This stunning island destination in French Polynesia has to be seen to be believed! The towering mountains, crystal blue water and endless summer makes this the perfect place to kick back and relax. It also has some fascinating cultural and culinary attractions.
Tahiti is quite a small destination, but it isn’t easy to get around without a car. Most of the public transport is limited to the larger part of the island and is infrequent outside the main town. This means it’s really important to get a sense of the place before you book your accommodation, and to ensure you can get there…
That’s where we come in! Combining our own experience with hints and tips from locals and travel experts, we’ve figured out the three best places to stay in Tahiti. Whether you’re here to relax, swim in the inviting waters, or head off the beaten path to one of the most unique cultures in the world, we’ve got you covered.
So let’s dive right in!
Where to Stay in Tahiti
Not looking for anywhere specific? These are our top picks for accommodation in Tahiti.
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Dreamy Treehouse in Tahiti: Vairao Lagoon
Nestled among the treetops in one of the most secluded parts of the island, you’ll get to enjoy unspoiled views of the ocean and magnificent sunsets. The Vaira’o Surf Pass is just outside the property, and the hosts even provide boat trips out on the water.
Budget Pension near Tahiti: Moorea Surf Inn
Pensions are locally owned accommodations with affordable rates and friendly service. This particular pension is popular with travelers from across the world, and is ideal for surfers. Accommodation is simple, and meals can be provided.
Luxurious Hotel in Tahiti: Manava Suite Resort
If you’re coming to Tahiti you might as well splurge! This stunning hotel is among the best-reviewed on the island, and it’s easy to see why. The huge pool deck is right on the coast, offering breathtaking views across the Pacific Ocean. It’s only a ten-minute drive from the airport, with regular shuttles for those that don’t have a car.
First time in French Polynesia? It’s important to stick to one of the more popular areas to gather your bearings. Tahiti Nui is the biggest and most populous half of the island, and it’s home to the tourism industry.
In a notoriously expensive territory, Moorea Island stands out as a beacon to budget travellers. It’s only a short ferry ride from Tahiti. And in many ways, it’s just like a cheaper version of its larger cousin.
Tahiti Iti is the smaller part of the island, but it’s home to some of the most interesting neighbourhoods. It has been largely untouched by the tourism industry, giving visitors a more authentic insight into local life.
Tahiti is a pretty small destination, and is really easy to get around if you have a car. In that instance, we recommend you take a circular tour around both parts of the island. Haven’t got a car? Buses are pretty infrequent, but you can still figure out some day trips. During the peak tourist season, you’ll also find some great excursions on offer from local guides.
The island is split into two areas – Tahiti Nui (Big Tahiti) and Tahiti Iti (Small Tahiti). Tahiti Nui is home to the majority of the population, and is the best place to stay for first-time visitors. It provides tours or buses to other parts of the island, and is home to some of Tahiti’s top attractions.
Tahiti Iti feels like a completely different experience in many ways. Bar Taiarapu-Est is the town that connects to the two sections. You’ll need a car to get to anywhere on this part of the island. If you can drive, however, it is well worth the visit. This is a less touristy part of the island, where you can learn more about Tahiti and its people.
So what about those on a budget? There’s no escaping how expensive basically everywhere in French Polynesia is! Thankfully, Moorea Island is here to help your bank account. You actually need to get a boat from Tahiti to get there, but it doesn’t take too long. You will find some super affordable accommodation picks across the island, letting you experience paradise for less.
Still undecided? We’ve got a more information about each place below. We’ve also included our favourite accommodation and activity picks for each, to get you started on planning an itinerary.
Tahiti’s Top 3 Places to Stay in
First time in French Polynesia? We recommend sticking to one of the more popular areas to gather your bearings. Tahiti Nui is the biggest and most populous half of the island, and it’s home to the tourism industry. The Northern side in particular is a great spot to find tour guides, vibrant culinary attractions, and incredible scenery.
If you want to dip your toe in the local culture, we also recommend heading to Tahiti Iti. This is still reasonably accessible by bus (and only an hour away by car), but it gives you a little taster of local life away from the main tourist areas.
Spacious Studio in Tahiti Nui: Studio Painapo
This modern studio is located right in the heart of Pape’ete. It’s only a short walk from the main shops, market and harbour. Inside, you will find contemporary design and gorgeous views from the front window. Sleeping up to six guests, this is great for families and groups on a budget.
Secluded Bungalow in Tahiti Nui: Punaauia
Looking for a little more privacy? This bungalow is a little more inland, giving you gorgeous views of the mountainous landscape. It’s still within walking distance of Puna’auia, so you’re not too far from important amenities. This two-bedroom apartment comes with its own private pool overlooking the forest, making it a really popular choice with couples planning a romantic getaway.
Stunning Hotel in Tahiti Nui: Manava Suite Resort
Feel like royalty at this gorgeous resort right on the coast! The on-site spa offers a huge selection of holistic therapies and treatments, and there’s a stunning restaurant/bar. If you want to explore outside the hotel, they also offer regular shuttles between the main town and the airport. It’s a bit of a splurge, but it’s worth every penny.
Things to See and Do in Tahiti Nui:
- Le Marché is a two-story marketplace in the heart of Pape’ete (the largest town in Tahiti) where you can grab a bite to eat and some unique souvenirs.
- Put on your hiking boots and head deep into the heart of the island for epic trails and unspoiled scenery. The Les Trois Cascades waterfalls are especially popular.
- Visit the Gauguin Museum, dedicated to the work of the famous French artist. It also has a beautiful botanic garden.
- Street food is super popular on the island (especially in the market). Poisson cru (raw fish) is a must-try delicacy (we love the pineapple version).
2. Moorea Island – Where to Stay near Tahiti on a Budget
In a notoriously expensive territory, Moorea Island stands out as a beacon of hope to budget travellers. It’s only a short ferry ride from Tahiti, and in many ways is just like a cheaper version of its larger cousin. The hotels offer the same gorgeous views, and there are some great hikes right into the center.
Moorea Island is also a must-visit for surfers, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts; Haapiti is an especially popular hotspot in the north of the island. You’ll need to have some experience to catch these waves, however.
If you want to visit French Polynesia but are unsure of where to stay, this would be my top choice.
Peaceful Bungalow in Moorea Island: Cocoon Vanh
Cooks Bay is often regarded as one of the most beautiful bays in the world! It’s lined with pineapple trees, locally-owned restaurants, and mesmerizing viewpoints. This bungalow is right on the edge of the bay, giving you a little extra privacy. Car hire and transfers are also included, saving you even more money on your trip to Moorea Island.
Affordable Escape in Moorea Island: Moorea Surf Inn
Sticking to a strict budget? This charming little pension not only saves you money, but also lets you discover the island through the eyes of a local. It’s run by a local family who can help you get acquainted with Moorea. The beach is right on your doorstep, and Haapiti is about five minutes away on foot.
Serene Hotel in Moorea Island: Hotel Les Tipaniers
This might be a two-star hotel, but it still offers some luxury extras. It’s located right on the beachfront, giving you immediate access to the sparkling ocean and golden sands. Each room also comes with its own private terrace where you can admire the sunset with a glass of wine (or two).
Things to See and Do in Moorea Island:
- Take a trip up to Haapiti with your surfboard, or simply admire the view if you’re inexperienced.
- Belvedere Lookout is a great spot for viewing all of the island’s best-known attractions – from sacred mountains to ancient ruins.
- Many hotels across French Polynesia offer local performances. If you’re in Moorea, skip them for a more authentic (and affordable) display at Tiki Village.
3. Tahiti Iti – Best Area in Tahiti Off The Beaten Path
Tahiti Iti is the smaller part of the island, but it’s home to some of the most interesting neighborhoods. It’s been largely untouched by the tourism industry, giving visitors an unspoilt insight into local life.
You’ll need a car to get around, but it’s totally worth the extra expense. There are a number of local restaurants dotted around the area offering delicacies you won’t taste anywhere else in the world. A lot of the scenery here is also completely untouched, so you’ll definitely want to bring a good camera.
Cute Treehouse in Tahiti Iti: Vairao Lagoon
Nestled among the trees just outside Vaira’o, this treehouse is the perfect spot for a peaceful retreat. We love the local area as it isn’t visited by many tourists, meaning you’ll get to mingle with locals and discover a more authentic way of life. The bungalow itself is made out of bamboo, giving it a rustic charm. The host also runs excursions for those interested in whale watching and scenery.
Secluded Resort in Tahiti Iti: A Pueu Village
Kick back and relax on this exclusive resort on the Tahitian coast. It’s not surrounded by any towns, so you’ll get to enjoy some true peace and quiet away from the rest of the world. Don’t worry too much about feeling lonely, though. It’s actually a small village in its own right, with plenty of opportunities to mingle with other guests.
Rustic Bungalow in Tahiti Iti: Makai Bungalow Iti
This bungalow is within walking distance of Taravao, the town connecting Tahiti Iti with Tahiti Nui. This makes it a fantastic choice for those that want to travel around the island, as it has the best transport options departing from Tahiti Iti. The inside of this A-Frame bungalow is pretty basic, but that’s part of its charm. You’ll really get to connect with the land and basque in your own private paradise.
Makai Bungalow Iti is one of our favourites in Tahiti but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
Things to See and Do in Tahiti Iti:
- Take a self-guided food tour around the area. Each town has at least one restaurant, café or patisserie offering something unique.
- Grotte Vaipori is pretty hard to get to (there aren’t any tarmacked roads, though there is a hotel nearby), but it’s well worth the trip for stunning photos.
- Visit Tautira – a small town offering unique insight into local life as well as some attractions about ecological measures on the island.
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Final Thoughts on Where To Stay in Tahiti
Tahiti is a gorgeous destination in one of the most secluded parts of the world. With luscious forests, idyllic beaches and epic hikes, it’s no wonder this tiny little island attracts so many visitors each year. Scratch beneath the surface, and you’ll also discover some fascinating cultural highlights and epic surfing destinations.
So what is our favorite place to stay in Tahiti? Well, we really can’t decide on this one! If you can, we recommend hiring a car and taking a road trip around the entire island. The ferry to Moorea is also super quick and can easily be completed as a day trip.
Of course, the best place to stay really depends on what you want. If it’s your first time, stick to Tahiti Nui. That being said, Tahiti Iti is a great option for those more interested in the local culture. Moorea is one of the most budget-friendly destinations in the whole of French Polynesia, and it’s only a short ferry from Tahiti.
We hope this guide has helped you narrow down your options. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!
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