My sister, mom and I just got back from an AMAZING trip to Tahiti! We had a blast and I thought I would jot down some things you might want to take into account if you are planning a Tahiti trip of your own. I have “ten” things on my list but wanted to post this as soon as possible, so here are the first five and I’ll post the second five soon. Promise. Enjoy!
(1) Take note of the season
Tahiti is in the southern hemisphere so their winter is during our summer and vice-versa. The high season (their winter) runs from about May 1st to October 31st and their low season (summer) goes from about November 1 to April 30. Average ocean temperatures are in the high 70′s and low 80′s year-round and air temperature can range from about 70 to 85 degrees. They measure temperatures in celsius there so I found my Instagram App to be super helpful because you can get it it fahrenheit.
During winter, temperatures are a tad lower and feel cooler than during the summer since humidity levels are also lower. There is less rain during the summer months and visibility underwater is therefore much better as a result. Keep in mind there are 2-3 times as many tourists and prices are higher for EVERYTHING. Heiva is also in July which is a super fun time to be in Tahiti because of all the cultural activities, shows and parties.
During summer, temperatures are a bit warmer and conditions can get a little muggy. There is still sunshine during this time but December and January tend to be wet with an average of about 12 inches of rain per month. You could get lucky with sun (like we did!) or you could be out of luck and get consecutive days of monsoon rains.
In Tahiti they speak two languages – Tahitian and French. If you only speak English you might have some difficulty communicating with the general population. The good news is, if you are doing typical tourist things, you can always find someone who speaks English. If you have a friend who took French in high school… even better!
I did A LOT of research before heading to Tahiti. We were splitting things three ways so we decided we could go for a place that was a bit more expensive while staying on Mo’orea. I chose a place that was high in the mountains (still a one minute drive to the beach) so that we would have a nice view (even if we were stuck at home in the rain) and also if there was an earthquake or tsunami, we wouldn’t be in the inundation zone.
Air conditioning was also important so that we would sleep comfortably but also sleep in a room that could be closed off from the mosquitos. It’s also good to see if the place you are staying has mosquito nets for all of the beds.
Originally, we were going to stay in an over the water bungalow, but then I found out that you can’t stay in one of those with a child under the age of 3. I’m not sure if this is the case for all of the hotels over water bungalows, so you should check if you’re planning on doing this.
Then, we decided to check out the beach bungalows right on the water… they are AWESOME. However, they have a limit for how many people can stay in one unit. And, you get charged extra for the extra people up until whatever that limit is. It’s already expensive so it can really add up. Especially if you need to get more than one room for your family. The good news with hotels is that many of their rooms are air conditioned but make sure you double check to make sure. If it’s not listed as having AC, it probably doesn’t have it.
You can also stay in a fare or pension for much cheaper but they usually don’t have air conditioning. If you’re willing to go without air conditioning, your options open up WIDE – I just did a quick search, for example, and found this little gem for $86/night >> LINK.
Many of you asked where EXACTLY did we stay. So here you go, click the LINK. Our place was $231 a night… with wifi internet, air conditioning in two rooms, full laundry, two full bathrooms and toilets, a gorgeous view, an outdoor soaking tub (it’s luke warm NOT a hot tub, or a cold tub), a full kitchen, living room, television, outdoor seating area and lounge chairs. There is a fitness room, swimming pool and tennis court on the property that you can use. There is recycling drop off and there is a restaurant right at the bottom of the hill. What was interesting about this rental is that it’s also on Air BnB but about $60 more per night! I was stoked that I thought to check VRBO.
On Tahiti island I got a great little place right near the airport. There was no air conditioning but it was super cute and very conveniently located. Here is the LINK.
Renting a boat or going on a tour on a boat is definitely at the TOP of my list.
While on the main island of Tahiti, I would highly recommend heading out to Teahupo’o – the famous big wave surf spot. Contrary to popular belief, Teahupo’o actually breaks year-round. Unlike big wave breaks like Waimea Bay and Pe’ahi “Jaws” it doesn’t have to be giant for the spot to break. We were there in the dead of summer and there was enough energy for the spot to break nicely and for us to feel safe watching from a boat with our kids. We rented a taxi boat “Teahupo’o Taxi Boat” to take us out to the break. If there was better weather we would have hired them to go on the longer tour. Michael is great! Here is a link to their INSTAGRAM | WEBSITE | FACEBOOK PAGE.
We also loved driving around the island and stopping off on the side of the road to see any pretty areas along the way (did this on both Tahiti and Mo’orea). On Tahiti nut, we drove into a super deep valley… I can’t remember which one it was but there was an organized community night walk so it was really fun to see the locals walking for exercise. On Mo’orea you can drive up to the belvedere – the peak of the mountain and get a super amazing view of the island.
My first note on meals is to watch the TIME. Yes, I know you’re on vacation but you might not be able to eat if you don’t watch the clock a bit. There were a couple of days where we either tried to have an early lunch (not possible) or a late lunch (also not possible) and were STARVING. Many lunch spots in French Polynesia are open only during certain hours. If you’re trying to eat at 10:30/11:00 a.m. or around 2/3 p.m. you might be out of luck! One day we searched for more than an hour to find a place that would feed us!
There are a TON of food trucks in Tahiti. There are food trucks parked all along the roads and at the pier (where the ferries come in and out) there’s a giant parking lot where they all set up shop. On Mo’orea there was one super good food truck. The fish was fresh, the salad dressing was the BEST I’ve ever had (no lie) and they made fresh fruit juices. Plus, the price was reasonable. It’s the blue food truck “A L’heure du Sud” right after the little shopping center. (Shown below)
There are also a few nice restaurants. You can always go to one of the hotels but expect to spend a lot of money if you do. On Mo’orea, our favorite restaurant was Coco d’isle. I would recommend asking what is fresh and local and going with that. If you’re going to be spending an arm and a leg to eat, it may as well be fresh and local! You definitely need to eat poisson cru while you are in Tahiti – try it both the traditional way (with coconut milk) and “a la Chinoise” (chinese way). Both preparations are delicious. Here’s a blog on how to make poisson cru in 7 easy steps. Click HERE.
There are also many fruit stands on the side of the road. Some stuff is SUPER DUPER EXPENSIVE – like watermelons are $18 – say What?! But, that’s because they import them. Papaya’s on the other hand, lilikoi, coconuts… those should all be relatively “cheap” or the same price and/or not much more than Hawaii.
Many people (at least on the Hawaii flight) actually pack a cooler with food, snacks and alcohol to consume during their stay in Tahiti. Alcohol is VERY expensive and even grocery shopping can hurt your budget because many items are imported from France. The french cheese, for example, is the same price as it is in Hawaii. You might think it’s weird to pack a cooler but trust me… it’s not weird. They actually have a baggage handler at the Tahiti baggage claim who’s job it is to take the heavy coolers off of the conveyor belt and put them on the side for people to pick up.
On the other hand, if you love French grocery products (like me) you can get French candies, canned goods, condiments and things like that (that aren’t readily available in Hawaii) at the Tahitian grocery stores.
**The next five on my list – to complete my top 10 list – are coming soon! Working on it NOW. They include: Shopping, Getting There, Getting Around and Dengue… there’s one more that I can’t remember. Stay tuned! You’ll find out soon!**