Hawaii vs Tahiti

Old Apr 26th, 2005, 07:07 AM
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Hawaii vs Tahiti

I know this question might be a bit broad, but what would you recommend as a better choice for a honeymoon? A week in Hawaii or Tahiti?
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Old Apr 26th, 2005, 08:01 AM
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I've been to both and have had so many people write to me with this question that I ended up posting a Epinions article/review on this very issue. If you are interested you can find it here:

http://www.epinions.com/content_3387203716

It's titled "Hawaii, Tahiti, or the Cook Islands: Where You Should Go... and Why" and gives (what I think is) a pretty accurate comparisons of the strengths and weakness of each location.

But if you don't want to take the time to read the details - in nutshell, Hawaii is larger and has more to do. It also has more choices in regards to prices for dining/accomodations etc. Hawaii is better for "rough water" sports like surfing.

French Polynesia is more romantic/exotic/beautiful and offers the option of overwater bungalows. It also features superior calm water conditions for things like snorkeling. Water tends to be generally warmer in French Polynesia (though keep in mind that summer/winter are reversed down there compared to Hawaii). Perhaps the biggest drawback is that French Polynesia lacks nightlife.

Love Hawaii, but in my opinion, FP blows it away in most regards (but not all). It all depends what's most important to you.

Ken

PS: Note that when I wrote the article I had not yet been to Maui (only Oahu & Kauai). Am leaving for Maui on the 16th of May (for 10 days) & will have a chance to see how Maui stacks up and if it changes anthing, I will update the article.
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Old Apr 26th, 2005, 08:03 AM
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Money and time are important considerations. I once planned a trip to Tahiti, but we didn't go because of the travel time from the US and the cost. We loved Hawaii.
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Old Apr 26th, 2005, 08:06 AM
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If you need a lot of activity - sightseeing, golf, shopping, night-life - Hawaii is probably a better choice for you. Even the most quiet of the major islands, Kauai, has much more going on than any of the islands of Tahiti.

French Polynesian islands are much smaller, much less developed, and you can see most of what there is to see on any of them in a half-day or less. But there's as much or more to see in and under the water as above it. And it's all jaw-dropping beautiful.

I'd choose Tahiti in a heartbeat. I think it would make for a much more memorable honeymoon.
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Old Apr 26th, 2005, 08:10 AM
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Forgot to reference a good site for planning a trip to Tahiti: www.tahiti-explorer.com.
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Old Apr 26th, 2005, 08:10 AM
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LordBalfor,
Great discussion on epinions! I had also considered the Cook Islands, when I was planning my virtual trip. If we ever get a chance to go, your information will be invaluable. Glad you are adding to your article. Enjoy Maui!
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Old Apr 26th, 2005, 08:38 AM
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I've been to Maui, Kauai, Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora. If you have the money and time to go to either place it's really a hard choice (if you've never been to either one).

Both are beautiful and make great honeymoon spots. But there are some pretty extreme differences in some cases.

Hawaii is still a part of the U.S. and therefore very "Americanized" and everyone speaks English. French Polynesia is mainly French, of course. This is not a bad thing but you will come across local places in FP where they do not speak english very well but do attempt to help you anyway. I felt more comfortable in Hawaii for this reason.

The snorkeling in FP blows Hawaii completely away in that category. I've snorkeled in them all and felt like I was looking through glass. It was totally awesome!

Although some of the excursions in FP were fantastic (loved the shark/ray feeding) the activities in Hawaii abound. The hikes and waterfalls in Hawaii are plentiful and beautiful. I didn't really see those in FP at all.

The colors of the water in FP can also not be beat. Everywhere you go is amazing.

Don't get me wrong. Hawaii is wonderful. Plus, the beaches on Hawaii far surpass any located in FP.

Another big thing that Hawaii has more of IMO is good food! I did not enjoy the meals in FP (except for Ahi burgers at lunch) as much as I do in Hawaii (and they're way more expensive in FP). But that could just be my cajun tastebuds coming out (french food seems bland).

I could go on and on. I guess you have to pick some things that are most important and just compare those to figure it out. Good luck and feel free to ask more q's.
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Old Apr 26th, 2005, 10:20 AM
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Many years ago (hmmm..28 yrs), we went to Club Med Moorea. I think the only one these days is on Bora Bora. Two years later we went to Hawaii. The crystal clear water, snorkling among the coral, and the colorful fish in Tahiti is beyond description and exceeded Hawaii hundred times over.

Being with Club Med at that time, nightlife was hardly a problem. Hawaii was a nice vacation, but our memories of Tahiti are many and marvelous!

Was in Fiji two years ago, and for us, that was very quiet and serene.

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Old Apr 26th, 2005, 10:24 AM
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Thanks for all the info! In talking to some other people as well, it seems like there are a few things that really separate Hawaii and Tahiti. For on thing, everybody seems to agree that the food is SO much better in Hawaii. Some have said that "if you can afford it, go to Tahiti".....which leads me to believe it's true when they say that Tahiti is outrageously more expensive than Hawaii.
But everybody is right....the bottom line is what you're looking for in a honeymoon/vacation.
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Old Apr 26th, 2005, 11:17 AM
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I agree with what everyone has said, we honeymooned in Tahiti and still talk/dream about it frequently.

Where are you flying from? We are on the west coast and honestly Hawaii is like going to Mexico, you can do it relatively easily. FP is a destination, we might get back there in 2 or 3 years but we can't just take off for it.

As far as food goes there is more selection in Hawaii, in FP there is some amazing French food. but overall you will find it very expensive as it is so remote.

Our best honeymoon memory is staying at Sauvage off Rangiroa.....now that is something you will not find in Hawaii.

I also don't know if 1 week in FP is that great, taking into account travel time and all. You won't get to explore more than 2 islands?

BTW.....CONGRATS!!!!!
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Old Apr 26th, 2005, 12:45 PM
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Can't resist adding my 2 cents. We went to FP for the first time last November, had a memorable and relaxing vacation. Haven't been to Hawaii yet -- we're planning a trip in September.

We stayed in Papeete for a couple of nights, then the Pearl on Taha'a for 3 nights (very dreamy place), then a week on a Windstar cruise. Saw beautiful scenery, incredible blue water, snorkelled, fed the stingrays, picknicked on a motu. Found lots of helpful info on Tahiti Explorer site <http://www.tahitiexplorer.com/> -- be sure to scroll down the home page and look for the web cams link near the bottom of the page. You'll also find pretty active forums there, too.

Downside for us was that it was VERY expensive (as we knew it would be), especially because FP currency rate is based on the Euro, and $ to Euro rate is bad. Food was sometimes disappointing (but not the fresh fruit). The people were charming, and it's easier if you speak some French.

Your decision might be influenced by your budget, and when you are going. If you go during US winter, it's summer there, the rainy season. We had a couple of days where it POURED, and did not see the sun at all in two port days in Moorea. When it's not raining it can be quite hot and humid. If I go again, it would be in their winter, our summer.

By the way, Air Tahiti is now advertising the start of their direct flights from JFK to Papeete...

Have to say, I think time in either place would be wonderful! Congratulations on the coming wedding, and have fun planning your trip, wherever you decide to go.
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Old Apr 26th, 2005, 06:21 PM
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Please write a trip report when you come back...congratulations & have fun!
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Old Apr 26th, 2005, 07:22 PM
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Did both for my honeymoon back in 2000. Without a doubt, French Polynesia, even though I love Hawaii (have visited Oahu, Maui and going to the Big Island in a few weeks). Like many, I wanted a relaxing place that exhudes romance. You're more apt to find it in FP rather than Hawaii because FP's resorts are spread out, right at the beach or even over water. You have a bungalow all to yourself. Whereas in Hawaii, most resorts tend to be multiple-floor buildings where you have a room amongst many other guests separated by concrete walls.

For me, a feeling of relative seclusion factors big into romance, which isn't very difficult to attain in the resort islands of FP. In Hawaii, you'd have to beat the crowds or go to remote areas to get a similar ambience. When you consider that the Hawaiian islands get more tourists in one day than FP gets in an entire year (heard that somewhere) with a lot less children, it's not hard to picture it as a much more romantic destination.

Then again, I've had friends who've gone to Bora Bora and thought the scenery was gorgeous but were utterly bored in the evenings. So if what goes on in the privacy of your own bungalow during your honeymoon isn't going to cut it as evening entertainment, well then...maybe Waikiki or Lahaina would be a better honeymoon spot.
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Old Apr 27th, 2005, 06:43 AM
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Orcas -

Glad you liked the Hawaii/Tahiti comparison article. Will definitely update it with some new info after we return from Maui.

You Fodor's handle has me wondering if you are another northwest local (like myself).

Ken
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Old Apr 27th, 2005, 01:04 PM
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Ken (LordBalfor),

Nice to know you're still here on Fodors giving out excellent advice.

I'm sure you'll enjoy Maui, and I can't wait to see your trip report and photos on your Webshots album. Just make sure if you're going to do the Road to Hana, to save enough time (2-3 hrs) to hike the Pipiwai Trail above Oheo Gulch to Waimoku Falls...my favorite Maui hike along with the Sliding Sands Trail at Haleakala.

Liked your epinions comments re how to write travel reviews. Wish I read it before I posted my last trip report here.

Mahalo and maururu,

Bluefan
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Old Apr 27th, 2005, 05:02 PM
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We've been to all the Hawaiian Islands (the ones you can visit, anyway), and just got back from a trip to Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora. I would say most of these posters in this thread are right on.

Just to add a few notes:

I would stress the following things to keep in mind about Tahiti.

1) It is OUTRAGEOUSLY EXPENSIVE. And we are not the types to complain about this sort of thing (we enjoy splurging on vacation). We were paying $5 for a can of Coke. $19 for a cheese sandwich (sans fries or side dish). Food choices are limited so you are pretty much stuck paying top dollar for the most part. Car rentals are very expensive too.

2) Back to food--we are vegetarians and were pretty much screwed . Not too many choices. Our fault for not researching things better, but just beware if you have any dietary restrictions or are just plain picky. It is much easier to get a variety of cuisines (at all price ranges) in Hawaii.

3) It's hard to get any English reading material (so make sure to bring plenty to read)--and English TV is limited to CNN. Some resorts have DVD players so you can watch a movie at night if you want.

4) Service is NOT American-style. This didn't bother us, but I feel I must mention it. Service is laid-back in Hawaii--slow that down another two or three notches and you have Tahitian service. Everyone is very friendly, but there's no urgency in completing any request. You must force yourself to slowwwww dowwwwwwwn there.

5) The climate is extreme. Again, we love hot weather, but found we had to be careful not to overdo it. Sunscreen and a hat are absolute musts! My olive-skinned husband got burned even using 45 SPF. (I fared better since I used a wide-brimmed hat and a caftan when not swimming).

That said--Tahiti is gorgeous, but it definitely takes a little more planning than Hawaii.
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Old May 4th, 2005, 12:42 AM
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Thanks for all the info. I've been to that Tahiti-explorer.com site. I don't like it because just like most websites and forums that are dedicated to just 1 destination, the people on that forum are very biased towards that destination and can't or won't give an objective opinion about anything.
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Old May 4th, 2005, 06:41 AM
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BigJim -

Yeah, you do have a point. The folks there LOVE French Polynesia and some of them can get REALLY nasty if you dare say anything bad about it. The site also attracts a few "snobs" - higher income folks who look down on anyone without the financial means to go first class to the place. I remember reading a post a while back where the author told the original poster - who had asked about ways to do FP cheaper - (in effect) to "quit asking about how to save money" and that those who "cannot afford to go to French Polynesia should just eat at Denny's, drive a Toyota, and vacation in Mexico" - or something to that affect (can't recall the exact wording). Pretty snobby (and just plain RUDE) if you ask me. Felt like I was reading a reply from Leona ("only the little people pay taxes") Helmsley. The result of this French Polynesia centric view (and the occasional snob) is that the site also tends to attract trolls who are intent in stirring up trouble and ticking the reguluar posters off. So, from time to time, the site can get pretty nasty.

Still, for information dedicated to French Polynesia, there is NO single source that is better - great trip reports, wonderful photos, and a number of very, very knowledgable regular posters. Just don't ever mention a travel company beside the one that runs the site (Travelnet). They are very stringent about enforcing a "do NOT ever mention a competing travel company by name or we'll delete your post" policy. No open discussion about "where to get the best deal" allowed there.

Ken
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Old Oct 7th, 2005, 11:09 AM
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For a honeymoon, I would pick Moorea or Bora Bora, both gorgeous and stay out of Papeete. If you want a romantic, langorous, quiet, private, relaxing week, this is the place. Nothing like listening to the water lap at the posts under your overwater bungalow. No night life - that's what we wanted. You feel like you can touch the stars, you take walks, read, swim, snorkel, TALK TO EACH OTHER. We stayed at the Hotel Bora Bora and the Wahoo there is fabulous. Don't try to order a hamburger, you won't like it. There is no t.v. in the rooms and the first night was frustrating for spouse because he is a little addicted to news, sports, etc. By the third morning when we were having breakfast and the dining room attendant passed out a sheet with 3 pages containing some world news, my husband said, "I don't care about anything unless we're at war!!" Having said all that, I love Hawaii, but Tahiti is farther away, more expensive, more exotic and makes the trip a bit more special. Good luck. I don't see how you can go wrong unless you try to get a "cheapy" deal.
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Old Oct 7th, 2005, 11:11 AM
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Also, forgot to mention we went end of September, one of the best seasons to go there. It was gorgeous.
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