The Cost of Paradise – Polynesia and Bora Bora

by Drew on July 5, 2009

Legally we could have stayed in French Polynesia till September. Back in the states this winter we went through the P.I.T.A. of getting our long stay visas giving us 6 months to relax and meander through the country at an “island pace.” It involved a quick trip to Atlanta, a short interview, and about hundred pieces of paper from banks, police offices, and insurance companies. We had to prove we had enough money and coverage to afford our stay and cover our asses. Thanks to Photoshop, a scanner, and some artful and creative productions on my part, we passed muster with flying colors. Once we arrived, it seemed our visas also canceled out the process of posting a bond; something everyone does when entering the country by boat. Basically you put enough money in some sort of escrow account to cover a plane ticket out of the country so they could put you on a plane and throw you out if they so choose. Everyone complains because you lose money on both banking fees and the currency conversion. I’ve heard of boats losing up to $300 per person not to mention you have well over a thousand dollars each tied up in some foreign bank. The guys at immigration never mentioned a bond to me so I certainly never said a word to them! All in all, the visa was probably worth it even though we chose not to stay for the entire duration. Why didn’t we stay? I hate to keep talking about it but, as Margie mentioned in her last post, cost was a limiting factor for us in French Polynesia. We aren’t paupers living out here in a floating trailer park but my keel is still full of lead ballast…not gold. Cost and value are important to us. And it seems we aren’t the only ones. With the exception of the brand new Four Seasons (where a cheeseburger at the pool will run you $30), the resorts in Bora Bora were operating on less than 30% occupancy. Here in Aitutaki, the Pacific Resort is booked solid for the next two months. This is the first week since January that the resort we visited this morning, the Aitutaki Lagoon Resort and Spa, isn’t full. They’re back to full occupancy next week. And we didn’t even think it was a nice place! Obviously people are starting to figure it out. The same experience, same beauty, similar culture, and better food (in our opinion)…half the cost. On Bora Bora, if you’re staying at one of the island resorts (on the motus) and you want to eat at one of the three or four restaurants on the main island it can cost you $100+ to get there and back not including the meal. It’s just a boat ride away! Don’t believe me? Check out the reviews at Tripadvisor ( Here on Aitutaki, you jump on your $12 a day scooter and head off. And let me go ahead and put this out there. OVERWATER BUNGALOWS ARE OVERRATED AND OVERPRICED. I know people are finding our site by googling Bora Bora so if this helps just one honeymooning couple make up their mind, I’m satisfied. If money is no object, head to the Societies, get yourself a bungalow, and relax to your heart’s content…if not check out some other places. Start here. I’m in love with it and I’ve seen some fascinating places.

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