Just a 5-hour flight from Auckland, Tahiti is easy to reach — and depending on how you do it — affordable too. Here are our best tips for not breaking the bank!
ABOUT THE ISLANDS.
Tahiti is just one of 117 beautiful islands that comprise French Polynesia. These are our customers' favourites:
Tahiti. The main island, and the one you’ll fly into.
Moorea. Only 17 kilometres from Tahiti, easily reached by ferry or plane — and most likely to be your desktop background.
Bora Bora. Honeymooners' favourite and everyone’s paradise fantasy.
Lesser known islands. Droplets of paradise such as Raiatea, Taha’a (Society Islands), Tikehau, Rangiroa (Tuamotus), Nuku Hiva, Ua Pou (Marquesas) and Rurutu (Australs) are all increasing in popularity.
WHEN TO GO, PRICE-WISE.
May to October is hot and sunny — peak season, with prices to match! You'll see the lowest prices between December and March, but grey skies and rain showers are common. We say the sweet spot falls between November and April, known as the shoulder season. Prices are lower than peak and the temperature is absolutely sublime. If you're watching the budget, book in then!
Say 'Tahiti' and the first thing that pops to mind is a luxurious over-water bungalow. But we can connect you with alternatives for any budget. Here are some ways to keep costs down:
1 | Stay at a family pension. These small guesthouses are usually dotted in scenic locations such as verdant hillside or fronting the sea. While certainly not glam, it’s a fantastic way to meet locals (Get their insider tips!) and enjoy a genuine Polynesian experience. While most pensions are simple, with basic furnishings and cold showers, we can connect you with some of the best.
2 | Do Bora Bora on a budget. Bora Bora boasts a few resorts that aren't overly expensive. We recommend Le Matai Polynesia 3-star resorts, where you can experience 5-star location and tropical bliss surroundings at a 3-star price. And of course, there are pensions on Bora Bora too!
3 | Forgo the over-water bungalow. These ocean-perching villas, albeit beautiful, are always the most expensive. Try a garden or beach bungalow instead: They’re cheaper but still swoony.
4 | Talk to us about our best deals. Ask us about special rates and packages such as all-inclusive holiday deals, all paid for upfront.
5 | When an overwater bungalow isn't negotiable. So your heart’s set on an overwater bungalow and there’s no way you’re doing French Polynesia without it? In that case, ask us about stays in Moorea. You’ll get the same bundles of luxury (sunken baths, ladders to the reef and hammocks to fall asleep affront the sunset) at the best value.
TO ISLAND HOP? OR NOT TO ISLAND HOP?
Rather than paying for pricier island stays, consider a day trip from Tahiti. There are no boats ferrying between Tahiti and Bora Bora — you can only fly. But you can take the boat from Papeete to Vai'are on Moorea, and the trip is well worth it!
HOT TIP | Moorea's Oponohu Bay is one of the best-looking lagoons in French Polynesia. Surrounded by lush mountain peaks and glass-like water, use your day wisely and make a beeline here.
Fresh seafood and tropical fruit are easy to find at reasonable prices. But other foods in Tahiti are shipped or flown in, which makes them expensive. Here are a few tricks you can use to keep meal costs down:
1 | Eat at the pensions. They usually serve local dishes — which are not only delicious and authentic, but reasonably priced too!
2 | Include brekkie. Look for resorts with breakfast included in your stay.
3 | Make the most of markets. Stock up on fresh fruit and locally made goodies for beach picnics — it costs nothing to make the sand your dining table!
4 | Find the food stalls. Papeete on Tahiti is home to Les Roulottes, an area down by the dock where plenty of small caravans have been transformed into food stalls. Sit on colourful plastic seats and tuck into French crêpes, Tahitian poisson cru (raw fish in coconut milk) fresh seafood, steak, hot chips and more.
FREE(ISH) THINGS TO DO IN TAHITI.
Our picks for exploring on a shoe-string:
1 | Hit Municipal Market. This colourful market in the heart of Papeete boasts two entire floors of home-grown produce, friendly vendors and locals gossiping over fresh fruit, vegetables and Polynesian handicrafts. Mondays it runs 5am to 6pm, and Tuesdays through Saturdays, it opens an hour earlier. Come Sunday (church day!), it's open as early as 3am and closed up by 9am. If you're after a drink or light lunch, try Manava Café upstairs — and bring cash!
2 | Visit Vaipahi Gardens. With exotic flowers, lily ponds and small waterfalls, this tranquil garden makes a nice change from the sun, sea and sand.
3 | Hire a bike. Cycling around Tahiti is a pleasure, especially when the sun’s shining. With little traffic, gorgeous coastal roads and a terrain that's rarely strenuous, it’s easy to spend the day stopping for coffees, beach bathing, lunch picnics and quick dips in turquoise lagoons. You'll find rentals for as little as NZ$30 (approx.) per day, but it may not be brand new — Think charming antique!
4 | Bet on beach days. Obviously! Take a towel and spend almost zilch at some of the world’s most startling beaches. A lot of Tahitian beaches are black sand, but if you’re looking for the quintessential ice-white dazzler, head to La Plage de Maui on Tahiti’s southern shore. The shallow lagoon is calm, clear and perfectly blue, while the beach-fronting snack bar serves the most delicious seafood.
5 | Go sunset spotting. Boy, does Tahiti know how to put on a show! To see one of the best sunsets on earth, we recommend Plage Vaiava (known locally as PK18). To get there, drive from Papeete to Punaauia, and two kilometres beyond the Meridien Hotel lies Vaiava Beach. By day you’ll find showers, toilets, picnic tables, snorkelling and paddle board hire — but come dusk, the sun slowly sinks behind the jutted peaks of Moorea for a jaw-dropping sight.