French Polynesia in April/May 2023 (Travelogue in English)

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Bong!!!
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French Polynesia in April/May 2023 (Travelogue in English)

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My stay in French Polynesia and subsequent return to Europe has had a very positive effect on my sleep - I regularly fall asleep at 8pm and wake up at 3am which is great and gives me relatively plenty of time... For example, to write another travelogue (-:

So how to start...? Traveling is my hobby and French Polynesia, or the South Pacific region, has been my goal for a few years now. Actually, I had already planned everything a couple of years back, but unfortunately, Covid came and I had to cancel everything.

I ended up choosing French Polynesia because it is the easiest of the regions in that area in terms of logistics and planning. Which was also important because I only had three weeks for the whole thing.

A big advantage is that you can purchase an Air Tahiti pass - in my case a Bora - Tuamotu pass, which gave me the opportunity to visit a relatively diverse range of islands in Polynesia. Relatively easy and relatively inexpensively (-:

After careful consideration, I picked following islands:
Tahiti (2 days)
Maupiti (4 days), including 1 night on Motu Tiapaa
Huahine (2 days)
Bora Bora (2 days)
Tikehau (3 days)
Fakarava (3 days)

Instead of nights spent, I'm stating the number of days, it seems more accurate.

I also visited Raiatea and Rangiroa as part of my layovers, however, I only spent 2 hours there, so just a walk around the airport and some photos.

Overall, I prefer quiet, authentic and less touristy places. I originally wanted to skip Bora Bora, but it's the most popular island and for that reason it serves as a kind of transportation hub on the way to other islands, so I couldn't cancel - otherwise I wouldn't have made it to Tuamotu. I mean, theoretically I could get to Tuamotus from Raiatea, but I've already used this transfer to get to Huahine from Maupiti. Thing is, one of the rules of using the Air Tahiti Pass is that you can't visit any of the islands twice on a separate flight.

The flight planning was quite interesting and fun, by choosing off the beaten track places in an already fairly off the beaten track area, but it worked out in the end.

Otherwise, I flew from Europe with United Airlines with a connection in San Francisco. There was a 17 hour layover en route to Tahiti, which was nice - I was able to visit San Francisco and it also broke up the long trip from Europe. The layover in SF was one of the reasons I chose this airline - I find it much more interesting than Los Angeles, it's smaller and also much more convenient to walk to, which I enjoy and it suits me. Another reason was the fact that these flights with UA don't tend to be completely full - so I was more likely to be able to grab a whole row of seats to myself on the long segments. Which, fortunately, I eventually managed to do.

The other option is to fly via New Zealand, I’ve been looking at Qatar Airways flights in this context but this involved about a 20h flight between Doha and Auckland which I didn't really like and for that reason I scratched this option. And in retrospect, I did the right thing...

There are other options for getting to Polynesia from Europe, but I didn't really consider those, so I don't even list them here.

So, how do we get started? San Francisco, I guess.

Arriving around 8pm, going through immigration, plus a taxi ride to the hotel at Fisherman's Wharf... There wasn't much left of that day, so I left everything for the morning. During the flight, I was still going over my notes about San Francisco, but in the end I decided not to rush and to take it easy. So I visited the Golden Gate and walked back to Fisherman's Wharf via Crissy Field, past the marina and across Lombard Street. I also wanted to have pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast at some typical diner where the waitress is obnoxious, like I know from the movies (-: This was only partially successful, they didn't have pancakes and the service was nice (in the American way). Insider tip: if you want to experience obnoxious service, you have to go to Boston (-:

I originally wanted to walk out of the hotel around 4:30am but, my relatives in the US discouraged me from doing so - for security reasons. I also asked a couple of Americans on the flight, one of whom lived right in SF - none of them dared to say this plan was OK, so I ended up taking a taxi and walking all the way back at daylight. In retrospect I think maybe nothing would have happened, but who knows... In the end, better be safe than sorry. That's my mantra when traveling, especially when I'm alone.

Here are some pictures. I was lucky with the weather, from what I hear the bridge is often shrouded in fog.

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foto-k10
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Re: French Polynesia in April/May 2023 (Travelogue in English)

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Bong!!! hat geschrieben: 27 Mai 2023 05:41 A big advantage is that you can purchase an Air Tahiti pass ...
Relatively easy and relatively inexpensively (-:
And relatively exhausting?
Only 2 days on an island would be to short for me.
Bong!!! hat geschrieben: 27 Mai 2023 05:41 I was able to visit San Francisco ...
With flowers in your hair? :wink:
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Bong!!!
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Re: French Polynesia in April/May 2023 (Travelogue in English)

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I have to admit that I hadn't thought of Scott Mckenzie in the context of San Francisco. Actually, I was listening to Rammstein on the plane (-:

Well, exhausting as it gets. Everything worked out as planned. What I wanted to see I saw, what I wanted to experience I experienced. I've had the time to hang around the beach as well. (-:

I didn't leave with the feeling that I missed something or that something didn't go as I wanted.

I mean, I had to cancel a trip to Sable Rose (pink sand) beach and Tetamanu village in Fakarava because of an injury, but that's just how it happens sometimes on the road.

However, I did see the pink sand beaches on Tikehau and visited an abandoned hotel on Huahine instead of an (almost) abandoned village. So, at the end of the day, nothing was really missed (-:
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Re: French Polynesia in April/May 2023 (Travelogue in English)

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Bong!!! hat geschrieben: 27 Mai 2023 18:54 I didn't leave with the feeling that I missed something or that something didn't go as I wanted.
That's great!
So your "next time" is dedicated only to Seychelles?
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Bong!!!
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Re: French Polynesia in April/May 2023 (Travelogue in English)

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Basically, yes. This is mainly because, in the case of Polynesia, I have never had the ambition to visit this place more than once. And I don't have it now, even a short while after my return.

Not that I didn't like it, not at all, I saw a lot of beautiful places there, many of them unique from my perspective. And I'm really glad I made that decision and visited Polynesia. But the reality is that the journey there from Europe is a tough one - with all the transfers you spend like two days on the road and almost 24 hours on the plane. You also need to allocate at least 3-4 weeks for the whole thing. And last but not least, there are also the financial costs, which are considerable. Which reminds me, one of the advantages of Polynesia is that I don't find holidays in Seychelles that expensive anymore (-:

However, never say never, I'm not planning on going back, but at the same time I'm not outright opposed to it either, so who knows, it will depend on the circumstances.
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Bong!!!
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Re: French Polynesia in April/May 2023 (Travelogue in English)

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The first stop was Tahiti. Originally, I wanted to do Tahiti as a last, to ensure that I would be on the island for the last few days before flying to Europe. However, since I planned Maupiti, where the closest departure was in two days after my arrival, I had to plan Tahiti as the first island.

The funny thing was that I somehow did not realize that I was arriving in the evening and forgot to book a hotel for the first night. The Tahiti Airport Motel was fully booked and I was slowly coming to terms with the fact that I would be spending the first night at the airport. I had arranged to pick up my car at the airport at 6am the next day, so any other accommodation didn't make much sense.

Fortunately, apparently someone cancelled the reservation and I was able to book a room just before boarding the plane in SF. However, from what I saw at Papeete airport, that one night could probably be spent there. On the way back I did notice a sort of outdoor lounge area with faux rattan sofas, one could sleep there quite comfortably eventually (-:

McDonald's everywhere, it's also quite popular among the local population. Overall, the local people have adopted western eating habits, I would say American. And it's not affecting them in a good way.
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And up we go (-: Location of Tahiti Airport Motel is really convenient, literally across the street, like 2 minute walk from the airport:
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Morning view from the balcony, it would be a good place for the plane spotting as well:
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In the end, to save time, I decided to split the stay into one night in Tahiti-Nui and one night in Tahiti-Iti. I originally considered hiking up Mount Aorai, among other things, but in the end I came to the conclusion that it would be better to just drive around both islands by car and see more different things than to fill almost one whole day with one hike.

I didn't know what the availability of goods would be on the other islands, so I decided to do most of my gift shopping in Tahiti. So the first stop was the capital city Papeete. It was great to lug it all around all the islands afterwards, but that's the way it was (-:

Honestly, it reminded me of Victoria in the Seychelles to a certain extent, only in a smaller scale. Sorry to say it, but it automatically comes to mind: a dirty colonial capital.

I was quite surprised by the traffic, I wasn't expecting zero traffic, not really, but the few kilometres from the hotel to the centre (early morning) took quite a long time.

But not to be all negative, I spent a few hours there shopping and sightseeing and it was fine, I've enjoyed it (-: To put things in perspective, I'm not a city person at all, typically when we travel somewhere we just have a coffee in the capital, see the city centre and then we move on.
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I've visited the market, Art'Griculture (thanks Suse for the tip on this one!) and several other shops around the city. Bought a Tiki statue, some pareos, T-Shirts, vanilla goods, coffee, necklaces, bracelets... And this cool card with Yoda which is now displayed on my souvenir shelf in my study (-:
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Re: French Polynesia in April/May 2023 (Travelogue in English)

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Starting in Tahiti-Iti, on the way there, along the south coast I have a short stop planned at Grottes De Mara'a, which consists of three caves with small natural freshwater lakes.

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The next place is Teahupo'o. I originally considered a trip to the "big wave", but it didn't work out time - wise, so I've settled for a walk around the area and enjoying the atmosphere of the place.
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I was particularly interested in the Coca Cola vending machines and the plastic chair on the beach (-:
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The beach by the parking lot at the end of the road is undergoing some sort of reconstruction, so it wasn't exactly quiet there, plus, as they were digging into the sand, more than a small amount of clutter was uncovered, which was now washed up on the beach, so, it wasn't really suitable for swimming (-:
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By the way, a few days after I left Teahupo'o was hit by flash floods, I couldn't have imagined such a thing. Fortunately, there were no casualties...
https://www.surfline.com/surf-news/like ... poo/177992

I also stopped briefly at Maui Beach, which according to some guidebooks was supposed to be one of the nicest beaches in Tahiti. Well, in my opinion, it's not. It was a smaller beach just off the road, not very clean and the surroundings weren't very appealing either. There was one nice part, but it was surrounded by a fence - which, by the way, was quite common in Polynesia. The fact that someone considers this beach to be the most beautiful in Tahiti I rather contribute to the fact that there is a white sand. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures. During this vacation I tried to follow the principle of keeping no more than about 15 photos from each day.

I wanted to have at least a small beer, only, the nearby supermarket didn't have any cold one - or rather, the temperature in the cooler was set at about 20 degrees. Which was also quite common in Polynesia (-:

Probably some kind of measure against excessive drinking in public. In Seychelles this is dealt with by a roadside drinking ban. The Polynesian way is at least more environmentally friendly, if nothing else (-:

Note: In boulangerie Havaiki on Fakarava, I've noticed some beers that were kept in the freezer.
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Bong!!!
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Re: French Polynesia in April/May 2023 (Travelogue in English)

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Day was beatiful and sunny - viewpoint it is, so I went to Plateau Taravao in Tahiti-Iti. Compared to Tahiti-Nui, it's quite a different environment - beautiful meadows, pastures and cattle... If I took away the ocean, I'd feel like I was somewhere in the Alps, only a violet cow was missing to complete the right atmosphere (-:

The top of the plateau was nicely maintained, with several viewpoints with seating and even a natural arboretum. Most visitors stayed at the first overlook across from the parking lot. I havent seen anyone at the top.
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I wanted to visita nice beach for the next morning, so when I was in the eastern part of Tahiti, I went to Tautira beach in the village of the same name, basically at the end of the road.

This was probably my favorite beach in Tahiti - clean and with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains. There was a nice park/rest area built next to the beach.
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If I have time, I always like to stop at the cemetery - this particular one was located on the roadside in Faaone, in the eastern part of Tahiti-Nui. I was somewhat struck by the similarity of the graves to those on the islands in the Indian Ocean (Seychelles, Mascarenes...) - especially the newer graves were done in the same style - using bathroom tiles. The older ones were more like the ones we are used to from Europe.
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I returned to Faa via the north-eastern part of Tahiti-Nui where I planned to visit several waterfalls.

Vaihi waterfalls:
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Pape'ana'ana waterfall:
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Faarumai 3 waterfalls:
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With a another nice beach and rest area:
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Venus point, lighthouse and HMS Bounty memorial:
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Then I went back to Faa, via Papeete, where I still needed to buy a few more things...

Next day, early in the morning I'm heading back to the airpot to catch my flight to Maupiti.
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Re: French Polynesia in April/May 2023 (Travelogue in English)

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Bong!!! hat geschrieben: 30 Mai 2023 05:04 During this vacation I tried to follow the principle of keeping no more than about 15 photos from each day.
I always follow the principle "having enough memory cards" :lol:
Only 15 pictures a day would be a really bad holiday for me!
Bong!!! hat geschrieben: 31 Mai 2023 04:17 especially the newer graves were done in the same style - using bathroom tiles.
Seeing the thumbnail before reading the text I thought, someone made a small swimmingpool and filled it with sand instead of water ...

Nice waterfalls.
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Re: French Polynesia in April/May 2023 (Travelogue in English)

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I suppose as a photographer you have a slightly different approach to this. I had several thousand photos from some trips and then I didn't even want to look at these... (-: Just to many to go thru...

I'm sure I could find photos of graves that resembled swimming pools even more - I think that I took some of those a few years back at Anse Barbarons, on Mahé. It really surprised me, I thought that this "style" was typical only for the Indian Ocean region.
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Re: French Polynesia in April/May 2023 (Travelogue in English)

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The weather is still great and before my first inter-island flight I am thinking which side of the plane I should sit on to get the best views (-: And with each flight I am thinking about it less and less... :-D This was a quite popular topic among tourists.

Anyway, when it comes to the flight between Tahiti and Maupiti, the views from the plane are said to be the best on this route. In the end I sat on the right side. However, as the flights went on, I kind of got the impression that I probably didn't need to worry too much, there was always something nice to see from each side.

However, I didn't manage to take many reasonable photos, it was only on the next flight that I figured it would be better to take photos with the zoom through the window (-:

It was quite a long flight by local standards, about 50 minutes if I remember correctly. So it was also with refreshments on board - 1 small cup of juice (-:

Bora Bora:
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Maupiti, motu Auira:
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On the left side of the picture you can see the beach of Tereia, from where you could wade over to Motu Auira on the opposite side.

Maupiti, main island:
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Almost everyone told me that I should have removed the plane wing from the photo, but I like the photo better as it is. In general, I don't like to remove objects from photographs.

The local airport, newly built about three years ago. Unfortunately, I've "missed" the original one, it looked more "romantic" in my opinion and added more to the atmosphere of the whole island.
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The runway was built by the Americans during the second world war. It is not located on the main island, but on one of the adjacent motu (Tuanai). Transfers are now also provided by "public boat service", until a few years ago, at least as far as I researched, transportation was provided exclusively by individual accommodations.

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Airport beaches

I planned my first night at motu Tiapaa, I was the only guest there, so I had a private transfer (-:
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View of the main island from the boat on the way to Tiapaa.

Staying at Motu Tiapaa was an absolutely amazing experience. Although, according to the maps, there are quite a few guesthouses for a small area - I met more or less no one there, I felt like I was the only tourist on the island.

In retrospect, I'm a bit sad that I only planned one night there. But whatever. MAYBE NEXT TIME :lol: It wouldn't be a proper travelogue without that sentence (-:

A beach consisting of coral fragments in the southwestern part of the motu:
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The road to the guesthouse where I stayed:
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As far as beaches are concerned, better than Maupiti in my opinion. And most importantly, no one, anywhere:
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I forgot to ask what this is good for...:
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Vegetation in the inner part of the island. I enjoyed just walking around there and enjoying the atmosphere.
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What was absolutely great was the almost no artificial lighting during the night. The sky was clear that night and it was a beautiful sight. Photography was a bit tricky, due to the fact that I broke my tripod in San Francisco and had to improvise a bit. But eventually some decent astrophotography came out of it.
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A view of the Onoiau Pass, said to be one of the most challenging to navigate in French Polynesia. The main island in the background.
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Sunrise:
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It was possible to take a kayak and sail to the opposite motu - Pitiahe.
However, I have a lot of respect for the ocean and when I saw the waves crashing against the nearby coral barrier and the speed of the currents around the pass, I decided to skip it for safety reasons.
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Re: French Polynesia in April/May 2023 (Travelogue in English)

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Bong!!! hat geschrieben: 01 Jun 2023 20:59 Almost everyone told me that I should have removed the plane wing from the photo ...
Me too! :lol:
After removing the wing you can tell your friends photo is made from a drohne. :wink:

BTW: up to the sky photo I count 23 pictures.

And why there are metal rings around the palm trees?
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Re: French Polynesia in April/May 2023 (Travelogue in English)

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foto-k10 hat geschrieben: 01 Jun 2023 21:53 Me too! :lol:
After removing the wing you can tell your friends photo is made from a drohne. :wink:
To be honest, I'm not a fan of drones... For me, it's such a disturbing element and I don't really understand why people are doing it. Taking footage that is already all over the internet, in most cases in much better quality - both from a technical and artistic point of view. They can download it, post it on their IG and pretend it's theirs, no one would know, problem solved... Anyway, rant over...

As for the photo of Maupiti from the plane - the way I think of it is that I just took the photo from the plane, so you can see the wing. That's just the way I took it, that's the way it was. If I had erased the wing, which is not a big deal with this type of background... That would make the photo lose authenticity for me, and I would see it to some extent as some random picture from the internet and not part of my memories. Just my opinion on the matter (-: I had a similar discussion with another photograph of Lobmbard Street, which featured a trash cans (-:
foto-k10 hat geschrieben: 01 Jun 2023 21:53BTW: up to the sky photo I count 23 pictures.
Good point, however I wrote that I was trying to follow, not that I strictly followed this 15 pictures per day rule :lol:
foto-k10 hat geschrieben: 01 Jun 2023 21:53 And why there are metal rings around the palm trees?
I do believe it serves as a prevention against crabs, rodents and similar pests from climbing up. However, If that's the case, then I wonder why these aren't installed on each tree...
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Re: French Polynesia in April/May 2023 (Travelogue in English)

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Bong!!! hat geschrieben: 01 Jun 2023 22:45
foto-k10 hat geschrieben: 01 Jun 2023 21:53BTW: up to the sky photo I count 23 pictures.
Good point, however I wrote that I was trying to follow, not that I strictly followed this 15 pictures per day rule :lol:
I'm lucky, that you don't follow strickly your rule.
Beaches are too nice not to show us these pictures.
Bong!!! hat geschrieben: 01 Jun 2023 22:45 Taking footage that is already all over the internet
That's true for nearly every subject on earth.
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Re: French Polynesia in April/May 2023 (Travelogue in English)

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Sorry for not commenting earlier, but I find typing longer comments on the smartphone is so exhausting. Today it's the first day in a week that I have access to a device with a keyboard, so finally I can leave you a reply. Thank you for your effort to write a trip report. And I appreciate so much seeing the soda vending machine at Teahupo'o again.

Even though we had the same itinerary for a while you did some things we didn't see. E.g. Motu Tiapaa looks like a place that would speak to us.

As I told you already we are thinking about going back but will not do much new places, as we would like to revisit the places we liked most last time. For us there won't be much Seychelles in the future, so there will be more travels to Polynesia that will leave room for new discoveries, so we follow your adventures closely, even though I can't comment regularly at the moment.

Looking forward to read about Fakarava.

:bounce:
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