We traveled to French Polynesia for two weeks and we stayed at Ninamu for one week. We are pretty seasoned travelers and expected rainy weather. We also realize that the storm that hit the area during our stay was pretty atypical and quite a lot to deal with for the hotel.
Ninamu is in a remote and beautiful location. You will be picked up from the airport and taken to the island by a boat transfer. Depending on your definition of “boat transfer”- this will be quite the wet adventure or standard boat travel. They are set up as a very intimate location. You will live and eat with all of the guests and owners/staff, for the most part in the open air (roofed) common area. The hotel is geared for excursions- typically offered and depending on the make-up of current guests is surfing, fishing, and snorkeling. Being environmentally conscious they have been careful not to disturb the reef where the boats are docked at a floating dock. Due to the weather we encountered, getting the boats in and out was quite challenging and at times very stressful. We were able to go snorkeling a couple of times and had the amazing opportunity to swim with manta rays. This was an amazing experience and made up for the weather. It was great to go on a snorkeling trip with a small group and not have the typical “feed the sharks” type of tour.
We are both vegan and had discussed the availability of meal options with the California Ninamu representative for months prior to even considering the island. We were assured several times that there was a chef who would be able to accommodate us especially as we had provided so much advanced notice. When we arrived we were greeted with shock, which led us to believe that the assurances regarding our meal request hadn’t been conveyed, realized or completely understood. We had to explain what vegan meant through most of the meals. We have come to expect this while travelling through most of the world and typically travel with our food to eat in the room. As food was included in the price of the stay, we were disappointed. We thought there would be more options similar to the meals the others’ were eating (ie hot breakfast, more than side vegetables & rice). Instead, the meals were the sides of the meals that were served to the other guests. The dinners definitely got more creative later in the week and the chef did great things with curry sauces and coconut milk. Drinks at the bar are expensive. Quite a few people in the know brought their own wine/liquor, or if you take a trip to town you can get wine at a decent price.
As the rooms are open to the elements around various windows in our hut and around the roof line- our room stayed very damp. It was very hard to keep bed sheets/clothes/towels dry and fresh smelling. Our bathroom and upstairs sleeping area could use more light. It would get pretty dark during the day. Be sure to request specific units with covered patios if you enjoy sitting outside, but want to be protected from the rain/sun. We luckily had few bug issues due to the pouring rain - a mosquito net is provided around the beds. The openings in the room allowed the crazy rain to hit us in bed while we tried to sleep. Everything is low-impact, therefore the hot water is spotty and the room is not cleaned daily even when asked to be cleaned. Three of the beds in our hut had apparently not been cleaned in many weeks as the dust and detritus was very thick on top. The Ninamu concept is environmentally sensitive and creates a rustic experience. There is construction on a new unit so depending on location of your hut this may or may not affect your time in your room.
Staff was very nice and was the saving grace of the stay. It is a very small staff similar to a B&B. Many jobs/tasks are covered by them. If you are expecting a full staff to stand and cater to you around the clock, that is not present. Our unit was not as well lit or as comfortable as we would have liked. With better lighting or a covered porch, it would have been possible to relax all day long while watching the storm pass through. Because this was not possible, we hung out in the common area most days, which for us after seven days was like being in someone else’s living room. Ninamu is focused on excursions and the inclusion of meals. Inclement weather and/or a non standard diet are not conducive to this model. For us, because we could not retreat to our room the cost of the stay was not worth it.
If you are someone who needs a daily hairdryer and hot shower, this is not the place for you. If you want to be on the move exploring or surfing and out all day this is the place for you.
- Also Known As:
- Tikehau Ninamu Hotel
- Tikehau Ninamu Hotel Tikehau
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- All structures are built from items found on the island. We are solar powered. We have a 100 percent organic farm and we catch our own fish. We also have the best beach in French Polynesia. ... more less