I love customizing my clients’ vacations to offer the best experience, no matter what the budget. Have you always wanted to go to Tahiti and French Polynesia but been scared off by the luxury sticker price advertised in all the dreamy vacation brochures? Here are a few tips you can use to adapt to almost any budget level.
Tip #1 – Manage Expectations
Write down your “must do”. No vacation experience is worth giving up what you’ve always dreamed of doing. Be it staying in an over-the-water-bungalow, seeing Mount Otemanu on Bora Bora or getting an authentic tattoo in Marquesas.
Tip #2 – Consider Off-season Travel Dates
Travel during the off-season when prices are more flexible. July, August, Christmas and New Years are peak travel times. Instead of two weeks, think of a seven to 10 day adventure.
Tip #3 – Research Optional Location
The most popular islands in French Polynesia are Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea. There are over 180 islands (30 with tourism infrastructure) in 5 archipelagos. Lesser-known islands offer better value for the money. Check out Tikehau (Tuamotus), Nuku Hiva (Marquesas), Rurutu (Australs) and Taha’a (Society Islands)…which I absolutely loved!
Tip #4 – Accommodation: There are a wide range of options including guesthouses and the ever famous over-the-water-bungalows. Choose the latter option in a 3* resort to save money. Believe me, the fish don’t know what you paid as you look down through your glass floor window! Split your time between the more affordable lush tropical garden view rooms or beachfront villas and then spend a couple of nights in an over-the-water-bungalow. It’s hard to have a bad view when you’re in French Polynesia.
Tip #5 – Transportation Rates and Modes
Flights from Los Angeles are eight hours with varying rates. Air Tahiti, the domestic airline has discount air passes for island hopping. I’ve taken the fast ferry from Tahiti to Moorea and it was less than $15 one-way. Cargo vessels sail throughout the archipelagos and have great rates. Try renting a bicycle, or car instead of taking taxis.
Tip #6 – Not All Dining has to Be Fine Dining
Food trucks called Roulottes open each evening in Papeete, Tahiti. Snack stands are a great gathering place with affordable local cuisine. Most hotels and guest houses offer Half Board (breakfast and one other meal). Picnics and self-catering are fun and affordable options.
By following some of these tips you can bring a $30,000+ budget down to under $7000 per couple. Never let the cost stop you from a perceived luxury destination!