How to Plan a Trip to Tahiti


How to Plan a Trip to Tahiti

May 17, 2019

Sprinkled like stars in the sky, the islands of the South Pacific offer travelers a taste of romance and adventure that can be found nowhere else on Earth. Overwater bungalows perched over crystal waters, remote islands brimming with tropical flowers and lush greenery, and blue lagoons teeming with marine life—to see the South Pacific is to be forever changed by her beauty.

Are you are interested in planning a vacation to Tahiti? Here are some frequently asked questions about how to go about traveling and experiencing this enchanting destination.

The m/s Paul Gauguin anchored in South Pacific waters.

What is the best way to experience Tahiti?

The best way to experience Polynesia is with the local experts who know it well. Paul Gauguin Cruises has been sailing the islands of Tahiti, French Polynesia, and the South Pacific year round for a decade. Built specifically to navigate these islands, the m/s Paul Gauguin infuses the warm spirit of Polynesia in every voyage. Guests learn about the culture and lifestyle of the islands each cruise through lectures, local performances, Polynesian activities, and cuisine.   

Native French Polynesian guides, Les Gauguines and Le Gauguins.

How far away is Tahiti?

Tahiti is closer than most imagine and is 2,626 miles south of Hawaii and also located in the same time zone.

A map showing Tahiti, French Polynesia, and the distance between Los Angeles, Honolulu, Tokyo, Sydney, and Auckland.

How do I get to Tahiti?

From the U.S., the best way to get to Tahiti is by a direct airline flight of 8.5 hours from Los Angeles or San Francisco. From Honolulu, a 6-hour direct flight is available. Internationally, there is a 5-hour direct flight to Tahiti from Auckland, New Zealand; a 7-hour direct flight from Sydney, Australia; and an 11-hour direct flight from Tokyo, Japan. From Paris, France, the flight is 21 hours to Tahiti.  

How do I get to Bora Bora?

Bora Bora is one of the islands that Paul Gauguin Cruises visits on most cruise itineraries. To fly to Bora Bora, you’ll need to book an inter-island flight from the airport in Tahiti.

Guests enjoying leisure time on a beach in French Polynesia.

When is the best time to visit French Polynesia?

French Polynesia enjoys a sunny, tropical climate year round, with an average temperature of 78 degrees and is wonderful to vacation to any time of the year. April through October is slightly cooler and drier, while November through March is warmer and more humid. July is when Heiva takes place in the islands of Tahiti. Heiva is a month-long celebration of Polynesian culture and heritage that includes traditional song, dance, and sports competitions.

How long should I spend in French Polynesia?

It depends on how much time you have to spend and how many islands you want to see. Paul Gauguin Cruises offers 7- to 14-night voyages in Tahiti, French Polynesia, and the South Pacific.

Why should I sail on a small cruise ship instead of a large cruise ship?

Paul Gauguin Cruises offers small-ship luxury cruising in Tahiti, French Polynesia, and the South Pacific.  The 332-guest m/s Paul Gauguin is the highest-rated and longest continually sailing luxury ship in this destination. Unique itineraries are offered that draw close to idyllic ports that larger vessels simply can’t access and offer an authentic experience of Polynesia. Paul Gauguin Cruises delivers exceptional service. The crew-to-guest ratio of 1:1.5 is among the highest at sea and includes a one-of-a-kind troupe of Tahitians who serve as cruise hosts, entertainers, and storytellers. With longer port stays, guests can experience island life to fullest, with entire days spent in port and overnight calls on Bora Bora on select itineraries.

Aerial view of the luxury, small-ship the m/s Paul Gauguin which sails Tahiti, French Polynesia, Fiji, and the South Pacific.

Should I book a cruise or stay at a hotel in French Polynesia?

A cruise provides an exceptional way of experiencing the beauty of multiple islands while only having to unpack once. A cruise on The Gauguin is also a great value compared to a land vacation, since the cruise is all-inclusive with all shipboard meals in three dining venues, drinks including select wines and spirits, and gratuities for dining and bar staff included in the cruise fare. Paul Gauguin Cruises also offers packages with pre- and post-cruise stays in the best hotels and resorts in Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Moorea including overwater bungalow options.

What cruise itineraries does Paul Gauguin Cruises offer?

The 7-night Tahiti & the Society Islands voyage visits five destinations, bringing guests closer to Tahiti, Huahine, Taha’a, Bora Bora, and Moorea for an experience not possible on larger ships. These islands have inspired generations of artists and writers seeking to capture their magical allure.    

Illustrated itinerary map of a 7-Night Paul Gauguin Cruise.

Paul Gauguin Cruises also offers a rare visit to the Tahiti few travelers ever see. The 7-night Society Islands & Tahiti Iti presents an unparalleled, comprehensive view of the real Tahiti on a unique itinerary that also features the most popular islands along with Tahiti Iti’s rugged cliffs, rich Polynesian culture, and famous Teahupoo surfing wave.

Illustrated itinerary map of a 7-Night Paul Gauguin Cruise to Tahiti Iti.

For those interested in surrounding themselves with beauty and luxury for 10 nights on the ship, on land, and underwater, then the 10-night Society Islands & Tuamotus voyage is a great choice. The Tuamotus are a diver’s dream with secluded coral atolls surrounding lagoons dense with exotic fish and are also a perfect combination with the Society Islands’ most famous islands—Bora Bora, Moorea, Huahine, and Taha’a.

Illustrated itinerary map for a 10-Night Paul Gauguin Cruise.

An odyssey showcasing the region’s incredible diversity is the 11-night Cook Islands & Society Islands voyage. This voyage is the definitive South Seas escape. The journey begins in Tahiti and escalates from there with visits to the famous Society Islands of Huahine, Bora Bora, Taha’a, and Moorea. In the Cook Islands, the cruise visits Aitutaki with its spectacular, coral reef-enclosed lagoon and the rugged and jungle-clad island of Rarotonga, which was called “Paradise” by the first European explorers.

Illustrated itinerary map of an 11-Night Paul Gauguin Cruise.

For something completely epic, tour the Earth’s most stunning islands during the 14-night Marquesas, Tuamotus & Society Islands. Sailing through the high seas in style, this voyage visits the most coveted destinations in the South Pacific, starting with the Tuamotu Archipelago. Next, experience the wild, beauty of the Marquesas before cruising the legendary Society Islands.

Map of the Marquesas, Tuamotus & Society Islands itinerary which is offered by Paul Gauguin Cruises.

On all sailings, guests receive complimentary access to Paul Gauguin Cruises’ two exclusive private retreats. Off the coast of Taha’a lies the islet of Motu Mahana, where guests can enjoy a day of watersports, Polynesian activities, a sumptuous barbecue feast, and cocktails from full and floating bars. In Bora Bora, guests can relax on a private, white-sand beach and enjoy refreshments, a game of volleyball, and snorkeling and paddleboarding in crystal-clear waters. 

A Paul Gauguin barkeep posing with the infamous floating bar at the Motu Mahana private beach.

What itinerary should I choose?

If you only have a week of vacation, we suggest the 7-Night Tahiti & the Society Islands voyage or the 7-night Society Islands & Tahiti Iti itinerary, which are the centerpiece of all of our itineraries. These are great voyages for honeymooners, families, and first-time cruisers.

Two guests kayaking with the m/s Paul Gauguin anchored in the distance.

If you are SCUBA diver or interested in marine life, the 10-night Tuamotus & Society Islands voyage showcases the world’s premier destinations for diving and snorkeling in exquisite lagoons. This voyage also offers the exceptional beauty of the Society Islands and is ideal for travelers looking for a longer voyage in paradise.

Two guests enjoying a SCUBA diving tour in the South Pacific.

For those interested in adventure and exploration, the 11-night Cook & Society Islands contrasts two very different island groups and tropical getaways in the South Seas.

Two guests enjoying leisure time on a beach in the South Pacific.

The 14-night Marquesas, Tuamotus & Society Islands voyages combines the highlights of three different French Polynesian archipelagos, including the mysterious and remote Marquesas Islands. For those who want to see it all, interested in art history and painter Paul Gauguin or musician Jacques Brel, or just want two weeks of luxurious cruising, this is the perfect cruise.

A group of guests looking out over mountain views on an island in the South Pacific.

How far in advance should I book a cruise?

For best itinerary and stateroom availability, we suggest a year in advance. However, travelers can check and see what cruises are still available closer in to their preferred sailing date.   

How do I book a cruise?

We highly recommend booking a cruise through a travel advisor who can coordinate all your travel plans seamlessly for you. If you need more information, contact Paul Gauguin Cruises at 800-848-6172 or visit

For more information on cruise itineraries, please click here.
To learn about the m/s Paul Gauguin, please click here.
To find out more about SCUBA diving programs, please click here
To explore pre- and post-cruise hotel packages, click here.