DestinationsTahiti

How to Travel to Tahiti, even on a Budget!

Visiting Tahiti Article Series #1

Updated June 22, 2019. My first and foremost advice to you on how to travel to Tahiti is to educate yourself about French Polynesia. What do you really know about Tahiti, beyond the fact that it is a destination that travelers picture as the perfect vacation? First find out what to expect, and what Tahiti is all about.

I cannot stress this enough, for travelers destined to anywhere on earth, to educate yourself on your destination ahead of time. By doing so you will avoid making sometimes misinformed, costly miscalculations and mistakes as a result of your planning.

To get the most out of knowing how to travel to Tahiti, please read on.

Travel time to Tahiti, French Polynesia

Tahiti is my #1 favorite place on earth to travel and visit, again and again.

After flying in and out of Tahiti as a pilot for many years French Polynesia has always been very good to me. I know the place very well. I simply love the exotic South Seas.

How to travel to Tahiti, Tahitian woman

Tahiti’s location in the South Pacific is sometimes considered too far away for some travelers, however. That is unless you live on the U.S. or Canadian West Coast perhaps. For example, the typical flight time between Los Angeles and Papeete, Tahiti is around 8 hours.

Tahiti, French Polynesia Location

Did you know that many people around the world are confused as to where and what Tahiti is? The confusion about travel to Tahiti is largely from confusion about its location. The awareness of Tahiti’s location among many people around the world is rather shocking to me.

It’s very common to find people confusing Tahiti with Haiti. Haiti is the former French colony located next to the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean!

And, as my friend, French-Tahitian photographer Philippe Bacchet (see below) puts it:

“You even find French people confused as to where Tahiti is!”

And that is really incredible to hear. Tahiti is a French territory, owned and ran by the French government by French rule.

travel to Tahiti, French Polynesia map
The islands of French Polynesia (all referred to as “Tahiti”). Photo Credit: Flickr.com

Travel to Tahiti does not mean just ONE island!

  • Tahiti consists of 118 islands, located in French Polynesia, in the South Pacific. The word “Tahiti” is often referred to as meaning all the 118 French Polynesia islands, not just the main island of Tahiti by itself.
  • The main island’s name is Tahiti, where Papeete City, the capital of French Polynesia is located.
  • Groups of islands in the Tahiti chain are called archipelagos. Each archipelago has its own name.
  • The air distance between Papeete and Bora Bora is 172 miles.
  • Tahiti Island, Bora Bora Island, and Moorea Island are the islands most popular among tourists.
  • Bora Bora is considered the ultimate honeymoon spot for newlyweds.
  • French is the main language spoken.
  • French Polynesia is an overseas French territory.
  • The total population of French Polynesia is 287,179 people, with 134,000 living in Papeete City.
How to travel to Tahiti, Air Tahiti Nui
Air Tahiti Nui over Bora Bora. Photo Courtesy: SamChui.com

Average high and low Tahiti temperatures

The high-temperature average is around 85.1 degrees Fahrenheit, or 29.5 degrees Celcius.

The low-temperature average is around 71.5 degrees Fahrenheit, or 21.9 degrees Celcius

Why there is a very best time a year to travel and to visit Tahiti

Most tourists to Tahiti are not aware of the ideal season to visit the islands. Another factor to keep in mind is that Tahiti is located in the southern hemisphere. When it’s summer in the northern hemisphere then it’s winter (opposite season) in the southern hemisphere.

The very best time a year to visit Tahiti to take advantage of the most pleasant weather*

  1. April – May – June.
  2. September – October.
  • *As advised by lifelong Tahiti-resident Philippe Bachett.
  • “The very best weather” is defined as the time in Tahiti with the least heat and humid air. This season causes the least frequent rain showers.

Tahiti weather seasons

Winter Season (Dry Season)

The winter season is between May and October. Winter is generally considered the best time to visit Tahiti.

The reason why this season is the preferred season is that it’s also the dry season in Tahiti. 

With less rain and less humidity you can also experience more pleasant temperatures.

There isn’t really a noticeable fall and spring weather-type, as we experience in many other parts of the world. Tahiti has a mild and pleasant temperature year-round.

You only experience two noticeable seasons in Tahiti: winter and summer.

Summer season (Rainy Season)

Tahiti in February (summer)
Tahiti on a summer day in February. © Philippe Bacchet

The summer season is between November and April. This season is also known as the off-season for tourism.

This is the season where you can expect more humidity, sometimes unbearable unless your body is already used to high humidity. 

The summer season is also known as the rainy season when you can expect rain often.

Fly to Tahiti, Air Tahiti Nui B787 Galley
Air Tahiti Nui B787 Galley. Photo Courtesy: SamChui.com

Heiva Festival

The HEIVA Festival is held in July of every year.

This a cultural celebration lasting the entire month of July. Heiva stems from the Tahiti-Polynesian word for festival. “Hei” means to assemble, while “va” means places in the community.

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During July there are so many festivities going on. You can witness traditional Tahitian dance, music, singing, competitions, performances, great Tahitian dining, and even Tahitian sports competition.

Traditional Tahitian sports include climbing of coconut trees, outrigger canoe racing, stone lifting, and javelin.

Travelling to Tahiti, Air Tahiti Nui B787 Cabin
Air Tahiti Nui B787 Cabin. Photo Courtesy: SamChui.com

How to Travel to Tahiti on a Budget

French Polynesia is not a typical destination for budget travelers since Tahiti trips are rather expensive. This is especially true if you want to stay at a resort, or in a hotel in and around the resorts.

But this most exotic and romantic paradise on earth does not have to remain a dream out of your reach.

There are a few tips you can apply to keep your Tahiti expenses to a minimum, as I will reveal next.

4 tips on how you can best travel to Tahiti on a budget

  1. Book your entire trip as a vacation package. Get a vacation package deal inclusive of airfare and lodging, where even meals are included. You can order a lodging package separate from your airfare, but that most often brings the total airfare plus lodging price up. Tip: Best Tahiti budget package deals from the U.S.: Book your Tahiti trip with Costco Travel.
  2. Consider going to Tahiti during the off-season when prices are cheaper. But again, prepare for humidity, heat, and rain. The off-season is during the summer in Tahiti, which corresponds with the winter season in the U.S., Europe, and the northern part of Asia. 
  3. You may save money by taking a cruise to Tahiti. But you still need to figure the airfare to get to the cruise port, most likely in Papeete. Although the cruises are not cheap, you may save money in the long run. A cruise ship provides on-board lodging for your trip, even when docked at ports. You are also served all-you-can-eat meals. Do prepare to spend money on activities off the ship while on land, and money for souvenirs.
  4. Alternative lodging in Tahiti: Yes, Homestay and Airbnb, etc. do offer a few rentals in Tahiti, if you are really tight on your budget. Even Air Tahiti Nui now offers alternative bed & breakfast lodging in Tahiti, through their partner booking.com.

Visual Tour of Beautiful French Polynesia, by Philippe Bacchet

World famous French Polynesia photographer Philippe Bacchet has kindly allowed us to display some of his exclusive Tahiti pictures.
Enjoy your visual trip to Tahiti, and welcome aboard Philippe’s spectacular world through his lens! 
If you wish to contact Philippe, simply send us an email here and we’ll make sure he gets your mail.

Philippe Bacchet

Philippe Bacchet
Philippe Bacchet, Photographer.
© Sylvestre Dupré
Makemo Island, Tuamotu Archipelago
Makemo Island, Tuamotu Archipelago. © Philippe Bacchet
Tahiti Island, Society Archipelago, FAAA Airport Papeete
Tahiti Island, Society Archipelago. Papeete (FAAA) Airport middle left. © Philippe Bacchet
Rangiroa Island, Tuamotu Archipelago
Rangiroa Island, Tuamotu Archipelago. © Philippe Bacchet
Tahiti Bora Bora Island Society Archipelago
Bora Bora Island, Society Archipelago. Mt. Otemanu. © Philippe Bacchet
Tahiti Mangareva Island, Gambier Archipelago
Mangareva Island, Gambier Archipelago. © Philippe Bacchet
Tahiti Manihi Island, Tuamotu Archipelago
Manihi Atoll, Tuamotu Archipelago © Philippe Bacchet
Tahiti Island, Society Archipelago. Papeete (FAAA) Airport middle left. © Philippe Bacchetpelago. © Philippe Bacchet
Moorea Island, Society Archipelago. © Philippe Bacchet
Tahiti Taha'a Island, Society Archipelago
Taha’a Island, Society Archipelago. Bora Bora with Mt. Otumanu in the background. © Philippe Bacchet
Tahiti Vaipo Waterfall, Hakau Valley, world's 3rd tallest waterfall
Vaipo Waterfall, Hakau Valley, Nuku Hiva Island, one of the world’s tallest waterfalls. © Philippe Bacchet
Maupiti Island lagoon, Society Archipelago
Maupiti Island lagoon, Society Archipelago. © Philippe Bacchet
Maupiti Island
Maupiti Island lagoon, Society Archipelago. © Philippe Bacchet
huahine island
Huahine Island, Society Archipelago. © Philippe Bacchet

Maupiti, my own best picture from Tahiti

The island of Maupiti on the Society Archipelago is a beautiful pearl of Tahiti.

To get to the vantage point of this picture you first have to walk to the top of the mountain, an approximately 45 minute walk.

Maupiti is an island, still unspoiled by tourists. The island has not yet become another tourist-saturated spot of Tahiti such as Bora Bora.

Thus, among other things, there are no hotels here.

Maupiti, Captain Les
Maupiti Island, from my favorite viewpoint. Photo: © Captain Les, CaptainJetson.com

Papeete Airport Arrival Welcome

Watch the video below to get an idea of what to expect after getting off your airplane at Papeete’s FAAA Airport, a Tahitian welcome serenade. Native Polynesian music and entertainment seem to always be present in the airport terminal. The musical vibes of the South Seas will immediately descend upon you 

Miss Tahiti 2019

Matahari Bosquet, Miss Tahiti 2019
Matahari Bousquet, Miss Tahiti 2019

Miss Tahiti 2018

Miss Tahiti 2018, Vaimalama Chaves
Vaimalama Chaves, Miss Tahiti 2018

Do you have any how to visit Tahiti questions?

I’d be happy to answer any question you may have. You can send your email here.

You can read our other articles in our Visiting Tahiti-series here:

Tahiti Tourism Travel Guide

Taking Stunning Tourism Pictures in Tahiti

Tahiti Vacations Rangiroa, the best kept Tahitian paradise secret?

Bora Bora and Tahiti Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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