Why is it such a Rip Off?

Why is Tahiti a rip off

Earlier today I had one of my Facebook followers comment on a post “Why is it such a rip off?”   I don’t know him personally, but know he has been following my page for 5 years so a pretty loyal follower.  And I get what he is asking.  But I wouldn’t call it a RIP off.…but I would agree Tahiti is an expensive destination.

I feel there is a big difference between a rip off and an expensive destination and I know my clients who have been can attest there is value in what you get and a trip to Tahiti is well worth it!

Whether ‘a rip off’ and ‘expensive’ mean the same or not is a point I won’t further debate – but I do get asked a lot why it is so expensive?  Why does a trip to Tahiti cost so much?   So I thought a little post here might help explain it to my followers.

Here are my Top 3 Reasons why French Polynesia is an expensive destination to visit:

1. Isolation – if you pull it up on a map you will see how incredibly remote the islands are

making it harder to get to – fewer flights and

world map with location of Tahiti
Location of Tahiti

therefore more expensive.  Additionally travel between almost all the islands must be done by flights and not boats adding to costs.  The isolation makes it very expensive to import everything.  Cars, boats, building materials, food, drinks and all everyday living items must be imported into the islands.  Very little is manufactured in Tahiti so most items are brought in by plane or boat.

2. Political Affiliation  – French Polynesia is a territory of France and follow French laws.  Therefore it is not a third world country like many other island destinations.    They have high taxes, strict labour laws, excellent medical care, a good education system and a social support network.  All this costs money – especially when they operate with a small population base and in an isolated part of the world.

3. Exclusivity – Tahiti is a very exclusive destination.  The size and number of hotels and even tour operators for excursions is very regulated.  For example no hotel in Bora Bora can have more than 100 overwater bungalows.  You compare this to Mexico where most

empty beaches of Tahiti
Privacy comes Naturally

newly built hotels have over 1000 room per resort!  Supply and demand naturally drives the pricing up.  However, this also creates an atmosphere of privacy and relaxed nature in Tahiti which mirrors the soft warm nature of the locals themselves.

Did you know  the MGM Hotel in Las Vegas has more rooms than all of the hotels on all 118 islands in French Polynesia have added up together?  And that Hawaii gets more visitors in 1 week than Tahiti gets in a whole year?

These are a few reasons that cause the higher prices of visiting Tahiti.  But as a high end destination they are not alone in the world. Places like St  Barts, Maldives, Seychelles and others fall into similar price brackets.  Having visited many upscale destinations, I feel Tahiti and her islands still have a warmth and charm not found in other locations.

Overall the isolation, culture and uniqueness of the islands creates a feeling and experience that can’t be replicated.   So as my Facebook follower asked “why is it such a rip off?”   I answer, Yes the islands comes with a price tag…but as people who have been will agree – it is well worth a visit and the memories that last forever are priceless! I hope one day all of my Facebook followers can all get down there to experience it first hand themselves and have those priceless lifelong memories.

Update – March 26th   To add your thoughts to the Facebook conversation:


10 Reasons to Book with Carl

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What? They Are Not the Same?

Not All Tahitian Overwater Bungalows Are the Same

One of the most iconic images of Tahiti are the picturesque huts lazing over the peaceful lagoons. But while the classic tourism advertisement Bora Bora Overwater Bungalowimage would suggest that they are all identical, the savvy traveler knows better. Not all Tahitian overwater bungalows are the same.

Uniquely Qualified to be the best

In 1967, Tahiti was the first destination on the scene to offer overwater bungalows to the traveling world.  If you do the math, this year is the 50th Birthday of the Overwater Bungalow!   Today, while many destinations have endeavored to get in on the popularity of these unique accommodations, it is easy to spot the knock-offs.  Some offer a façade of the tropics overlaid on hurricane-proof, concrete walls. Others contend with ever-changing tides, leaving you feeling like a high diver each time you wish to enter the water below.

Only Tahiti features the natural combination of ingredients required to create the perfect South Sea overwater experience. For example, brilliant scenery, calm lagoons, picture-perfect water, and abundant sea life are just a few of the things that can’t be found elsewhere. These personal residences do not just capture the scenery; they are part of the scenery!

Which bungalow is right for you?

Every aspect of a perfect vacation should be molded around your own tastes and preferences. Tahitian overwater bungalows come with a lot of variety, which means this is definitely an area that you can customize to your liking. Here are some of the questions that you and I will be considering when we organize your trip:

Over the water and under the seaOverwater Bungalow Intercontinental Tahiti

– For swimming,  and aquatic life viewing, do you prefer to live over shallow water or deep water?

– Would you just like to walk onto the lagoon bottom, or are you the kind that likes dive into the awaiting refreshment?

– Some people like to slip from their petite bungalow and start snorkeling among the coral and fish, while others prefer clear, sandy waters. Which type of person are you?

 Location, location, location

– Would you like your view where you may enjoy your beautiful resort, gaze at the beach, or maybe if you are visiting Bora Bora, capture the stunning magnificence of Mount Otemanu?

– Are you a fan of the sunrise or sunset?

– Would you like a sunny bungalow or one that grants more shade?

– Is the hut alone enough elbow room, or do you desire more outdoor space? Did you know that some of the overwater bungalows even have private plunge pools?

– Are you a fan of privacy? Different locations along the pontoon will allow for this, for example, a bungalow at the end of the pontoon giving you the utmost privacy.

– Do you favor a resort that has more of a Polynesian or modern feel?

 Been there, done that

Professional Planning Services
Professional Overwater Bungalow Advice

I am happy to report that I have had the opportunity to visit and know intimately, all of the resorts with overwater bungalows, on all the islands in French Polynesia. This allows me to help cater to your wants and needs.

As you now know, not all Tahitian overwater bungalows are the same. Can you imagine all of the other aspects of your trip that need to be blended correctly to create the perfect experience? Indulge yourself. Choose a travel planner who truly knows their destination and all of its related nuances. You won’t regret it.

10 Ways to Prepare for Your Flight to Paradise


Tahiti island mapThere is truly no place in the world like Tahiti. But let’s face it, getting there takes a bit longer than your average short haul flight to the Caribbean.  However, it is much closer than many think.   In fact, I like to say the eight-hour trip from Los Angeles to Tahiti is only, “two movies, two meals, and a nap away.”

Today it’s infinitely faster to get to these treasured Isles than it was back in the days of Captain Cook. However, there are always a few things you can do to make your flying adventure more enjoyable. With this in mind, let me share ten ways to prepare for your flight to paradise.

1) Seats

Book the best seats you can afford! I cannot stress this enough. While the upgrade will be more expensive, you will discover that your vacation truly starts when you step foot on the aircraft.   Air Tahiti Nui’s “Poerava Business Class” offers warm and friendly Tahitian service that is as refreshing as an island breeze with French inspired cuisine and spacious seating that reclines 160 degrees.  Definitely the most relaxing and enjoyable way to start such a special vacation!

However, if the front of the plane is not fitting your budget I totally understand, there are some smart ways to navigate the main cabin. Most importantly book early.  The sooner you can let me know your travel plans, the better. Seats are assigned on a first come, first served basis, and not all of them are created equal.  The configuration of the planes allows 2 people to sit together on the side without anyone in the middle so you can be comfortably situated together without a stranger in your space.  Of course, these seats go quickly to the early bookers!

Also, if you don’t mind sitting towards the back, typically planes fill up from the front to rear. This tendency means that if there are empty seats, will often find them in the aft section of the cabin. These empty slots may allow you more room to spread out and stretch for a more comfortable flight and snooze.

2) Before you fly

Instead of thinking about your flight the day before you travel, plan for it “days” before you fly. Tahiti Time (TAHT) runs 10 hours behind Universal Time Coordinated (UTC). For example, in the summer, when it is 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), it is 2:00 p.m. in Tahiti. Knowing this, you can begin to adjust for this chronological change in two ways. First, start by aligning your bed time and rising times to Tahiti time. Secondly, fix your meal schedule to mirror where you are going.  Meals have a lot to do with your overall body clock, and this will help you get into the swing of your destination.

Air Tahiti Nui Economy Class3) Preboarding

Plan your schedule accordingly, giving yourself plenty of time to get to the airport, through security, and to your gate. The old adage, “try to build in enough time to accommodate a flat tire” comes into play here. It highlights the fact that if you pad your agenda sufficiently, you will constantly be on time and have the luxury of enjoying yourself along the way.

4) Settling in

Make your carry-on bag a workable bundle of fun. Bring your music, books, pillow, tablet, eye mask, noise-cancelling headphones, a few toiletries to freshen up and whatever else is light and pleasurable.  hen it comes to clothing, think function, not fashion. Loose fitting, comfortable clothing and easy on-off shoes fit the bill.

5) Awake

While you are awake, enjoy your little world. Get lost in the small, trivial details and take pleasure in the things that you usually don’t have time for. Air Tahiti Nui runs great video and audio entertainment.  Make sure you check out the Tiare TV channel where you can get lost in hours of shows that showcase the islands and culture.  And the meals served aboard the transpacific flights, even in the main cabin, have a reputation for being very good quality – Tahitian’s love to eat and you definitely won’t go hungry!  But again, don’t overeat.

6) Sleep

Shut the world out with your eye mask and noise-cancelling headphones. Cozy up under your blanket, pull on your turquoise Air Tahiti Nui socks and sink back into your pillow. Your rest time will contribute significantly to how you feel after your flight so you land in paradise feeling refreshed.

7) Move

Not too long ago, the World Health Organization released the results of a study about travel and blood clots. They advised that you should get up and walk around the cabin at least every two hours. While in Air Tahiti Nui Mealsyour seat, try periodically straightening out your legs as far as possible, point your toes back and forth and move your ankles in circles.

8) Stay fresh

It’s amazing how the simple act of brushing your teeth can make your entire body feel better. Likewise, antibiotic wipes are the perfect solution when a full shower is not available. Top it all off with a bit of deodorant, and you’ll be well on the way to feeling human again.

When you exit the plane and enter customs you are hit with the warm South Pacific air.  Consider bringing a change of clothes in your carry-on so you are not overheating in that unair-conditioned customs line and start your trip off in comfy shorts and shirt and sandals – the way you will spend the rest of your vacation. (as a side note – I have a service to whisk you to the front of that customs line if you want the VIP service just let me know!).

9) Drink Lots

Regarding the beverage of choice, think water or still, non-acidic fruit juices. Water is always best, and lots of it since the air in a metal tube at 45,000 feet is pretty dry. I always bring a large bottle of water with me onboard as those small cups they provide just don’t cut it.   Avoid fizzy drinks since the carbon dioxide gas will only expand and make you feel very uncomfortable. Lastly, as much as most of us enjoy it – avoid drinking alcohol on a long flight. Not only will it cause dehydration, but it also disrupts your ability to rest and sleep.

10) Going wheels-down

Air Tahiti Nui over Bora Bora
Air Tahiti Nui

The overhead speaker crackles to life, “Ladies and gentlemen, as we start our descent, please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position. Make sure your seatbelt is securely fastened, and all carry-on luggage is stowed underneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead bins.”

Your ears perk up. The butterflies of excitement start to flutter. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Before you know it, you’ve touched down at Tahiti Faa’a International Airport. Congratulations! You’ve arrived and sure you will be like most people – “Hey, that flight wasn’t that bad at all!”

 Making the experience real

Now that you know how to make a long flight manageable let’s convert your dream into a reality. As a Certified Tahiti Specialist and a leading Tahiti agent in North America, tips on travelling there is just as small part of what I can provide.  Having been to every major resort and island, I can help you make your dreams come true – give me a call! 


Working in Paradise

Carl in Rangiroa
Working in Rangiroa

Two or three times a year, I travel to a place I call, “paradise.” Where’s Paradise? Well, it’s the Islands of Tahiti, of course! There is so much to see and so many places to explore, and it’s a stay I never have a problem enjoying.

Every December, Tahiti Tourisme North America has a conference for both current and prospective Tahiti Experts. This one-day event gives me a chance to network with the destination’s top travel suppliers, including resort managers, sales representatives, excursion operators, pearl vendors, Tahitian vanilla farmers, and more.

It is unbelievable how such a small destination continuously goes through so many changes. My work trip is a chance to catch-up on staffing changes, new tours, room renovations, category additions and even complete resort closures and renovations.   No one can be a true Tahiti expert agent without visiting regularly to stay on top of all these changes and updates, and I can’t imagine trying to do that from afar.

This year, in addition to the one day conference mentioned above, I stayed at six different properties in

snorkelling tiputa pass
Snorkelling Tiputa Pass

my 7-night visit, tried out many new tours, and explored independently as well. Throughout the week, I was also able to sample many of Tahiti’s wonderful restaurants.

In Rangiroa, I stayed at the Kia Ora, Le Sauvage and Motu Teta while snorkeling Tiputa pass with the sharks, eels, turtles, and thousands upon thousands of fish. I also had the chance to visit the beautiful Pink Sands beach, along with a brief stop to bird island.

On the main island of Tahiti, I spent 2-nights at the Tahiti Pearl Resort and received a sneak peak of one of their newly renovated rooms.  Later, I thoroughly enjoyed touring the quiet and remote area of Tahiti Iti, staying at the tree house Vanira Lodge, and spending some time on the water at the famous Teahupao’o wave where the annual Billabong surf tournament takes place.

Carl and Michel Sauvage
Meeting Resort staff

On Bora Bora, I had the chance to see the new Conrad Bora Bora Nui Hotel and stay at the lovely St. Regis Bora Bora in their incredible Royal Estate (over 10,000 square feet!).  I also stopped by to see Motu Tapu and was privileged to take a new private lagoon tour. It included snorkeling the coral gardens, swimming with the sharks, sting rays, manta rays, all capped off by an amazing Tahitian feast on a stunning little motu in the lagoon.

You may ask why I take this trip every year. Is it because it’s fun? Absolutely! Because I love it? For sure! But, more importantly, I do it for you. You see, if I can hone my skills and knowledge on this destination, it’s a sure bet that I can create the perfect trip for you, your family, and your friends. It’s the little details that make a big difference in building your dream Tahitian experience.

Life is too precious and short. Don’t wait any longer to contact me, the Tahiti Expert, when planning your Tahitian Holiday!  Don’t let a special trip like this get planned by someone who doesn’t truly know the islands.

Call me – Carl – 1.877.972.2275