Most people think of Tahiti as a luxury trip for lovers, and it is! We honeymooned there years and years ago. Is it romantic? Absolutely! Is it expensive? Yes, it can be. Is it only for couples seeking solitude? No way! Tahiti is one of those places where you can just relax, or have as many adventures as you like! Lay on a hammock and nap? Sure! Tan on a white sand beach with a frosty drink in hand? Yes! What most people do not know, is that Tahiti is the perfect place to take your family. Did you know that Disney’s Moana is not a Hawaiian story? Its origins and landscapes come from Tahiti, Fiji and New Zealand. You cannot get more family friendly than Moana, folks!
Papeete, Tahiti’s main airport is only 8 hours away, on a direct flight from LAX via Air Tahiti Nui. That’s only a few more hours from Hawaii. Sign up for Air Tahiti Nui’s email list, and you’ll be first to know about their crazy half price specials and family deals. Although Tahiti and Hawaii share a lot in Polynesian culture, the two are vastly different. The main difference being tourism. Tahiti receives less visitors in an entire YEAR, than Hawaii gets in ONE DAY! We adore Hawaii, but Tahiti has a much less commercialized feel to it. Culturally, Tahiti shares it’s Polynesian roots with France. French Polynesia is actually a semi-autonomous territory of France. Most Tahitians speak French, Tahitian, and English (French being more prevalent than English). French origins means French bread and French food, and there is nothing wrong with that! Baguette and French butter with every meal!
Let’s talk about the islands for a minute- Tahiti is actually made up of 118 islands and atolls. So when someone says “Tahiti” they are most likely talking about the Tahitian Islands- which include Bora Bora, Moorea and Raiatea (just to name a few). The actual big island of Tahiti is more of an industrial hub of business and trade, than the other islands. If you’re looking for blue-green lagoons, secluded beaches and ancient traditions – you are going to find them in the outlying Tahitian Islands. How do you choose which island to visit? If your budget allows, visit them all (life goals)! Seriously though- let’s put affordability at the top of our list. Since I’m talking about a family trip, the best, most affordable island to visit is the heart-shaped island of Moorea. Even before kids, Husband and I fell in love with Moorea. We loved it even more than Bora Bora because of the people, culture, size, and scenery. Bora Bora is beautiful and pristine, but it is tiny. We are adventurers, so for us, the more adventures to be had, the better! Geographically speaking, Moorea is a very short distance away from Papeete (18 miles). This translates to cheap transfers (via ferry), and a short hop (30-45 min) to paradise! The ferry ride on the Aremiti Ferry is only about $15 per adult and $10 per child (each way). Visiting the other islands by plane can cost you a pretty penny- $300-500 per person, per island! That can quickly add up to unaffordable and unattainable for most families. Save the island hopping for couple or solo travel. Staying on a Moorea will save you hundreds, perhaps thousands! Plus, this saves you the hassle of time spent at airports, packing and repacking and settling in all over again. Is there enough to do on Moorea to keep a family busy? Oh yes! We were not bored for a single minute! Will you still get the idyllic beaches and tranquil vistas? I’ll answer that question by showing you this photo Husband took of me (and nobody else) floating in the lagoon at Temae Beach (which is Moorea’s largest public beach). No people where cropped or photo-shopped out. It’s just me and my floatie (and the fishies)!
In fact, you will notice that there are not a lot of people in most of our pictures and video. There were several times that we showed up to a place and we were the only ones there! How wonderfully exclusive is that?! I love the balance of Moorea. I love the true “island time” feel. In no way did we ever feel totally isolated or deserted. There were always friendly locals around who were willing to answer questions or offer help. We actually got stuck in a rut when we drove off the road too far, and within minutes, two cars full of local Tahitians got out, pushed us back onto the road, and went on their way. I could not thank them enough! They were so warm and amiable.
I researched for hours and hours, trying to find tips to save money while traveling to Moorea, and I came up with very little. Tahiti and “budget” don’t usually end up in the same sentence.
A quick search for lodging on Moorea will pull up some pricey options at world class luxury resorts. These resorts are beautiful and exceptional in location and service, but they may give you a good case of sticker shock when you plug in your dates and number to accommodate. Look closely to the right at the water line, in the picture above. Those over water bungalows are part of the Sofitel Resort. Resort stays can run you anywhere from $500 to $1200 per night. Before you swear off ever being able to afford going to French Polynesia, continue reading! There is a huge range of options when it comes to lodging in Moorea. As a family traveling, it is important for us to have a kitchen, and access to laundry facilities, if at all possible. Self catering saves us money on dining out, and having a washer saves us space in packing. We stayed at comfortable, well stocked, well located places that may not have been 5 star luxury, but we had luxurious views and all the comforts of home. If you are truly a budget traveler, you can even camp! I recently learned that there is even a hostel on Moorea! I didn’t feel like “roughing it” quite so much, so we picked some places that had more privacy, and a few more creature comforts. We stayed on two ends of the island, the Northwest side on Sunset Beach, and the Northeast side, in an overwater bungalow. We loved both locations and were so glad we chose them! My max budget was $260/night or less. This was for a family of 4 and both kids needed to have their own beds because they are tweens. And well, it’s just better that way. Your budget can be even lower, and you will still find great accommodations if you know how and what to look for. Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but our over water bungalow cost us less than $200 a night!