Since I got back from Tahiti, everyone keeps asking me: is there a low cost solution to travel to Polynesia?
Considering what I found out during my experience in French Polynesia, I will try to answer to this question here. And I will start from the bottom line: there is no such a magic formula which allows you to spend a dream holiday in Polynesia for a handful of bucks. But there is a different to experience this paradise and there are a few hints which may allow you to save a considerable amount of money.
Let’s begin with the plane ticket. After a personal survey I concluded that the most convenient company to fly to French Polynesia is Air Tahiti Nui. The route we are talking about is Paris – Los Angeles (twelve hours), and then again LA – Tahiti (eight hours). Between the two segments there is usually a transit break for no longer than two hours. Therefore the best bet is to take a cheap flight to Paris and start from there. Even this way, you will hardly pay less then 2000 euros with return ticket, but if you buy it really in advance you may save some hundreds euros.
Once on Tahiti you have the choose which islands you want to visit. Air Tahiti operates daily connections with all islands through small planes for 60-70 passengers. To cut the costs here you can opt for an Air Tahiti Pass: you pick the islands of your choice in advance and you buy a pass for more transfers. Here are some examples.
Discovery Pass: includes Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea. From 299.20 euros per person with a 20-kilo luggage, 362 euros for 50 kilos.
Bora Bora Pass: includes Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Bora Bora, Maupiti. From 390 euros per person with a 20-kilo luggage during low season, 410 euros during high season. With a 50-kilo luggage the cost 479 or 504 euros.
Lagoons Pass: includes Moorea, Rangiroa, Tikehau, Manihi, Fakarava. From 416.50 euros with a 20-kilo luggage, 526 euros for 50 kilos.
Bora Bora-Tuamotu Pass: Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Maupiti, Bora Bora, Rangiroa, Tikehau, Manihi, Fakarava. From 560 euro for 20 kilos, 703.90 for 50 kilos.
Australes Pass: Rurutu, Tubuai, Raivavae, Rimatara. From 544.70 euros for 20 kilos, 684.60 euros for 50 kilos.
Marquesas Pass: Nuku Hiva, Hiva Oa, Ua Huka, Ua Pou. From 735.00 euros per person with a 20-kilo luggage.
Australes Extension: Rurutu, Tubuai, Raivavae, Rimatara. From 296.00 euros for 20 kilos, 396.00 euros for 50 kilos.
Marquesas Extension: Nuku Hiva, Hiva Oa. From 509 euros for 20 kilos, 691.30 euros for 50 kilos.
Further information on the company’s website.
The next important issue is accommodation. Of course there are a number of dream-like resorts, but the prices too are affordable only in your dreams. The alternative is a federal organization called Haere Mai (‘come to us’) which comprises small family run hotels, allowing at the same time to save money and to get in touch with the locals’ daily life.
The corporation counts more than 1500 lodgings, and all of them fulfil strict requirements for comfort and service quality. The list is divided into four categories: family homes hosting up to nine people; B&Bs offering rooms and bungalows for up to four people; family run hotels and boarding houses.
Further information on Tahiti Pensions’ website.
During my staying I checked out two of these low cost solutions. In Huahine I spent an afternoon at Fare Maeva Huahine, where I felt the warmth and simplicity of these wonderful people while learning handcrafting necklaces and dancing with the sweet mamas. In Rangiroa I visited Les Relais de Josephine, a charming little hotel with a bohemian touch, the right place to part from the rest of the world.
One last solution about accommodation in Polynesia is called ‘holiday houses‘: houses, bungalows, apartments and studio flats available for a few days, weeks or months. One to three hibiscus flowers indicate the comfort level and the service quality.
As you already noticed, what I described aren’t exactly low cost solutions, but I hope I brought you little bit closer to fulfilling your dream.