French Polynesia Budget Breakdown

A far too short vacation in paradise, we did our best to stick to budget travel in our visit to the small portion of French Polynesia that is Moorea and Tahiti. We had planned to spend $70 per person for our stay. How did we do?

Total Spent: $1,168.48
Days in Country: 9
Daily Total: $129.83
Daily Per Person: $64.92

Pretty good! Here’s the breakdown:

Money Spent % of Budget
Accommodation $624.88 53%
Eating Out $173.65 15%
Entertainment $150.01 13%
Groceries $90.89 8%
Miscellaneous $26.66 2%
Transport $102.39 9%
Exchange rate was about 89 CFP per USD

Exchange rate was about 89 CFP per USD

It's hard to travel French Polynesia on the cheap unless you are crewing one of the many yachts that ply the waters of the Pacific. Accommodation is expensive, restaurants are expensive, transport is ungodly expensive - so how did we beat our budget by $5 per person per day?

For starters, we stayed at Motel Albert in Cook’s Bay on Moorea. We searched long and hard for a cheap place to stay and, while there are a few dorm and camping options, we were hoping for a private room with a kitchen that we could use to make some meals. A lot of people we talked to cringed when we told them we were staying there, but as backpackers, it was a great place to stay. And at $72 a night, one of the cheapest options on the island. On Tahiti, we stayed at Fare Hau, a great B&B right near the airport that included a delicious breakfast, transfer to and from the airport, and free wi-fi. Anita was a great host and was happy to give us tips about Tahiti and Moorea and would drive us to the nearest supermarket to get supplies to make dinner.

As I said, eating out was expensive on Moorea, where we spent most of our time. We had three lunches out, ranging from $42.62 to $54.55 for the two of us - now you can see why we wanted a kitchen! We also got pastries from nearby bakeries a few mornings for breakfast, which we would combine with yogurt and some of the most delicious pineapples we’ll ever taste. For our other lunches, we often grabbed a baguette and paired it with cheese or bought a pre-made sandwich. Groceries were priced on par with supermarkets in the US and since we made a lot of our own meals, we spent a fair bit for only 9 days in country.

Transportation in French Polynesia is not cheap. The ferry between Tahiti and Moorea cost $34 round-trip, which was a pretty fair price we thought. It wasn’t until we looked into renting bicycles/scooters/cars for exploring Moorea that we were really shocked. A bicycle at a nearby agency was around $17. Per person. For 8 hours. Scooters were more than 3 times that price with cars starting at just over $100 a day, 4x4s reaching towards $150 a day. Unfortunately, if you want to see a lot of Moorea, transportation is a necessity. So, we hitchhiked. Anais’s French came in very handy as she talked to a lot of drivers and we were able to get rides all over the island. We had to wait 10-15 minutes once or twice, but most of the time someone stopped and picked us up within 2-3 minutes. We met some really cool people and it was a great way to save some money.

Entertainment is such a high percentage because we didn’t really do much in terms of activities. Most days were spent traipsing between beaches or sneaking into posh hotels to use their pools/beaches. So, when we went on a lagoon tour of the small islands that inhabit the area near the northwest shore of Moorea, it was a big expense at $68.19 per person. But, it included snorkeling with sharks and rays and a private beach BBQ lunch with tons of food and drinks and free-flowing beer. I also learned how to properly skin and crack open a coconut. When you consider how expensive eating out was, the tour was a really good deal.

French Polynesia in Retrospect

There’s not much to be said here that Anais didn’t already cover. We absolutely loved the islands and are dying to go back for a proper exploration of the many other islands of the nation. We spent a lot of our time relaxing on beaches, eating delicious food, reading books, and decompressing after nearly 5 months in South America. It was a perfect place to just forget about the stresses and hassles of travel and disconnect and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us everywhere. And eat ice cream.

It was good timing to get some rest, too, as little did we know, we were about to embark on what will surely turn out to be the most frenetic period of travel in our whole journey. New Zealand, here we come!