Communication with the outside world can often be a problem in French Polynesia.
The phone coverage is very poor on most islands and the internet connection is even worse. Prepaid internet is very expensive – too expensive for my liking. That’s why I appreciate so much these 5 places where you can get internet almost for free.
1. SNACK VAEKI, best known as CHEZ HENRI (Henri’s place) – Nuku Hiva
Henri is a legend. At his place you can type away your emails while the chickens peck your feet and a group of locals sing lovely Polynesian tunes accompanied by ukuleles. When you get hungry, you get up and pick a banana or two from the stash hanging all around you. This is a meeting point for all the cruisers arriving across the Pacific and in the high season is always packed with sailors. That’s why the internet can be quite slow. If you need a better connection for downloading or to call your mum on Skype, you need to go there at 5 am. You will be surprised to find Chez Henri already full of locals having breakfast.
If you arrive into French Polynesia by boat, sooner or later you will end up at Henri’s place and when you do, make sure you order a fresh mango juice. They are unbeatable and Henri doesn’t mind if you put your own tot of rum in it as he doesn’t have a licence for alcohol.
2. FAKARAVA YACHT SERVICES
Aldric and Stephanie are ex-cruisers who moved to this little piece of paradise and started a business dedicated to cruisers. They offer free internet connection if you buy a coffee or a juice, but they also rent bikes and take care of your laundry. If you need anything else, just ask. Their couch is very comfortable and their espresso the best in Polynesia, no question.
3. VAITAHU under the pamplemousse tree by the only shop in town
Vaitahu on the island of Tahuata is a very lovely town, well worth a visit. In town you will find a beautiful church, a museum, a post office, lots of nice locals and a little shop/bakery. This is also a wi-fi spot and there is a nice table where you can sit in the shade of a big tree. If you buy something from the shop you can ask for the password, but don’t expect a fast connection! What you can expect is a big smile and helpful attitude from the French guy who owns the store.
4. ATUONA, HIVA OA (only off season)
Sandra runs Hiva Oa Yacht Services and offers internet connection inside/in front of/behind her office. The price is quite high in season (April to August), but in the low season drops to almost nothing. With a booster you can manage to get her internet aboard as well, but only if you anchor very close by. In the high season, the internet cafe in town is a cheaper choice and they make great pancakes too!
5. CARREFOUR TARAVAO, TAHITI
The only place we found in Tahiti where the internet was fast and free was in the big Carrefour in Taravao (between Tahiti Iti and Tahiti Nui). They have tables with chairs and very fast internet. You can buy a drink or a snack but it is not compulsory.
I am sure there are many more “secret” spots and if you know of any, please let me know, so I can add them to this list.
p.s. I was not sure if writing this post was a really good idea… secret spots are usually great only until they are discovered. But to be fair, the amount of yachts that go through these spots every year is so small, I hardly can see them getting too crowded…