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French Polynesia (Tahiti, Moorea & Bora Bora)

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My wife and I will be traveling to French Polynesia to observe the total solar eclipse that will take place on July 11. In addition to viewing the eclipse, we plan to spend ten days in Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora. We're interested in identifying good won't-break-the-bank dinner spots. Suggestions from Gullet members who have had good experiences in French Polynesia will be greatly appreciated.

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My wife and I spent our honeymoon in Bora Bora a couple of years ago. We were there for 10 days and I can't say that the food was terribly memorable. The best meal we had was at Villa Mahana. It's a small French restaurant that only has about 6 tables. If you want to go you should definitely have your hotel make a reservation for you. Not sure where you're staying, but if you're not on the main island your hotel should be able to coordinate transportation with the restaurant. We stayed at the St. Regis so we needed to take a boat and then transfer to a van.

Everyone will tell you to go to Bloody Mary's. It's a spot that mostly caters to tourists. You go in, pick out your fish and they cook it how you like. The floor is also all sand. It's fine, but nothing special.

Other than that we just ate at our hotel. There was a sushi bar there that was pretty good and Jean-Georges Vongerichten runs the upscale restaurant there. The setting was a little bit better than the food, but if you can go I would recommend it.

Here's a post I did on Bora Bora on another board, click

Hope that helps. Bora Bora is a wonderful place...have a great trip!


Now blogging at http://jesteinf.wordpress.com/

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French Polynesia is gorgeous but not known for terrific food. It is known for extremely expensive food. We have travelled there many times. Usually the breakfast buffets in the expensive hotels are pretty good. The best food we had was on boat outings in the outer islands. The natives fished on the way out and then cooked the catch over a coconut husk fire and/or made raw fish marinated in lime and coconut.

I remember one time on an outer island we travelled around the island in a jeep stopping at fruit trees. When we had a good load of fruit, limes, coconuts, and breadfruit, we got on a boat and the island guys dove in and speared fish. When we got to our (uninhabited) destination, the guys dug oysters out of the sand and cooked everything over an open fire. That's the best meal we ever had in French Polynesia.

You'll have a wonderful time no matter what the food is like.

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I’ve been on a couple of trips to French Polynesia in the past 10 years (the last one about 5 or 6 years ago).

My favorite restaurant was Coco’s near Papeete (no relationship to the US chain restaurant). First class French cuisine with local ingredients, beautiful setting near the water with a view of Moorea. Go before sunset, have drink in the garden, then have dinner in the cabana. I still remember the geckos perched on the roof of the cabana and serenading us the whole time. We selected the chef’s tasting menu and had a fantastic meal which included sea urchin ravioli, ecrevisses (crayfish) with vanilla sauce, squab, and many other delicacies. It was not cheap so may not fit your “won’t break the bank” criteria, but it was really truly memorable.

In Papeete we also liked “Les 3 brasseurs”. There is nothing Tahitian about this place but it has beer that is brewed on the premises and delicious flammenkuche, the flatbread-type pizza that is typical of Alsace. The typical topping is crème fraiche, bacon and onion. We found it quite funny to be having Alsatian food in Tahiti. Price-wise it’s very reasonable and convenient as it’s located on one of the main streets in Papeete, facing the water.

In general, we’ve had good meals in French Polynesia when we ordered anything simple/typical based on local ingredients – we had grilled fish or poisson cru (raw fish from the lagoon marinated in lime juice and coconut) most days, and it was always great.

Other food-related highlights for us included visiting a vanilla plantation (and bringing home the freshest, most pungent beans I had ever seen), trying a pineapple drink that was naturally fermented at a juice factory in Moorea, eating the local fruit jams at breakfast, and spending time at the farmer's market in Papeete.

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The roulettes - mobile food vendors that assemble round Papeete harbour - are the stand-out of F-P dining in my memory. I liked the good, authentic crepes; the folk I travelled with loved the Asian noodles. They're not allowed to sell alcohol, but French cider is given an exception, so you can drink that or secrete your bring-your-own stash in a plastic bag like a furtive teenager.

Other than that, I hesitate with recommendations because it's almost ten years ago. The place on Moorea where you can swim with the dolphins served an excellent lunch of grilled mahi-mahi. Papeete is like a provincial town in France. There are a number of good bistro-level places - I remember a pizzeria and a good second-floor Chinese restaurant. Good bread is everywhere.

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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