Overall score (Dan) = A
Overall score (Jocelyn) = A
Total days = 9 nights, 10 days
Total cost = $2,416
Cost per day = $240 / day
Flight costs = $1,100 each, but ticket also gets us to Auckland so it’s split
Areas visited: Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora
You read it right, we both scored ourselves as “A” for our time in French Polynesia! It’s probably the most expensive country we’ll visit on our RTW trip and we knocked it out of the park. As you can see in the per day spending, it was still pretty high, but it was much lower than it could’ve been. As you’ll see below, we had to spend $1000 just on inner-island flights, so without that we would’ve been at $140/day!
We made sacrifices by doing fewer excursions than we wanted and we probably sacrificed our health by our spending choices on food! Not really, but I’ll get more into it later.
How far does your money go in French Polynesia?
Each US dollar is worth approximately 83 XPF (French Polynesian Francs). You feel rich when you exchange $100 US dollars for 8,300 XPF, but as expected, everything is still super expensive in French Polynesia. A typical entre at a restaurant will run you 2500-3000 XPF.
Our biggest savings by far was from the hotel points we used in Tahiti and French Polynesia. Sure, not everyone can save money by doing this, but it is possible. I amassed quite a few hotel points through my years of traveling through work and my rewards credit cards and they definitely paid off.
Most notably, we stayed at the Hilton on Bora Bora for free because of our points. This would normally cost $700+ per night and we also got breakfast included due to my Gold Hilton status.
In addition to savings on lodgings, we were super cheap when it came to eating. We rarely ate out, and we did we did our best to save money by ordering food to go at restaurants and splitting on entre. It’s amazing how easy this is and it’s also scary to think about how much we typically overeat. In addition, we brough some Ramen noodles and oatmeal with us for cheap meals.
Finally, we moderated our excursions from the Belize trip and toured ourselves when possible. For example, we rented a scooter on Moorea and spent the day touring the island with local maps. We did do an expensive excursion in Bora Bora but it was definitely worth it as we checked many things off our “to see” list including manta rays, spotted eagle rays, and giant Moray Eels (I’ll post the link to the vidoe Jocelyn will make of it).
We didn’t have a way to get discounted lodging in Moorea, so we went to Kayak.com to review the cheaper hotels. We ended up picking the cheapest one (obviously my decision) and it was in pretty bad shape. The view was the best of the island, but the inside of the room hadn’t been updated (or maybe even cleaned) in decades. Jocelyn wasn’t real happy with that one, but we made it through!
Once again, the killer for any vacation is when you’re staying on islands and forced to fly between them. We took a ferry between Tahiti and Moorea for $30 total, but our flights from Moorea to Bora Bora costed $500! i was really not happy with that but it was the only way to get to the island unless we wanted to hop aboard a cargo ship… which I’d be hopping on alone as my wife went the other way.
In conclusion, we did really well with our spending in French Polynesia – which could’ve gotten way out of hand. The best part is that Jocelyn and I are on the same page (ok, close to the same page) as far as spending and where we’re willing to sacrifice. We’re currently debating how cheap we’re willing to go on the camper van in New Zealand… this should get interesting!
Next up: New Zealand