How to decide between between a trip to Hawaii or French Polynesia, Part 1

Did you know there’s a place just as exotic if not slightly more than Hawaii — and it’s in the same time zone as Hawaii?

That’s right — French Polynesia! This island paradise is a fairly quick flight from Hawaii and just slightly longer from the West Coast. And if you’re like me and work remotely, there’s little to no time change or jet lag involved due to no time change from Hawaii.

I recently spent a month in French Polynesia and want to share my perspectives and between these 2 island oasis.

Read Part 2 here.

Getting there

In short: Hawaii has more frequent non-stop flights from the West Coast.

Hawaii: Flights from the West Coast to Hawaii are short and frequent, with multiple airlines offering non-stop flights that are around 5-6 hours depending on departure city and airline.

French Polynesia: Flights from Honolulu to Papeete are about the same 5.5-6 hours length from the West Coast, but it’s only offered non-stop by Hawaiian Airlines once a week Non-stop flights from West Coast to Papeete are more frequent, with flight time ranging between 8–10 hours. United, Air France, Air Tahiti Nui, and French Bee offer on-stop flights from San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle.

Getting around

In short: Hawaii’s islands are all close to each other, which makes interisland travel much easier. But French Polynesia has way more diversity between islands.

Hawaii: If you want to go island-hopping in Hawaii, you can go online and buy a $39 one-way ticket for a flight the same day. It’s that easy. Car rentals are relatively more expensive, but you have many options — including Turo.

French Polynesia: If you want to go island-hopping in French Polynesia, you’ll have to book far ahead in advance be prepared to pay about $215 for a one-way ticket between Tahiti and Bora Bora, for example. Car rentals are about the same price as Hawaii, but with fewer options (FYI, Avis is your best bet).

Climate and weather

In short: Both Hawaii and French Polynesia are warm and tropical. French Polynesia has higher humidity and more rainfall throughout the year. Hawaii’s weather patterns can vary more depending on the season and location.

Hawaii: Our climate is more varied because of our location and more diverse topography such as high mountains and microclimates. The average temperature ranges from 75-85°F (24-29°C), and our warmest months are June to October. Hawaii’s wet season is from November to March, with more rainfall on the windward side of the islands.

French Polynesia: I visited French Polynesia in February during the warm and rainy season (generally November to April) and let me tell you: on most days we could only be active outside in the mornings and evenings. The daytime was hot and uncomfortable, but not unbearable unless you are foolish enough to go running at high noon like I did. Overall, the average temperature ranges from 77-86°F (25-30°C).


In short: Neither destination is cheap, although French Polynesia takes luxury to another level.

Hawaii: you can find nearly any range of hotel, resort, condo, and vacation rental, ranging from budget-friendly to luxurious five-star. Many places to stay in Hawaii offer beachfront access, incredible views, and lots of amenities and services like pools, spas, and restaurants.

French Polynesia: the most iconic way to stay in Polynesia are those glorious overwater bungalows you see in exotic travel blogs and Instagram accounts. These bungalows are built on stilts over crystal-clear lagoons and offer stunning views of the surrounding ocean, and they are quite pricey.

You can also find beachfront hotels and resorts that offer luxury, as well as smaller guesthouses (called “pensions”) and vacation rentals for a more local experience.

Need a hand with your next Maui vacation? Please contact the Sunny Maui Vacations team at or call 808-240-1311, ext. 21. We’ll find you the best vacation rental condo or rental home in South Maui and help you with any and all recommendations and activities across Maui.

Image credits: Yu Kato, Robert Edward Bradley, Wikipedia, Nico Smit, Jeremy Bishop

Need a hand with your next Maui vacation? Please contact the Sunny Maui Vacations team at or call 808-240-1311, ext. 21. We’ll find you the best vacation rental condo or rental home in South Maui and help you with any and all recommendations and activities across Maui.