We reserved Taaroa Lodge partly because they had kayaks to use on the lagoon, and that part was very good for us. Overall, we liked it here because it is out of the city of Papeete, at kilometer marker 18 on the east side, facing beautiful Moorea. It is on the lagoon with two public beaches nearby, either a short walk along the road (a busy 2 lane road, narrow with little walking space, so be very careful) or by kayak which I did one day. Ralph and Diane are very helpful with any tourist needs such as arranging transfers or rental cars. Ralph was most accomodating, he picked us up at the airport, took us up the road 3 km to the rental car place one day, followed us back the next day to turn the car in, and took us to the cruise pier when we were leaving - so much better than taxis and buses. The transfers from the airport and to the pier were 3000 CFP (about $33 US), which we were very happy with. The help to/from the car rental place was gratis, how nice!
The accommodation was lovely; we had a bungalow with 1 king bed plus a twin bed (which we used for all our stuff), and a small refig/freezer and microwave, plus private ensuite with shower. Ralph brought a long baguette early each morning and left it in a gauze sleeve (to keep the little bugs off it) on our porch table. The porch faces the lagoon but there is the garden area in between. The bed was very comfortable, 2 night stands with small lamps were helpful and the twin bed was essential... if you had a third person in the room I think it would be difficult because there was not a lot of other space for luggage etc. The kitchenette had necessary plates, cups, cutlery, bowls and was very functional for us although very limited counter space, which was not a problems as we were only doing the very basics of food prep. Coffee, tea, sugar and powdered whole milk were provided in canisters, and an electric coffee maker. Jam and oleo spread were in the frig for us when we arrived - we used these on our morning baguettes each day. A stopperd glass bottle of purified water was also in the frig; we refilled the bottle at the kitchen water purifier, and our own water bottles. I think they use rainwater which was fine for showering and we drank some of it early on and always used it for washing dishes without getting sick but everyone's constitution is different. .
We stayed here 5 nights, 4 days, arriving from New Zealand late the first night (10:30pm at the airport - most flights come in late). Ralph was right there to meet us! We enjoyed the lagoon and kayaked three of our four mornings. The kayaks and paddles are stored in the sunny open and the paddles are rather beat up but useable. The kayaks are sit-on-top style and we had large towels with us which we used to cover our legs to keep from sun burning. The boats were not easy to get down and up the steps to the beach, about one long flight of steps, but we had bandanas with us and used them to protect our hands; we used some nylon shoe strings to make loops through the eyelets at the front and back of the boats so we had somewhat of a handle to lift and carry the boats. We didn't let any of this deter us and we loved having our morning paddles, although a little maintenance and attention to the conditions would help guests greatly. Snorkels and masks were also available but I had my own and didn't try to use theirs; I suspect they were also in poor condition. There is an outdoor shower to wash off after being in the salt water. We were glad we had aqua shoes but they weren't essential as the lagoon put in is walkable, sandy or cobbles, not rough coral. The lagoon is stunningly beautiful, emerald green with tons of coral and fish to observe without even snorkeling; with the magnificent views of nearby Moorea island and the sound of the waves on the reef it seems like a true South Pacific paradise. Kayaking the lagoon was our highlight!
The lodge also has an additional bungalow (2 bungalows total for up to 3 in each) and the main lodge structure which has a 7 person dormitory upstairs, shared bath downstairs, a room for 2 with private bath downstairs, and an attached shared kitchen and dining shelter; there is a drying line outside the kitchen which we sued for our wet towels. The owners' house is near the main lodge house plus the owners have a roofed area in the garden which is for their private use but not marked as such, so we felt a bit embarrassed when Ralph came over to tell us it was for their use only. A small sign would help.
The days were hot and sticky in early January; we had rain the day we rented the car to drive around the island. The heat would keep us from doing this again but we were told that July is much more comfortable, dry and cooler. The bungalow had windows high and low all around it and we had them opened to the max the whole time, including the double sliding glass door across from the foot of the bed; we drew the curtain at night for some illusion of privacy - anything to help get a breath of breeze through. There was a table-type fan mounted on the wall which we worked at turning around to get it to cover the bed; a ceiling fan would help a lot! In the afternoons the temp in the room was up to 93F and it would sink briefly during the overnight to 79F. In the afternoons we lounged in the lounge chairs in the garden area overlooking the lagoon; there was usually a breeze and by staying in the shade we managed to survive. The breeze kept the mosquitos off of us and in the bungalow Ralph had an electronic mosquito oil disperser running.
In the evenings we gathered in the garden area to watch the sunsets. The kitchen shelter (open to the outside world for fresh breeze) was a gathering place for conversation with the other guests. Many were French, as is most of Tahiti, so language differences could be a barrier, but all were friendly; some were staying longer terms, a month or two but most were transients like us who benefited from the advice and experience of the longer term guests. Our bungalow had a flat screen TV but most of the channels broadcast in French or other language, nothing in English. Mostly we went to sleep early and had the early part of the day for paddling before the breeze turned the lagoon from glass-like to choppy.
Internet was quite decent, available for a small fee which Ralph just added to the tab, so easy to pay for lodging, transfers and internet all at once by credit card.
We purchased essential food at a small grocery across the road and a 100 meters or so north; they did not take credit cards, CFP only. Because we were staying just a few days we did fine with what we bought there, the basics, and ate out of our bungalow, a little better than camping style. We were told that a food roullet truck came around at night and parked across the road but we didn't use so can't comment. We were able to change dollars/francs at the snack bar restaurant located adjacent to the Taaroa Lodge property on the road; exchange rates were quite favorable. There is bus service that stops near the lodge and Ralph and Diane understood the system, but we did not use it, although others staying at the lodge did. On the day we rented the car we enjoyed our drive around the island and visited the Tahiti and Isles museum, entry fee 6000 CFP each; we felt it was a worthwhile stop.
Tahiti is a very beautiful place, very French, and is known as an expensive place but staying at a family lodge with a kitchenette made for a more intimate and affordable stay. Ralph and Diane's hospitality made it work for us. Taaroa Lodge's location is excellent for those who are interested in being away from the city feel of Papeete, and especially because it is on the picturesque lagoon. Go in July not January for a more comfortable stay! If you are planning a honeymoon pick a place with air conditioning for comfort and privacy.
- Also Known As:
- Taaroa Lodge Tahiti/Papeete