Our top priority for accommodation was kitchen-use since everything we heard and read about prices here seemed outlandish. Accommodation on the atoll is limited and most of them offer rooms with half-board for at least 65 Euros per person and day, but often much more. Only one or two provide cooking facilities, which is why we chose the Relais Marama. It has nice breezy bungalows with shared squeaky-clean bathrooms. The common area is large & inviting and includes a well-equipped outdoor kitchen, all this for “only” 60 Euros per night with breakfast, a bargain for French Polynesia!
A great plus is that drinking water, rainwater, is provided free of charge. If this might sound a bit too budget oriented, it does not if the bottle of water sells for 4 Euros in the supermarket. Relais Marama is also the only place with an Internet connection, of course a slow modem but for no less than 8 Euros per hour we are connected to the world!
Our first visit to the supermarket was a shock. Prices were so high that our initial reaction was “we should have brought food from Rapa Nui”, a place we already considered as very pricey: a pound of lettuce sells for 10 Euros, a bottle of cheap wine for 20. The cheapest food we could find was canned stuff. So our first lunch was a can of ravioli, a common meal as we discovered when we observed other guest’s culinary adventures. It reminded Gilles very much of his days as a student …
Since we are here during school holidays, the vast majority of the tourists on Fakarava are people living and working in French Polynesia and especially Bora Bora. Interestingly, all of them complained about Bora Bora as being a super expensive tourist ghetto, far from the image anyone has from what is supposed to be paradise! As it is the rainy season and therefore the low season, there are only few other tourists here, and only passionate divers.
After scuba diving, we often ride our bikes around the few kilometres of tarred road in absolute quietness, enjoying the lush tropical vegetation. We truly enjoy the postcard-like sunsets over the lagoon, the bushes with brightly coloured flowers and of course the ever changing colour of the shallow part of the lagoon.
What struck us immediately was how friendly people are on this atoll: everybody greets you on the street, no matter if you know the person or not. We were also surprised to see that on this tiny strip of land with no traffic to speak of, all people on scooters religiously wear their helmets, something you would never see in any South American metropolis and definitely never in a village! Well, the French know how to run their Territoires d´Outre-Mer, as their remaining colonies are called.