Allow me to start this post by confirming that Yes, the hear-says are true: It is bloody expensive in French Polynesia. To tourists and locals who bemoan how expensive Australia (Sydney to be precise) is — the prices here in Sydney don’t even compare to Bora-Bora.
Here are approximate price of items:
A large bag of Cheetos – approx USD 10.00
2 Pizzas and 3 cans of Fanta – approx USD 65.00 (and this is a not even a restaurant, it’s a roadside take-away pizza in Bora-Bora frequented by locals)
Loaf of Bread – approx USD 7.00
a pack of cheese slices – approx USD 6.00
an average meal (dinner) for 2 would cost around approx USD 75.00 (and we don’t drink wine. we always had water!)
Ok, it’s ridiculous. It’s mortifying. But hey, what can you do? Not eat? Well actually, Zombie went spearfishing with locals one night and they tried to give him some of the fish. It would’ve been excellent if we stayed at a place that had a kitchen but well, maybe that’s an idea for the next visit!
A lot of tourists get an all inclusive package (meaning you have all your meals in the hotel). It may sound like a smart plan, but I hope you agree with me that it sounds completely boring to have your meals in the same place day in day out!
So anyway here’s a summary of meals, broken down in Breakfast, Lunch, Snack and Dinner to show you that though Bora-Bora is expensive, you need not starve.
I’m not a breakfast person but Bora-Bora makes breakfast so enticing, I actually wake up before 6AM every day looking forward to it. Most hotels include breakfast in their rate, and the 2 hotels we stayed at – Sofitel Bora-Bora Private Island and Intercontinental Moorea, had an excellent spread of buffet breakfast
The good thing about Bora-Bora being under French government (I think they are actually a part of the EU)–they really know their bread and pastries very,very well!
To those who are more into hot savoury meals for breakfast, both the Sofitel and Intercontinental have an omelette station. I’m not a big fan of hot meals in the morning so I always hit the bread, cheese and fresh fruits every day.
And it’s not a bad view either. My tip: start breakfast early so you can have it leisurely as it is a real treat to have it in Bora-Bora. That way you’re not too rushed either if you planned for a day trip/excursion.
Because we were always out during the day, we had some of our lunches included in island tours and excursions. There was one day that we packed our food during a trip to a private island in Moorea:
And also a couple of days when we decided to stay in and have lunch at the hotel.
We rarely had time for a proper sit-down afternoon tea / snack because we’re always out and about (in other words, underwater!) But for the occasional craving-for-munchies time?
Ha! this is where that controversial USD 10.00 bag of Cheetos comes in! When we first arrived in Tahiti, we came from Los Angeles so we had a lot of American
junk snacks with us. Of course we soon ran out of supply so when we went to Bora-Bora’s “downtown”, we hit the main grocery store, run by a Chinese family – Chin Lee! This is how we concluded that you can really find Chinese in every nook and corner of the world!
Oh I loved our dinners in Bora-Bora/Moorea. It was always interesting and varied. First off, there are no fast-food stalls or burger joints in Bora-Bora/Moorea. The closest to it is that pizza takeaway by the roadside which cost us USD 65.00 for 2 pizzas and 3 drinks. All the rest are “proper” restaurants. The most popular restaurant in Bora-Bora would have to be Bloody Mary’s, where almost all Hollywood actors go. Their buffet of seafood looks interesting but it seemed like each and every tourist in the island is going there. I try to avoid crowds as much as I can when on holidays, so we went to other restaurants.
The BEST meal we ever had was in Moorea, at this restaurant called Les Tipaniers. The most amazing Mahi-Mahi in Vanilla Sauce! If I were to go back to Bora-Bora, I’d fly to Moorea just to have this meal again.
Most restaurants will pick you up from your hotel and drive you back after dinner. So in that respect, you will feel that the steep price is slightly justified by the great service.
In Bora-Bora, we frequented Le Bounty because it is near the Sofitel- no need to be picked up, it was just a stroll away
Their price is moderate and they specialise in seafood pizza and pasta.
Now most hotels will make it very tempting for you to stay in for dinner. Almost every night they have a show that comes with dinner:
This show and dinner night in Moorea was spectacular. But of course, quite touristy – I’m guessing not too different from hotel dinner shows that you would get in Hawaii, Fiji , etc.
But the most interesting dinner, hands down would be that night when we watched the 2012 Miss Trans-Tahiti Pageant:
This is the annual beauty pageant for the transgendered Tahitians. The hotel (Sofitel) went really all out for this show and they had seafood cooked in the traditional Polynesian way (from underground). I had so much fun during this dinner, especially knowing that equality is celebrated even in this tiny paradise island!
My main tip for eating in Bora-Bora – try to go out of the cattle crowd (that is the tourist path). This way even your meals will add to those unforgettable, fun moments in your trip. And if you are in a place where its expensive , in this case Bora-Bora , budget the costs beforehand. I don’t want to sound stuck up, but in some situations, there is nothing you can do about the cost of living in a country. French Polynesia is so geographically remote that they get their goods from either USA or New Zealand, and the transport alone jacks up the prices. And it’s not just for tourists. Locals also have to contend with the costly expenses.
If you are staying at an apartment where there are kitchen facilities, unless you can literally catch fish (as this is what most locals do), it will still be costly for you to go to the grocery and get ingredients. I will only suggest this if you are staying long term.
What country / city had you gawking at the ridiculous food prices???