We carry on our series of Polynesian articles with this one. If you have been following us for some time now, you must surely know that we have started testing accommodations in the French Polynesian islands. What could finally be better to recommend this or that accommodation than to try it ourselves for a few nights? In September 2020, we came back to the island of Raiatea (located in the Leeward Islands) to spend a few wonderful nights at the completely renovated Raiatea Lodge.
So, we maintain the momentum! But this time, we tried something very different indeed. For the first time, we had the opportunity to test another kind of accommodation, different from high-end or luxury hotels. We had already tried for some time to collaborate with guesthouses, but without much success so far. However, it is worthy of interest because not everyone wants to (and financially can) spend their vacations in overwater bungalows.
We had the opportunity to stay for a few nights at the “Le-Neliza Beach Lodge“, a small establishment with only two bungalows, at the exit of Faaroa Bay. We had never tested yet anything else than top-of-the-range, and I must say that the idea to highlight something else, a rather nice concept other than a simple guesthouse or a hotel, pleased us. So, we agreed to spend a few nights there in partnership with the establishment to promote their place.
Of course, we won’t be able to write as much as we usually do about high-end hotels that offer much more services and things to do. But the idea was above all to be able to offer something else to tourists (and even locals) during their visit to Raiatea Island.
We discover the premises with Suzy, the owner of the establishment. After a small presentation of the accommodations, she left us the place all for ourselves. She doesn’t live here but a few kilometers away and can be reached 24h/24 7d/7d, so that’s great! We discover there two large bungalows of 50m2 on the seaside, on a more-than-2000m2 site. Surroundings are really beautiful and, great particularity, you have access to your own private beach – which is very rare in Raiatea, the island having almost no beaches. You usually need to go to the motus to find some.
After Suzy makes us look around the property (I’ll talk about it below), we discover in family this very beautiful seaside setting. Of course, that’s pretty close to the road, but we quickly forget it. Indeed, being able to bask in 1m of water in the evening, feet in the turquoise lagoon, while watching the sun, which sets not that far away is a real treat.
We also gladly discover the beautiful golden sand beach, just below the two bungalows. The area is very well equipped with tables, chairs and deckchairs to relax. It is a very good spot to spend a romantic or family time, without being disturbed and feeling all alone. From this beach, you can do snorkeling to get a glimpse of the underwater world and discover corals – and even swim with manta rays, dolphins and turtles if you’re luckier than we were. Next time! There are kayaks set on the beach, which are easy-to-use to get on the sea, and tours on small body of water tours are truly enjoyable and within everyone’s reach, no matter the level.
I even got up early in the morning to go see the sunrise on the other side, towards the bottom of Faaroa Bay. The morning light is really beautiful here.
Well, let’s talk a bit about what’s waiting for you. We had the pleasant surprise of discovering two bungalows very well decorated, but above all of high quality, something you immediately notice when entering the main room. This is different from local guesthouses, but we are on a slightly higher price range though.
The bungalows can be rented for 1 to 4 persons without the price changing. This is important to note because, here in French Polynesia, the more people you are staying in the room, the more you pay. These are simply bungalows offering complete autonomy and independence. Here, no one will come to cook your food or breakfast, and you are in charge of whatever you want to do!
As soon as we entered the bungalow, we were clearly surprised by this beautiful covered wooden terrace with a partial view on the beach and on the lagoon in front of you. A perfect place for us to eat in the evening. The bungalow consists of a living room with a sofa converting into a double bed, a master bedroom next door with a beautiful 180×200cm bed, all air-conditioned (but you can also choose fans).
The bathroom is just as beautiful, in the same line as the rest of the bungalow. A washing machine as well as shower towels are at your disposal. Everything is done to ensure autonomy actually.
The kitchen is equally complete, and you have access to everything you need to spend a few days here and cooking without any worry, with: all the dishes, fridge, 4 gas hob, electric oven, microwave, toaster, capsule coffee maker, etc..
Finally, a little extra: you have free access to Wi-Fi, bicycles and kayaks, if you want to take a ride in the bay or on the motus.
What I liked about this concept is that, in addition to being completely autonomous and independent, you are very well situated on the island. So, yes, you could regret to be “quite far” from the city (20 km) Uturoa, but in reality, you just need to do your shopping in town as we did and go down for a few days to cut yourself off from the rest of the world in this nice little corner right by the sea.
And if you have a rental car, you can easily go to the excursions (diving, tour of Tahaa by boat, etc.) as their departures are often from the city of Uturoa.
The location of the Le-Neliza Beach Lodge is really great for many reasons. You already have access by kayaks (provided free of charge on site) to the Faaroa River (which is the only navigable river in French Polynesia), as well as to the superb Iriru motu which is just opposite. We spent a splendid half-day there during our last visit to Raiatea. We went there by boat, but apparently it can also be done kayaking. Considering the distance anyway, you’ll have to make sure you have muscles and a weather without too much wind… Otherwise, you can refer to my article about the things to do in Raiatea, in which I give information about several providers of excursions. Among other things to do and see in the surroundings:
- Kayaking in the Bay of Faaroa (up the river, in my opinion one of the nicest things to do on the island),
- Visit of the Maraé of Taputapuatea (classified by UNESCO) and its stroll uphill, from where the view of the maraé and the lagoon is superb (10 km from the bungalows),
- The new botanical garden of Faaroa (10 km from the bungalows),
- Two new walks have been recently set up on the island: the Gabbros walk and the Macaranga Ridge walk (also about 10 km away).
In the end, I find the location really good, and you’ll have enough to occupy yourself without worries for a few days, either on the spot or around.
I end this article with my personal opinion on the subject. Who is it destined for, then? I would say that it is a perfect concept for anyone looking for calm, tranquility, and mainly autonomy. In short, basically what you won’t necessarily find in a guesthouse or a hotel. We were there as a family and, to be honest, we had such a great time.
Admittedly, prices are a little higher than a simple guesthouse, but the standard is just as much higher. You have access to everything you need. For tourists who cannot/do not want to spend too much in a hotel, I think it’s a very good compromise.
In addition, Suzy can offer you “bungalow-car” packages, as she also has the license as well as rental cars for her own clients. So, you can arrive at the airport and immediately have your car to go to the bungalows and then stroll around the island during your stay. You get everything and you live your own life, not bad, right?
I’ll stop here for this small discovery, which deserves to be known. If you are passing through Raiatea during your vacations and like this kind of accommodation, feel free to contact them directly from their Facebook page, email or by phone at (00 689) 87 769 513.