We only spent 6 days in French Polynesia, four of them diving in Fakarava and two stopovers in Papeete. So our summery has to be seen in this context.
Diving in Fakarava is simply amazing, one of the most fascinating diving spots in the world. We marveled at the colorful fish and often felt as if swimming in the middle of an aquarium. However, what makes Fakarava so special are the many grey reef sharks that literally surround you at certain spots.
The Te Ava Nui Diving Center was a good choice: really cool staff but highly professional, security oriented and extremely knowledgeable. What else can you ask for? We are not very experienced divers, but managed with the great assistance of our instructors. There are strong currents and most dives go at least as deep as 30 to 32 meters. With a little more than 20 dives, we were among the least experienced divers in each group. Rangiroa, a neighboring atoll, is even more technical, with even stronger currents and dives down to 45 meters, so we just picked the right place.
Apart from diving, the atoll is a nice, laid-back tropical place, but do not expect a lot of things to happen or to do. We met a few people who did not dive and they got bored soon!
Since tourism is only developing there, everything is still untouched and unspoiled, although one big problem exists already: what to do with the waste? Now some is buried in a big hole in a far away corner of the island, but this can hardly be a solution for a future tourist destination or any place.
One of our loveliest memories of Polynesia is the gracious costume to greet arriving friends & guests with an “ei”, a flower garland worn around your neck. These are often made of the sweet smelling Tiare flower, so typical for the islands.
But … There is a “but” in French Polynesia: this is REALLY expensive! It must be considered as a real splurge during a Round the World Trip. In six days, we spent a mind-boggling amount of 1.000 Euros per person. This includes the flight Papeete – Fakarava – Papeete, for 280 Euros per person and seven dives, for 315 Euros per person (ouch!). For accommodation, we spent 60 Euros per night, a bargain for French Polynesia. The reason we did not spend even more is that we stayed in clean and pleasant budget places, but nothing fancy AND most important with kitchen-use.
This is a must for those who are not prepared to spend 200 Euros per day for two just on accommodation and food. Only once we ate out and otherwise cooked the usual cheap grab, like pasta, canned raviolis or tuna fish. The only restaurant we frequented in Fakarava deserves mentioning though, the name is rather unappealing: “Snack”, but it serves huge amount of superb food in a very tastefully decorated ambience.