Meet Joni, one of our travel experts for the Islands of Tahiti.
Born in the Southwest, raised in the Northwest, I have called the South Pacific home for nearly 25 years. I founded J2 Travels in the late 1990s to share our knowledge with other like minded travelers – remembering always, that the joy is in the journey. I currently live on Maui, I'm endorsed by IATA, and am a member of the Fiji, Tahiti and New Zealand Tourism Boards.
Testimonials from Joni's clients:
"I want to say a big THANK YOU!! We had the most amazing time on our trip. Everything was wonderful. We absolutely loved Queenstown. We took the bus out to Milford Sound and then took a helicopter back as you suggested. It was raining the whole way out there but then the rain disappeared so we saw so many waterfalls it was breathtaking! We also went horseback riding in Glenorchy (well, I did – Pete got sick!) and that was amazing. The drive out there was beautiful and the ride itself was really fun. We tried to go skydiving but unfortunately it cancelled twice because of the winds. We also went jetboating,and spent a lot of time in the restaurants and bars in town. We then spent a few hours in Nelson and went out to Bleinhem for a day and did some wine-tasting, which was a lot of fun. When we were in Motueka we spent sometime relaxing and then did an 8 hour kayak/hike through Abel Tasman, which was truly amazing…and tiring! We spent a lot of our time in Rotorua just hanging out at the hotel and relaxing because it was just so beautiful, but we did go to hell’s gate which was really neat. In Auckland we spent a day walking around and then played golf one day. We also went to dinner at the Mudbrick restaurant in Waiheke which was great.
And on to Fiji...it was amazing! We loved Tokoriki. It was a beautiful spot and the Fijian people that worked there were so warm and friendly. The honeymoon bure that we stayed in was absolutely amazing, and we spent a lot of time just hanging out in our plunge pool. We also went snorkeling a few times, which was great. The food was also really good. As for the seaweed, there was definitely a fair bit of seaweed around and a slight smell of it, but it really wasn’t a big problem. After the first day we didn’t even think about it. I would definitely recommend Tokoriki to others, and would love to go back someday.
Thank you again for all of your help. We will definitely let our friends and family know how great you were when they head off to NZ / Fiji!
- Megan & Pete
"We had a fantastic time in Fiji. Qamea was particularly wonderful-rustic, authentic, beautiful, and communal. Staff members were incredibly friendly and always very accommodating. Namale was spectacular and definitely more upscale. Our bure was so elegant and we had a private deck overlooking the ocean that was phenomenal. We appreciated the remoteness and feel of Qamea over Namale, however, so we were delighted to have been there longer. I would certainly recommend Qamea to anyone traveling to that area of the world.
Thanks again for arranging this remarkable trip. It was incredibly unique and one we will remember always. We're both grateful to you.
- Naomi & Matt
"The Four Seasons Maui and your recommendations for the other island resorts we visited were wonderful. The Four Seasons Maui is impeccable, as we also enjoyed the Halekulani on Oahu and the Hyatt at Poipu on Kauai.
Thank you so much for your attention to detail, your availability every step of the way planning our honeymoon and assisting our guests. Your surprise gifts to us and our guests were extra special touches, and I can't rave enough about you. Even through the most stressful times I endured, you always kept your calm and made sure we were taken care of. You went above and beyond for us, going to the Four Seasons to take pictures of the construction before we got there for the wedding so we would be prepared, calling around to local stores to help me find items for gift baskets, giving us the scoop on where to shop, eat, etc.-all in such great detail as well!
You really are a true, experienced travel agent that doesn't just book trips, but travels to and knows the areas and resorts in which you book your clients and you become a trusted friend. It is with the utmost gratitude we write this in appreciation for everything you did to help make our honeymoon dreams come true for us and our guests.
- Michelle & Scott
"We are now home and slowly acclimating to reality. We had the most fabulous time on our holiday and want to thank you for seeing to it that every little detail was well planned, organized, and executed. We feel you really listened to our desires and planned "THE PERFECT" holiday...thank you so very much. We will definitely call you again and have recommended you to several of our friends. It is obvious that you really know both New Zealand and Fiji as I'm sure you know the other locations you book for your clients, I especially liked how you found locations that were less "touristy" and more reflective of the countries we were visiting...just as I requested. Thank you!"
- Randy and Teresa
"Kurstan and I had the most amazing time on our trip to Maui. The wedding went off without a hitch, even though when we arrived at the house that we rented for the occasion there were hurricane strength winds. They died down in just enough time to get the flower circle in a perfect place overlooking the ocean and everything went according to plan. The ceremony was thoughtful and such a happy time for us as well as Kurstan's mom and Jack who seemed pleased with the arrangements as well.
As for the honeymoon, that was a vacation of a lifetime. I have never been as happy as I was on this trip. The hotel was lovely and the service was fantastic. Our room was more spacious than I imagined and the view was breathtaking. The hotel itself was beautiful from the lounges to the restaurants to the pool area to the beach. The beach was the best that we saw on the island.
Also, Joni, you were so helpful in getting everything arranged with us and Kurstan's mom. It was difficult for us not having ever been to Maui figuring out where to stay and what to do, but you were more than helpful in making this a trip that will be remembered throughout our lives. What a way to start a marriage!
And, thank you for the champagne you sent to our room upon our arrival. It was such a great way to start our trip.
Thank you so much for everything, and we'll definitely contact you for any help we need with travel in the future.
- Heather & Kurstan
"Lisa and I had a magical experience at Qamea and everything was wonderful! You prepared us perfectly and all the details were worry free. We had a beautiful sunny day outdoor wedding in Michigan and then whisked away to paradise.
Thank you does not fully communicate our appreciation and we will be sending you referrals at every opportunity. We will be in touch soon and again, sincere thanks and warm regards!
The overall high season in French Polynesia extends from May 1 to October 31,
although some resorts change their prices starting April 1.
The low season covers November 1 to April 30.
Tahiti wholesalers--and the resorts themselves--are very active when it comes to special offers, discounts, extra inclusions, etc., and
so these kinds of deals are changing all the time. Most websites aren't able to keep those specials up to date--there's just too many of them, and
they're changing and expiring all the time. At Visual Itineraries, we track the offers from the major wholesalers daily, and our
specialists have tools that show them all the available offers and discounts for a particular property instantly.
I visited most of the resorts on Tahiti Nui, Moorea, and Bora Bora a few years ago, to get a better feel for the differences between the resorts.
I went in January, which you'll soon see is in the hottest, most humid time of the year--and really, it wasn't that bad.
The difference between typical temperatures in that month and the coolest, driest months is only about 5 degrees.
What I found really striking, however, is how different the resorts really are.
From pictures, the overwater bungalows look very, very similar, and in fact I'm more able to tell which resort I'm looking at from the view, rather than the look of the bungalows.
Here's where the resorts really differ:
Interior style: some are very Polynesian, some have a very classic feel with antique furniture, some are opulent/luxurious with exotic woods and marble, some feel very modern and chic
The grounds: some are totally flat, others have interesting hills and jungle bits, some feel very open, and others you wander through twisting paths in the jungle (one of them has a spa set in the middle of a lily pond!)
Pools: some are more elaborate than others, with creative shapes, different views, etc.; some of the bungalows even have private plunge pools
Dining: I never had a bad meal in French Polynesia--not even a mediocre one, but some resorts have a more expansive menu than others
Condition: the photos from the hotels will always make the hotel looks its best--some of them have seen some wear and tear since the pictures were taken, so it's helpful to talk to someone who's seen the properties recently
Location: you can snorkel from the deck of your overwater bungalow at any of the resorts--the difference is what you'll see underwater, as there's a radical difference in what's on the bottom near the bungalows from one property to the next
Views: on Bora Bora, you'll get views of the spectacular Mount Otemanu from every resort--but, not necessarily every bungalow, as there are a few resorts on the main island (Otemanu is behind you then), and one resort with bungalows on the opposite side of the motu, facing west, away from Otemanu.
On Moorea, you're not generally going to get views of the mountains from your bungalow, but you will on the walk back to the shore. And Huahine and Le Taha'a are their own little worlds.
You're going to spend a fair amount of money on your Tahiti trip, no matter what resort you stay at. And, you're spending an important week or two of your lives, and traveling a long ways to get there.
You'd be foolish to NOT consult with a travel agent who knows the resorts and islands thoroughly (and who knows all of the specials currently available). It's not going to cost you any more, since our
travel agents make their money on the back end, via commission...the cost to you is generally the same as if you booked it yourself directly.
See our complete list of travel specials for Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, and the Tuamoto Atolls.
During the high season, temperatures are milder and there are fewer rain showers with less humidity, and better visibility for divers. However, there are two or three times as many tourists per resort – thus increasing demand for sightseeing activities and prices for lodging and events.
Throughout the slower months, the costs are lower and there is less competition for spots on popular tours. Additionally, just because it’s off season it doesn’t mean the sun completely disappears! Tahiti still receives warming rays, although consecutive days of rain are possible.
See & compare all resorts in French Polynesia
If you're trying to decide where to stay in
Taha'a, or the
Tuamotu Atolls, we can help!
For the 34 resorts there, we've got over 600 high-resolution photos, 53 videos, and 27 virtual tours to help you find your Polynesian dream resort.
Click here to use our Visual Explorer to check out all of them.
Average temperatures in Tahiti
The annual average temperature in Tahiti is 80 degrees Fahrenheit, or 27 degrees Celsius. Closer to the equator, the Tuamotu Atolls and the Marquesas Islands have slightly warmer temperatures than Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora.
During the high season, or winter, temperatures range from 70-82 degrees Fahrenheit, while in the low season, summer, temperatures vary from 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit. December and January average 12 inches of rain a month, however, Tahiti receives more hours of sun than Hawaii during the comparable humid season. Less than three inches of rain fall per month from June through September.
Storms in French Polynesia
The humid season in Tahiti is from November to April. Occasionally, strong storms do develop.
There actually ARE NO hurricanes in Tahiti (or anywhere in the South Pacific). That's not as good news as you might think--it's because they're
not called hurricanes in that region, they're called cyclones :-).
But there is good news: cyclones are rare, with the last powerful one occurring in 1982.
You can get some pretty dramatic heavy rainfall however--during the humid season, it will often rain hard enough at night to wake you up.
Typical airfares from LAX
Airfares vary by season, but also day of week, and are definitely affected by holidays.
The chart above shows the typical minimum and maximum fares for a economy class ticket from Los Angeles (LAX) to Papeete (PPT), by month.
We gathered this data in June 2016 from FareCompare.com.
Overwater bungalow, or garden bungalow, or beach bungalow?
Definitely overwater bungalows give the iconic French Polynesian experience--the views, the ability to step off your own private deck
into the lagoon, having your breakfast delivered by canoe, and watching the fish below you through the glass floor in your bungalow...these are all
pretty amazing experiences, and we'd recommend you spend at least 1 or 2 nights in an overwater bungalow.
We've been to all of the resorts in French Polynesia, and seen all the different room categories, and honestly, most resorts' garden and
beach bungalows are pretty fantastic as well.
Many will have a private plunge pool or a jacuzzi. And while the "horizon" overwater bungalows have
spectacular views, after a few days, you might get a bit tired of walking all the way out to the end of the wooden walkways and back every time you want to go to the restaurant,
go on an excursion, etc.
The garden and beach bungalows are typically going to be less of a trek from the main points in the resort.
What we'll often recommend is that you split your time between the overwater bungalows and the beach or garden bungalows. You'll get some variety that way,
and you'll save some money, as typically the garden and beach bungalows are less expensive per night.
It's important also to realize that many of the resorts on one island have "sister" resorts on the other islands.
A great option is to spend a few
nights in a garden bungalow on one of the islands, and then a few nights in an overwater bungalow on another. Often, the resorts will have special discounts
if you stay at two or more of their resorts.
Often, people will combine these with 1 night in Papeete, so you have a chance to see Marche Papeete and explore the town, do some shopping, etc.
Water temperature, scuba diving and surfing in Tahiti
The water temperature in French Polynesia, like the air temperature, doesn't change all that much.
August and September it's around 77 Fahrenheit; in March and April it's more like 85F. Some people wear shorty wetsuits,
some a t-shirt (mostly to avoid chafing), but I've found a diveskin is ideal--just enough warmth, and less restrictive on your movements than a shorty. Also, if you have your
own diveskin with some sort of design on it, you'll be easier for your dive buddy to spot amongst all the other divers in identical rental shorties. For more on
diving vacation trips, check out this article I wrote for Expert Beacon.
Scuba diving is possible off the coast of many islands. In Bora Bora, you'll find an amazing array of sharks at Tapu, the entrance to the lagoon on the west side (I included this
spot in my article on top 10 "bucket list" destinations for scuba divers at Go World Travel Guide).
Really spectacular diving can be found in the Tuamotu Atolls. You'll find a terrific, detailed description of dive sites on the various islands in David Stanley's
Tahiti guidebook (now in its 7th edition).
Surfing is most abundant in Tahiti and Moorea and up-and-coming in Huahine. May is a popular surfing month, due to the Billabong Pro competition at Teahupoo in Tahiti.
There's some great drone and also underwater footage in this video compilation from Moorea, courtesy Damien Lair.
Heiva is a month-long cultural celebration that comes from the Tahitian word for festival
(hei = to assemble, va = community places). Given the various different activities and parties that stretch for the month of July,
Heiva is a good enough reason in itself to visit Tahiti during the summer season!
There is plenty to see and do, from the traditional dance and music performances, singing competitions, colorful dinners,
and sports competitions (like javelin throwing, stone lifting, coconut tree climbing, and outrigger canoe racing).
Heiva has evolved over the years from its rich history--Tahiti's traditional dance,
Ori Tahiti, was once central to Polynesian culture,
but these centuries-old festivities were banned by 19th century Christian missionaries for being too sensual and erotic.
In 1819, recent Christian convert King Pomare II officially forbade the practice;
dancing became a clandestine activity in danger of being lost as both an art form and a key to Tahiti's past.
But the festivities returned in 1881 as a result of France's victory over its long struggles with England and Protestant missionaries;
the Polynesians adopted France's Bastille Day (July 14; the French equivalent of America's Independence Day)
and had the opportunity to revive some of its dancing in celebration.
Ori Tahiti finally saw a greater comeback in 1956 when a Papeete high school teacher, Madeleine Moua, led the true comeback of the traditional
dance by forming the dance troupe Heiva Tahiti.
Now, Ori Tahiti has resumed its rightful, vibrant place in French Polynesian culture, and the entire month of July is used for
Heiva and its celebration of this history.
Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Moorea Slideshow
Founder of Visual Itineraries, Michael lives in Bend, Oregon. He's an avid traveler, scuba diver, photographer, and a private pilot.