Travel to French Polynesia, what budget should I plan?
Have you decided to come and discover French Polynesia? With its beautiful fine sandy beaches, its corals, its gentle way of life? But did you also know that heaven has a cost, as they say! In this article, I will give you an idea on what budget to plan for a trip to French Polynesia, whether it is for a budget of 2 weeks, 3 weeks or 1 month there. If you don’t have any ideas of things to do in French Polynesia (itineraries speaking), I have written a complete article on the subject, which will give you a first overview of the things to see on the territory according to your preferences, your time there and your budget.
For many people, the “French Polynesia trip” is THE TRIP OF A LIFETIME! A magical journey filled with exoticism and great luxury. Nevertheless, French Polynesia remains relatively unspoiled by mass tourism. The territory could almost be considered as off the beaten track. Every year, only about 200,000 tourists walk on the fine sand of the wonderful beaches of this idyllic territory.
There are many ways to travel in French Polynesia, to discover this enchanting environment, but let’s say it as it is: French Polynesia is not a destination for backpackers. Even if it is indeed possible to travel cheaply to French Polynesia, it is not the majority of peoples first choice! In fact, many travellers choose to spend their honeymoon or wedding anniversary in French Polynesia, very often in all-inclusive packages as part of an organized trip. This article will not discuss these possibilities.
It will also not be easy for me to give you a specific budget, but I hope to estimate more or less real budget ranges! The final purpose is to evaluate an average range for the price of a trip to Tahiti.
French Polynesia Travel: before we start
French Polynesia: a bit of geography
For those who are preparing a vacation in French Polynesia, here is some interesting information from a geographical point of view on this Polynesian territory at the other end of the world:
- French Polynesia (“Fenua” in Tahitian) is located in the South Pacific Ocean and is part of the Pacific islands that form the territory of Polynesia in the extended sense of the term. The remaining islands in the Territory are included in a triangle that extends from New Zealand to Hawaii and the Easter Islands (including Fiji, Samoa, Wallis and Futuna and Tonga),
- All the Polynesian islands are volcanic islands of varying age on which a coral reef has been growing over time. The most recent islands are still high (Marquesas Islands and some Society Islands) and are characterized by black sandy beaches and the presence of waterfalls. The oldest islands have reached the atoll stage (a strip of white sand land where the main volcano has disappeared in the centre and where sandbanks called “motu” appear in translucent water) or “almost atolls” (Bora Bora, Maupiti, etc.), where the volcano is still present in the center to a certain extent.
- Although originally volcanic, this Pacific paradise is especially known for hosting the most beautiful white sandy beaches in the world!
- Be aware that more than 80% of the population live on the main island of Tahiti (mainly on the biggest island (Tahiti Nui), compared to the peninsula, called Tahiti Iti). The Isthmus of Taravao connects the two islands.
The classics and must-see
So what does a holiday in Tahiti or a vacation to French Polynesia look like? A few snapshots to get inspired… This heavenly territory is particularly well known for several things:
- Its turquoise waters are perfect for scuba diving, admiring and observing the local fauna and flora (sharks, turtles, dolphins, whales, manta rays, etc.). It is clearly a paradise on earth for all those who love the underwater world. Just by snorkeling, you are able to see breathtaking things!
- Its ocean cruises: there is something for everyone, from luxury cruises to catamaran trips from island to island as it can be done locally with service providers. I plan to do one as soon as I can. The program usually consists of discovering the islands and their lush vegetation, the marine environment, swimming on a white sand islet, eating raw fish (local dish), etc. In short, only good things!
- The Tahitian pearl: that’s not the only reason to come to French Polynesia, but it’s worth visiting a pearl farm and bringing back a beautiful black pearl from here!
What you need to know about Polynesia
Some information in bulk for your trip to French Polynesia:
- French Polynesia is far away: 20 hours by plane and 11 to 12 hours jet lag (from France), about 8h from the US,
- The territory is rather frequented by tourists who prefer all-inclusive, tour operators, luxury travel, etc. However, your dream trip may not be limited to these options and it is clearly possible to consider a cheap travel on the territory (see article),
- French Polynesia currency is the Pacific franc (known as CFP Franc),
- There are two main seasons: the rainy season (November – April) and the dry season (Southern Winter from May to September). I often recommend the “best season” as May/June or September/October. The risk of cyclones is more present from January to March.
The budget for a travel to French Polynesia?
I believe that there are 6 main expenses. Here they are (in my opinion) in order of importance in terms of budget:
- The flight ticket to get there
- Travel between islands
- Accommodation on site
- The food
- Transport on the islands
1 - The plane ticket to go to French Polynesia
Depending on where you live, it will be your biggest expense when traveling to French Polynesia. International flight prices will vary from single to more than double depending on the time of year and your ability to find a cheap flight ticket. To help you, I recommend that you read the article to find out how to get to French Polynesia cheaply. Remember that there are no direct flights to French Polynesia from Europe. If you were looking for the cheapest flight from where you live, I would recommend having a look at this flight comparator that I’ve been using since at least 10 years.
From the US, the cheapest flights are from San Francisco, at about 600 to 700$ if you are flexible with your dates. Wherever you live in the US, I would recommend you choose a flight from a major city in the country to San Francisco and then a flight from SFO to Papeete. From Canada, the cheapest solution will be to choose a direct flight from the main cities in Canada to SFO and then another flight from SFO to Papeete.
The cheapest flights are with the low-cost airline French Bee or United. The two former airlines (Air France and Air Tahiti Nui) have also lowered their prices, but they are still much more expensive…
Are you going on a trip to French Polynesia? Why don’t you come and check if Tahiti isn’t one of the good deals I found this month?
2 - Transport between islands: domestic flights and boats
To know what budget to plan for a vacation to French Polynesia, it will also be important to consider the cost of transport between the islands. And yes, because the territory is as big as Europe and you are not going to spend your time in Tahiti anyway! I also wrote a complete article on how to travel between the islands in French Polynesia.
In summary, the majority of people fly between the islands (shorter but more expensive). Cargo remains a solution for people who have the time (and a more limited budget).
To evaluate your budget, you will need to plan how many islands or archipelagos you want to visit. Some ideas:
- A Tahiti – Moorea by boat costs about 20€,
- A round trip to a nearby island (Leeward Islands or Tuamotu): between 250 and 300 €,
- A transfer to the Australes archipelago (on average) 400€ and for the Marquesas/Gambier 600€,
- There are also passes by archipelago, prices range from 300€ (Moana Pass) to 700€, for a Marquesas Pass (see the article on how to get to the Marquesas),
It is difficult to predict how many islands you “must visit”, depending of course on your budget, the time here and your personal interests. So feel free to have a look at my article on the recommended itineraries in French Polynesia. Some personal advice, the further away you get from Tahiti, the more likely it is to be a change of scenery!
For those who want to stay longer or focus on an archipelago, don’t forget the Air Tahiti Passes, which is one of the cheapest ways to travel to French Polynesia! The article in the link above details everything you need to know about the company’s passes. For a general overview, you can look at the Air Tahiti website.
If you’re looking for some itineraries ideas in French Polynesia, you can have a look around here.
3 - Accommodation in French Polynesia
I just finished writing a complete article providing you with all the good accommodation in French Polynesia! Don’t hesitate to check it out!
I had already mentioned some possibilities in my article on how to travel cheaply to French Polynesia. To make things simple, you have the choice (from the least at the most expensive) between:
- Couchsurfing: the most economical solution of course since it doesn’t cost you anything in itself, and will allow you to meet people living there;
If you do not have a profile on the site, you can create an account in 5 minutes.
- Camping: there are many islands where camping is possible, sometimes in guesthouses, sometimes on campsites. Prices vary from 2000 to 3000 fr per pitch for the tent and 2 peoples (on average depending on the islands).
I also wrote a complete guide on camping in French Polynesia if you’re interested.
- Sleeping in Airbnb: it is a possibility that works quite well in French Polynesia and especially much cheaper than guesthouses on the islands.
On average, count between 4000 and 5000 fr (30 to 40 €) for a room. The main advantage of Airbnb, in addition to its reduced cost, is the possibility of meeting locals and being able to prepare your own food, which considerably reduces the budget for food!
- Sleeping in a guesthouse: these are generally small facilities. This is the option many people choose, but it is still more expensive than the previous ones. Count on average 10000 and 12000 fr (80/100€) per room with half board. You can find a little cheaper on the remote islands.
It is an ideal solution for a family trip in particular. Usually, I do not recommend full board as most of the time, you will be out around lucnhtimeand it is not very profitable to have to go back to the guesthouse.
There is also the site Séjour dans les îles (in French) which offers “flights + guesthouse packages” for “affordable” prices. I have done the math, and if you have to sleep in a guesthouse, it is cheaper to go to through them, rather than to take the flight + guesthouse yourself. Sadly, you need to be on Tahiti Island to book this.
On the island of Tahiti, there are guesthouses or backpackers, less than 50/60€ per night.
- Sleep in a (small) hotel: I specify small hotel, to avoid any confusion with luxury hotels, such as the Meridien or Intercontinental. Count on average 20000/25000 fr per room.
- Sleeping in a luxury hotel: and yes, even if this website is specialized on low-budget travel, some may find it useful to have the information. Count at least 30000/40000 fr for the cheapest and at about 80 000 to 120 000 fr per night for the superb hotels on stilts in Bora Bora, Tahaa (superb Tahaa Island Resort and Spa, where we had lunch not long ago). It can cost you even more than that. In luxury hotels, you will have the possibility to choose a full board (which is very often far from being cheap), but you do get an overflowing pool!
Your accommodation budget may be, depending on your type of travel, a correct budget (couchsurfing/camping) to higher (guesthouse or hotel). Here are some accommodations that I myself have tested during my travels and also where I have friends who go there regularly and where I have only heard good things!
4 - Activities
In this dream destination, your budget will depend on what you want to do or focus on according to your desires and budgets. If you want to have a look at the best activities here, I will recommend this great website in a heartbeat. One of the best things I have done here in French Polynesia, since I moved here 4 years ago in 2019 is the flight over Bora Bora by seaplane. It truly was a wonderful experience that I will recommend to everyone. You can book this activity through the Adventure Hunter Website.
There are a lot of free activities in French Polynesia that will help you avoid spending money (hiking, snorkeling, walking, discovering cultural sites, hanging out on heavenly beaches to collect shells while being aware of coconut trees!) etc.). I mention this topic in the article that explains all the tips for travelling cheaply to French Polynesia.
Keep in mind that all water activities are expensive here (diving, Jet Ski, boat etc.).
Obviously, there are also a lot of paid activities (like everywhere) that can cost you more or less. Here are some price ideas:
- Half a day of kayak rental: 16€
- A single dive 60€, with a package on Tahiti 35€
- Day trip by boat on the lagoon: varies from 50 to 80€ depending on the islands
- An excursion to swim with the whales on the island of Rurutu: 65€
- Day trip to visit the Tetiaroa atoll: 150€
- Day trip by 4×4 in the Papenoo valley: 60€
- Jet ski: 1h to 125€, 3h to 185€ (by jetski)
- Quad bike trip: 2h30 to 120€
- Surfing lessons: 35€ for 2h, 160€ for 5 lessons, 210€ for 10 lessons
- Drink a beer at a local bar: 4€ per 25cl, 7€ per 50cl
- Helicopter flight in Bora Bora : A classic but if you can do it during your stay, you will never regret it!
- Eco-safari rays/sharks in Bora Bora : A very nice trip to explore the underwater world of the island of Bora Bora
- Clear kayak excursion in Moorea : A fun activity, in a wonderful location and above all economical and ecological!
- Excursion 4x4 in Moorea : Half a day across the island to discover its nature. All this with a very friendly guide!
- Trip to Rangiroa blue lagoon : The classic trip to do if you are on the atoll for a few days. It's magical.
5 - Food
In this tropical paradise, it is one of the things that will cost you the least when you travel to French Polynesia (overall). Here are some things to remember and some ideas:
- A “sandwich” will cost you on average 400fr on the islands,
- The price of food is on average 30 to 40% higher than in France. This is particularly true for all imported products (yoghurt, cheese, etc.),
- The price of a meal is on average 1200/1400 fr (10/12€),
- You can buy takeaway meals in trays (for the evening for example) for 500/700 fr (4/6 €) in more or less all shops,
- A complete meal (dish, dessert, drink) in a restaurant will cost you on average 5000 fr (40€) or (way) more,
- Half board, in a guesthouse, will allow you to be more relaxed. You will not have to worry about evening meals/breakfast (count 10/12000 fr for 2 for half board),
- For those who want to save money, you should choose a sandwich for lunch, and a small meal in the store in the evening or a meal prepared at home.
6 - Transport on the islands
Lastly, to end on the budget to be planned for holidays in French Polynesia, there remains the transport on the islands. The budget is likely correct.
Here are some ideas (on average):
- One day of car rental: in Tahiti 35€ and in the islands, count rather 40/50€.
- One day scooter rental: 25€
- One day bike rental: 8€ (average)
- A bus ticket in Tahiti: from €1.5 to €5 depending on the distance you travel
- A taxi ride: downtown Papeete at the airport 16€ during the day, 20€ at night.
- Walking and hitchhiking remain the best ways to save money. Hitchhiking generally works very well on Tahiti and in the islands.
The total budget for your travel to French Polynesia
To wrap up on the budget for your vacation to Tahiti, here are some realistic budget ranges. These figures should be adapted, however, according to what you have planned, what you want to see or do, and how long you will be staying. It is indeed impossible for me to predict exactly all the potential budgets.
Budget for a 2-week trip to French Polynesia (including flight ticket) and per person. This budget was calculated from France (including a 1200€ to 1500€ flight from Paris). If you’re travelling through Canada, United States, Australia or New-Zealand, it will be much cheaper than that, as the flight ticket price will be cheaper.
- The economic budget: 2500 €
- The average budget: 3900 €
- The high budget: 5500 €
Budget for a 3-week trip to French Polynesia (including flight ticket) and per person:
- The economic budget: 3000 €
- The average budget: 5200 €
- The high budget: 7300 €
Budget for a one-month trip to French Polynesia (including flight ticket) and per person:
- The economic budget: 4300 €
- The average budget: 6000 €
- The high budget: 9500 €
I hope this article has helped you get an idea of what budget to plan when travelling to French Polynesia. If you have specific questions about your budget, don’t hesitate in leaving a comment at the bottom of the article and I will be happy to get back to you… You may be hesitating about wether or not to choose a travel agency for your trip to Tahiti? I’ll tell you everything in this post!
If you are planning a trip around the world and are travelling to Oceania, I invite you to read the article on the budget to travel to New Zealand. It will surely help you in organizing your trip!
I wish you a good preparation and a great trip! So French Polynesia will be your next destination?