Tahiti isn’t all posh overwater bungalows and over-the-top resorts. As we discovered on a three-and-a-half week trip around French Polynesia, the islands have a range of accommodations, from simple to super-deluxe. Because my husband and I were trying to stretch our budget for this fairly lengthy trip, we sampled several lodgings on the less-expensive end of the spectrum.
We spent our first two nights at Pension de la Plage, a simple family-owned guesthouse in Punaauia on the west coast of the island of Tahiti, about 20-minutes’ drive south of the airport, and about 30 to 35 minutes from the capital city of Papeete.
Guest Rooms and Facilities
Guest rooms are set in two single-story motel-style blocks around a small but refreshing swimming pool.
Our standard room (8950 XPF, or US$101) was furnished with a double bed topped with a bright blue and white spread, an extra single bed, an armoire, desk, flat-screen TV, and refrigerator. Units have both a ceiling fan and air-conditioning.
You can also choose a larger room with a kitchenette (10950 XPF, or $124), including a microwave, dishes, and a cooktop.
Wi-Fi (250 XPF, or $2.85 per day) is available throughout the property. We found that it worked well near the office and by the pool but somewhat intermittently in our room.
The pension is just off the main road that circles the island, so all the units get some traffic noise. If you’re sensitive to traffic sounds, ask for one of the rooms farthest from the road.
A continental breakfast is served every morning in the pandanus leaf-roofed fare (cabana) by the pool for 1000 XPF ($11.25). We opted instead to pick up bread, fruit, and yogurt at the supermarket (about a 15-minute walk away) to eat on our terrace.
A Warm Welcome
Tbe best feature of the Pension de la Plage? The warm and helpful owners, Vincent and Anne Marie.
Vincent, who speaks good English, gave us tips on where to shop and eat, provided directions to the beach and to the nearby museum, and told us how best to protect ourselves from the aggressive local mosquitoes.
In each room is a detailed guide that Vincent prepared about local attractions and services, complete with an annotated map.
He continued to assist us throughout our stay, helping us arrange a rental car from a local agency (Tahiti Auto Center in Pa’ea) at roughly half the price that we found at the airport rental offices. He even drove my husband in his little beach buggy to pick up the car. Vincent arranged a taxi for us back to the airport as well.
It’s these little extras that made Pension de la Plage stand out from other accommodations.
The pension is right across the street from the beach, near Le Meridien Hotel.
In the beach parking area, two roulottes — food trucks — set up every night, one selling crepes, the other grilling up huge portions of fish or chicken, served with your choice of rice, frites (French fries), a green salad, or salade russe (a mayo-dressed potato and beet salad).
A 15-minute walk up the road from the pension is a commercial center with a supermarket, a cafe where we had a good salad and chow mein for lunch, a patisserie, and several other shops.
Also within walking distance is the excellent Museum of Tahiti and its Islands, which showcases the history and culture of French Polynesia — in everything from cooking techniques to fishing to religion — from its earliest days through the 20th century. It’s definitely a worthwhile stop.
A bus runs along the main road into Papeete, but we found the service to be somewhat irregular, and there’s no service at all in the evening. If you want to go exploring beyond the neighborhood of the pension, it’s far more convenient to rent a car.
Why Choose Pension de la Plage?
There’s nothing posh about Pension de la Plage, but on this pricy island, this simple guesthouse is an excellent value. And for our first days on Tahiti, we appreciated how the welcoming owners helped us get oriented — just what we need to get started on our French Polynesian adventures.
For more information about planning a trip to French Polynesia, start with Tahiti Tourism.