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Tahiti - The ultimate cruise guide

No one knows Tahiti better than our team at FAB. I have personally been visiting Tahiti for over 40 years. My career with the airlines and as a VIP host on high-end cruise ships has taken me all around the world, and to most of the island chains in the Pacific. Tahiti is the most beautiful and sublime place on earth. So much so that I chose to celebrate my 50th birthday there. I

Why is it so special?

Other pacific islands have similar volcanic peaks as Tahiti, by no other chain has the blue lagoons that ring all her main islands. This makes for the most spectacular images in tourism, but the shallow lagoons create the perfect environment for snorkeling and watersports but have also permitted the construction of their iconic overwater bungalows.

Weather - the best time to visit

Outside the wet season between November and February, Tahiti is blessed with the most amazing weather, very similar to Hawaii. This is a place you will want to be in the water each and every day. It is therefore a perfect family holiday for those who like active holidays. Alternatively, if you dream of sitting under a palm tree for a week drinking fluffy cocktails, this is also the perfect holiday for you.

Getting there and back

There used to be weekly direct flights from Australia, but these have not yet resumed. Most people from Australia fly into Auckland, of which there are a lot of cheap options, and then out to Papeete on either Air Tahiti Nui or Air New Zealand. Because most of these flights involve crossing the date line, if you leave Australia on Monday morning, you will actually arrive in Tahiti Sunday night. You really don't need to plan for too much time in Tahiti before your cruise, as the most scenic places you will; visit on the cruise. Papeete is a bit like a run-down pirate town, not unlike Suva in Fiji. If time is tight you can easily plan for just a day or two prior to the cruise and then fly back home on the last day. But the date line will see you lose a day on the return journey. You could easily do a 7 day cruise with 10 to 11 days of leave.

One of the most expensive places on earth

The very things that make it so special, its remoteness being smack bang in the middle of the Pacific - also make it insanely expensive. Overwater bungalows routinely sell for over $2500 USD per night, without taxes, any food, alcohol, or entertainment. As the individual resorts are usually not connected to the main islands guest are captive of the hotels that charge at a rate similar to the accommodation fees.

Therefore unless you can afford to blow $20/30,000+ on a 7-day stay, Tahiti is beyond the reach of most of us, which is such a shame as it really should be on everyone's bucket list.

But we have a solution, that will let you enjoy the best that Tahiti has to offer, at a fraction of that price, and that of course is a cruise. And there are two ways to cruise Tahiti.

1/ Include Tahiti on a transpacific voyage between Hawaii and Australia. These run every ex Australia in March/April and around October in the reverse direction. All the main brands offer these most years. They used to be extremely cheap, but as Australians have not become savvy cruisers these routinely sell out, so last-minute deals are to come across. The best way to secure discounts on these is to book two to three years in advance.

2/ Fly into Tahiti for a 7-day cruise that will visit all the main islands. This to me is much preferable to being landlocked in an overwater bungalow where you don't get to see all the other islands.

There are two operators that run almost identical itineraries that repeat each week. they are:

Paul Gauguin Cruises. These are uber boutique as they only have one ship and sails exclusively around Tahiti year-round.

Windstar is another very small brand with only 5 ships, and they too base one of their ships year-round in Tahiti.

Every month or so they will offer longer 10 or 12-day voyages to the outer Marquesas, and lately even the Cook Islands. These will obviously be more expensive but as you have had to fly so far to get there if you have the time and money, you really should consider this option. If you don't go while in Tahiti, the chances are high that you will never be able to get back there.

Paul Gauguin Cruises - 6 Star

Paul Gauguin is a small and intimate ship with only 330 passengers and 215 crew. The line was recently purchased by Ponant, who has given her a multimillion-dollar makeover, which is not reflected in the video above. She was always gorgeous but now she looks and feels like a Noosa beach house.

PGC is all-inclusive and after the Ponant purchase now includes free-flow Charles Heidsieck champagne. Specialty dining, which features a French degustation restaurant is all included in the fare.

There is an incredible aft water sports marina that is tailor-made for the exotic lagoons of Bora Bora. PGC include a beach BBQ and a day at their private Muto (island).

The lead-in cabins have port holes, and on upper decks are traditional balconies.

Windstar - 5.5 star

Windstar has an even small ship based in Tahiti, Wind Spirit that only has 150 passengers. this is a true sailing yacht, which is incredibly romantic and perfectly suited to this region. Being a functioning sailing vessel the cabin footprints are smaller, there are only port-hole cabins and no balconies. But again, this is Tahiti, I can guarantee you will never be in your cabin.

Windstar has invested heavily in refurbishing its entire fleet, product, and service improvements. They are absolutely sensational and are really almost at the 6 star level, but with a much more relaxed vibe.

The video below is on a slightly larger Windstar ship Star Breeze which is not based in Tahiti year-round.

View our Windstar Tahiti Album featuring Star Breeze.

Star Breeze has been venturing down to Australia over recent seasons so she is usually in Tahiti in late October and March. She carries 330 passengers and has been refurbished which, is not reflected in this video, however, the level of service and vibe is very similar across the fleet, The smaller Spirit obviously has reduced dining and entertainment options, but again, you are in TAHITI.

Windstar has three of these larger ships in its fleet. They were originally built for 6 Star Seabourn and they still feature many Seabourn signatures such as being an all-suite ship with seperate sitting areas, marble bathrooms and walk in robes, as shown in the images below. Their non sailing vessels also offer french balconies - but these are not wide enough to sit on.

Tahiti - highlights

A day on a private Muto - a feature of both PGC and Windstar itineraries.

Main Island - Day trip circumnavigation.

I have a great day trip I am happy to share with clients that take you all around the main islands with swims at deserted black volcanic sand beaches, Teahupo'o the home of the biggest surf break in the world, lunch at a restaurant with a sand floor, on the beach, mountain outlooks, waterfalls you can swim in, vanilla farms and ending at Venus Bay where history was made both by Captain Cook and Willaim Bligh of the Bounty mutiny.


Tahiti has a range of affordable accommodation options such as Airbnbs. These can be very basic but can help if your budget is tight and from as low as $150 per night. Slightly more will get you a basic shack close to the beach,

There are one or two hotels I recommend that are not overly expensive. if we are saving money we will choose a garden room, rather than a pool or ocean view, but still, get to enjoy the gorgeous waterfront pools.

There are only one or two resorts that have a limited number of overwater bungalows. Most of these are located on distant Bora Bora or Moorea, which is closer.

The main island of Tahiti, which is also called Tahiti, is where the airport is located, and cruises depart. The airport is only 15 minutes from town and you want to choose accommodation on this side of the island or downtown in Papeete as taxis are expensive.

Three or four-day extension.

If you have the time I'd suggest that you head across the evocative Bay of Moons to Moorea where there are a lot more over-water bungalow options, some of the most affordable in Tahiti. It is a quick one-hour ferry ride, and as the ferry return to the main cruise pier, you can easily step off the ferry on your return and walk straight onto your ship.

Again if money is tight book a garden room but you will still be able to enjoy the lagoon pool and view of the bungalows even if you can't afford to touch them.

Pricing and how to bag the biggest discounts

Tahiti, as stated, is one of the most expensive places on the planet and consequently, fares are priced accordingly. Paul Gauguin fares usually start at $6000 and rise up to $12000 USD per person for a balcony. Windstar are 'generally' slightly lower than this but they can be priced over $20,000 per person at full rack rate.

However, being a remote location they have trouble selling unsold cabins at the last minute. If you are strategic and take our advice we can secure you discounts of many thousands of dollars.

March, early April, and October are traditionally the months we see the biggest drop in prices. There will be the odd months through the year when they may also offer the odd voyage at significant discounts. Ask us for our predictions if you have a target month.

For those that are in a position and ready to travel in March, we expect to see heavy discounting in early January through to February.

How low might they go?

Paul Gauguin, if we are lucky might drop to close to $3/3,500 per person.

Windstar will likely come in closer to $2500, maybe even lower in March.

As always our closed Interline rates will be even lower, ask us for our predictions.

If you have a Milestone event, especially a honeymoon or similar, where you need to book in advance, their everyday discounts offer a truly life-changing experience that is worth every cent.

View out Tahiti photo Album when we cruised this year on Windstar, Star Breeze.

There is simply no other place on earth like Tahiti

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