Thinking of a trip to a beautiful island in the South Pacific, narrowed it down to Tahiti or Fiji, and can’t decide? Here we outline a few similarities and differences, and what to expect when choosing your island escape to help you make the best choice. One thing to note – there are no direct flights between Fiji and Tahiti so a combination trip would require you to visit another island (e.g. Hawaii) or a stop in Australia or New Zealand.
Things that are similar about Tahiti and Fiji:
- Getting There: To get to Fiji or Tahiti from North America, you will need to travel via Los Angeles. There’s one airline for each country (Fiji Airways, and Air Tahiti Nui). Both are overnight flights, arriving into your island early in the morning. (Air Tahiti Nui also has a day time flight). On arrival, neither destination requires a visa for North American travellers.
- Weather/Seasonality: Both Fiji and Tahiti are year-round destinations, with their driest season between May and September.
- Promotions & Specials: In both countries, the resorts offer you deals for staying longer at their resort (e.g. “Stay 7 nights, pay only 5 nights”), or a discount for booking far in advance (e.g. 10% off early booking bonus). Expect to find more deals in Tahiti compared to Fiji for travelling in low season, which is November to March but excluding the Christmas period. Which country is more expensive? Totally depends on when you go and where you stay and how far in advance you book. Neither destination gets cheaper the longer you wait, so we highly encourage early booking.
- Activities: In both countries you can enjoy a variety of activities – swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, paddle boarding, cultural trips, boat excursions, and even skydiving. Both countries also are great places to indulge in at the spa and get a massage.
Some Differences between Tahiti and Fiji:
- Geography: Fiji is made up of 333 islands (some very small!) organized into seven island groups. Tahiti (official French Polynesia) is made up of 118 islands.
- Culture: While both countries are located in the South Pacific, they each have a unique culture. There’s no way to quickly simplify each one here (you need to go see for yourself), but each country maintains its traditional heritage. In Fiji, you can witness a traditional Fijian fire dance or participate in a Kava ceremony. In Tahiti you can also witness their Polynesian heritage through dance, handicrafts, tattooing, and music.
- Language: The official languages in Tahiti are French and English, in Fiji it’s English (although they also speak Fijian and Hindi).
- Accommodation: Tahiti is the home of the luxurious, Overwater Bungalows (OWB). In the most popular islands (Moorea, Bora Bora), you have a variety of resorts to choose from that offer OWB with direct access into the lagoon. Fiji has just one resort with an OWB (the 5-star Likuliku Resort) but it does have Fijian “Bures” – beautiful bungalows with a thatched roof, typically one of the higher room categories, as well as a wider range of accommodation choices from moderate to luxurious.
- Food & Eating Out: On select islands in Tahiti, such as Bora Bora, you can choose to dine in a local restaurant. In Fiji, you typically dine at a resort for all your meals. In Tahiti, food has a French influence, but expect to find a variety of cuisines – the islands offer restaurants with French, Polynesian, Italian, and American food. Seafood is plentiful, with the national fare being ‘Poisson Cru’ (raw fish marinated in lime and coconut). Plus, many restaurants offer a gourmet dining experience, sometimes with as many as seven courses. Fijians utilize fresh, local ingredients in their cuisine which consists of rice, taro, coconut, and fish. With an Indo-Fijian culture, you’ll also experience tasty, colourful curries and cuisine infused with spices. We recommend you try a Lovo, a feast of meat, fish, and vegetables that are steam-cooked underground.
- Family Travel: Fiji, in our opinion, is better suited for younger families travelling together than Tahiti, as most resorts in Fiji offer kids clubs, babysitting (both at very reasonable rates), kids promotions, and family style rooms (e.g. a Family Bure). Tahiti does, however, offer a Kids Fly Free program for children under 15 years old.
- Island Hopping. In Tahiti, it’s very typical to island hop on your itinerary and visit 2 to 3 islands in one trip. This is less common in Fiji, where most visitors choose one resort and spend the majority of their time there. It’s a little more difficult to hop around in Fiji compared to Tahiti.
- Cruising. Both countries offer cruise itineraries, but they are a little different. Fiji offers two small ship cruises, ranging from 3 days to 2 weeks. Tahiti has an awesome adventure-style cruise ship, called Aranui, some luxury cruise options, such as Windstar, and boutique catamaran-style cruises, such as Archipels.
In summary, if you’re looking for an island paradise, turquoise-coloured lagoons, lots of water sports, and a place to relax, both Fiji and Tahiti are ideal choices, and both destinations are recommended for honeymooners, couples, and divers. If the criteria above still doesn’t help you make a decision one way or another, you’ll have to flip a coin!