on April 21, 2004
Every time I plan a visit to Polynesia (4x) or Fiji, the first thing I do is buy the most recent version of David Stanley's Moon Guide because they are the most reliable & comprehensive. David travels incognito & he actually visits the pensions & hotels; unlike other travel writers who rely upon the reviews of others. While Fodor's is aimed at what I would term the 'average American tourist', David's guide includes comprehensive reviews of different classes of lodging, detailed village, island & trail maps that are invaluable to those who like to go off on their own. Since he's a diver, he's assessment of dive shops are invaluable, but most importantly, since he doesn't accept 'freebies' he's not adverse to slamming a resort for bad service or advising you not to eat some place. If all you're looking for is an insular vacation at a 5 star resort with hotel arranged excursions, then just take the advice of your travel agent. But, if you want a truly special, individual experience then Moon Guides' Tahiti is for you. Every book has extensive sections on the history, culture & religion of the islands... with extensive reviews of lodging, excursions & restaurants, so you don't just have to accept the opinion of your travel agent. Many times, travel agents push clients to resorts that pay the biggest commissions, instead of attempting to match the traveler's personality & lifestyle to a hotel that might pay a smaller percentage in commissions. I've found David's Moon Guide to be more reliable than the Lonely Planets books in the categories of hotel reviews, his review are more informative & his maps are far more accurate. If you're buying one guide book this is the one... If you want the best FP vacation possible, then read this book before you call a travel agent...David also advises readers on how to book it yourself or get the best deals.
on February 4, 2004
The 5th edition of David Stanley's "Tahiti" guide is a terrific reference for anyone planning a visit that little corner of the world. Covering not only the languid lagoons of French Polynesia, but also those of the beautiful Cook Islands and the barren windswept hills of Easter Island, the book tells you pretty much everything you need to know when preparing yourself for a trip to paradise. Island by island, David takes you through the sights and attractions each location has to offer. This is followed by a "Practicalities" section devoted to providing you with the things you need to know in order make your dream visit become reality (such as accommodation, dining, transportation and shopping choices as well as the legal requirements needed to secure entry). There is also a great selection of maps so you can get an idea of where the various resorts, restaurants, and attractions sit in relation to one another. Furthermore, there's a fine selection of hints and tips designed to make every aspect of your trip more pleasant and enjoyable. All, in all, this book can pretty much do it all for you.
On a purely personal note, I feel I have to add that the authors love for this part of the world is truly evident. The South Pacific is a fine mistress, and as one who has dallied with her a couple of times myself, I understand fully the intoxication these idyllic islands can leave you with. David is smitten, as were Paul Gauguin, Herman Melville, James Michener, and countless other artists, writers and poets before him. Still, despite the obvious infatuation, David maintains a sense of balance and so you hear the bad with the good, so that you might arrive in paradise prepared for both.
Just from the research I've done for my own little write-ups on Epinions.com, I know just how much work can go into even a small travel article, so I can't even imagine how much effort must have put into a book with this much substance. If you are traveling to (or even thinking of traveling to) any of the areas covered by this book (especially French Polynesia), this book deserves a place in your collection.
on February 3, 2004
Two years ago we went to the South Pacific and covered ten islands, starting in Tahiti and ending in Fiji. In the process, we were fortunate to have the opportunity to meet David Stanley. As a result, when I learned that he had issued the 5th edition of the Moon Handbook, titled 'Tahiti, Including The Cook Islands,' I was intrigued and wanted to compare my experiences and the places and establishments I was familiar with to those of this handbook. The handbook covers six of the islands I visited, three in the French Polynesia group, and three in the Cook Islands - varying from the largest, Tahiti, to the smallest, Palmerston.
I can only summarize my review by saying that I am amazed at the breadth, depth, and current accuracy of this handbook. I am particularly impressed by the manner in which David collects his data in an incognito fashion. It allows him to be factual and not influenced by preferential treatment. I, myself, can not imagine the amount of work and organization it takes to compile all of the facts and data in the book. I agree that since it is the 5th edition that a lot of the material can be brought forward from one edition to another. But the meticulous effort it takes to keep it current is amazing to me. I went through the six islands we visited and could not find an error in the data or a lack of current status.
I particularly found the history section and the sidebars well worth reading and helpful in understanding the people and their culture. Whether it was the life of Pouvanaa A Oopa in Tahiti, of Hinano Beer, or the use of Monoi Oil on Moorea, it helped to understand the culture. Someone might not care about the Tahitian Dance Movements or the Internet Resources - but the book is replete with interesting sidebars.
All of the usual handbook assets are all there, like the range of hotels and their prices, how to get there, etc. But there are added touches such as a glossary of local terms, a dual names section, suggested reading list, and contact information for information offices.
Do I have any negatives? Only a couple. David does not mention that the Papeete harbor, which is the waterfront for the Sheraton and several upscale resorts is badly polluted. I wondered why the resorts wouldn't ban together to at least hire a couple of guys and a rowboat to pickup the floating debris and plastic bottles. My other negative is the title of the book. I don't know who at Moon picked the title, but Tahiti is far from being the only island in the many beautiful French Polynesian Islands. And the Cook Islands and Easter Island should be equally recognized.
In summary, I found the David Stanley book to be the one and only handbook that I will enjoy using for learning, planning and taking for use on trips to that area of the South Pacific. Would that I could have a small, lightweight, equally great handbook for all of my regions of travel!
on December 23, 2003
David Stanley's Moon Handbook: Tahiti brings this island region of the South Pacific to life for the adventurous traveler -- or even an armchair traveler like myself. The thorough research and detail of information makes this wonderful book a truly great read. It far surpasses Lonely Planet's guide on Tahiti which skimps on giving color to this tropical Eden.
It's obvious Stanley really knows the region. He gives readers a thorough and clear background on a variety of natural history subjects such as the growth of Pacific coral development and the animals of the Tahiti area such as sharks and jellyfish. We also get a profound examination of the region's human history starting from the prehistoric adventurers who braved the ocean to establish their cultures on the various islands.
Moon Handbook: Tahiti provides travelers with an extensive amount of information to make a trip to these islands memorable. It offers details on shopping tips and transportation resources, advice on how to find the best and most economical accommodations, and suggestions of the best restaurants to try out. The book also is filled with a good number of highly detailed maps that provide readers with a splendid geographic perspective of the Tahiti and Cook island systems.
I read Stanley's book during a rainy week in winter, and it definitely helped me to escape the winter grey of California to soak in the sun of this beautiful paradise on the other side of the world.
on December 9, 2003
I have enjoyed Moon Handbooks guides in the past, and this updated 5th edition of Tahiti is no exception. There are obviously other choices out there on the marketplace such as Lonely Planet, but I've always felt that David Stanley's Moon Handbooks are a step above the competition because the guide is written by someone who has actually lived there long enough to really know the in's and out's of each place. I've used guidebooks to find some highly recommended restaurants and had a terrible experience there, and I've found hole-in-the-wall places that aren't covered by the guidebook and had a wonderful experience. I think this is a result of a guidebook writer having only visited each place once and basing a recommendation on one experience, rather than really settle down and get to know each place. The latter is the sense I received when I bought and read Moon Handbooks Tahiti.
Much like the Fiji Moon Handbooks guide, considerable attention is given to the history, culture and people of the area. While this history may appeal to only certain people, let's put it this way... other areas are not spared in exchange for this information, so consider it a bonus over other guidebooks. The real structure of the book, such as the places to stay, places to eat, and activities on each of the islands is as good if not better than I've seen in better-known guidebooks. Furthermore, the maps are unsurpassed starting at entire islands right on down to city centers.
I often take more than one guidebook on a trip to a destination anyway, but if my budget or my backpack only allowed one, this would be the one for Tahiti. Hope my review helps you plan for your trip. Bon voyage!
on November 30, 2003
A BRIEF REVIEW OF "MOON HANDBOOKS TAHITI" BY DAVID STANLEY
(with an emphasis on the Easter Island portion)
Anyone familiar with David Stanley's "South Pacific" (one of the Moon Handbooks series) will recognize similarities between its Easter Island coverage and that which is contained in this, the 5th edition of his "Tahiti". And it's apparent that he updates his information regularly (new references to land redistribution and the voyage of the Hokule'a, for example). There are a few errors that I've been told will be addressed in the next edition: Benito Rapahango is listed as proprietor for Mahinatur, for example, despite the fact that Benito died in September of 2002*, plus a few technical errors that probably only archaeologists and anthropologists will notice. He rightly complains about the loudness of the Toroko Disco when staying at the Hotel O'tai (though my solution to this is ear-plugs; I never travel without them). And he properly admonishes people about disturbing bones found at various sites around the island, which includes a new section on how to conduct oneself respectfully on the island (vis-a-vis the archaeological sites). However, a few tourist-oriented corrections are worth mentioning: The ATM outside the bank is open (it accepts Bank of Chile and Mastercard and was operational as of October 2002), and the U.S. airport reciprocity (entry) taxes have gone up to $100 (it was $91 a year ago).
But don't be unduly distracted by this recitation of errors, as they represent a fraction of the coverage that is otherwise clear, concise, and up-to-date. Stanley is refreshingly honest in describing the controversies involving land redistribution and inane development plans (e.g., the 5-star hotel and golf course) -- "one special-interest group clawing against another; the world on a small scale". And he offers extensive details about accommodations that are rarely available elsewhere. His Hanga Roa map is one of the most accurate to date and the two-page spread devoted to Easter Island Internet resources is invaluable.
Although I've focused on the Easter Island portion of the book in this review, I think it's important to note that about 95 percent of David Stanley's Tahiti is not about Easter Island (duh). In fact, of the three main sections of the book, the bulk is contained in the sections on French Polynesia and the Cook Islands. The section on French Polynesia covers Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea & Tahaìa, Bora Bora, Maupiti, Austral Islands, Tuamotu Islands, Gambier Islands, and Marquesas Islands); the section on the Cook Islands covers Rarotonga and the Southern and Northern Groups; and the section on Easter Island covers, well, Easter Island -- but that's what you'd expect unless you are floridly intoxicated after visiting the fruit juice factory on Moorea.
In his very approachable style, Stanley provides loads of information on history, customs, holidays and events, arts and shopping, services, transportation, and lots of little trivia tidbits. His section "Tahiti in Literature" is a rare gem. Two dozen pages at the back of the book are devoted to a rudimentary glossary, a listing of basic Tahitian and French terms, suggested reading, Internet resources, and island facts (which doesn't include Easter Island and indeed any non-"permanently inhabited islands of French Polynesia and the Cook Islands", alas). This makes "Tahiti" one of the best investments for the traveler to and from this region of the world.
One thing that has always impressed me about Stanley's guides is the fact that they're written by him as a traveler and not as a guidebook writer. He travels anonymously when researching his books and thus doesn't receive special treatment at hotels or restaurants. This makes it a lot easier for the reader to trust his opinions. And since Stanley emphasizes mid-priced accommodations and activities, you have a better appreciation of what it's really likely to cost.
Whether you're settled down, heading east, or heading west, with Tahiti at the center and Stanley's very centered information at your disposal, this book will help you find your way.
* Mahinatur is no longer in operation at the intersection of Hotu Matua and Atamu Tekena in the Easter Island village of Hanga Roa but is still in operation. This is the latest contact information from both SERNATUR and Camara de Turismo on the island:
Julio Lagos, proprietor
Residencial O Tama Te Raìa
phone/fax: 100-220 /100-420
on January 2, 2004
David Stanley's guide to Tahiti is by far and away the most complete guide to the region that I have found. Having traveled in the area, it is refreshing to find a book that covers not only the high-profile aspects of the region, but also the out-of-the-way, behind the scenes views of the south seas. Mr. Stanley has a way of getting immersed in the culture and the communities but also sees things from a traveler's perspective. His intensive research, along with up to date information make it a pleasant and an enjoyable read. Not only are there plenty of resources listed, but the information given about the history and culture of the islands is fascinating to know before going. The numbers and prices listed are also current enough to be used at any point you decide to make the journey. This book is a fantastic guide to a magical place.
on April 23, 2012
This book is a good choice and gives lots of ideas. Caution: give yourself lots of time for planning because there are soooo many ideas! It even tells you specific tour operators to contact and also some to avoid. Helpful maps, information on all the islands of French Polynesia.
on June 1, 2004
David Stanley has a wealth of personal knowledge of the South Pacific, and it shows. This comprehensive guide to French Polynesia, Rapanui, and Cook Islands is a must for anyone planning to travel to these exotic tropical paradises. Covering everything from history to present day conditions, from the practicalities of getting there to getting around, he tells it like it is. No matter your preffered travelling style, there is a wealth of realistic information to please everyone, from backpackers to luxury seekers alike. You will find this book invaluable; don't leave home without it.