Reader question: French Polynesia in July/August

I wanted to share today an email I received at the beginning of the year from Laura, who got married on New Year’s Eve and is trying to sort out their honeymoon in the summer:

My husband (still so weird saying that!) and I are both teachers so have to go on our honeymoon in the school holidays which is a pain..!

Ideally, I would love to go to French Polynesia – perhaps go to a couple of the completely different islands for a contrast…but I’m conscious of the fact it seems to be the most expensive place to get to in the world!! We would also probably be only able to afford a few days so we’re torn about whether it’s worth it….! Arghhh!

Failing that, we would love to travel through South America and perhaps end up somewhere luxurious for a few days in Costa Rica or the Galapagos Islands… But probably would be able to spend a few weeks doing this…Pretty different honeymoon ideas….

I just wondered whether you had any information or links that could help us! And perhaps a vague idea of cost? We would have to go end of July-August when schools have broken up.

You’re right in thinking that French Polynesia is likely to be expensive – if you booked flights separately then chances are you’re looking at almost £3000 just to get there (eek!) at that time of year. With that in mind, you’d be much better arranging a trip to French Polynesia through a travel agent as they’ll be able to get you the best deals and most competitive rates.

That said, as you’ve got the summer holidays to play with, you could actually opt for a Round the World ticket – sometimes they work out a bit cheaper so it might be worth getting in contact with STA or Trailfinders to look at those options. You could then balance the higher cost of accommodation in the South Pacific with staying in cheaper places elsewhere, or spend just a week there to not spend so much money and then have more time to play with elsewhere, making your trip feel more worthwhile… Expect tickets to still be upwards of £1000 each however. STA have quite a nifty little RTW route planner you can try out to see how it would work out. An example would be London to Singapore to Sydney/Auckland to Tahiti to Los Angeles to London – not a bad trip, really!

It really depends on your budget – if it looks like you could only afford to fly out to French Polynesia for a few days, then I’d say that it might be better opting to go elsewhere – it’s a long way to fly for just a short time, and a shame not to spend more time there. You’d probably be looking at at least £5000–6000 as a starting point for a week or two there, but best to speak to a travel agent about this – generally the best for the region are Turquoise Holidays but Virgin Holidays, Kuoni and Scott Dunn also book trips here so probably worth comparing prices before you write it off the list! In terms of weather though, July and August are actually the best months to visit the region.

You’d certainly get more for your money if you headed to South and Central America, which is great, but the weather might be a little chilly in certain places (it’s winter in South America at that time of year) – and in Costa Rica it’ll be rainy season. That said, I have a friend who’s also a teacher and she and her husband spent their honeymoon travelling around Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Brazil last summer – they had lots of warm, clear days, though the nights were colder, and they had a really amazing time. I guess it really depends how active you want to be on your trip, really, plus how much luxury you want, and how long you want to go away for. The Galapagos are quite expensive to visit, but will be well worth it – and you could balance it out with cheaper stays elsewhere in South America. Companies worth looking at for trip help include Llama Travel and Cazenove+Loyd; again, it’s also worth looking at Kuoni and Trailfinders as well. The one thing I would say about the Galapagos is to make sure that the environmental credentials of the company you use are decent because obviously it’s such an amazing place that you want to make sure you have a positive impact on the islands.

The other thing I would say is pop to the library and stock up on guide books – hopefully they should give you an idea of how much you’d be likely to spend, especially for South America.

Good luck! Wherever you end up going will be brilliant, without a doubt.

Photograph courtesy of SF Brit

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