In the first instance, French Polynesia might conjure images of glamourous hotels, overwater bungalows, and high-end price tags. However, beyond the glitzy resorts of Bora Bora, you'll find secluded islands with simple cosy guesthouses tucked away amidst the breathtaking scenery.
These charming local guesthouses, often known as pensions in French, offer a more authentic way to explore the islands of Tahiti. You'll find tiny family-run lodges on almost every island, allowing you to experience the local way of life.
If you’re looking for an affordable way to experience the South Pacific, then look no further. Dotted all over French Polynesia, these pretty guesthouses offer the perfect way to discover local life on these far-flung islands. You can even combine a few islands into one unforgettable holiday, choosing a mix of authentic Tahitian guesthouses and luxurious hotels.
Wherever you travel in French Polynesia, there will be a quaint guesthouse waiting for you, allowing you to get further off the beaten path and explore paradise islands that don’t have large hotels. Here are a few of our favourite guesthouses in French Polynesia.
On the north coast of Taha’a sits Fare Pea Iti, nestled between the palms by a beautiful beach. Taha’a shares its lagoon with Raiatea. This is where you’ll fly to, before being picked up by boat and taken to the northern island of Taha’a, known locally as the Vanilla Isle.
With the scent of the vanilla plantations in the air, you can spend days discovering this idyllic island – snorkelling in the clear water, enjoying delicious fresh seafood or hiking in the lush hills of the interior.
Fare Pea Iti has several types of rooms, from beach view bungalows with air conditioning to cosy garden bungalows surrounded by tropical plants and flowers. The lovely pool has sunbeds scattered around it and a cool shady area next to it, while the views over to the lagoon are just spectacular.
This is a romantic guesthouse, with no children under ten years old allowed, which makes it perfect for a relaxed and intimate honeymoon. The owners, Pascal and Marline, will take care of you during your whole stay, cooking up wonderful meals each night and taking you out on their boat for snorkelling trips to secret spots on the lagoon during the day.
On the north coast of Moorea, Sarah and Stephen will welcome you to Coco Bulle & Spa, in the heart of a lush green garden by the sea. With just two little bungalows, these lovely rooms feel modern and smart, with a large inner terrace for breakfast each morning.
Perched right on one of the prettiest beaches in Moorea, it’s easy to spend your days here snorkelling or kayaking in the azure water of the lagoon before returning for a relaxing evening sipping a beer in your private whirlpool.
Moorea is a hive of activity. You can fill every day here with activities like hiking, snorkelling, stargazing, quad biking and horse riding – there is even a brilliant food tour of the island that we can book for you.
Pension Coco Bulle is the perfect retreat after a busy day, where you can enjoy the privacy and intimacy of such a small and friendly guesthouse.
The main island of Tahiti is split into two sections: Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Iti (Nui means large and Iti means small). On the far shores of Tahiti Iti sits the village of Teahupo’o, famous for its legendary wave that lures surfers from all over the world.
In this village, you’ll find Vanira Lodge, a cosy guesthouse with a charming pool, beautiful sea views and lush tropical gardens. Vanira Lodge is home to ten bungalows, each one a little different from the last. Some have kitchenettes, some sleep larger families of up to six, and there are three with air-conditioning and jacuzzis.
Many people only stay in Tahiti for one or two nights before leaving to explore other islands. However, if you want to spend a little more time here and venture away from the main city of Papeete into the wild corners of the island, (which I really recommend!), then a stay at Vanira Lodge is the perfect base. This will give you a real glimpse into local life.
If you’re staying in the more isolated area of Tahiti Iti, we recommend hiring a car to get around and see the best of the region. It’s the tropical road trip of dreams! We can arrange all of this for you, just ask.
The lush and vibrant island of Huahine is one of my favourite spots in the whole of French Polynesia. With no luxury hotels on the island, a visit here depends on a simpler stay, and Moana Lodge is a great option. This is the perfect place for a bit of rustic barefoot bliss.
With just four bungalows, each with a spacious terrace and surrounded by tropical gardens, you’ll like you’ve made it to paradise at Moana Lodge. Two bungalows have beach views, while the other two bungalows are nestled amongst exotic flowers and bushes
This is a quiet and remote part of the island, which is great for recharging your batteries. As you sit back on your deck, listening to the waves and the breeze in the palms, you’ll soon see why I fell in love this island.
The guesthouse provides kayaks and bicycles, putting the whole island at your fingertips. Head out into the lagoon to snorkel and kayak before cycling into the nearby small village to meet the locals and munch some traditional snacks in the afternoon sun.
On the tiny remote atoll of Ahe, you’ll find dreamy Cocoperle Lodge. Just an hour’s flight from Tahiti, this small family guesthouse is tucked away in a thriving coconut forest. Surrounded by azure waters and swaying palms, the four bungalows sit directly on the beach, overlooking the peaceful lagoon.
This is the perfect place to completely disconnect from the outside world. There is no internet at Cocoperle Lodge, but who needs Wi-Fi when you have this sensational lagoon to explore?
During your stay, you can use the kayak and snorkelling equipment provided by the guest house, test your skills on an outrigger canoe, and play pétanque among the trees. You can also explore further afield.
Take a tour of the nearby pearl farm, visit one of the last Tuamotu forests, or head to the remote pink sand beaches on the south of the island for a grilled fish picnic. This is a true tropical paradise, so simply enjoy the salt in your hair and the sunshine on your skin.
These tiny atoll islands have limited natural water sources, so Cocoperle Lodge relies solely on renewable energy, with solar panels for hot water and rainwater for daily use. If you’re looking for a real desert island experience, this is the place for you.
Enjoy a fruity cocktail at the beach bar, feast on homemade ice cream after a delicious dinner of freshly caught fish, and settle down to sleep to the sound of the waves and the sea breeze.
Bora Bora might conjure up images of luxury hotels and even more luxury price tags. However, tucked away in the corner of this iconic atoll, you’ll find Pension Alice & Raphael, a tiny guesthouse on an idyllic motu near the airport.
With only three bungalows, this unique little place occupies a special spot on the island, with spectacular views over to the famous Mount Otemanu in the centre of Bora Bora’s turquoise lagoon. It’s a true hidden gem.
The guesthouse grounds extend over the whole width of the motu, giving you direct access to the soft beach and blue water of the lagoon-side, as well as the coral landscape and rugged sands of the ocean-side.
Run with solar energy and water desalination, Pension Alice & Raphael is an eco-conscious choice in the beautiful surroundings of Bora Bora. During your stay, you’ll also meet the two cats, two dogs, and two goats that live on site!
North of Tahiti lies the vast atoll of Rangiroa, which is the largest in the Tuamotu Archipelago. Venture up here and you’ll find Pension Cecile, a friendly guesthouse with a warm welcome.
Although the guesthouse doesn’t have a beach, it has direct access to the sea with excellent snorkelling right off the dock in front of the restaurant, and endless views over the bright blue lagoon.
Rangiroa is a great spot for any underwater activities, so you can snorkel amongst clouds of pink and silver fishes, look for dolphins in the waves of the lagoon, or even learn to dive amongst the docile reef sharks.
Pension Cecile is a great base for your adventures on this lovely island. Stay in one of the seven lagoon view bungalows, dine on delicious breakfast spreads of fresh breads, jams and pancakes, and feast on freshly caught fish for dinner each evening.
Sharing the lagoon with the island of Taha’a, Raiatea is a tranquil little island with a relaxed atmosphere and peaceful beaches. Villa Ixora sits in quiet Tepua Bay, right by the water on the east coast of the island.
The grounds of the guesthouse are filled with lush, colourful plants and here you’ll find three pretty Garden Bungalows. Each bungalow has its own small terrace, perfect for reading a book in the sunshine or sipping a drink at sunset.
At the front of the guesthouse, there is a lovely room with an ocean view, where you can wake up to scarlet sunrises over the calm water. For larger families, there’s a cosy two-bedroom house available, giving you plenty of space to spread out with the kids.
In the centre of the grounds, you’ll find a tempting little swimming pool, which is perfect for cooling off in the hot afternoon sun. At the water’s edge, a long pier juts out into the clear water, perfect for kayaking, swimming, and snorkelling in the pristine lagoon.
Villa Ixora’s restaurant serves a delicious fusion of Mediterranean and Polynesian food, all made using locally sourced ingredients. What could be better?
If you would like to book a holiday to French Polynesia including a stay in a Tahitian guesthouse, then look no further! Whether you want to swim with manta rays in Tikehau, learn about local culture in the Marquesas Islands, or admire the views of Mount Otemanu in Bora Bora, we can plan your dream French Polynesia holiday.
To start planning your trip to the islands of Tahiti, give us a call on +44 1273320580 or request a quote. We are experts in planning tailor-made holidays to French Polynesia, as well as round the world flights, so we can work together until we’ve created your perfect trip.