Paths across the Pacific vary, but almost everyone goes to French Polynesia. Based on our experience, here’s what to expect in FP. Generally speaking, what’s available varies by island group.
As the first landfall after weeks at sea, it’s impossible to resist the lure of fresh produce. Like everything in FP, though, it will cost you! For the first (and hopefully last) time in my life, I spent $12 on a single smallish melon. It was juicy, delicious, and honey-sweet, but I hope I never pay that much for a single piece of fruit again!
The fruit in the Marquesas is beyond glorious, and I probably didn’t need to satisfy my fresh-fruit craving at such a price- laden trees seem to be everywhere. Mangoes, pamplemousse, bananas, and more. It all belongs to someone, and it’s important to ask permission before helping yourself… but it’s almost always permitted with a broad smile. For the first time, we experienced the nectar that is a tree ripened pamplemousse. It was beyond spectacular. We’ve had them since, but never quite as sweet as the beauties from the Marquesas.
These dry atolls grow precious little of their own produce; almost everything is flown in from Tahiti. Goods are expensive to start with in Tahiti, and don’t get any cheaper being put in short hop flights to these islands. The only “deals” were subsidized goods, but other than the $.50 baguettes, they were not a bargain. On the other hand, bring as much fruit as you can carry from the Marquesas. The kids we met in the Tuamotus thought our fresh papaya was a huge treat- as it probably was.
Tahiti / Society Islands:
Anything you could want, from middle eastern dates to French lentils, can be had (for a price) in Tahiti. This was the only stop in the south Pacific where supermarkets resembled their US counterparts. Frankly, it was kind of weird reverse culture shock and took some adjusting: I hadn’t been in an aisle dedicated to cold cereal in a VERY long time! Stock up at the Carrefour in Tahiti, supplement with produce from the marche municipal (public market) in downtown Papeete, and try to get out with a few francs.
There are a common denominators between islands, too: