With the recent arrival in 2018 of low-cost airlines (Frenchbee and United Airlines), French Polynesia is seeing the development of a new type of tourism: backpackers and globe-trotters, as we call them. So why not consider camping in French Polynesia. It’s a great way to travel for cheap on Polynesian territory. Even if it’s obvious that the country clearly wishes to develop luxury tourism through its beautiful hotels, cruise ships and other beautiful images, the reality of tourism could be changing.
Even if we cannot say that traveling to French Polynesia is truly economic, even with low-cost companies, prices have nevertheless fallen significantly since the beginning of 2018. The two monopoly companies have aligned their prices well, even though overall, they obviously remain more expensive. Some people say that the years of low-cost are already being counted and that they probably won’t last in time. I often compare with when back in the days, Corsair and AOM tried to set up in business by breaking prices to compete. Not everyone liked it… proof is that both companies “had to leave” the Pacific Ocean.
Still, today a small part of tourists who pass through French Polynesia do not necessarily want to spend 100€/night (in a guest house) or 800 to 1000€ (in an overwater bungalow in a luxury hotel) – and so I thought of you for this article! I had the idea to try to compile all the tips for camping here for a cheap stay in French Polynesia. Here is a small article that lists all the official and unofficial campsites that I have come across in the area. I’ll also be giving you some practical information about equipment and climate.
If you do plan to come to French Polynesia at a lower cost, I suggest you come and take a look at this flight comparator to find the cheapest flights from Paris. For French-speaking Canadians who come across this blog, the cheapest would be a flight from any city in Canada to San Francisco and then a flight from San Francisco to Papeete with French Bee or United.
The answer is simple, the majority of people who come here are more oriented towards guesthouses, small hotels and luxury hotels. But between us, I find that camping in a tropical country like French Polynesia can be a very good way to discover the area, with a few restrictions however, but we’ll come back to that later.
You are as close as ever to nature and often in a dream-setting, surrounded by lush greenery or on the edge of a sandy beach. I find the concept of camping on a tropical island rather nice and I’ll be trying this out this summer for a week in Hawaii.
Obviously, in addition to being in complete freedom, this is often the most economical option for sleeping in French Polynesia. The smallest guesthouse for two with half board will cost you at least 80-100€ per night so if you stay several weeks, the budget will increase significantly. So why not consider spending a few nights camping, at least on the islands where it is possible, which severely limits things.
I wouldn’t recommend spending an entire trip camping, as I think you will also enjoy the small Polynesian guesthouses in the islands.
A few quick words about camping equipment for French Polynesia. To be honest, you’ll have a hard time finding equipment here locally. Your best chance will be to find a used tent on a website like lespetiitesannonces.pf. I for instance, changed my tent and sold my old one here on a second-hand basis.
If you are on a world tour for example and are arriving from South America, there is a good chance that you already have your own camping equipment. The same goes for those arriving from New Zealand. In that case, save everything for your trip here.
For those who are considering camping from Europe or the US/Canada, I would recommend you bring a small tent and mattresses for the ground. Those are the essentials after all. No need to choose a luxury tent, in theory you won’t be in extreme cold or wind conditions. A simple tent will do. There are even “Fresh and Black” tents that are not bad at all as they protect really well from the sun and have dark room technology. In a country where it is daylight at 5:30 am every day, this is a good thing.
Depending on which months you visit, it can be very chilly, even cold in French Polynesia. For the months of June to September, I suggest you bring a small sleeping bag that keeps you a minimum warm.
For the rest of the equipment, I don’t recommend bringing your stove and all the cooking gear. On most campsites, you will have a minimum to cook on site. Besides, you can always go to the local stores to buy yourself something.
Everyone thinks it is always hot in French Polynesia, but you may be surprised by how chilly it can be, depending on the months you visit and the islands. For information, the climate here is reversed compared to Europe/US/Canada in the southern hemisphere, which means that the coolest months are roughly from May to September.
It might make some people smile, but where I live in Tahiti, a little high up, it can get to 20° (68°F) at night. Not enough to freeze to death, but if you camp outside, you will appreciate a small sleeping bag. If you camp by the sea, you will often get a bit more wind adding a little touch of freshness.
Even though there is no camping on the Australes Islands (or not that I know of), it can be very cold, around 10° (50°F) during the nights of July or August. So be careful if you plan to stay there.
As for the heat, I must say that camping in French Polynesia is a good idea, but I wouldn’t recommend it during the rainy season. It can still be very hot and you are almost sure to get rain and high humidity. It’s not impossible, but it will be a lot less enjoyable globally during the months of November to March.
I have done a lot of research and also asked around me to provide this list. As you’ll see, there are few official campsites. I have also found places where people are willing to let you pitch your tent in their garden (in exchange for a little something). Nothing official, but I think they’re still worth mentioning.
I have also heard of stories in some islands or remote atolls, of families who accept to welcome you and let you pitch your tent in their garden. I have never personally tested it, but I think it is indeed possible that some people may accept this kind of practice, especially on islands where there are no guesthouses or hotels. I am particularly thinking of the atolls of the Tuamotu.
On the other hand, I have already seen on some islands that guesthouses accept campers in their gardens to help out tourists when there are no more rooms left anywhere. There are also, in some islands, families who offer camping in their garden, via the Airbnb site.
If you live in French Polynesia (or not) and know of a camping area, new campsites or families offering this possibility, please do not hesitate to leave me the information in the comments, so I can add them to the article.
I therefore present to you below the places to camp, by archipelagos and islands. Reminder: 1€ = 119,33 Pacific franc (xpf) / 1$ = 106 xpf
I know all three archipelagos fairly well and every time I asked, no one really knew of a camping spot or an official campsite in these three remote archipelagos. I’ve never even seen an Airbnb that offered camping on these islands.
Small update (February 2020), I just found via Booking two places that offer camping in Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa. Therefore to be tested, and don’t hesitate to give us your feedback for more information. In Hiva Oa, it is the PUAMAU CAMPING MARQUISES and in Nuku Hiva, the CAMPING MARQUISES KAKUHEI. If you have any information, reviews, photos or other, do not hesitate to contact us! Thank you!
To my knowledge, there is no official campsite on the island of Tahiti. On the other hand, I have managed to get some names from people, especially from the peninsula (Tahiti Iti), who agree to let you pitch your tent. I didn’t personally check to see if the news was still relevant!
- CAMPING ANOHOMAI – MAHINA – Tel: 188.8.131.52 (Joël)
- TEIVA CAMPING – TEAHUPOO – Tel: 184.108.40.206.34 (Bany)
Thanks to Melissa, I also got confirmation that you can stay at FENUA’S HOUSE, PK13 in Punaauia, for 2000 xpf/night.
I only know of one official campsite on the island of Moorea: CAMPING NELSON. I stayed there a few nights and the place is great. The campsite is in a splendid setting, near a nice beach. The prices announced per person are 1700 xpf (garden view) and 1800 xpf sea view. Half price for 2 to 12-year olds.
There is also the possibility of renting small bungalows, rooms and dormitories on site. All the information is on his Facebook page.
It turns out that you can also camp at FARE OM in Moorea. Count 2000 xpf/night with free loan of pillows/mattresses. The spot is located at PK12, after the first Cook’s Bay.
You can camp on the vast majority of the Leeward islands if you wish.
To my knowledge, only SUNSET BEACH MOTEL offers tent pitches. Count 1800 xpf per person and half price for children under 12 years old. Of course, you can also rent bungalows by the sea and rooms by the garden.
Other guesthouses apparently propose to pitch your tent, including PENSION TE MAEVA. Count 2120 xpf/night with free bike loan. Tents can be rented on site.
Do you want to learn more about Raiatea Island, here’s what you should know.
I am not aware of any official campsites on the island of Bora Bora. However, there is a name that I found, the “CAMPING BORA BORA“. I haven’t had the opportunity to check if the spot still exists. But I’ll check next time I set foot there.
Otherwise, I did find several people who do Airbnb and offer tent pitches. You can visit the site by typing: “TEAVAHERE TENTE” and “PETIT COIN DE JARDIN POUR UNE TENTE”. Count between 25 and 30€ per night for 2 people camping.
You can also pitch your camping tent at the TEAVAHERE LODGE, just north of the Hotel Sofitel Bora Bora Marara.
In fact, if you’re visiting Bora Bora during your vacation, I suggest that you rent a scooter or an electric car from Avis Bora Bora, it’s what I do every time!
Even though I have been there twice, I have never heard of camping on the island. Only the PENSION AUIRA would allow you to pitch your tent. I have no idea what the price is though. I got the information (in November 2019) that the place was going to change managers, and I don’t know if the new owners will accept campers or not. If you go, please leave me a comment to let me know!
I also heard that the PENSION TAUMATATEA located on the Tiapaa motu in the south, accepts campers. Count 3000 xpf for the spot with a shared bathroom. Breakfast in supplement for 500 xpf. This is where many come for the famous traditional Tahitian oven (on Saturdays). According to the information left in the comments and Lonely Planet (2019), it is also possible to camp at Pension TEHEIMANA for 4500 xpf per person.
I got the info recently and so I add it here (September 2020), there is indeed a small campsite, Camping Maupiti on the island.
No knowledge of anything near or far at the moment.
There is an excellent spot I am very familiar with, having been there at least twice: the CAMPING HIVA PLAGE. The area is paradisiacal, at the southern tip of the island of Huahine. You have a large covered kitchen, shared showers and toilets outside. The area is very wild but ideal to play Robinson Crusoe between the coconut trees and the white sand. Take advantage of the kayaks on site to explore the reef and seabed right in front. Information here: 1300 xpf/person per night in camping. Tents can be rented on site.
By name, I know that the HUAHINE CAMPING (also called ARIIURA CAMPING ECOLOGIE) and VAIHONU OCEAN (or “CHEZ ETIENNE”) would also agree to let you pitch a tent.
There are many campsites that I know of at the other end of the world, in the three main atolls that tourists visit: Fakarava, Rangiroa and Tikehau. For the other atolls, I have heard that you can ask local families for permission to camp on beautiful local beaches, but I have personally never tried this. Basically, if you like being close to turquoise waters and underwater scenery, camping in the Tuamotu remains a great experience.
There is a beautiful camping area in French Polynesia at CAMPING RANGIROA PLAGE. I’ve personally never been there but the spot looks simply magical considering the pictures. Count 2000 xpf per day and per person. It is possible to rent tents for 500 xpf. According to Lonely Planet 2019 again, it is possible to camp at FARE ATINITINI in Avatoru (next to the police department). The host is allegedly a beekeeper and bird guide. There are apparently also possibilities for wwoofing depending on the season.
A really good plan to reduce the budget for your trip to French Polynesia.
Same as for Rangiroa, I don’t know the exact spot, but it looks pretty good. It is basically a guesthouse (PENSION JULIETTE) which also offers pitches for tents, by the lagoon. The setting simply looks magical. Count around 30€ for two per night.
Two sites I have really heard good things about: CAMPING TETOKA VILLAGE and RELAIS MARAMA which also offers bungalows and camping sites! We praise the merits of the very nice common kitchen, the availability of bicycles and especially the possibility of doing laundry for free! Count from 20 to 30€ per person and per night.
The pictures of TEKOPA VILLAGE have nothing to envy… I went there during my cruise in the Tuamotu and the location was also magical, on the waterfront!
There you have it, I hope you found this article helpful and that it may be useful for your future trip. Camping in French Polynesia remains an economical way to visit the archipelagos while remaining close to nature, often in an idyllic setting. In my opinion, that’s a pretty good thing to consider in a stay. So, would you be willing to give it a go? A few nights camping during your stay in French Polynesia, remember?
If you know other people or places where you can camp in French Polynesia, don’t hesitate to leave me a note in the comments!
See you soon,