Itinerary: two weeks island hopping in French Polynesia

Last Updated on by Charlotte van de Sande

French Polynesia, a true paradise on earth, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It is officially French overseas territory and consists of 118 small and larger islands. We have visited a number of these beautiful islands in 10 days. After these 10 days, we were completely sold: French Polynesia is officially the most beautiful place I have ever seen. In this blog, I describe a route for when you two weeks ‘island hopping’ in this beautiful place.


Not many people have ever even heard of French Polynesia. And believe me, that is not bad at all, because there is relatively little tourism on the beautiful islands. But wait a minute, when I say Bora Bora, probably a bell will ring, right? To give you an idea: French Polynesia lies between New Zealand and South America. It consists of 118 islands, of which only 67 are populated. Those 118 islands are not all close to each other. French Polynesia is spread over an area as large as Europe. Pretty impressive! But with such distances and so many islands, it can be quite difficult to decide which places to visit. Add to that the fact that there are limited flights between the islands, and that these flights are not cheap at all. The result: a big puzzle to determine your route and itinerary!

To make this puzzle a little bit less difficult, I wrote this blog in which I describe a possible itinerary for two weeks. Next, to that, I describe some other places that you could visit. Note: we have not been to all islands in this blog, but we have spoken with both Polynesians and a lot of tourists and therefore dare to say with some certainty that these are nice spots to visit. But keep in mind, even if you don’t have two weeks but two months, you will not be able to visit all the beautiful places French Polynesia has to offer. You will, therefore, have to make choices and believe me, that is not very easy.


Tip: multi-island tour pass

First of all: a tip about transportation between the islands. There is only one airline that flies between the islands: Air Tahiti. There are (almost) no boats between the islands. Only between Tahiti and Huahine, there is a daily boat. You can, of course, take a cruise or a sailing trip along some of the islands, something that seems amazing to us, but that is also very, very pricey.

Single flights between the different islands of French Polynesia are quite expensive. So it can be really rewarding to buy a combination ticket (a multi-island tour pass). With such a combination ticket you can visit different islands for a fixed price. Keep in mind that there are quite a few complicated rules and that not between all islands there are direct flights or even daily flights. For example, one of the rules is that you can not land more than once on the same island. This means that a stopover on Tahiti is almost never possible. More information about the different island passes can be found on the website of Air Tahiti. In our itinerary, I have indicated which aircraft pass you will need.


Itinerary: two weeks island hopping.

Required: The Bora Bora Tuamotu Pass – € 527.40 (low season) or € 571.80 (high season) per person.

Click here or on the image below to see the two-week island hopping schedule in French Polynesia. This schedule shows, among other things, the travel time and a number of accommodations with the accompanying price.

Tahiti – Huahine – Bora Bora – Rangiroa – Fakarava – Tahiti

This 14-day itinerary along five islands gives you a beautiful and versatile picture of French Polynesia. This is also almost entirely the trip we made. However, we only had 10 days and so we skipped Fakarava. On Fakarava you can dive, so definitely a place that we would love to go to next time. Tahiti is the least beautiful island, so you don’t have to spend too much time here, although we spent a great day here by renting a car and driving around the island. Furthermore, you stay on Huahine, Bora Bora, Rangiroa and Fakarava for three days. This will certainly give you the time to discover these places without getting bored.

Day 1: Tahiti

Almost all flights arrive in the evening, so you have to spend the night in Tahiti and you can not fly directly to another island. After you landed in Tahiti in the evening, you will sleep in a hotel close to the airport. We chose the Tahiti Airport hotel, which is only a 500-meter walk from the airport. You will stay close to the airport because your flight to Huahine will leave at 7.30 the next morning.

Day 2 to 5: three nights on Huahine

After a beautiful flight of only 40 minutes, you will land on the small Huahine. Huahine is known as the willful island. The residents have always been opposed to luxury resorts being placed here and have so far succeeded: there are no big commercial chains on the island currently. That doesn’t mean, however, that locals aren’t welcoming tourists! Because trust me, the locals are really warm and nice! Huahine is super lush and green. You can rent a car, scooter or bicycle here to drive around the island or you can visit the vanilla plantations. The underwater world is very beautiful here, you can dive, kayak or surf. Furthermore, you will find some small ruins of the ancient Polynesians on the island and you will find the ruins of an old deserted resort, which is a little creepy. Overall we had an amazing time on Huahine!

Tip: we stayed at Franky’s Fare, a super nice homestay in the capital Fare. Price: € 55 per night. Click here for more information.

Day 5 to 8: three nights at Bora Bora

After three days of relaxing on Huahine, you will fly, in just 25 minutes, to Bora Bora. We doubted whether we should go to this “touristic and expensive” island. In the end, we are so happy that we went here! The island is beautiful and we really wouldn’t have wanted to miss it. Bora Bora is actually a large volcano surrounded by a reef with small islands on it (Motu’s). The most expensive overwater bungalow resorts are located on these Motu’s. We cycled around Bora Bora, made a boat trip where we swam with sharks and rays and enjoyed the beautiful blue water. You can also dive around Bora Bora and the hike to the volcano also seems to be very cool.

Tip: we stayed in the homestay Bora Bora Bungalove, really nice! We even had an overwater bungalow and paid only € 116 per night (which is very little for Bora Bora). Click here for more information.

Day 8 to 11: three nights at Rangiroa

On day eight you will fly, in a bit more than an hour, to the island Rangiroa. This looks completely different from above than the islands that you saw before. Rangiroa is an atoll, a very narrow ring of land with a large clear blue lagoon in the middle. The island is founded on coral and in some places, there are interruptions where the sea flows into the lagoon. Because of this, it doesn’t look like one island, but like multiple islands, which together form a ring. We stayed on the main island, Avatoru.

Rangiroa is known for the great diving. Because the sea enters and leaves the lagoon, there is a huge amount of (large) sea life in the ‘canals’ such as dolphins, whales, sharks and rays. Ries made an amazing dive here, where he saw dolphins from up close. Furthermore, the island is very relaxed. There is so little to do here that you really come to rest. A bit of cycling, eating pizza and snorkelling. That’s about it.

Tip: we slept in the homestay Pension Rangiroa Plage, which was fine and cost € 67 per night. We also heard good stories about Pension Turiroa ‘Chez Olga’ and it is even cheaper (€ 45 per night). If you prefer a little more luxury than hotel Kia Ora Resort is really beautiful (€ 350 per night).

Day 11 to 14: three nights at Fakarava

From Rangiroa, you will fly to Fakarava in about 40 minutes. This island is also an atoll. And here you can also dive great. But why should I advise you to go from Rangiroa to Fakarava? Well first of all because I love atolls, so if I have the chance to visit an atoll, I will take it. In addition, snorkelling and diving on Fakarava also seem to be really great. You will find the ‘walls of sharks’ enormous schools with hundreds of sharks floating in the sea and forming a wall. This seems to be very special to swim through. You will find beautiful beaches here, with not only white but also pink sand! Dolphins and whales do not come across much, for these you have to go to Rangiroa.

Tip: There are very few accommodations on Fakarava. A place that seems to be good is Relais Marama. You can stay here for €70 a night per person.

Day 14 and 15: Tahiti and back home

On day 14 you will fly from Fakarava back to Tahiti in around an hour. From the airport, you can take the bus to Papeete (the capital) for something to eat and sleep in the evening. If you fly home the next day in the evening, as we did, you can rent a car on your last day at the airport (+/- € 70) to tour the island. We can really recommend this, Papeete city itself is not very special, but especially the south and east of Tahiti have beautiful beaches, cliffs and very jungle-like nature.

Tip: We slept in Papeete in the relatively cheap Mahana Lodge Hotel en Backpackers, which was clean and fine for only € 57 (a private room).


Is three days per island to short? Are two weeks enough?

That is entirely up to what kind of traveller you are. We are the type of travellers who are ‘doing a lot in very little time’ which sometimes means that we mainly ‘do too much in too little time’. French Polynesia is expensive and we wanted to see as many of the islands as possible in the 10 days that we were there. And we did, we had four days of Huahine (of which we had four days of rain, we were in the rainy season and a cyclone came over, can happen) two days Bora Bora (too short) two days Rangiroa (a bit short) and a day and a half in Tahiti (excellent). In total, ten days is very little time.

On the other hand, there is not that much to do on the islands. You go to French Polynesia for snorkelling or diving (keep in mind the 12 hours of not flying after a diving rule), to enjoy the beautiful nature, the beach and the sea and to get to know the culture. We were able to do most of that, well in the time we had. Would I do it differently afterwards? For sure, I would have gone to French Polynesia for two or three weeks and would have stayed at least three nights on each island. The latter is what I have now included in the above itinerary. Three weeks of French Polynesia, however, is expensive, especially when you come from Europe. The cheapest flights cost at least 1250 euros from Paris. So well then two weeks is not so crazy.

Are you planning on going to French Polynesia longer, or do you like to take it easy, then consider staying longer on each island. You will enjoy yourself in that beautiful nature anyway!


Are you doubting whether you should visit French Polynesia? Then I have good news: Here are five reasons why you absolutely must go to French Polynesia!


Other beautiful islands in French Polynesia

What are the other beautiful islands in French Polynesia where we will go next time? Because a next time will be there for sure.

Mauputi

Maupiti is also called the Bora Bora from 50 years ago. This beautiful green island is just like Bora Bora, a big volcano. There are hardly any tourists and almost no one speaks English, only French. This in combination with the beautiful photos I have seen from this place, makes that I simply have to go here! Ries … when are we going back?

Moorea

Moorea is perhaps the opposite of Mauputi in terms of tourism. Moorea is relatively close to Tahiti and this is the only island that you can reach by daily ferry. There are many resorts and it is after Bora Bora, the most touristic island of French Polynesia. Yet it also seems to be fun here. The island has beautiful beaches and is incredibly green. And well, if it is so close to Tahiti, why would you skip it if you have the time?

Raiatea

Raiatea is actually a pretty big island (if you can speak at least from large islands in French Polynesia). It is after Tahiti the largest island and it is close to Bora Bora. There are no real beaches on Raiatea, but nature is beautiful. You can hop to its little ‘brother’ Tahaa, which lies in the same lagoon as Raiatea.

Tikehau

Tikehau is a smaller atoll, near Rangiroa. You seem to be able to surf here very well (too bad I am very poor at surfing) and the island has beautiful pink and white beaches. Doesn’t sound bad right?

Well and then, of course, you also have the green Marquises, 1500 kilometres north of Tahiti, where the mountainous landscape is great for hikes and horse riding. And the Austral Islands, more than 600 kilometres south of Tahiti, where the beaches are particularly beautiful and where humpback whales come to mate. These places are even less touristy, seem to have beautiful nature, but are even harder to reach. But hey, who knows, maybe we’ll go there someday!

What seems to you the most beautiful island in French Polynesia?


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French Polynesia 14 day itinerary for an Island Hopping trip. Tahiti- Huahine - Bora Bora - Rangiroa - Fakarava - Tahiti


All my blogs on French Polynesia

 

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4 Comments

  1. by Gary on 2 February 2019  16:55 Reply

    How much did your 10 day trip cost with air, hotels, food, and the other misc like rentals?

    • by Charlotte van de Sande on 2 February 2019  16:57 Reply

      Hi Gary, haha it’s funny that you ask: next week I will publish a whole blog on exact what we spend here!

  2. by Alexa M on 3 November 2019  00:08 Reply

    We are planning to go to FP at of Jan into Feb for 10 days. We've heard about rainy season and it sounds you were there during that as well. Any input? Xx

    • by Charlotte van de Sande on 3 November 2019  04:38 Reply

      Hi Alexa! Yes indeed, we were there as well at the end of January, beginning of February... the rainy season. Well we were not so lucky in the beginning: we were in the outlayers of a cyclone and had therefore lots and lots of rain. However, after four days, the weather cleared and stayed for the following 6 days very beautiful. I would definitely take into consideration, these things can happen in this season, however the upside of this is that it isn’t busy or touristy at all in this season, something we loved!! Next to that, prices are much lower! I liked being there in the rainy season, but be prepared for indeed some rain! Have fun planning!

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