Tahiti and French Polynesia comprise a literal paradise on earth. Here you’ll find a rainbow of beaches – black, white, pink – edged by turquoise seas and backed by mountainous verdant interiors. That’s not to mention the diving, the culture, the hiking, or even the surfing. It’s enough to inspire anyone to take a trip without even thinking about it.
But before you do take a trip, it’s a good idea to figure out when exactly is the best time of year to visit French Polynesia for you. There’s weather to consider, as well as festivals, wildlife spotting opportunities and surf conditions. So with all that in mind, this article is here to break it all down into bitesize chunks to help you figure it all out.
Read more about French Polynesia
- French Polynesia Rangiroa Pensions – Where To Stay Guide
- Tahiti vs Bora Bora – What Are The Differences and Which Is Better
- The Islands of Tahiti Travel Guide – What You Need To Know for French Polynesia
Where to stay in Tahiti?
- For the best prices on accommodations and the most choices, Booking.com has been my go-to choice especially once you reach Genius tier and you can find an additional 10-15% off places to stay.
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Best Time To Visit Tahiti By Season
While you could simply opt to visit Tahiti going by the default “best time to visit” (i.e. the tourist high season), that might not be the best for everyone.
You may be in this part of the world to catch a glimpse of a humpback whale, or you may be here to catch a wave. Either way, you’ll want to figure out when it’s best to visit for you. So without further ado, let’s see when that might be…
The Rainy Season
The rainy season in Tahiti runs from November/December through to April, with December and January being the wettest months. The wet season may seem like it’s not the best time to visit French Polynesia, and therefore Tahiti, but it can be a great time of year for various reasons. Whale watching and getting to swim with hammerhead sharks, for example, can be ideal this time of year.
For one thing, the rainfall usually only arrives in short, sharp downpours, lasting for around a half hour. The weather patterns are fairly predictable, with rain showers occurring mainly towards the end of the day (sometimes the early morning). Storms never usually stick around for too long.
It’s usually sunny, even during the wet season. You’ll be able to watch large clouds rolling in from across the sea. It will then rain for a short period, and then the clouds will move on. It’s only sometimes that the overcast skies stay for longer and the sun doesn’t shine.
The dry season runs from April to November. This is what most people consider the best time to go to Tahiti. The temperature is usually milder than the wet season, and the humidity is less intense on the whole. This is when many countries’ summer vacation time falls, and therefore the natural time of year to make their way to French Polynesia.
In fact, June, July and August are winter in this part of the world (it is the southern hemisphere, after all). There’s less rainfall, and therefore better visibility for water sports such as diving and snorkeling.
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Tahiti tourist travel seasons
High season for traveling to Tahiti runs from May to October. The peak months, as we said before, are June, July and August. Across those three months French Polynesia sees its highest numbers of visitors.
What makes it the best time to visit French Polynesia, for many, is the ideal beach conditions. There are plenty of places to kick back on the sand across the archipelago, and you’ll want sunny days for that.
It’s also the time of year where there are a ton of fun cultural events to enjoy.
The downside of this perfect combination is that it’s also the busiest time to visit. Hotel prices are at their highest, as are flight costs. You may want to book in advance for any tours or excursions you plan on taking. For those who like their beaches deserted, this may not be the best time to go to Tahiti.
Either side of the high season, there’s the shoulder season. This portion of the year (April and November) is a mix of both wet and dry seasons as they merge into one other. Because it’s either at the start or the end of the high season, you may be able to get better value for money on your accommodation. Resorts tend to be less busy, and tourist sights see fewer crowds.
You may not think that visiting during the sticky summer months (that’s December to March) is a good idea: the humidity is high, and it rains a lot. But as mentioned earlier, you can still get a good portion of the day with sunny weather before the rain starts.
Because of this, Tahiti is actually considered a year round destination, even if many people choose not to visit in low season. It’s perfect for some winter sunshine, so if you want the beach for yourself – and the possibility of cheaper room rates – this could be the best time to visit French Polynesia for you.
Diving and spotting marine wildlife this time of year is particularly good, even if it doesn’t have the same across the board visibility that the dry season has. Dolphin spotting and diving is done without any other tourists there, so you can have an almost personalized experience.
One spot we highly recommend for dolphin spotting is this shark, whale, dolphin, and stingray experience in Moorea.
Tahiti weather throughout the year
Tahiti’s weather, and that of French Polynesia, is split into two halves of the year: wet and dry. However, it’s not quite as simple as that, and things do vary slightly on a month to month basis. Here is a breakdown of what to expect for each month.
Temperatures are high in January, peaking at around 85°F, with lows of 73°F. Being in the rainy season, and the wettest month, most days receive rain, with afternoon showers being a pretty common occurrence. Not exactly what we’d call the best time to go to Tahiti. The heat doesn’t really abate, day or night, so you’ll really be thankful for that AC.
February is another wet and humid month in French Polynesia. Temperatures are similar to that of January, with highs sitting around 86°F and lows being around 73°F. If you choose to visit this time of year, you can expect rain to affect your vacation on most days. However, the rain doesn’t usually last too long, and is concentrated mainly in the mid-afternoon.
The temperature peaks at 90°F and it’s super humid. However, the rain is starting to ease off – a little. That means you’ll have more time to explore the outdoors. Not only that, but the sea temperatures are great. It’s nice and warm, and feels like you’re swimming in a bath.
The weather in Tahiti in April has similar temperatures to March, and marks the end of the rainy season. As the month progresses, rainy days get steadily less common. In fact, there are half as many as December and January. It’s still hot though, and humid. Sea temperatures are at their peak. If you like lush, tropical countryside, then this could be the best time to visit French Polynesia: the rainfall from the previous months turns islands positively emerald-like.
The uncomfortable humidity that has drench Tahiti in wet season finally begins to drop. Rainfall starts to ease up, too. Towards the end of the month it continues to get drier, with only a few days of rain to be expected across May as a whole. It’s slightly cooler: temperatures range between 88°F and 70°F. For some, it’s the best time to go to Tahiti: cheaper accommodation, deals on flights, fewer tourists.
June is French Polynesia’s winter, the start of its dry season proper, and also the beginning of the archipelago’s busy tourist season. Rainfall is scarce and the islands are drenched in plenty of glorious sunlight. Temperatures swing between 86°F and 70°F. Prices are on the rise, however, for everything from accommodation to activities.
Things get even cooler (temperature-wise, anyway) in July. Lows are at 68°F; highs can stretch to 86°F. The nights are no longer overly warm, and rainfall shouldn’t cause any trouble to your beach days at all. Sea temperatures are pretty warm.
It’s probably the best time to visit French Polynesia – but everyone else thinks so, too, and it can get very busy in July.
The weather in Tahiti, and across French Polynesia, is dry and relatively cool in August. You’ll get highs of 86°F and lows of 68°F, with eight hours of glorious sunshine a day to soak up. This is still peak season, so visiting this time of year means paying for the privilege.
If you’re looking for fewer people but good weather (i.e. sunny days with no rain), then September is a good option. September sees the most hours of sunshine per day, which means more time spent adventuring outside – or just chilling on the beach, of course. September is Tahiti’s driest month, with only a couple of days usually slated for any rainfall.
Usually dry, but a changeable month, October is the start of French Polynesia’s transition into summer. Temperatures are rising again, hitting highs of 88°F (with lows of 70°F). Rainfall is also on the increase as October progresses, and you can see more days of rain. It’s better to travel at the start of October if you still want dry days and dry days only.
Temperatures continue to climb throughout November (average high is 88°F; low is 70°F). Rainfall is also on the rise. There’s much more of a chance that you’ll get a rainy day in French Polynesia when compared to October.
Rain is the order of the day in December. It’s one of the hottest and wettest months, and therefore not really the best time to visit French Polynesia – if you’re coming for the weather, that is. It’s humid and sticky, but if you want good deals on accommodation it’s a good time to spend the holidays. Note that it can get very busy around late December with people arriving to do just that, and to ring in the New Year, of course.
Holidays and festivals in Tahiti
Aside from the weather, there are other reasons to visit Tahiti and French Polynesia as a whole – namely, the culture. There are plenty of festivities to experience across the islands throughout the year, offering an interesting insight into the traditions and daily life of the region.
Chinese New Year
Sometime in either January or February, the Chinese community of Tahiti celebrate Chinese New Year in style. Expect colorful parades, dancing, music and a whole lot of great food.
Ori Tahiti Festival
Takes place in April, and celebrates traditional Polynesian dance.
Heiva is a two-week-long series of festivities in July. Takes place across French Polynesia, each of the islands showcases their individual culture in an extravaganza of dance, music and food.
Tahiti Moorea Sailing Rendezvous
This three-day annual event is all about cultural exchange. Sailors from across the region take on the challenge of crossing the sea in traditional outrigger canoes between Tahiti and Moorea.
November. Also known as the Pleiades Festival, due to the appearance of the constellation in the night sky this time of year. It marks the arrival of spring and the return of the rainy season, and better fishing conditions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Without a doubt, it’s December through April, when rain most affects the islands. This is the best time to visit French Polynesia on a budget – as long as you avoid the Christmas and New Year period!
While there’s a wet and dry season in Tahiti, there is also the possibility of cyclones (i.e. hurricanes) between November and March. They don’t always hit, but it’s something to consider, due to French Polynesia’s position on the South Pacific “cyclone belt.”
If you want to see whales, then you should know that the best time to visit French Polynesia is between July through November. This is when migrating humpback whales pass by, with the peak being September in Tahiti.
If you want an encounter with crowds of hammerhead sharks, then visiting December through April is best. Masses of these strange sharks meet up on the prowl for eagle rays (a favored prey of theirs).
Surfing is a big deal in French Polynesia. If you’re here to catch some waves, then you should know that the best time of year varies island to island. On Tahiti that would be May to August, when surf breaks are at their peak on its southern and southwestern coasts; for beginner surfers, the north coast between October and March is better.
Tahiti also plays host to the Tahiti Pro Teahupoo surf event every August.
June, July and August – due to the lack of rainy days.
Without a doubt, that would be June through August. This is time of many countries’ summer vacation period, and therefore when many families especially choose to jet off to French Polynesia.
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