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Tahiti without spending a fortune

Tahiti has a reputation for being expensive and you can certainly do the whole 5-star overwater bungalow, posh dinners and phenomenal diving trips to far away beaches. But if you want to take advantage of the cheap airfares to Tahiti and stay in a brand spanking and stunning, self-catering property where you can cook your own dinner fresh from the market, eat gooey French cheeses and fresh baguettes and quaff some cheap French wine – then you can.

I’ve just come back from 3 whistle-stop days on Papeete staying at the Manava Suite Resort. This brand new apartment-style hotel has most rooms with kitchens (including all the mod cons) and is only 100m from a bottle store so you can nip out and get yourself a little happy hour sustenance before dinner.

Manava Suites Tahiti

The infinity pool at Manava Suites

They have their own restaurant but if you want to try something more local, wander 500m down the road where you can sit on a humble wooden deck with the ocean lapping underneath.

A bus – or more accurately a truck with 2 bench seats down each side – will take you into downtown Papeete. It’s about 15 mins away so I suggest you go in about mid-afternoon after a day lazing by the Manava Suites stunning infinity pool, hit the pearl market and drink a Hinano beer at one of the local bars, then eat at the Roulottes.

Tahiti Le truck

Forget the taxi, take Le Truck for a cheaper trip to town

This is an area at the port where caravans come in at night, fling their sides open and cook fresh and fast food like tuna steaks, pizza, Chinese, crepes for about NZ$20. Nightclubs rock till about 3am so after dinner put your dancing shoes on and practice your dance moves.

Moorea dolphin

The former US Navy Seal (!)

Taking the ferry to Moorea is also a fun (and inexpensive – under NZ$20 one way) thing to do. About 45 mins and you’re there. I suggest you hire a car to go exploring but if you want to splash out and treat yourselves, organise a picnic lunch on a motu (island) through the Intercontinental Hotel. You’ll love the fresh poisson cru (fish with lime, fresh coconut milk cracked open in front of you and tossed with onions and tomatoes). Sopped up with fresh crispy baguettes and you;ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven.

You can also swim with dolphins here – AND these ones are retired navy “seals”. They used to work for the US navy detecting bombs in ships. True!

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!