When to go to French Polynesia? The best time to visit Tahiti
Are you planning to go to Tahiti in French Polynesia, or a trip to the Pacific Ocean for your next vacation? You are probably wondering when to go on your dream trip to French Polynesia? The subject is relevant given the damage caused by the IRMA hurricane on the Caribbean islands. Some websites will tell you that you can go on a year-round trip to French Polynesia. There is some truth in that, seeing as it is almost 25/30° (77-86 °F) all the time, but there is still an ideal time to visit this tropical paradise. The postcard “white sand beach / coconut trees / paradise island” is always more beautiful to experience in good weather, I can guarantee it!
For many, a trip to Tahiti is synonymous with honeymoon, luxury trip, diving trip or a great hotel on stilts, etc. More and more, backpackers want to discover this way of life, and this part of the world with turquoise waters. For whatever reason that you want to stay in the territory, there is an ideal time to visit Tahiti. Furthermore, depending on the itinerary you’ve planned in French Polynesia, the weather should be taken into account (I’ll discuss this below in the article).
Here are the elements to consider when you are deciding when to go on a trip to French Polynesia. The tricky aspect to consider is the archipelagos that you will visit, as the climate can vary slightly. To organize your trip, it is better to take into account all the points mentioned below.
If you are preparing your trip, come and see if I’ve not found you a cheap flight to Tahiti?
Best time to visit Tahiti?
If you haven’t decided yet which places to visit, I recommend you to check our extensive post on the archipelagos and islands of French Polynesia. We give a lot of interesting information but also our opinion on the islands/archipelagos of the territory.
The climate in Tahiti, French Polynesia: a tropical warm oceanic climate
The climate in French Polynesia is, how can you say it… cool? Nice to live with? Easy? No, seriously, it’s ideal overall. When planning your trip, two things to consider are rain and, to a lesser extent, temperature. There are only two seasons on the territory.
- The Austral winter season (dry season) which roughly runs from April to November. Temperatures are milder in the Society Archipelago and Tuamotu (Tahiti, Bora Bora), about 20 to 23° (68-73°F), and colder on Australes/Gambier archipelagos (South). The Marquises are still relatively warm during this period (even if these are the coolest months). It is the driest, least humid season, and the period of trade winds, especially from July to September. In most cases, you will avoid heavy rains, even if they are still possible,
- The rainy season is between November and April. Whatever the archipelago, it is the wettest season, with the exception of the Marquesas Islands, which have a shifted climate regarding rainfall (rainy period between March and August). It is also the hottest and wettest period, especially from December to February. This is the best season for mosquitoes, so be careful!
The rainy and hurricane season
To choose the best time to come to French Polynesia, the most important thing to consider, in my opinion, is the rainy season. As in all the tropics, there is a particular rainy season.
In French Polynesia, the months from November to March in general, have the most rain. In addition, the risk of hurricanes in French Polynesia is particularly high from December to April (an average of 3 to 6 hurricanes over this period). I would therefore advise against coming during the entire hurricane season if you can avoid it.
Another element to consider when travelling to French Polynesia is whether or not you want to see whales. The territory is known for a period that is favourable for cetacean observation, which lasts about 5 months. During this time, it will be possible for you to easily observe them during a boat trip, or even, when the conditions are good, to swim with them.
The whale season extends globally from July to November over the whole of French Polynesia.
If this is part of your childhood dreams, to swim with a whale, you should ideally plan your trip during these 5 months (and adapt your itinerary on the territory accordingly).
The best diving periods in French Polynesia
Coming to French Polynesia to dive is for many people a wonderful opportunity and often at the heart of their trip. It is also one of the elements to be taken into account, to a lesser extent, in determining the best time to visit Tahiti.
Overall, you can dive all year round in French Polynesia, without a problem. I dive more or less all year round, knowing that the water will be colder during the dry season, especially from July to September. It is windier during this period and the sea may be more turbulent.
During the cold period (June to October), grouper breeding and gatherings of manta rays are more frequent, especially in Tuamotu.
The peak season for hammerhead sharks in Tuamotu is between December and March (however this is the rainy season, which can be delayed there).
The what? If you do not know the Heiva, it is a traditional French Polynesian event, composed mainly of songs and dances.
The event takes place every year in July in general.
I don’t know if this should fully influence your flight dates, but if you are interested in cultural events, it’s very nice to see!
The seasons in French Polynesia: some advice before leaving
I deliberately wanted to add a more personal note to the article. Whether you are coming for a scuba diving trip, a tailor-made trip, or a family vacation, these few points can be useful for you. Coming to Tahiti on holiday and learning about the climate is a good thing, but don’t forget the other islands. Here is some more precise information about the climate in Tahiti and the other archipelagos of French Polynesia. This can be useful for your trips from island to island:
- Tahiti Island, as most of Polynesia’s large high islands, has a windward coast (East Coast) and a leeward coast (West Coast). You should know that the West Coast is much less rainy in reality. The weather is very often fine in the morning, but in the middle of the day, clouds can quickly cling to the relief and result in heavy cloud cover in the afternoon, or even some rainfall. This is particularly true for the Tahiti peninsula (which is not green for nothing). You will also find many more fine sandy beaches on the West Coast, perfect for sunsets.
- Moorea also remains green and lush, especially inland and in the mountains (3000 to 5000m).
- For the Leeward Islands (Huahine, Raitea, Tahaa, Bora Bora, Maupiti), it is the same principle where one coast is always wetter than the other. The less relief there is generally, the less precipitation there will be,
- Tuamotu (the majority of atolls) are generally less rainy than the rest of French Polynesia (average of 1500 mm/year),
- Further south, the Australes Archipelago has a colder tropical climate. Rainfall is distributed evenly over the year. Between May and September, it can be very cool (less than 15°C – 59°F). Be careful to bring sweaters during this season,
- Finally, the Marquesas, 1500 km north of Tahiti, are on the whole less rainy, but more humid. The rainy season is reversed and the majority of rainfall falls between May and July. Remember that the southern islands are more humid than the northern awnings, which are supposed to be drier.
Well, when is the best time to go to Tahiti after all?
In any case, I generally recommend people the off-seasons, and especially the months of May/June and September/October. This way, you avoid the usual high temperatures, with rains and hurricanes, and enjoy the whale season and manta ray gatherings!
Here, I hope I have guided you a little bit on the best time to visit Tahiti for your trip. If you have any doubts about the period or any particular questions, please do not hesitate to leave me a comment at the bottom of the article, I will be happy to answer them.
If you are preparing your trip, don’t hesitate to take a look at our complete guide so you know where to sleep in French Polynesia! It includes all our good local addresses!
See you soon,