It’s rare for a day to go by without being asked “what does a trip to Tahiti cost?” and while I would be a very popular travel agent offering a Tahiti vacation for $1500 or overwater bungalow in Bora Bora for $2000 it won’t be happening soon… or maybe ever… But there are lots of ads that make Tahiti appear affordable so let’s look at the individual components and get down to the bottom line of what a vacation in Tahiti really costs!
Getting to Tahiti – There is only one international airport serving the group of islands referred to as Tahiti or more properly the Society Islands of French Polynesia, and that is Papeete (PPT). To reach Papeete Tahiti from the United States all flights connect through Los Angeles (LAX) or Honolulu (HNL). However only LAX has daily service and offers the flexibility needed by most vacation and honeymoon travelers. Honolulu has only one flight a week each direction and the flight times do not easily connect with other U.S. cities without a stopover. And while a stopover in Hawaii is always an option, it is rarely an effective strategy to reduce the cost of a vacation in Tahiti.
There have been occasional exceptions over the years, but a normal fare between Los Angeles and Tahiti starts around $1200 per person and during the high season, May through October, $14-1800 per person is more common. To that you would add the cost to reach LAX.
Getting around Tahiti – Once you reach Papeete you’ve got a bit farther to go before you’ll find the Tahiti of your dreams with white sand beaches, turquoise water and fabulous snorkeling because Papeete is a busy international gateway and can be crowded, congested and noisy. So a typical Tahiti vacation budget must also include local and interisland transportation. These options range from a 35 minute ferry or 10 minute flight to Moorea, one hour flight to Bora Bora and other outer islands, or even a Paul Gauguin or Windstar cruise departing from Papeete. Regardless you will spend money getting to the other islands.
So let’s assume Moorea as the least expensive dream satisfying island destination in Tahiti and work out those costs. A roundtrip ferry ticket is about $35 per person plus the cost of a cabs from airport to ferry and ferry to resort. Assuming two people traveling by cab I’d plan about $100 roundtrip.
Le Truck and the local bus would be less, as little as $15, but you’ll need extra time, be careful of travel times and dates, and be willing to walk with luggage.
A flight to Moorea is around $100 per person roundtrip but you eliminate $50 in cab rides so not a big difference compared to the total cost of taking the ferry. So unless every dollar matters, I tell my clients to fly to Moorea if they arrive in PPT early morning and take the ferry if there is a forced overnight.
Getting to Bora Bora and the outer islands – An interisland flight from Papeete or Moorea to the magical island of Bora Bora is about $400 per person roundtrip in the off season and closer to $500 during high season. Flights to other islands such as Rangiroa, Tikehau and Huahine are about the same, but if you have the time and budget for more extensive island hopping a pass is the way to go and will reduce costs somewhat.
So an average honeymoon couple traveling in the summer months will spend more than $4K getting from Los Angeles to Bora Bora and back. More if they’d like to stay on two outer islands. Then we need a roof over their heads, hopefully in an overwater bungalow, and enough food to keep love alive . Thank goodness the sunsets are free!
Accommodations – Here we have more variables so I won’t be able to address every option, but assuming you prefer a bungalow over a hotel room and wish the amenities of a 4 or 5 star resort the following general statements should apply.
Most resorts in Tahiti offer an enticement such as free nights or free meals with longer stays so your best value is often 3+ nights on Moorea and 4+ nights on Bora Bora or another outer island. Resorts that have more than one location in French Polynesia may also offer combination rates. So if you stay at the Moorea Pearl and Bora Bora Pearl Resorts you may get a better deal. The challenge here is that the best resort on one island may not be the best on another, so value will be in the eye of the beholder.
Garden bungalows are less costly than beach bungalows and overwater bungalows without a view are less than those with a Mt Otemanu view. Pretty much everyone averages $600 or more per night even with the best deals if they include Bora Bora or another outer island.
Dining in Tahiti – The food is excellent but expensive in the Tahitian islands and it doesn’t seem to matter if you’re a light eater (I am), vegan or carnivore. Everything is flown in except the fish from the sea and those wonderful French chefs that work their magic with sauces and desserts don’t come cheap either. Most will spend $125 or more per person for two meals a day and my best advice to economize is to eat a hearty breakfast, skip lunch and enjoy an early dinner just after sunset.
It is possible to bring unopened sealed foods (e.g. granola bars) into the country to tide you over between meals or satisfy a snack attack but the idea of stopping at a market and picking up groceries isn’t a practical option for most. You can however pick up some local rum at a fraction of the price the resort’s charge for a cocktail. Which reminds me, there are no all inclusive resorts in Tahiti but meal plans are available at almost every resort.
So what’s it going to cost? There are lots of variables but here’s a quick bottom line to know if a Tahiti honeymoon or vacation is within your budget –
With air from Los Angeles traveling during high season, 3 nights on Moorea, 4 nights in an overwater bungalow on Bora Bora, breakfast and dinner daily and transfers the total will be $8-10K for two using the best available specials at 4 star resorts. If you want to spend less we can look at off season travel, shorten the stay, give up the overwater bungalow or give up Bora Bora.
Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora are expensive but the destination provides a once in a lifetime fantasy experience and is worth every penny. Please give me a call or shoot me an email with your vacation wish list. I’m here to help, have decades of experience finding the best value, guarantee the lowest price on all Tahiti and Fiji vacation packages and am happy to suggest other unique and special options if the cost of a Tahiti vacation is too high. Mauruuru!