We are often asked about the cost of food in Bora Bora and Tahiti. Food tends to be a bit expensive in French Polynesia. It is on par with dining out in New York, Los Angeles or Honolulu. If you are trying to stick to a preferred travel budget, regardless of how much you plan to spend, the cost of dining in French Polynesia should be considered in your travel and vacation planning.
Should I eat at the Hotels in Tahiti?
The short answer is, yes! But, maybe not for every meal.
There are many wonderful restaurants located onsite in our list of The Best Hotels and Resorts. We highly recommend many of them. However, the hotels in Bora Bora and the other Islands of Tahiti do tend to charge higher prices than the local restaurants in French Polynesia.
In many cases the restaurants outside the hotels tend to be less expensive than hotel restaurants and offer excellent food selections. We encourage you to try some of the local restaurants, not only to give you a wider selection of atmosphere and food, but also to make it easier on your wallet!
The food is quite good on Moorea and Bora Bora. Moorea, Bora Bora and Tahiti each have several good restaurants located outside the hotels. These restaurants range in service from quaint family-owned businesses to large, elegant restaurants focused on French cuisine, gastronomic menus or local Polynesian specialties (like yummy Poisson Cru).
With regard to an average cost per meal, usually, a nice dinner for two persons, each having appetizer, main course, glass of wine, coffee and sharing a dessert will cost about $120 to $150 USD for a couple on Moorea or Tahiti. The same meal is a bit more in Bora Bora at about $130 to $175 USD for a couple.
At restaurants, listed prices include tax and a service charge (20%) is factored in. There are many less expensive options available for dinner as well, but these prices will serve as a guideline when going for a good dinner at a "popular" restaurant.
Should I Tip at Restaurants in Tahiti?
Historically, tipping has not been customary in the French Polynesia islands and is therefore not expected. However, it is certainly welcome if you feel you receive exemplary service.
We would normally only tip on occasions when we feel a service staff or private tour guide has gone above and beyond, not necessarily at a restaurant which is already charging a service charge. You will not be viewed as a villain if you do not tip. It is not expected.
If you do decide to tip, there is no “standard amount” for tipping (such as 15% to 20% here in the U.S.) and you simply tip whatever amount you feel is warranted, much like the French custom. We love to bring small gifts from home to hand out as tips/gifts to exceptional service staff, such as book about your hometown or some other token. The locals find this meaningful and in the Polynesian spirit of friendliness.
How to Save Money on Meals
There are small grocery stores on each of the main islands (Bora Bora, Tahiti, Moorea, and Huahine) where you can purchase soft drinks, fresh baguettes, cheeses, croissants, pastries, snack foods, juices, etc. at prices that are not much higher than in North America. You should find reasonable prices for bread and even French wine as they are both considered staples and arrive from the Continent with a government subsidy.
After a few days of expensive hotel lunches and paying $5-$8 for bottled water (or $50 for a hamburger) at your hotel, you may wish to visit these stores to stock up on items that would allow you to prepare your own simple “in room” lunches and help spare your wallet.
We also find that many guests are able to enjoy a large breakfast at the buffet each morning and then skip lunch or just have a light snack mid-day. Please keep in mind that the hotel breakfast "buffets" might have had to adapt to new COVID-19 etiquette, but they still represent great value.
"All-Inclusive" Resorts in Bora Bora and Tahiti
Many of us have been accustomed to asking for an “All-Inclusive” resort or hotel after years of watching commercials for the Bahamas, Caribbean, or Mexico. After all, it is supposed to be a great way to avoid over spending. However, most of the hotels in French Polynesia are not truly “all inclusive” for all meals, activities, and drinks and alcohol (The Brando being the most notable exception). But, nearly all hotels include a variety of free activities and, when booked through Venture Tahiti, full breakfast with your stay.
Pre-Paid Meal Plans at Tahiti Hotels
After years of experience, we generally recommend that you include breakfast in your hotel booking, but avoid the Full-Board Meal Plan or Half-Board Dinner Plan. However, a few exceptions to this rule do apply.
All of the Vacation and Honeymoon packages offered by Venture Tahiti already have breakfast included in the package pricing, unless specifically mentioned otherwise. This is a great way to start the day with a full belly allowing you to skip lunch or have a very light lunch or snack. We highly recommend including breakfast in your stay.
Dinner plans can be added to your package for any hotel, but we strongly encourage you not to do that – the dinner plans do not save you money by purchasing them in advance. Dinner plans usually include a 3-course dinner (choice of appetizer, entrée and dessert) at a specifically designated restaurant at the hotel. They rarely include beverages.
Typically, you can order a la carte from the hotel menus for about the same price as the meal plan, or even less if you are not that hungry. In addition, the hotel dinner plans are usually offered on a limited menu which we feel can be to the client's disadvantage.
Plus, as mentioned above, Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora have good restaurants to try. These local establishments are usually around the same price or sometimes much less than the hotel meal plans.
Which islands to visit and how many islands you should visit depends a lot on how long you plan to stay in French Polynesia.We typically advise clients to spend at least 3 nights on each island in their itinerary (except possibly the Island of Tahiti). Spending less than 3 nights tends to make travelers feel too rushed. After all, you are going there to at least try to relax.
When you think of Bora Bora and The Islands of Tahiti, you think of crystal clear water, serene beaches, overwater bungalows, and gorgeous sunsets. You can easily picture yourself in ultimate relaxation mode, getting away from your day-to-day stresses and worries. Although this image is attainable, the fact is that 60% of Americans admit to not being able to unplug while on vacation; now with all of the new capabilities of remote work, this task may be even harder. To truly enjoy all that Tahiti has to offer, here are some tips to get everything in order at home before your trip, so you can relax and unwind for your entire vacation.
The spa is beautiful, we had a great couples massage! ...the excursions are amazing & the best snorkeling channel around! Its worth every penny you spend and an experience of a life time! The sunsets are the best you will ever see! We used VENTURE TAHITI in Boca Raton, Florida to book our trip and it went off without a hitch. They did an excellent job and I highly recommend them!
The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort is absolutely incredible. There are no words to describe the beauty of Tahiti and the staff there was wonderful. I cannot thank Venture Tahiti enough for helping us book the most incredible experience of our lives!! We plan on bringing our children there very soon!
Resorts were great, service was excellent! Would go back to both hotels in a minute. John did an outstanding job with us, answered all of our questions and the itinerary went off without a hitch. Would highly recommend you and already have to our friends.