For many honeymooners, Tahiti is simply a pit stop on the way to other destinations in French Polynesia. Fortunately, the island offers plenty of opportunities for relaxation and romance.
What to See and Where to Stay
One of the main appeals of Tahitian accommodations is the overwater bungalows, which are amazing but can be very expensive. Bear in mind that overwater bungalows are sometimes far from the resort but close to each other, so you may see (or hear) your neighbors frequently. If you’d like more privacy, opt for a bungalow that’s on the beach. Some of the best can be found at the Inter-Continental Resort Tahiti (800-377-0200), with views of Moorea, marble bathrooms, and canopy beds. If you’re on a budget, consider the Hiti Moana Villa (687-57-93-93), a small, family-run spot with bungalows in a garden setting.
Since you’re on an island, it’s only natural that most of the must-do activities in Tahiti involve the water. Though some of French Polynesia’s islands are more widely known for their reefs, you’ll also find opportunities for scuba diving on Tahiti. Top Dive Tahiti (689-86-49-06) offers guided dives where you’ll see shipwrecks, sharks, and more. Another excellent way to explore the island and lagoons is by kayak -- most hotels rent them at low or (in some cases) no cost.
The Best Time to Go
The weather is optimal in July and August, but this is also the busiest time of year both for tourism and for local festivals. If you’re planning on heading to Tahiti, book your airfare and accommodations as early as you can. Overall, the shoulder seasons on either side of the high season -- May and June, then September and October -- are ideal times to go, with great weather and better availability for hotels.
Since it’s in the southern hemisphere, November through April is summer in Tahiti, and also the wet season. Though you’re unlikely to be completely rained out, showers are frequent. When it’s not raining, the Tahitian climate is hot and humid. Keep in mind that this is also cyclone (aka the Pacific equivalent of a hurricane) season; trip insurance in case of last-minute cancellations or changes is a good idea. To find out what the weather will be like before you book your trip, check in with the Tahiti Presse online (TahitiPresse.pf; click on “English version” if you’re not fluent in French).
The Best Ways to Save
Be strategically picky about your hotel rooms. What does that mean? Get the best rate you can by compromising on what you don’t really need or want, but keep in mind what you do. Are you not planning on watching the sunset from your room? Request one with a garden view. What amenities are included? If you aren’t going to use their beach chairs or towels, find accommodations where extras like these aren’t built into the rates. What’s the dining plan? Hotels range from the European Plan (or EP), which includes no meals, to the American Plan (AP), which includes three meals. If you’re planning on eating out, look for the former since the latter will just leave you with wasted meals you’ve already paid for.
On a related note: Since nearly everything’s imported, you may be in for some sticker shock when you see the prices of food. However, don’t be too alarmed -- there’s no sales tax and gratuities aren’t expected. If you’d like a cocktail or glass of wine with your meal, you’ll save more money by dining at restaurants conventionne, which receive tax breaks on the duty imposed on imported alcohol.
Tahiti’s also a fantastic place to score some souvenirs on the cheap -- yes, it’s more expensive than simply bringing back your photos and your memories, but some of these deals are well worth it. Locally made handcrafts, such as woven mats and baskets, are very inexpensive and will add a unique touch to your home, while a hand-dyed wrap (known as pareu) is a convenient beach cover-up
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