I used the Havaiki Pearl Guest House as home base for a week of scuba diving on the island. I’m happy to report that I had almost as good of a time above water as below. The specifics:
Check-in: You don’t really “check-in” at this place as much as you “arrive.” I really didn’t know what to expect when the flight landed but just assumed the island was small enough I could find my way to the property. I was actually met at the airport by the owner (!) and staff. Our luggage was taken quickly and within 15 minutes we were on our way to the bungalows. The process was relaxed and informal which properly reflected the island atmosphere.
Bungalow: Being a solo-traveler more concerned with quality scuba-diving than a quality honeymoon, I chose a two-story garden bungalow on the edge of the complex. It had electricity, housekeeping services, and an excellent bed with functional mosquito net. The lower level had a private bathroom with a large couch, the upper a split floor with a sitting area and enclosed bedroom with a small desk. The bathroom was spotless and spacious, my only small quibble being a lack of hot water.
Service: Fantastic. Joachim (the owner) is involved in every aspect of the operation here and it shows. He transports the guests, assists with the dining service at breakfast and dinner, serves at the beach snack house, and gives tours of the pearl farm to boot. The entire staff reflects this, as I had an almost flawless experience at every dinner and breakfast. I think service is a tricky balance at a place like this as there is a high turnover rate and probably a little more desire for privacy at a beach resort but they manage to pull it off well.
Setting: Two things struck me on this topic. First, welcome to paradise! This truly is what most people imagine when you say the term. The water is clear blue, the sunsets gorgeous, and the temperature almost perfect. Second, paradise isn’t what we picture it to be some of the time. The weather can be occasionally cloudy and stormy, and there is an underlying harshness (read: poverty) to local life that may surprise some. All of this aside, the actually location of the resort is quite scenic and you have the option of experiencing real island life (via a bike) at your leisure if you have the inkling to leave.
Dining: A smaller but adequate buffet breakfast and excellent dinner are included in the price of lodging, with lunch at the discretion of the guest. The latter gives you a little opportunity to explore other parts of the island, or you can eat at the beach restaurant. The biggest surprise for me here was dinner. It’s a set three course meal that changes nightly; I didn’t notice a single repeat dish the entire time I was here which for a resort that has to import virtually all of its food was quite impressive.
Overall: First, a caveat: this was my first “island resort” experience so I don’t have much to compare it to. Second, it’s tough to please everyone here as I would imagine expectations for a location such as this vary widely. For every person who wants an “everything that I have at home” experience with AC and cable TV there is likely another that would like a more rustic “I’ll catch my own fish for dinner, thanks” vibe. I thought this guest house was a perfect balance between these two with great service and opportunity (scuba diving down the road, kayaking on site, bikes for a trip to town, etc.) to boot. I would definitely stay again and would recommend a visit without reservation.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- 6 bungalows on the beach and 3 gardens with a restaurant in the oldest pearl farm ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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