel Tips – French Polynesia

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Here are some travel tips for The World of Pearl’s upcoming trip to French Polynesia!! A few of us got together for lunch in Athens, GA to discuss the trip, ask questions, share ideas, and to get excited about our upcoming Pearl Adventure!!

 

french polynesia - The atoll of ahe

We are heading way into the South Pacific, an 8 hour flight from Los Angeles. There are more than 100 islands in French Polynesia, and they span about 1200 miles. These islands are divided into groups, also known as archipelagos. They are the Austral, Gambier, Marquesas, Society and Tuamotu archipelagos. We will pass through Tahiti, which is in the Society Islands. Bora Bora and Moorea are also in the Society Islands. But,  we will move on to Ahe, which is in the Tuamotu. The Tuamotus are cool because they are full of island rings known as atolls. There are 76 islands and atolls in the Tuamotu archipelago. The two things you need to know about Ahe: it is not one of the more common destinations (which I love!)and it is a prime place for pearls (which I love even more!).

Now, here are some travel tips we discussed at lunch!

Pack a Passport!

To visit French Polynesia, you’ll need a U.S. passport valid for six months beyond the duration of your trip. If we wanted to stay beyond 3 months, we would need a visa but for this short stay, a passport will be enough! Just, don’t forget to pack it!

E-tickets & Immunizations

Nowadays, airlines do not require paper tickets, they issue e-tickets that can be retrieved by presenting your identification at check-in. However, I encourage you to print your eticket info if that helps to relax you. If you did not get the email I sent you, let me know!

Also, you do not have to bring a record of immunizations unless you want to for your own medical records!

More About Medicine

Patricia was concerned that we needed paper copies of prescriptions and I have never heard of this before. Just make sure all prescriptions are in their original packaging with your name on it. Otherwise they might be confiscated.

What to Pack

Everyone agreed that a bathing suit is a necessity. I usually pack two so hopefully one is dry when the other one is wet but feel free to do what works for you. Flowy cover ups or sundresses are great, too! It will be warm, the other day it was 84 degrees at 6AM! I will bring a thin sweater or flowy long sleeve top at night. Don’t worry about having to be dressed for dinner. Whatever you feel most comfortable in is the way to go on this trip!

Now let’s talk about sunscreen. Since we are in the lovely lagoon waters of the atoll, and since our precious pearls and amazing sea life and cool are in these same waters, it is great to think about reef friendly sun protection! This trip I am going to try out Sun Bum since it offers UVA/UVB protection, it is water resistant and it excludes ingredients that clog pores or causes common allergies – Non-comedogenic, Oxbenzone & Octinoxate Free, Paraben Free, Cruelty Free, Gluten Free, PABA free & Oil Free.

I am also going to stock up on some rash guards and cover ups. I love being outside but I am not a he fan of “getting sun,” if you know what I mean. Burn baby, burn!

A few other topics we discussed were bringing water shoes, tennis shoes in case we go walking through the forest, and bug spray. Do you want to bring a rain jacket? That is up to you! It might rain and it also might be hot in that rain jacket!

Here are a few things I am taking:

         

What Are You Packing In?

Make sure you know the weight and dimension limits!

According to the Air Tahiti website:

With Air Tahiti, the hand baggage allowance is the same whatever your destination is. Although we are allowed to carry more on our international flight, through Air Tahiti Nui, we have to be prepared for the smaller plane that will take us to our final destination on Ahe.

So you can take with you, free of charge, baggage within the following limits:

1 hand baggage by passenger:
The maximum weight is 5kg (11 lb) and the maximum dimensions are 45 x 35 x 20 cm (17 x 13 x 7 in).

Our checked bag:
The maximum weight is 23kg (50 lb) per person and the maximum dimensions: length + width + height < 150 cm (59 in)

Do want to pack a few things in your carry-on? It is completely up to you!

Towels: Do not bother bringing towels or beachtowels, the resort will provide these.

that money has a pearl - the world of pearl

Money

The currency is the French Pacific franc, also known as the Comptoirs Français du Pacific, for those of you brushing up on French!

Speaking of brushing up on your French, let’s talk the talk! Guess what is spoken in French Polynesia? That’s right, French! Although this seems intuitive, I was quite surprised at the language barrier last time I was there. And I was pleasantly surprised by those lovely French accents. Bonjours!!

Back to money: We can take out money at an ATM machine at the airport upon arrival. I will also have some US cash with me in case ATMs are broken and I need to make an exchange at our resort in Tahiti. Other than that, our resort in Ahe can make an exchange and you will also be ableto use your credit card at our resort. In fact, they usually tally up any bar and activity bill over the course of our stay and then charge us at the end. So, please notify your credit card company that you are traveling abroad.

The Pearl Girls Pearl Adventure French Polynesia 4

Bar Bill?

There is a bar on the beach open all day offering a large menu including punch, cocktails, wine and champagne. Plenty of bottled water is available to purchase, too, so you do not have to worry about drinking local water.

Someone in our group had read a fish advisory in Tahiti. If you want to send that along, I will be happy to check it out however I have never heard any advisory about eating (or not eating!) the fish in Ahe. Remember that oysters cannot grow and flouish in polluted waters. The water in Ahe is pristine and we will watch them catch the fish (or we might catch it ourselves!). This will probably be some of the freshest fish we have eaten in a long time!

They will most likely serve us a dish which is very popular called poisson cru. Have no fear, this isn’t poison! 😉 Poisson cru actually simply means raw fish in French! And it is a national dish of French Polynesia. Raw fish is marinated in coconut milk and lime juice. Like ceviche, the citric acid cures the fish, which makes it feel not so raw! I am not typically a lover of raw fish but this dish is amazing and since I know it’s fresh, it feels especially okay to eat. Hopefully you will give it a try!

The World of Pearl Pearl Adventure French Polynesia 3

Food Issues

I had no trouble with any of the foods on the last trip and I don’t expect you will, either. if you are concerned about feeling picky or getting hungry, pack a few protein bars!

Remember breakfast and dinner are included. Our meal schedule is 7:30AM breakfast, we can request a packed lunch or request to eat at noon at the resort and dinner is at 7:30 PM.

The restaurant offers Polynesian cuisine based mainly on deep sea and lagoon fish. You will see some of the prettiest presentations ever.  They also offer pastries, ice-cream and home-made sherbets in a variety of colors and flavors. And don’t even get me started on the fresh fruit!! Yum to my tum!

And the Pearls?

Remember, since you are on a wholesale pearl buying trip,you will get your black pearls for an amazing price! Approximately how much are the pearls? Last time we went they let us just go through entire stock of pearls so we really got to see pearls big and small and of all shapes and sizes, so prices varied greatly. Loose pearls ranged from around $20 to multiple hundreds. He did have some necklaces that were around $600. Stud earrings around $60. He also had cute little woven bracelets. I think they were around $20. Cheap enough that I bough them for my sons!

So he will have a variety.

I told the gals at lunch that last time he accepted checks and he prefers not to this time however, bring a check. He said they took a long time to cash last time but I would hate for you not to have enough cash if you see something you like! And I realize it is scary to fly and travel with lots of cash. I also wire him money regularly so if I need to call my bank and wire funds, I can. The point is, I know we can figure it out. I have worked with Patrick, the pearl farmer, since I met him five years ago so we have a strong working relationship!

Security and Activities

Our bungalows are equipped with safety box to keep valuables.

Also, these are upscale lodging for such a remote location but the lodges on the beach are very Polynesian and eco-friendly, too. They are constructed of natural material and are open air dwellings. We will all have fans in our rooms!

And, we will have access to snorkel equipment for free plus these free activities are included:

◦ Kayak
◦ Paddle board
◦ Snorkeling
◦ Ping pong
◦ Pool
◦ Games
◦ Hiking
◦ Visit Motu Manu (Bird’s island) hike or boat, The last Tumotu’s forest
◦ Snorkeling in the lagoon and fishing Palangrotte
◦ Visiting the pearl farm (included in the price of trip)
◦ Waterskiing and Paddle board initiation

And we can do any of these paid activities:

◦ Visit the pass + snorkeling in the pass or in aquarium
◦ COCOLANTA – A wonderful pink sand beach, fishing, paumotu picnic ( depends on weather)
◦ Different forms of fishing in pass or in deep ocean
◦ Fishing at the South peak by the deep ocean
◦ Wake board and waterskiing

Now as much as I love to be away, I love knowing everyone is safe at home, too! So I am going to plug it up with this cool travel adapter my Mom gifted to me. In case you don’t have a travel adapter, here is the one I am taking!

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