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Tahiti: Where to Splurge & Where to Save Money

Tahiti: Where to Splurge & Where to Save Money

I recently returned from a trip to Tahiti and this trip was as memorable and relaxing as it was beautiful. For many people, visiting here is on their bucket list, simply because it is unlike any other place in the world. 

Tahiti is the largest island in French Polynesia, located in the South Pacific archipelago. It’s divided into two main areas: the larger, northwestern section of Tahiti Nui and the smaller, southeastern portion called Tahiti Iti. In total, the island covers an area of 403 square miles and French is the official language, although you may sometimes hear the Tahitian language being spoken. If you’re traveling from Oklahoma to Tahiti, when you arrive, the time difference will be 5 hours behind what you’re used to.  Tahiti features two inactive volcanoes, sprawling black sand beaches, waterfalls, and rainforests. If you’re looking for a vacation in a warm tropical oasis, Tahiti is a great place to consider visiting. Here are some helpful tips for your trip to Tahiti. 

Tip #1: Take the ferry and don’t be afraid of the bus.

Save: When my husband and I arrived, we took the ferry to Moorea and rode the bus from the ferry to the hotel. This was a huge cost savings, saving us about $600 for two people! The ferries travel every hour and the bus will meet every ferry, so we didn’t even have to arrange it ahead of time. 

Splurge: When we were ready to head home, we splurged on a taxi back to the airport, simply because it is hard to know when the bus is going to come back around. Be sure to call and arrange the taxi service ahead of time, as they don’t have as many on the island as other places might. If you need help with that, the concierge at your hotel is happy to do this for you the night before you’re going to leave.

Tip #2: Pack plenty of snacks and drinks.

Save: Everything is expensive in Tahiti and the surrounding islands so if you’re looking to save some money, pack plenty of snacks and drinks that can last you the duration of your stay. We packed containers of almonds and granola bars and we took advantage of the bottled waters that the hotel provided in our room. The Hilton Moorea provides a minibar with pop, beer, and bottled water, so we decided to empty it every day so it would be restocked fresh daily for us. 
If you plan on drinking alcoholic beverages while you’re there, consider buying liquor at the Duty Free inside of security in the U.S. and pack it with you. They will tell you the exact amounts you can travel with. This will save you a lot of money, because alcohol in French Polynesia is very expensive. For example, cocktails at the resorts can range from $20-$35 and beer is usually $10 or more. In Bora Bora, bottled water was $10, so we took advantage of all of the included breakfast buffets and drank plenty of water and juice at breakfast since it was all included. 

Splurge: There is nothing like fresh, local seafood when you’re visiting Tahiti. During your time there, splurge a few times on some of the local food that the area offers. We had some of the most amazing tuna that we’ve ever tasted and we also enjoyed fresh French pastries and crepes everywhere. Delicious! 

Tip #3: Know the difference between overwater bungalows vs. garden bungalows.

Save: To save money, don’t stay in an overwater bungalow the whole time. Even though they are amazing, you can save money by staying in garden bungalows at the Moorea resorts, which I loved. They were posh, but had a fun camp-feel, kind of like the camp scenes that were featured on the original Parent Trap movie. The price difference between a garden bungalow and an overwater bungalow for a 3-night stay in Moorea could be over $1,000 depending on the time of year you travel, so that is a huge savings.    

Splurge: If you decide to travel to multiple islands, use the money you saved in the garden bungalow and splurge for a panoramic overwater bungalow in Bora Bora. Here, you need the overwater bungalow – the views and direct ladder access to the water is absolutely worth the splurge. 

Tip #4: Eat outside of the resort.

Save: A lot of the restaurants on the island of Moorea will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the restaurant to eat, so you don’t have to pay for a cab. We stayed at a hotel that had a neat local restaurant that we could walk to, and it was in the front yard of a home! There were picnic tables and we were able to chat with a Parisian lady while she cooked. Not only was it charming, but it was delicious and half the price of the hotel food. The service was outstanding compared to some of the more tourist-centered places. In Bora Bora, our resort had designated time that a boat would take you to the mainland where you could eat for less and take time to explore the island. 

Splurge: There is nothing like finding amazing food while you travel to a new spot. You have to have a BBQ lunch on Bora Bora Motu. Where else in the world can you be served champagne and lobster while sitting at a table in the water?  Amazing! 

Tip #5: Know about currency exchanges.

Save: Use the ATM, not a currency exchange booth. The currency exchange booth at the Papeete Airport was 83 XPF - $1 USD. The ATM was 99 XPF - $1 USD. Just be sure to tell your bank in advance that you are traveling so the ATM does not decline the transaction.

Splurge: There will be an ATM fee and it’s worth the splurge. Be sure to get enough cash for the entire trip – ATMs are few and far between and sometimes they’re out of money! 

Tip #6: Take advantage of onsite water sports.

Save: Most of the resorts are going to have onsite water sports. They provide the gear you need, including snorkel gear, kayaks, paddleboards, Hobie Cats, and more. Take advantage of these. It’s a great time to try something you never have before. 

Splurge: Splurge on a jet ski tour in Bora Bora. The lagoon is protected by all the outer islands so you can jet ski in calm water with stingrays and black tip reef sharks right below you. If you book a 2-hour tour, you will have time to circle the entire island. Make sure to book it from your hotel, as the resorts are so isolated that a water taxi could be very expensive. 

Your trip here will be filled with unforgettable experiences and you might even fall in love with French Polynesia from the minute you step off the plane!  I’m proud to be a certified Tahiti Specialist and can’t wait for people to experience the beautiful islands of Tahiti! Contact me today to get your trip booked. 

 



Lia Vincent

OWNER of Vincent Vacations

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I have been in the travel industry since 2002. I manage our store front travel agencies and locations for All Inclusive Weddings - Destination Weddings & Honeymoons, Vincent Magical Vacations - Disney, Vincent Events - Groups & Corporate Incentive Trips, & Vincent Vacations!I also manage our large group of independent travel agents, who work from home.  I LOVE helping couples with their Destinatio...  Read More >>>

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