Going to Hawaii? A Side Trip to Tahiti is Within Reach

by  Darren Murph | Oct 10, 2012
Tahiti / mvaligursky/iStock

In many parts of the world, temperatures are starting to slide in a bitter direction. The calling of Old Man Winter is growing tougher to ignore, and the yearning to escape to warmer weather is very, very real. It's probably about time you rewarded yourself with a trip to Hawaii…or perhaps somewhere even more exotic.

For those already planning a jaunt to the 50th state, or those who have had it on their bucket list for many years now, there's a little-known secret that could enable you to make that dream trip even more spectacular. Island lovers the world over have fawned over the gems tucked away in French Polynesia, but Tahiti is undoubtedly one of the most remote locales in the world. Getting there is not only trying, but incredibly expensive. If you've done even casual research on flying there, you've most likely turned away in disgust after seeing how high the fares were when connecting through LAX.

Turns out, the cheapest way to jet over to Tahiti is actually from O'ahu. For those flying into Honolulu, I'd recommend tacking a week onto your excursion and heading six hours south. Hawaiian Airlines operates once-weekly service to Tahiti that departs on Saturday from Honolulu International Airport. On average, the cost is roughly half of what you'd pay if flying from Los Angeles. Yes, you need to first get to Honolulu, but if you're already buying a ticket there (or better yet, using mileage rewards), tacking Tahiti on sure saves you a bundle compared to a standalone trip in the future. It's usually fairly affordable to use miles to book award travel to Hawaii, while booking to international destinations like Tahiti will almost certainly use at least twice as many miles.

The ideal situation in terms of cost savings is as follows: use award miles to Honolulu, and then pay out-of-pocket from Honolulu to Tahiti. If booked more than two months out, you can usually snag a round-trip seat on that HNL-PPT flight for under $650. Better still, those who fly Delta will appreciate being able to earn SkyMiles on the route!

Aside from saving money, it's also a shorter flight from Honolulu than it is from the mainland (around six hours versus roughly nine hours from LAX). Once in Tahiti, we'd recommend a (relatively) cheap stay at the Tahiti Airport Motel and then heading to the ferry dock the following morning for a 30 minute ride to Moorea. The main island of Tahiti has plenty to offer, but the screensaver-worthy images you've likely seen when Googling "French Polynesia" largely come from outer islands like Moorea, Bora Bora, and Taha'a. While all of those are accessible via another flight from PPT, Moorea can be visited via a brief boat ride that costs well under $30.

The best part? You get to return to Honolulu before heading home. Paradise on both ends of the trip!

See our Tahiti & Moorea destination guide for more trip-planning information, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on flights.

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