For years, every time I would hear someone talk about French Polynesia, I would just hear how expensive it was. Because of those comments, I planned for this trip to be something that I saved up for and traveled there for my 5 year wedding anniversary with my husband. However, as we all know, 2020 has been an odd year. This trip sort of fell in our laps when I learned that French Polynesia was welcoming travelers with some additional travel requirements in order to get there.
As I started actually doing research on French Polynesia, I realized that you can spend the world or you can travel more on the budget friendly side. It really just depends on what type of trip you expect to have. Since this wasn't a trip for a special occasion, AND we were going for two weeks, we decided to make it a trip with a combination of budget and luxury.
I want to be transparent with you on what it cost for two people for two weeks and 3 islands so you can gauge where you can possibly save or spend a bit more!
WANT TO READ MORE ABOUT WHAT THERE IS TO DO IN FRENCH POLYNESIA? OR, HOW DID I TRAVEL TO POLYNESIA IN 2020?
READ THESE POSTS
FRENCH POLYNESIA CAN GET EXPENSIVE QUICKLY
I wouldn't consider myself a luxury or strict budget traveler. I'm traveling to experience the destination comfortably. I would consider myself a mid-range traveler if that's a thing. I travel within my means (trips are usually always paid off a week after I get home). This outline on what I spent will give you an idea on how I traveled as a mid-range traveler. I will also share where I could have saved some money.
JUST BECAUSE I SPENT THIS MUCH, DOESN'T MEAN YOU HAVE TO
Everyone travels differently. Everyone values specific things when they travel. For example: I'm not a foodie. I would MUCH rather eat on the cheap and spend more in other areas. However, my husband enjoys food. Anyway, let's get in to how much I spent for two weeks in French Polynesia!
MY TRAVEL STYLE
💰 WHAT DOES THIS GRAND TOTAL APPLY TO?
$8,863 USD reflects two travelers who went out to eat most days. We stayed in two apartment / guest house style accommodations and only splurged for the last leg of our trip. I did not hire any guides and only booked one excursion. I traveled for a total of 15 days including the days we arrived and departed Tahiti.
☀️ WHAT TIME OF YEAR DID I TRAVEL TO FRENCH POLYNESIA?
I traveled to French Polynesia in late September thru mid-October. June - August is the most popular time to travel as the humidity is a bit more mild. September / October marks a slightly quieter time on the islands, but the weather is still more manageable. I can't really compare the prices of things month vs. month as most of my research was done specifically for the time frame we ended up traveling.
💰 WHAT THIS COST DOESN'T INCLUDE
I chose not to include the cost of a few things because this may not be a priority to some people or you may already own them: We purchased two Amazon full face mask snorkels. We chose to purchase our own because the price of the face mask was equal to what it probably would have cost us to rent them in Polynesia and we felt more comfortable having our own snorkel mask especially with the pandemic, I would rather not be sharing a tube that someone else has used. We also purchased some vacuum sealed bags as we were also bringing our own beach towels, BUT needed to be able to fit the towel in our carry on sized bag. I had to include this one because it was a great way to save liquid space + we didn't have to worry about buying more travel sized toothpaste during the trip. These are tablets that you chew up to activate and brush like normal! After doing some research, this bug repellant ended up being the most recommended for Polynesia specifically. And finally, we also purchased this "bug bite sucker" that you use after you get a bug bite!
WAYS I COULD HAVE CUT FRENCH POLYNESIA TRIP COSTS
Ate out less. I probably could have saved a few hundred dollars
Opting out of the excursion we booked would have saved us a little over $300
Completely cut out Bora Bora. The flight to Bora Bora costed us $900 for two round trip
Not stayed in a resort in Bora Bora would have saved us a few thousand dollars.
HOW MUCH I SPENT ON MY TWO WEEK FRENCH POLYNESIA TRIP
POLYNESIA TRANSPORTATION COST
We live in Seattle on the west coast of the U.S., so the flights are probably a bit cheaper than traveling from most other places in the world. Seattle to San Francisco round trip: San Fran and Los Angeles are the two cities where you can fly non-stop to Tahiti. I flew on Alaska Airlines from Seattle to San Francisco round trip and since I typically fly Alaska domestically, I had some miles saved up. I spent 20k miles + $22 (that's 10k miles + $11 per person). San Francisco to Pape'ete, Tahiti round trip: I ultimately chose flying on United Airlines based on the price. It was between flying out of San Francisco on United or out of Los Angeles and flying Air Tahiti Nui. We ended up paying $1,200 (that's $600 per person). Finally, the last flight we had to book was from Tahiti to Bora Bora. Shockingly, that flight was almost the same cost as our round trip from San Francisco to Tahiti. We paid roughly $925 for round trip flights for two from Tahiti to Bora Bora on Air Tahiti.
🚗 CAR RENTAL
I structured my trip starting with Tahiti and Mo'orea so that I could keep the car for both islands. I booked the car via Expedia (definitely price it out on other sites. Expedia just happened to be the best deal at the time). We did choose to have the extra car insurance as this was the first time renting a car internationally. We paid $645 for a 10 day car rental, $110 for collision protection and paid $42 total for gas for the trip (we only had to fill up once).
The best / easiest way to get to Mo'orea is to travel by ferry from Tahiti. There are passenger only ferries as well as car ferries. We obviously had our rental car and booked on the Aremiti ferry. *Note: You have to book a round trip for your car as well as round trips for each passenger. Passengers are not included in the car rate. We ended up paying about $130.
📃 TRAVEL INSURANCE
This was also a new one for me. I have NEVER booked travel insurance and have never needed it. However, with the world in such a crazy state, we felt more comfortable having travel insurance just in case anything happened. We chose to book with World Nomads as it was recommended by several travel blogs that we follow. We paid $145 for the standard plan. Luckily, we never ended up needing it.
TRANSPORTATION COST OVERVIEW
Flights: $2,157 (SEA - SFO, SFO - PPT, PPT - BOB)
Car Rental: $797 (10 days car, insurance and gas)
Ferry: $130 (round trip car ferry and 2 passengers)
Travel Insurance: $145 for the standard plan with World Nomads
ACCOMODATIONS AND EXCURSIONS
Accommodations is sometimes where I like to spend my money. If there are cool accommodations with amazon views, special amenities, etc. I won't mind spending a bit more money. On this trip, we decided to spend a little less on accomodations in Tahiti and Mo'orea, but planned to stay in a resort in Bora Bora and the night before our flight in Tahiti. In Tahiti, we stayed in an apartment that we booked on Booking.com. The apartment even had a rooftop pool! For 5 days, 4 nights our apartment cost us $510. In Mo'orea we chose a small guest house that ended up being amazing! If you want to read more about it, you can in my blog post about the best things to do in Mo'orea. For 6 days, 5 nights we paid $778.74 (we really only paid $402.24 because we had an Airbnb credit due to other canceled 2020 trips.) In Bora Bora, we booked at InterContinental Le Moana. Read more about why I think it is the best located resort in Bora Bora. Initially we booked a garden bungalow, but a few days before our stay, we canceled the bungalow and booked an overwater at the same resort. The increase was about $700 so that price was worth it to us. This was also by far the most expensive part of our trip. For 5 days, 4 nights we paid $3,614 (included breakfast, a few drinks at the hotel bar as well as 2 dinners). Our flight back to San Francisco wasn't until the following evening, so we opted to fly back to Bora Bora the night before our flight and stay at the other InterContinental property that was only a few minutes from the airport. For one night we paid $124 (that was after a $130 Expedia credit that I received after another trip was canceled earlier in 2020.)
We did only one excursion. We wanted to be able to be in control of how we spent our time. And there are really only so many snorkeling trips you can go on! You can read more about that excursion here. For a 12 hour day trip, it cost us $325.
ACCOMODATION AND EXCURSION COST OVERVIEW
Accommodations: $4,650 (For two separate stays in Tahiti, one in Mo'orea and Bora Bora)
🍕 FOOD AND DRINK 🍺
We ended up eating a lot of amazing food, so I don't really regret how much we ate out. Polynesia is known for their amazing fresh seafood, food truck culture and even a Chinese fusion type cuisine. In my opinion, we ended up finding a way to mix both inexpensive meals and also enjoying a few more expensive meals. The easiest way for me to break down the food costs for you is to bullet them out.
FOOD AND DRINK COST OVERVIEW
Day 1: We were traveling almost the whole day, so half of our meals were airport / airplane. Breakfast at Peet's Coffee: $33, lunch on the airplane, $0 and dinner at the airport, $18. Total: $51
Day 2: We took a day trip and the cost of breakfast and lunch was included in the overall day trip cost, $0. For dinner, we ate at the food truck court in Pape'ete, $35. Total: $35
Day 3: We took a walk down to the market to get some snacks, beer and some toiletries: $60. We got bagel breakfast sandwiches and two coffees at Black Coffee right next to the market, $25. Dinner ended up being at my favorite spot for beer! We discovered a brew pup of sorts right in the main area of Pape'ete. 2 beers and one pizza, $25. Total: $110
Day 4: We took a drive around the island on the third day and stopped just a few miles from our apartment at a cute cafe called Urban Cafe. 2 coffees, 1 eggs benedict and 1 yogurt and granola, $35. Lunch was at a more upscale restaurant, but we enjoyed AMAZING seafood. 2 beers and 2 seafood entrees at La Manoa, $72. Dinner was spent back at the brew pub for happy hours beers, $20 as well as crepes (1 savory, 1 sweet) from the food truck court, $18. Total: $145
Day 5: We just had breakfast in Tahiti before having to catch the ferry to Mo'orea. We grabbed bagel breakfast sandwiches as well as coffees again at Black Coffee, $25. Right when we got off the ferry in Mo'orea, we headed to the grocery store where we stocked up on some snacks, some alcohol and a few toiletries that we needed. This cost us $58. We then headed to lunch at Moz Cafe and ate at a small cafe. We got 1 salad, 1 burger and a large bottle of sparkling water for $28. For dinner, we had purchased food from the grocery store and ended up staying at our Airbnb. It cost us $0. Total: $111.
Day 6: We decided to drive around the island today and stopped for breakfast in town at a place called Carmeline's. We got 2 coffees and shared a crepe for $18. Lunch was spent at a hotel's restaurant called Hotel Hibiscus that had amazing views of the ocean. We shared a burger and had two beers for $35. For dinner, we ate at Manuia Grill, a great outdoor spot with some delicious kebobs. For one seafood and meat kebob and one large sparkling water, we spent $25. Total: $78.
Day 7: We stayed at our Airbnb until past lunch time. We took a drive hoping to be able to eat at a resort, but it ended up being closed. We ended up eating at Allo pizza. For one large pizza and two beers we spent $30. For dinner, we ate at a Canadian inspired burger spot. For poutine, a large sparkling water and two burgers, we spent $55. Total: $85.
Day 8: We spent most of the day at Hotel Les Tipaniers where we ate lunch at the hotel restaurant. We got 2 beers, and two seafood entrees for $33. We then had the BEST dinner at Rudy's. This also ended up being one of our more expensive dinners. For beer, bread and two seafood entrees, we spent $74. Total: $107.
Day 9: We went back to Hotel Les Tipaniers and relaxed on the beach. We got three beers from the hotel restaurant for $16. For lunch, we ate at A l'Heure du Sud and got a large sparkling water and shared a fish burger (amazing!). We spent $18. Total: $34.
Day 10: Today was the day we went from Mo'orea back to Tahiti to then fly to Bora Bora. We ended up eating in Tahiti at L'oasis Du Vaima where we got two American breakfasts for $28. While we killed some time, we got a few beers at Cafe Maeva which were about $12. Lunch we went easy and had McDonald's at the airport. We spent $16. We then ended up having dinner at the InterContinental Le Moana. Our total for dinner is built into the overall total we paid for our stay, but I would estimate we spent about $60 on an appetizer, two entrees and two beers. Total: $116.
Day 11: Breakfast was at our resort and was part of the overall price we paid to stay. We then stocked up on some alcohol and snacks at the local convenience store and spent $64. We had happy hour drinks at the resort for $40. For dinner we went to Bora Bora Beach Cafe and had an amazing dinner. I got a seafood entree, my husband got a burger. We spent $57 here. Total: $161
Day 12: Again, breakfast was at our resort. We got lunch from The Lucky House Restaurant. We got a pizza and shared a Caesar salad for a total of $35. We had dinner at one of the nearby restaurants and spent about $45. Total: $80
Day 13: We had breakfast at the resort for $0, lunch from one of the restaurants in the area for $29 and had dinner for our last night there and spent $53. We decided to do the resort happy hour and got 4 drinks (2 free) and an appetizer. We spent $45. Total: $127
Day 14: This was our last day in Bora Bora and we had an evening flight back to Tahiti where we spent one night. We had one last breakfast at our resort for $0. We had lunch at the food truck where we each got a burger for $32. We had a late dinner when we arrived and spent $43 on dinner. Total: $75
Day 15: We got to spend all day at InterContinental Tahiti as our flight wasn't until 10PM. We spent about $50 for breakfast at the resort, spent about $50 on drinks by the pool for the day and spent about $30 for lunch. We shared a caesar wrap and had two beers. Total: $130
The overall cost of food & drinks was: about $1,500
I hope this post helps you to figure out where you want to splurge and where you want to save. This was a great way for us to enjoy French Polynesia as we may never be back again!