Synonymous with luxury, romance and leisure, French Polynesia is a magical place considered hard to reach for most of us mere mortals. If words like “Bora Bora” or “Tahiti” don’t make your proverbial travelling mouth water, then the travelling bug hasn’t bitten you hard enough.
Before we get into a more detailed account of affordable ways to vacation in French Polynesia, let me just give you a brief disclaimer – it’s going to cost you! French Polynesia is a remote island location, and just getting there is going to dig into your pocket in varying degrees, depending on where you live. Still, if you can do without all the luxury advertised by travel agencies, you can save a significant amount of pennies if you spend smartly while you’re there. Let’s see how…
Unless you stumble into a surprise inheritance or marry wealthy, avoid French Polynesia during the peak of the tourist season. Typically, summer months are when the tourist influx increases dramatically, and the market adjusts by inflating the prices to ridiculous proportions. The winter holiday season is another time of the year to avoid visiting on a limited budget. If you spend some time digging around, you should have no problems finding budget friendly options in off-season months from April to June and from September to November.
Off the map
The holy trinity of French Polynesia consists of Bora Bora, Tahiti, and Moorea. These three islands swallow up the biggest chunk of tourist influx in the region, favored both by travel agencies and travelers themselves. However, this little paradise corner of the globe consists of over a hundred islands, and about forty of those islands have tourist facilities. Now, you might suffer sudden bouts of envy aimed at couples lodging in luxurious Bora Bora honeymoon suites, but, in reality, you won’t miss out on any of the natural beauties if you choose to visit one of the less frequented islands. There are plenty of phenomenal options to choose from, whether your looking for good old R&R or a more activity-filled vacation. Some of the popular island destinations outside of the Big Three are Huahine, Raiatea, Fakarava, Hiva Oa, or Tahaa, but your free to explore and find the best place for you.
If you’re not a slave to top class accommodations and people bending backwards to answer your every need, you might want to consider accommodations outside of luxury resorts. Family run guesthouses are a much more affordable option that might not make you feel like a million bucks, but will go a long way in saving you a portion of that sum. Plus, you will get a much better feel for the local culture and lifestyle.
For those of you more interested in camping: as far as I know, there are no organized camp sites in French Polynesia, but most land owners will let you pitch a tent on their property for a small fee.
As you can imagine, high class restaurants are not the ideal choice if you’re looking to save some money on your food costs. You can get fairly cheap and quality food from street vendors and smaller local restaurants, and if you know your way around a stove, most guesthouses allow their guests to use the kitchen, and fresh fish and vegetables abound all around you. Who knows, you might even master the mouth watering local cuisine.
Once you arrive to French Polynesia, you will find that moving around is not as expensive as you may have thought. There are fairly affordable local flights connecting certain islands, and traveling by sea is even cheaper. As for means of transport on an island, the bigger ones have public transport which is inexpensive, and those of you looking for a more active vacation should seriously consider renting a bike. Renting a car is not recommended, since it’s not only going to cost you, but also seems a bit pointless on islands that are relatively small and easy to get around.
All of this is just general advice on how to cut down on costs. Depending on where you find yourself, you will be able to find local value offers, so keep your eyes and ears open and let your common sense guide you, and you might find that your dream vacation did not jeopardize your financial security.