Budget tips: What did we spend travelling French Polynesia?

Last Updated on by Charlotte van de Sande

French Polynesia isn’ that a super expensive destination? Uh yeah, that’s right! Because of its location and the fact that almost all products are imported into French Polynesia, it isn’t cheap. Add to that the fact that it is expensive to get here, that you will most probably fly between the islands and that there are relatively few budget accommodations and you are far above a backpack budget. Still, we wanted to go to this tropical place and we didn’t regret going here for a second. In this blog, we will answer the question of how much money our trip costed French Polynesia!

How much money did we spend in French Polynesia?

First a big disclaimer: we are not extreme budget backpackers. By this, I mean that we almost never sleep in a dormitory, do not cut down on activities and food. On the other hand, we certainly don’t travel luxuriously: we sleep in hostels, almost never take a taxi and try to cook ourselves (if possible). Everyone has different priorities and budgets while travelling. Maybe you don’t care that much about the accommodation you stay at, but prefer to eat out more often. That is totally fine! Just keep this in mind while you read this blog. It’s always possible to travel cheaper or more expensive than we do.

French Polynesia is certainly not cheap. The price level is often a lot higher than that of the Netherlands and especially on the smaller islands, basic groceries like fruit and vegetables are expensive. During our time in French Polynesia, we did some costly activities, we have eaten out relatively often and flew to four different islands. This didn’t make our trip cheap, but it did make our trip epic! We knew this trip would be expensive and saved up for it.

We combined this trip with a trip to New Zealand and Los Angeles. We flew from Auckland to Tahiti. Eleven days later we flew from Tahiti to Los Angeles. Flight tickets to French Polynesia are very expensive from Europe, but recently a new French airline (French Bee) has entered the market, which offers return tickets from Paris for only €1250 per person. This is a lot cheaper than the prices of other companies, which are usually starting at € 1800.

Tip: Because you often have a layover in the USA, it can be nice to stay here for a few days. This way you will decrease your jetlag as well!

Facts and Figures

Number of days: 11

Total spend: XPF332.090 / €2.785/ $3.178
Avg. spend per day:  XPF30.190 / €253,18 / $288,90

Our budget per day: XPF31.005 / €260 / $297
Days on or below budget: 91%
Days above budget: 9%

All expenses are for 2 people and calculated on the basis of exchange rates during the trip. This amount is excluding our flights. The currency displayed are French Pacific Franc (CFP of XPF), Euro (€) and USA Dollar ($).

Accommodation: 27,3% of the total budget

Total spend: XPF90.505 / €759 / $866,10
Number of nights: 10
Average amount per room for 2 pers: XPF9.050 / €75,90 / $86,60

Accommodations in French Polynesia can be incredibly expensive. Do you want to sleep in one of these beautiful overwater bungalows, then you might have to sell a kidney… the most basic room is often already € 650 per night. There are not that many hotels or hostels in French Polynesia. Fortunately, there are homestays, so we often stayed here. You can sleep here for just a fraction of the price of an expensive hotel and we find it even more enjoyable because you are more in touch with the local population.

We stayed for relatively little money,  in some beautiful places because we booked well in advance, travelled in low season and since we were upgraded a few times. In Bora Bora, we stayed at Bora Bora Bungalove and in Huahine at Franky’s Fare, where we slept a lot more luxurious than we actually booked and paid for. On Rangiroa, we stayed at Pension Rangiroa Plage which was very basic. Our most expensive hotel was the Tahiti Airport hotel( (€ 116), nothing special, but because of its location and our early flight the next day, it was convenient.

Transportation: 44,3% of the total budget

Total spend: XPF147.175 / €1234,23 / $1408,35
Inland flights : XPF124.710 / €1045,82 / $1193,40
Car rental: XPF13.215 / €110,81 / $126,45
Others: XPF9.255 / €77,60 / $88,55

Transport has certainly been our biggest cost item. The airline tickets for domestic flights are really expensive. We bought a flight pass for € 522.91 per person with which we could hop off on different islands. That is, of course, a large amount but because there are almost no boats between the islands and a cruise is much more expensive, this was our best option.

We also rented a car twice to explore the islands and we had costs for airport shuttles, buses and bicycle rental.

Food: 17,7% of the total budget

Total spend: XPF58.755 / €492,73 / $562,25
From which eating and drinking out: XPF35.175 / €295 / $336,60
Of which groceries: XPF23.580 / €197,73 / $225,65

This is actually a pretty big amount. If, however, I look back to it, it is not so strange. Groceries in French Polynesia are very expensive, almost all food needs to be imported. On the island of Rangiroa, we had bad luck, we just arrived after the weekly boatload: all vegetables, fruit, cheese and yoghurt had already been sold out. Because of this, we ate on Rangiroa almost all of our emails in restaurants.

Furthermore, French Polynesia was part of our last weeks of travelling around the world. That’s why we loosened up a lot about our budget: we went out for dinner on Valentine’s Day, we bought multiple bottles of wine (French rose, very tasty, but not cheap), and both on Huahine and Tahiti we often enjoyed the delicious tuna they served in the restaurants. So yes, then we come to this big amount. We could have saved much money on food. I think we could have stayed under the 250 euros for these 11 days.

Activities: 10,7% of the total budget

Total spend: XPF35.655 / €299 / $341,20
Diving(inc tax): XPF16.220 / € 139/ $158,60
Half day boat trip: XPF15.500 /€130 / $148,35
Other: XPF3.580 / €30 / $34,25

For me this amount was lower then I expected before going to French Polynesia. Because of the bad weather the first couple of days, we did not do many activities. In addition, there are plenty of fun things on the islands that are free, such as snorkelling, cycling and hiking. Because I didn’t get my diving license, the diving costs were relatively low since only Ries went diving. The only really expensive thing was a half day boat trip on Bora Bora. It was amazing and definitely something that you should not miss. It is not cheap but you see beautiful sharks, rays and see some beautiful parts of the island.

Curious about a possible itinerary for when you are going to French Polynesia for two weeks? I wrote a blog with a nice island hopping route along five islands!

What do things cost in French Polynesia?

Cappuccino: XPF450 / €3,80 / $4,35

1 Kilo of banana’s: XPF200 / €1,70 / $1,95

1 Papaya: XPF300 / €2,50 / $2,85

1 Big avocado: XPF240 / €2 / $2,28
The avocados are immensely large here and dirt-cheap. One avocado is sometimes just as big as three Dutch avocados.

Bottle of Coca Cola (0,3L): XPF300 / €2,50 / $2,85

Yoghurt (500ml): XPF715 / €6 / $6,85

A piece of fresh tuna of 300 grams: XPF500 / € 4 / $ 4.56
I have never eaten such good tuna as here in French Polynesia. And so now I am ruined, forever …

1 Baguette: XPF315/ € 2.63 / $ 3
French Polynesia is a French overseas region. Many products are French. You will find plenty of good baguettes here!

Bottle of water (1,5L): XPF150 / €1,25 / $1,45

Bottle of wine from the supermarket (750 ml): XPF1600 / € 13.40 / $ 15.30

Glas of wine in a restaurant: XPF500 / €4,20 / $4,80

Gin and Tonic in a bar: XPF1790 / €15 / $17,12

Local beer in a restaurant: XPF450 / €3,80 / $4,34

Simple lunch / evening meal (1 person) outside: XPF2385 / € 20 / $ 22.82
Especially at the roulettes (foodtrucks) you can eat and dine cheaply. These are not the most healthy meals, by the way.

Conclusion: is French Polynesia expensive?

Yes, French Polynesia is really expensive. Because it is so remote, almost all food has to be imported. In addition, it has become a real luxury destination through the years, making hotels very pricey. What makes French Polynesia also expensive is the transportation costs. To get here you already pay a lot of money, but if you also want to fly from island to island, it’s again lot’s of money. And believe me, once you are here, you really want to see more of this place than just Tahiti, the least beautiful island.

When I look back, I am still quite satisfied with how much we have spent. According to the Lonely Planet, a budget traveller spends about €100 a day here (excluding transport between the islands). We are on average € 79 per person per day, without transport between the islands. For this, we did everything we wanted to do. Because we came in the low season the prices were lower than normal.

We could have done French Polynesia a lot cheaper. Because these were the last weeks of our trip around the world, we were not strict on money anymore. We have been eating out a lot, we didn’t cut back on activities and also rented a car a few times.

All in all, I think French Polynesia is more than worth the high costs! Our trip along the islands was one of the highlights of our entire world trip and I think French Polynesia is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I would love to come back one day!

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