We know Tahiti like no other! You know it’s amazing, but you want to ensure everything is perfect? Here is our honest advice on what you need to know when planning a vacation to this island paradise, and we’ve left the sugar coating off – this is your Tahiti travel planning tool!
- Know a little Tahitian Geography – Tahiti, Bora Bora, Papeete, which is what? First off, the country is officially French Polynesia, a group of Pacific Islands with the largest, and capital, being the island of Tahiti (A bit like how the large island of Hawaii is known as the collective name for Oahu, Maui, etc). On the island of Tahiti is the largest town in French Polynesia, and the international airport of Papeete. The other well known islands are Bora Bora, Moorea, Huahine, Taha’a, Tikeahau and Rangiroa
- Book Early. Tahiti is a premier destination where the demand actually outstrips the supply. What this means is that you cannot expect many last minute specials typical of the Caribbean. We encourage our travellers to book accommodation and touring 90-180 days in advance. Many resorts in Tahiti give their best deals to people who book at least 6 months in advance, which we obviously try to include in every way possible. Furthermore it’s important that you book your flights well in advance too, Tahiti is popular, and there are limited flights.
- Stick to a brand. When island hopping, travellers who stay with the same chain of hotels (such as the Intercontinental, Sofitel, or Le Meridien) will get the best bang for their buck. These resorts often offer multi-island discounts when staying with the same brand. We know all of this info off-hand, let us arrange your trip to ensure you get the most out of your trip.
- Book all of your air at once. You obviously need to fly to the destination, but if you plan on island hopping, we encourage you to book these regional inter-island flights at the same time as your international airfare.. We are one such seasoned air consolidator, and will happily arrange all of your flights!
Mix and match the types of rooms you stay in! So you want to stay in an overwater bungalow? Who doesn’t! But truthfully, you will want to move around a little bit, so we highly encourage travelers to book 2-3 different room types, on different islands. This is one way to actually save as well as play up on what each various island is respectively known for. So for example consider a Garden room upon first arrival, on the island you plan on being the most active. As you’re out snorkelling or on 4WD tours in the highlands, you’re actually not in your room till the evening. When you move onto your next island and you’re ready to soak up the Tahitian sun, magnificent scenery and indulge yourself in sheer luxury – now we suggest the overwater bungalow! To round off your trip, exchange the lagoon for the beach by choosing an island known best for its sandy beaches, and opt for a beach bungalow steps from the water. The combination of all of the above will give you the best possible value and experience by allowing you to effortlessly enjoy what each island is known for.
- Seasonality and Meals. You will often see resort rates offering to include meals, and we strongly suggest our clients opt for this every time. During our (North American) winter is when resorts include meals in their rates, or have reduced rates on meals – and it coincidentally is when we want to escape winter! While it is possible to drop into neighbouring resorts or seek out local restaurants for a change of gastronomic scenery, the convenience and actual savings of paying for food at your actual resort is worth it any ways.
- Visit Papeete and eat at a Roulotte. Many travelers avoid Papeete, the capital and largest city of French Polynesia, as they think of it as a big city with nothing to offer – they couldn’t be further from the truth! It’s true that this is a tough port city, and has a few rough edges but it’s definitely worth a visit. Shopping – particularly for those seeking pearls – is certainly the best here. The local fruit and veggie markets are great for photographs. But our top recommendation – worth the visit to Papeete alone – is to dine out at the Roulotte’s, essentially gourmet food trucks with basic tables and chairs setup outdoors, combining French, Tahitian and other International cuisines. It’s also a great way to meet locals as well as travelers at other resorts or those who’ve arrived by yacht or cruise ship.
Consider less “famous” islands. Everyone knows about Bora Bora and many have heard of Moorea, but some of the other lesser known islands such as Huahine or Tikehau can sometimes offer as much as 50% off the room at certain times of the year, and are generally less crowded as they don’t get as many visitors. The lesser known islands are also a great choice for second time or repeat visitors looking for something different, and are your first choice if you’re looking for privacy.