Tahiti & her islands are among the most expensive travel destinations in the world. But here’s the good news: visiting Tahiti can be done on a budget, without giving up on comfort or skipping fun things to do. Here are 7 tips & tricks to travel to Tahiti and her islands on a budget.
1. Stay in a family pension
We always think that French Polynesia is all about luxury hotels and spectacular over water villa’s, but guess what: there are plenty of (very) good family pensions to choose from and we’re pretty sure you’ll have a great time there. Tahitians are very hospitable, no doubt you’ll get pampered there’s an extra bonus: it’s a great way to connect with the locals and you’ll get some priceless inside tips where to go and what activities to do, at a fair price.
Camping and/or couch surfing:
If you really want to travel French Polynesia on a budget, you may want to consider camping. Don’t think: classic camping site. Think: the garden of a guest house. Very basis, but if you feel the need for some extra luxury, the guest house is just a few steps away.
Another (no) budget travel trip is couch surfing. Check out www.couchsurfing.org and stay with locals. It’s the best way to make new friends and travel Tahiti and her islands on a true budget. When I first checked out the couch surfing possibilities in French Polynesia, I was really surprised to see how much guest offers there were. Staying in one of the most beautiful parts of the world doesn’t come any cheaper!
2. Choose your luxury wisely
You absolutely do want to stay in one of the luxury resorts, then here are a few things to consider if you want to cut costs:
Over water villa’s are the most expensive, the garden or beach bungalows are cheaper (but still absolutely romantic!)
If an over water stay on Bora Bora will kill your credit card, consider the island of Tahiti for your over water fantasy. You’ll get the same luxury and the fabulous VIP-feeling, but at a lower rate. And although Moorea is also quite expensive there’s the Moorea Club Bali Hai Hotel to check out (around 365 dollar for a two bedroom over water villa, for 5 persons).
3. Explore cheaper islands
There are lots of islands in French Polynesia to explore and they all have their own personality, characteristics…and prices. BoraBora will be the most expensive of all but there are a few, lesser known islands to explore. Raiatea, Taha’a (Society Islands), Nuku Hiva, Ua Pou (Marquesas) or Rurutu (Australs) are just a few islands that give great value for lesser money.
We stayed a couple of nights on the beautiful and affordable islands Raiatea and Taha’a and had a wonderful time.
4. Look for cheap package deal
You might get lucky and find a cheap good package, offered by a travel agency. These are mostly all included (with flights) and offer multi-islands visits. Downside may be that these packages are offered last-minute and you can’t choose the travel dates yourself.
Tip: if they’re not offering special rates, just ask. We often did it and most of the time we got a discount (or an upgrade).
5. Check out Air Tahiti’s combo’s
When you go island hopping in French Polynesia, it’s a good idea to check out the flight combo’s Air Tahiti (the domestic airline) is offering. There are 6 islands-hopping air passes which will save you up to 30% on normal flights.
Tip: a good way to save money when you’re hopping from Tahiti to Moorea, is by taking the Aremiti ferry instead of booking a flight. The flight takes 10 minutes, the ferry 30 minutes.
6. Save on drinks & food (but not on taste)
Don ‘t get your hopes up: food can be very expensive in French Polynesia. Still: Tahitian cuisine is very tasteful and it would be a shame to skip all the yummies.
Maybe you’ve stumbled upon a relatively cheap stay in a resort? Great! Just make sure breakfast is included: the bill of that nice buffet breakfast will make you lose your appetite. Having breakfast included leaves more budget for a nice sunset dinner.
Go to the local market and buy all the fresh fruit you can eat. Enjoy them while siting on the beach or relaxing in your room (definitely cheaper than ordering room service).
If you’re staying in a family pension, then most likely they offer half board. Go for it and make that reservation: pensions usually serve local dishes at very reasonable prices.
7. Go shoulder- or low season
May to October is high season (read: high prices). The lowest prices you’ll find from December to March (when the weather is unstable and showers are frequent). November and April are shoulder season months, with lower rates and still a good chance on sunny weather. We went end November & the beginning of December and had only a few showers in the evening, so that was a good gamble.
These are just a few tips on how to save money while traveling Tahiti and her islands. I’m sure there this list in not complete so if you have any interesting tips & tricks to add, you’re welcome to share them with us.