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Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort - © Carlos Rodrigues / EASYVOYAGE
Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort - © Carlos Rodrigues / EASYVOYAGE
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Mark out of 10 for geographical location
Evaluation of the hotel based on its size, its decoration, the number of rooms, the attractiveness of its architecture and the quality of any swimming pools, lobbies or sport and leisure facilities it may have
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Like the other hotels of the Polynesian group Pearl, the Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort is a convivial and welcoming establishment. It also offers the unique character of a natural site that has earned it the name of 'Crusoe's Island' - a name often used to describe a tropical resort. Unlike other paradisiacal resorts though, where the sand is imported, the corals transplanted and young fish placed in miniature coral gardens to grow, the motu of Tikehau hotel gives onto a natural and extraordinary lagoon. With its coconut plantation and numerous tropical trees, the hotel seems to be far from civilisation, in a remote corner of the island, and yet it remains very close to the airport. This motu also enables guests to discover some geological wonders: the pink sand beaches that line the lagoon and the rocky stretch on the ocean side; it's a barren and dark grey flat that seems to date back to the origins of the island. This establishment will enable you to discover the incomparable charm of the Tuamotu, while enjoying the high level of comfort that the hotel has to offer.
The establishment is right by the sea, on motu Aua, to the north-east of the coral reef. The main motu of Tuherahera, where the airport lies, is a little more than 3 mi away. You can walk along the coral reef to get from your hotel to the airport motu.
There is a boat service to get to and from the airport or the hotel (the return ticket costs ?50 and the crossing takes a quarter of an hour). The hotel offers a free shuttle service between the hotel and the village of Tuherahera. The journey takes around 10 minutes. The shuttle leaves from the village at 7:00 am, 8:30 am, 12:15 pm, 2:45 pm and 5:30 pm. The departure times from the hotel are: 6:30 am, 8:15 am, noon, 2:30 pm and 5:15 pm.
If you don't feel like spending too much to get from the airport to the hotel though, you can ask a local to drive you to the port of Tuherahera (1 mi of tarmac road). The same applies when you return from the village. This service will set you back ?13 for the journey. You should know that there is no taxi service and no possibility to hire a car on Tikehau.
The Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort is, for the moment, the only hotel of Tikehau. The hotel offers several types of accommodation: family guesthouses located on the airport's motu or in its immediate extension, in the village of Tuherahera and its outskirts. There are about ten accommodation units in total.
The only tarmac road of the atoll links the airport to the village. It turns into a dirt track after the harbour. You can follow the dirt track by car or by bike and it will take you to the far end of the motu, where you will find a lovely public beach.
There are 13 beach bungalows with a wooden deck, deck chairs and a hammock hanging from the coconut trees; these bungalows are very tempting, but you should be warned that the bathroom partially looks out onto a small private garden. Consequently, the shower and the toilet offer no privacy - a curtain of some sort would be much appreciated to conceal this area. Also, it frequently gets quite windy on Tikehau, an aspect that will make your shower all the less enjoyable.
Prices and reservations on www.pearlresorts.com.
The name of the Tikehau Pear Beach Resort reflects the pearl farming activities (that have nearly entirely disappeared today) carried out in the lagoon: at Tikehau, there is only one active pearl farm left, and it is not open for visits. The gradual decrease of pearl production stems from the micro-climate of the atoll and its over exposure to ocean winds. These create turmoils in the lagoon, dragging up sand from the seabed, which in turn threatens the quality of the pearls as they are scratched by grains of sand absorbed by the oysters. Despite the very windy conditions, the Tikehau Pearl Beach resort is, in our view, one of the most extraordinary hotels in the world. This is mainly due to its location, on a motu with pink beaches on the lagoon side and a rocky dark grey strip on the ocean side. The region between the two includes blue-green lagoons, coconut trees that bend over the shore and shoals where the seabirds can land. The motu Aua is a genuine Robinson Crusoe island where you can live the thrill of isolation on a desert island, without having to deal with the consequences. Indeed, the village of Tuherahera is only a 10-minute boat crossing away - or a one hour walk away along the beach (take a pair of plastic sandals to cross over from one island to the next). The hotel is quite small (37 bungalows) and centres around an area that leads from the reception to the bar and the restaurant, passing past the swimming pool. The swimming pool is surrounded by a concrete terrace (with scarce vegetation). Teak wood deck chairs have been installed under parasols and cover a stretch that affords a view of the lagoon (the water here is even clearer than the swimming-pool water). The gardens with their coconut trees start a little further beyond the common areas: this is where you will find the beach bungalows and the spa centre, which occupies a bungalow with a view of the coral reef and the ocean. The view is spectacular, but the massages are quite expensive (?72 for half an hour). If you feel like being pampered in the middle of the lagoon, we can only recommend the Pape Miti treatment: the massage table is actually placed in the water (?126 for 50 minutes).
There are 37 accommodation units spread throughout 13 beach bungalows and 24 bungalows built on stilts; these include 9 first category bungalows, 7 premium bungalows and 8 suite bungalows. You can choose your accommodation with your eyes shut (the only snag being the half-open bathroom in the beach bungalows). The two pontoons built on stilts do not look onto each other (as they are on either side of the island). They are spacious enough (ranging from 485 sq ft to 1,000 sq ft). Their interior is both traditional and elegant, with a honey-coloured glazed parquet floor, visible woodwork and furniture with matching colours. As far as facilities are concerned, you should note that the bungalows on stilts of the first category do not provide direct access to the lagoon from the terrace: they are very close to the natural canal that links the ocean to the lagoon. There is therefore a strong current in this area, but it is the category that you should choose if you want to see some (small and harmless) sharks from the terrace of your bungalow. Another aspect you should be aware of in terms of facilities is that the bungalows on stilts of the premium category do not have air conditioning as they are located in the path of the trade winds. However, they do have a ceiling fan. Finally, in the bathrooms, there is no bathtub (except in the suites), for the purposes of water rationing, as the water is desalinated Tikehau seawater. If you come here with your family (although the hotel is best suited for couples), the accommodation units include a small sofa-bed that you can turn into an extra bed. Families with two children can ask for an extra bed in the more spacious bungalows. Here, the amenities are extensive and include a hair-dryer, Manea 50 ml hospitality products, dressing-gowns, teak-wood armchairs and tables (deck chairs in the suites), a flat-screen television, a telephone, a minibar, tea and coffee-making facilities and a safe.
There is a bar and a restaurant at the Tikehau Pearl; the traditional layout reduces the 'resort' effect and benefits as much as possible from its exclusive location between sea and lagoon. You will find the bar under a fare next to the swimming pool. The restaurant is in its extension, by the lagoon and the stretch of coral that makes up the reef. There is a constant sea breeze on this side, which provides natural ventilation, but makes it virtually impossible to place the tables on the sand right next to the lagoon. The setting is therefore ultimately romantic. There is something wild and grandiose about the landscape, something that will really make you feel like you're at the other end of the world. Despite being as close as possible to the wilderness, the Poreho restaurant ('porcelain shell' in the local dialect) offers luxury service and fine food. In fact, to fully enjoy the refinement of the cuisine, we recommend that you order fish (such as the opah, the local fish that tastes like white tuna, or the mahi-mahi, also called dolphin fish). Despite being imported, the meat is very tasty and we recommend the roasted veal for example. However, unless you cannot resist, you should not go for the New-Caledonia shrimp salad (they never taste as good in the southern hemisphere as they do in the Atlantic ocean). If you need to keep the bill down, there are plates of pasta that offer an interesting alternative: the tagliatelle with mushrooms or the penne with crispy veggies go for about ?15.The other dishes are more expensive (approximately ?24 for fish and ?26 for meat). As far as drinks are concerned, they are very reasonably priced if you order a local beer (?5), a glass of wine (?6 to ?9), or simply a carton of pineapple juice (?3). The restaurant is open for all three meals of the day. The morning's buffet breakfast (not wonderfully presented, with cheese and fresh fruit displayed in a fridge, giving the impression that you're in the restaurant's pantry) includes almost everything: scrambled eggs, potatoes, fried mushrooms and tomatoes, pastries, yoghurts and cereal. Finally, concerning the etymology of the Tianoa bar: it means 'beauty spot' in Polynesian.
On the lagoon side of the island the beach stretches into the distance, but only the part in front of the beach bungalows has been prepared for guests. This covers an approximate area of 1,500 ft by 60 ft. Natural shade is provided by coconut trees and a couple of aito trees (iron trees), and you can relax on one of the many teak wood deck chairs that have been laid out for you comfort. However, given the luxury and layout of the establishment, guests tend to laze around the swimming pool or on their private terrace (deck in the case of bungalows built on stilts, or wooden terrace in the case of beach bungalows). The beach front of the hotel is therefore deserted more often than not. The fine sand is mixed with larger morsels of coral washed up by the sea, thus creating a mixture of pink and white tones. However, if you want to see real pink-sand beaches, you will have to walk a bit. Put on a pair of plastic sandals to cross the lagoon and follow the beach towards the spa centre. Once you get to the other side, you will find the true pink beaches, some 300 ft further on. They are absolutely splendid and you can enjoy a walk here without crossing any stray dogs. If you feel like it, you can even enjoy a quick dip in the crystal-clear water (the lagoon of Tikehau is exceptionally clean). Wade out into the sea a bit further (the slope is not steep) and have a look around; you will feel as if you're inside a massive aquarium. Triggerfish, remoras, parrotfish, clownfish and others are here in their numbers, you won't know where to look. As far as snorkelling is concerned, we recommend that you slip on a pair of flippers and paddle around the pontoon that is close to the spa, where you can avoid the strong ocean currents.