French Polynesia

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ShermansTravel experts rely on years of collective travel experience to bring you the best money-saving tips for your vacation. We take a discerning look at all the attraction passes, public transportation options, and other local bargains to make sure you get the most bang for your buck while traveling.

French Polynesia Money-Saving Tips

Save by Skipping the Overwater Bungalow

Garden bungalows and hotel rooms can be about half the price of an overwater bungalow.

Package it Up

Budget travelers who are able to splurge a bit can find good package deals bundling air and five- or seven-night stays, mostly on Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Moorea.

Preview with Mutiny on the Bounty

The numerous retellings of this story insist that sailors of the HMS Bounty revolted after experiencing the hospitality of the sensual local women. Portions of both the 1962 Marlon Brando version and the 1984 Mel Gibson version were filmed on Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Moorea.

Synchronize Your Watches

Tahiti is in the same time zone as Hawaii – three hours behind Los Angeles and six hours behind New York (except during Daylight Savings Time from November to March, when the difference is two hours and five hours, respectively).

The Kidman Connection

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban put the then-new St. Regis Bora Bora Resort on the map in 2006 when they stayed in the $15,000/night Royal Estate for their honeymoon.

The Many Wonders of Monoi

You won’t want to leave without procuring a bottle of this local oil made from coconuts and tiare blossoms – it works as a moisturizer, hair tonic, massage oil, and insect bite salve. Pick it up at your hotel gift shop.

The Legacy of Paul Gauguin

The Parisian painter fell in love with French Polynesia in 1891 after visiting Tahiti to escape civilization. He immortalized the local women in his canvases, and never left – his grave is on the island of Hiva Oa in the Marquesas and a cruise ship bearing his name sails the islands year-round.

Transfer the Tahitian Way

Tahiti is more water than land, so it's possible to never see a car again (except an electric cart at your resort) once you leave Tahiti or Moorea. Resorts in Bora Bora generally transfer by boat.

Try Poisson Cru

This addictive national dish is made from raw tuna or mahi-mahi marinated in lime juice and coconut milk.

Shake it Like a Local

The Heiva, a festival, held each July in Papeete, is a draw for its thrilling and sensual dance-offs. If you are not visiting in July, most hotels offer Polynesian dance shows at least once a week; the InterContinental Resort Tahiti has one of the best, featuring dancers from Les Grands Ballets de Tahiti.

Learn a Few Words

The local alphabet has only 13 letters, so make use of them to say hello (ia orana) and goodbye (nana) in a singsong voice the way the Tahitians do. And offering a thank you (mauru’ uru) will certainly be appreciated.

Look Up!

The night skies here are incredibly clear, especially above Bora Bora and the Tuamotus, where you’ll spot constellations as the only sound you'll hear is the gently lapping lagoon beneath you.

Make it a Stopover

If Australia or New Zealand is your final destination, Air Tahiti Nui frequently offers specially-priced stopover deals in Tahiti for passengers flying on to Sydney or Auckland.

Water vs. Sand

Tahiti is more about its mesmerizing lagoons than its beaches, which are often narrow and manmade (at resorts). Sand varies from white to pink to black. Top honors go to Huahine's Hana Iti beach and the strand that fronts the Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort and Spa.

No Dictionary Required

French and Tahitian are the official languages, but you can easily get by with English at resorts and other tourist areas.

Expect Expensive

Overwater bungalows are somewhat less pricey on Moorea than on Bora Bora (where the average is $800-$900/night), but don't expect to score one at a four-star property for under $600/night during high season. You can sleep overwater on Tahiti for about $400/night.

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