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With a few exceptions, Tahiti's accommodations are in four areas: on the west coast, where most properties enjoy at least a partial view of Moorea; in Faaa opposite the airport; in the suburbs east of Papeete, where the beaches are of black volcanic sand; and in the city of Papeete, where you can sample urban life à la Tahitien. Consider staying at one of the west-coast, Faaa, or Papeete city hotels if you're stopping here for just a night on your way to or from the other islands or a cruise ship. This is especially true if your connecting flight departs during the horrendous traffic of a weekday morning or evening rush hour.

It Pays to Shop for Room Rates -- Like many big hotels these days, those in French Polynesia adjust their room rates according to such factors as the season and how many guests they expect to have on a given day, and many offer Internet specials on their websites. Accordingly, their published "rack rates" -- which I am compelled to give in this guide -- are nearly meaningless. Be sure to check the hotel websites for discounts and other specials.

The West Coast

Moderate -- Slated to open in 2009 is Manava Suite Resort, a lagoonside hotel in Punaauia, just south of where the highway splits from the old coastal road. All but 12 of the 121 units will have kitchens, and about a third will have direct views of Moorea. Check it out at http://manavasuiteresorttahiti.blogspot.com or contact South Pacific Management (tel. 800/657-3275; www.pearlresorts.com).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.