How to make your trip to French Polynesia affordable
I’m sure that like me, you always thought that the islands featured in spectacular photos you have found yourself staring at are only accessible to the extremely wealthy and certainly out of reach for the budget conscious, right?
Wrong! Sure, French Polynesia can be as expensive as you want and more, but the good news is that there is a very affordable side to it that not many travellers are aware of. We spent a week in Tahiti and Moorea, and not only was I glad we did not give it a miss but were rewarded with some of the best sceneries I have ever witnessed, as simple as that. This is how we enjoyed a week in paradise for a fracton of what you think it costs.
Like any journey (or most of them) it all begins with a flight, and in the case of Tahiti it becomes a requirement (sure, there are a few cruises that stop there, but then if you were joining one of those you wold not be reading this right?). There are two ways to get to Tahiti by air: flying roundtrip from wherever you are or making a stopover in a trans-Pacific flight. The second option is usually the cheapest and can be achieved if you purchase your ticket though a travel agent, not online. The cheapest airlines with this opportunity are usually Lan Chile (flying from/to Santiago with yet another stopover in Easter Island) and Air Tahiti Nui, with flights from/to New Zealand and Australia to/from the west coast of the USA. The second option was our case, with a flight with Air Tahiti Nui from Auckland to Los Angeles. Initially we considered spending only two days, but after looking for info about the islands online we decided to our better judgement to extend our stay to 7 days. There is no cost involved by the way when you extend a stopover.
Step 2 and perhaps what keeps most travellers away is accommodation. In Tahiti there is nothing for under 60 USD/ night unless you a) couchsurf or b) go camping. And this is what we did, with very good results.
We initially spent two nights couchsurfing in Papeete, the capital city of Tahiti . It is a busy, unappealing metropolis with all the commerce and government buildings of the nation. During the day we spent there we climbed to the top of the highest mountain in the area with a Polish traveller we had met, while waiting for my sister who would arrive later that night, and did get some nice views of Moorea and enjoyed the walk.
The following morning we woke up early to catch the 11 am ferry to Moorea (15 USD/person), the closest island to Tahiti and apparently one of the most beautifull in French Polynesia. We would spend the next 6 days sleeping in Camping Nelson, hoping to find the famous beaches, mountains and lush forests the islannds are famous for. Did we? We certainly did, and regreted we had not made our stay longer after finding out that Moorea is NOT as expensive as you’ll read. Don’t waste a minute and keep reading Tahiti and Moorea on a budget Part 2: One week in paradise and learn how to easily make 100 USD/person in Moorea (not kidding!).
Have you visited these islands or any others in French Polynesia? Which? How expensive was it for you? If you liked this post and think others might too please remember to share it!