Hawaii vs. Tahiti

Two of Polynesia’s most beautiful, Hawaii and Tahiti often dominate travel lists and articles across the world. When it comes to an island paradise holiday, Hawaii and Tahiti are the best examples. This is precisely why putting them head-to-head just makes sense.
Hawaii vs. Tahiti

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Hawaii is best for the adventurous, ever-curious, and dynamic. Tahiti on the other hand is perfect for the mellow, chill, and laid-back chic vacationer.

They do have similarities that often blur them together. However, their differences can lure you in making you confused as to which is the better place to visit first.


Just the mere mention of Hawaii is enough for you to conjure images of a sunny paradise. Especially one that is speckled with striking beaches and outlandish landscapes.

Hawaii is perhaps the mother of touristy tropical island wonders across the world. Given its success, you can easily guess how well it fares in every travel list out there.

Hawaii has a magnitude of fame unlike any other in the world and it’s thanks to the archipelago’s long roster of draws that are just top-notch.

Think gorgeous beaches and outdoors, quirky local culture, and a wide range of accommodations. Hawaii has perfectly engineered its tourism scene.

Other than its outstanding popularity, Hawaii isn’t just one island but a collection of them. The US Pacific gem is composed of approximately 137 islands and eight main ones. Now imagine how many sights to see and experiences you can try in all of these places. That’s what you call jam-packed.

What Makes Hawaii Unique?

Beaches Galore

Even in just Hawaii’s eight principal islands, beaches can be glorious and divine. Expect to see some of them smack right inside travel magazines and Instagram posts. Per Mark Twain himself, “Hawaii is the loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean.” And its beaches, its true testament.

Awash with over 100 stunning beaches, you can never run out of places to get that suntan or a fun dip in the Pacific’s diveable blue waters. A lot of people only limit themselves to Oahu’s beaches such as the ones near Honolulu like Waikiki. But circle around Oahu and the nearer islands such as Kauai, Maui, and Molokai, and expect to find a diverse lot.

Thanks to its archipelagic setting and volcanic origins, every beach around the Hawaiian islands have charms of their own. Alluding to Hawaii’s seemingly eternal roster of draws are its beaches, as long as you have the right budget and all the time in the world.

However, if you do, here are some of the most well-known:

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki has to be the poster child for Hawaii’s beaches. It is not only beautiful, and has everything you could ever ask for, it is also the most famous. Often the setting for media productions such as films and TV series, Waikiki has become a Hawaiian staple.

The famous beach features breathtaking blue waters and an expansive white sandy beach stretch. Which is, by the way, teeming with hotels and resorts.

Expect to be doing a lot in Waikiki. You can try a handful of water activities from surfing to jetskiing. The beach also offers near-perfect conditions for that fabled trip under the Hawaiian sun.

Big Beach

Big Beach is both one of Maui’s most beautiful and one of its largest beaches. Big Beach is more than a mile long and 100 feet broad (1.6 km by 30 m) from the beach to the coastline, as its name suggests. It’s utterly undeveloped, which adds to its allure.

Big Beach offers strong shore breaks that can be dangerous for children and inexperienced swimmers. So unless you’re a surfer or bodyboarder, it’s better to stay in the shallows or rest on the sand.

Makapu’u Beach

Another Oahu jewel, yet with a quieter twist. Makapu’u is ironically famous among those looking for a secluded feel, far from the bustling crowds. A cove-like bay and rather peculiar sand mounds characterize the bay and give it an otherworldly charm. The setup is perfect if you’re looking for the right balance of beauty and quiet.

However, you are forbidden to swim during the winters here. The season can bring high waves strong enough to erode the sand. The erosion tends to reveal the jagged terrain underneath that can potentially harm swimmers.

Waimea Bay

Waimea Beach has to be one of the most famous spots in Hawaii, right next to Waikiki. Not because of its stunning beauty and resort-lined shores, but Waimea is a surfer’s paradise. Perhaps the best on the island.

Expect to see over 30-foot waves (9 m), and weather conditions perfect for surfing during the winter. You can also spot pro surfers practicing their craft here. However, during the summer, the waves tend to be calmer, and the Bay becomes a great destination for swimming, snorkeling, and diving.

Wailea Beach

Best for lavishing in opulence, and glamour, Wailea Beach in Maui is loaded with plush five-star resorts. Imagine a Four Seasons Hotel and Waldorf Astoria Hotel lined along its divine silvery sands with a backdrop of clear emerald waters. Wailea Beach is expensive but it is undoubtedly exquisite and gorgeous.

Wailea Beach remains to be one of the most exclusive and most beautiful beaches in Hawaii. Thanks to its stunning views over the Molokini Crater, and the nearby islands of the Lanai and Kahoolawe. Plus, if you’re in Wailea from November through April, the beach is an exceptional spot for whale-watching.

Lanikai Beach

Lanikai Beach is regarded as one of the world’s best beaches. Endless miles of quiet, tranquil turquoise blue waters surround you. The instant you stroll down one of the many public beach access lanes, you will be entranced. The beach is said to be “Oahu’s most beautiful beach.”

To make it even more appealing, the beach is pet- and kid-friendly to its public access, and calm waves. Kayaking is also one of the best water activities you can do here.


It is noticeable that Hawaii is geologically wealthy, from its lush forests to its beaches. A lot of this is owed to its volcanic birth. The Hawaiian Islands aren’t like a lot of islands that have been pushed out of the ocean by merging and moving plates. Hawaii was formed due to a series of volcanic eruptions.

Millennia of continuous volcanic eruptions created Hawaii. These eruptions pushed out the islands and covered them with volcanic elements. This healthy soil would eventually provide the perfect conditions for vegetation to thrive.

It is also through these eruptions that carved out and formed much of Hawaii’s breathtaking landscape. Distinct mountain ranges, cliffs, beaches, coves, and many more all adorn Hawaii’s landscape making it one of the most beautiful in the world.

But don’t worry, many of these volcanoes are dormant now, and Hawaii is only down to having six active volcanoes. Some of them are considered safe enough to be explored. You can actually go on hiking tours at some of these volcanoes.

Surfing Scene

Being the birthplace of surfing, Hawaii has one of the most coveted surfing scenes in the world. Blessed with the right conditions and surf breaks, pro surfers are bound to congregate on the many shores of Hawaii. You might even get a lesson or two.

It was the ancient Polynesians who first came to Hawaii who created the art of surfing on waves on a board. The water sport was already a well-respected craft way before the time of surfing competitions and record making.

Hawaii’s surfing scene is backed by many areas of the state that features great surf breaks and waves.

During the winter, waves tend to become bigger and stronger in the northern islands. They produce many world-class surf breaks. But if you’re heading there during the summer, you can spot great breaks on the southern shores.

If you want to catch the pros battling it out against the waves, head north of Oahu from November through February. You can witness some of the world-famous surfing competitions.

Infamously Expensive

Beyond Hawaii’s excellent marketing, the archipelago’s beauty is directly proportional to how expensive it can be to travel to. Air prices can come cheap, that’s a fact, but from accommodation to daily costs, Hawaii is far from cheap. In fact, Hawaii is one of the most expensive states in the US.

The transportation of goods tends to be expensive. This is due to Hawaii’s geographical location and distance from the mainland.  Now imagine goods and other supplies also needs to be transported to all of Hawaii’s 137 islands.

The high prices that you would most likely encounter in Hawaii are the result of the expenses on the shipping of goods and supplies to the island. And that’s on top of Hawaii’s steady yet high demand.

Hawaii continues to top vacation lists and is consistently considered one of the most famous destinations in the world. This is due to the sheer number of annual visits to the country, creating a higher demand. As demand goes high, prices go up as well.


The heart of the Pacific, the queen of French Polynesia, Tahiti is exclusive, luxurious, and chic. This pacific jewel is the stuff of travel legends and myths that induce wanderlust. Tahiti perfectly blends natural beauty, mellow downtime, and the romance of the tropics.

Nestled in the southern Pacific, Tahiti best explains why many of the world’s best destinations are island paradises. Tahiti offers breathtaking views, blue lagoons, stunning beaches, and seclusion. Not to mention the quiet local culture inspires you to tone it down and live in the moment around the beauty of nature.

What Makes Tahiti Unique?

Big Wave Surfing


Tahiti is famed for its large wave surfing, which may challenge even the best surfers in the world. Expect to see surfers from all over the world battling big waves. They frequently put their lives on the line for the sake of the sport.

The most famous surf breaks in Tahiti can be found in the town of Teahupoo, on the southwestern coasts. Teahupoo is regarded as the world’s most deadly break due to its magnitude, force, and strength, as well as the razor-sharp reef beneath it. Since the 1960s, Teahupoo has attracted surfers from all corners of the globe.

Waves in Teahupoo can often reach around two to three meters or 7 to 8 feet. And occasionally, rogue waves can go even bigger than that. Teahupoo is also home to the Millennium Wave, which is one of the world’s most powerful surf waves.

The Millennium Wave

The most-coveted wave in big wave surfing history has both claimed lives and crowned surfers. The renowned “Millennium Wave” was scored here by Laird Hamilton. Hamilton drove down into the well of the wave’s massive tunnel vortex in August 2000, during a larger-than-usual ocean swell.

He was right in front of the cameras of the photographers and videographers on the boat. Hamilton continued slicing deep into the water, emerging back over the wave’s shoulder.

What makes Hamilton’s feat and the Millennium Wave great were that they basically reshaped surfing. The time before Hamilton’s flawless surfing against the famous wave was deemed impossible. To surf waves as big as the Millennium Wave used to be a dream for many of the world’s surfers at that time.

Now, many surf waves as big as the Millennium Wave, or perhaps even bigger can easily be challenged by many younger surfers. Despite the danger, many have successfully achieved a monumental feat like Hamilton.


Other than its stunning beaches and big wave surfing scene, Tahiti’s most defining feature has to be its lagoons. The island is basically home to a plethora of them. The stunning lagoons of Tahiti are arguably the most famous in all of French Polynesia.

Imagine staying at a cozy hotel right next to the waters, with one of these lagoons just at arm’s reach.

The Arahoho Blowhole

The Arahoho Blowhole is located on Tahiti Nui’s northeastern shore. The nearby mountainous terrain has created this natural wonder. Years of coastal erosion from the pounding waves against the rocks have created the blowhole.

There are several blowholes along the shore, but Arahoho is the greatest, spewing sea spray from the top of a hole in the rocks with every large surge. When the swell conditions are ideal, a geyser-like fountain of water emerges from the trou du souffleur. This creates a rather stunning feat of nature.

The blowhole is located right where the road bends around a turn and you’ll see a parking lot just beyond it if you’re coming from Papeete.

You can stand on the viewing platform and take photos of the stunning yet peculiar natural phenomenon. All while getting wet from the warm seawater. A magnificent black-sand beach sliver just before the blowhole offers a nice spot for a picnic as well

Snorkeling and Diving

It wouldn’t be a Pacific Island experience without some snorkeling opportunities, and Tahiti is no exception. With shark snorkeling adventures and plenty of lagoons to explore, Tahiti is one of the best places to explore the underwater world.

Scuba diving is a little more difficult to come by as just 11 of Tahiti’s 112 islands and atolls have dive centers. Depending on the time of year, those regions can provide excellent diving. They offer different ranges and experiences. Expect high-speed drifts to stunning wrecks and enormous pelagic species.

Diving in Tahiti is possible all year due to the warm water and superb visibility. You’ll discover plenty of diving opportunities whether you’re a novice or a seasoned diver. Their wide range of options allows you to explore the aquatic environment at your leisure.

Check out some of them:

Arue Dive

Touted as the best dive in Tahiti, Arue Wall Dive promises a wealth of coral reefs and marine life. The Arue Fault is a stunning coral plateau that towers over a dramatic drop-off. Open Water Divers are unable to enter the spectacular Arue cave, which is between 28 and 33 meters deep (8.5 to 9.1 m).

The Gorgones d’Arue scuba diving location is located along the beach of the Yacht Club of Tahiti. It’s famous for its spectacular orange gorgonas and black corals that crowd together on the long wall.

The White Valley

This ocean cruise takes place off the coast of Tahiti Nui and visits one of Tahiti’s greatest dive spots. The White Valley is known for its diverse shark species. The black and white points, the greys, and the lemons will all be encountered in this way. You might even run into a tiger shark on occasion. But that’s not all; jacks and a slew of other tropical fish put on a show of their own.

The Aquarium

The Aquarium on Tahiti Nui, near the Tahiti-Faa’a airport, is a great spot to start your diving adventure. It is a stunning lagoon dive that is only 12 meters deep (40 m) and ideal for beginners.

The Aquarium features a coral ring with hundreds of tropical fish as well as three manmade wrecks: a Cessna and two other vessels.

You’ll go diving in the lagoon’s warm waters and see a variety of tropical species. The location is, in fact, a true aquatic preserve. The investigation of a plane disaster continues this discovery.

French-Polynesian Fusion Cuisine

Even if you’re not in France, the food is still French in French Polynesia, like New Caledonia. The island has a strong French influence in its cuisine, which is supplemented by local Tahitian ingredients.

Many dishes come with sauces and, of course, are named after French cuisine. Poisson Cru, a Tahitian variation of the raw fish dish ceviche, is the country’s national cuisine.

Home to the capital of French Polynesia, you are bound to find a plethora of local eats in Tahiti. And with the abundance of places to sample traditional dishes, here are some you can try:

Poisson Cru or Ei’a Ota

Poisson Cru is a French word that means “raw fish.” It’s called ia ota in Tahitian pronounced as “ee-ah oh-tah”. It’s on every menu on the islands, so give it a try while you’re there. Raw tuna marinated in lime juice and coconut milk is blended with diced veggies in this delightful, melt-in-your-mouth dish.

Poisson Cru can also be made using crab, eel, lobster, mussels, octopus, squid, prawns, or sea urchin, among other seafood options. Salmon, snapper, halibut, and jackfish are some of the other fish options.

Poulet Fafa

Poulet Fafa is a typical Tahitian meal that is usually served as part of an “ahima’a,” or pit barbeque. In the remaining oil, sauté the onion, garlic, and ginger, then return the chicken pieces to the dish and simmer until tender.

Cornstarch or arrowroot soaked in coconut milk is recommended to thicken the sauce. The ideal way to serve Poulet Fafa is with sweet potatoes and taro leaves.


Po’e is a delicious fruit dessert that is a staple of Tahitian cuisine. It’s actually a fruit pudding with a distinctive flavor. The popular dessert is wrapped in banana leaves and grilled over an open fire.

Is Tahiti or Hawaii Better?

These two destinations are as mainstream as a destination could get. They both have more similarities than differences and make excellent holiday destinations.

But upon a close careful look, the few differences they have can easily set them apart. Especially for those who know what they want out of a tropical Pacific experience.

If you’re up for more lounging on the beach with cocktails on hand type of deal, Tahiti is the better choice. When it comes to beaches and swimming Tahiti is better. Plus, the island has a more diverse range of accommodations capable of welcoming different types of vacationers.

Hawaii on the other hand is better suited for those looking to have a jam-packed experience for their holiday. You can have culture, surfing, hiking, and tons of adventure in Hawaii. Not to mention Honolulu’s balance of tropical and cosmopolitan charm make for energetic nightlife.


Is Tahiti Similar to Hawaii?

Given both destinations are located right in the middle of the Pacific, Tahiti and Hawaii look almost the same. Especially with their shared Polynesian undertones.

But underneath the marketing ploy, Tahiti and Hawaii are especially distinct. From its culture, geological landscape, and tourist draws.

How Is Tahiti Different From Hawaii?

The sceneries of Hawaii are probably the stuff of travel postcards and holiday travel promos. Thanks to its iconic beaches and landscape, and not to mention its well-loved culture. Pinpointing Hawaii’s highlights isn’t too challenging.

The US Pacific gem tends to be more tourist-saturated and has everything every type of traveler could ever need. Expect crowds and lots of activities and adventures in Hawaii.

Thanks to Tahiti’s much fewer reception much is still left to explore, or even Instagrammed. Sweet and beautiful, Tahiti from the POV of postcards and travel ads, is a paradise more beautiful than Hawaii itself.

Tahiti is not meant for huge crowds, and loud, rowdy nights. The island is best reserved, however, for those who like to have a mellow time in an uber-romantic place.

Which Is More Beautiful – Tahiti or Hawaii?

When it comes to natural beauty, from landscape down under its waters, Tahiti is by far the more beautiful destination. It’s not hard to imagine how beautiful Hawaii is, thanks to its household name, but Tahiti is in a different league.

Speckled with lagoons, lush forests, and a secluded feel, Tahiti is the queen of French Polynesia. The island projects an image of what a faraway island looks like that oozes otherworldly beauty and luxury at the same time.

Think Hawaii, without the crowds and volcanoes, just plain natural beauty and resorts that seem to own whole islands. And on top of that, Tahiti isn’t just an island with stunning beaches; it has rivers and trademark lagoons that seem to circle the island.

Is Tahiti More Expensive Than Hawaii?

Hawaii may have an infamous reputation as the most expensive US state to live in, but it isn’t the most expensive holiday destination out there. Upon comparing costs, Tahiti is more expensive than Hawaii.

Hawaii has one great advantage against Tahiti. It is a combination of relatively cheaper prices and plenty more options for accommodation. You can easily find great deals in Hawaii than in Tahiti.

Tahiti tends to be slightly more expensive than Hawaii. For one, just like Hawaii, Tahiti imports its supplies because of its isolated location. Second, most of its accommodations are on the luxurious end, so you can expect to have prices on the costly side.

According to previous travelers who have been to both Hawaii and Tahiti, you would need around 250 USD daily budget in Tahiti. While roughly 200 USD for a daily budget would suffice in Hawaii.

Tahiti or Hawaii for Honeymoon?

When it comes to honeymoons, both places are ideal. How they appeal depends on what kind of post-wedding experience a recently married couple wants.

Tahiti and Hawaii are famous for evoking the necessary romantic ambiance. Thanks to their respective distinct tropical charms.

Hawaii is probably best for the adventurous couple, looking to a lot while doing the most out of each experience. The US state is famous for being jam-packed with activities. From surfing to volcano trekking, Hawaii can keep you on your toes.

Tahiti, on the other hand, is best for couples looking to wind down while sitting right next to probably the most beautiful landscape in the world. Plus, luxury hotels cater to lovers and married couples as well. Think cool drinks and stunning beaches with an air of intimacy and seclusion.

Is Tahiti Hotter Than Hawaii?

From land temperature down to the waters, Tahiti tends to be hotter than Hawaii. Tahiti’s annual average highs can play around 30ºC (or 86ºF), while Hawaii’s can go around 27ºC (or 73ºF). The coldest temperatures can drop around 24ºC or 75ºF in Tahiti, and 23ºC or 73ºF for Hawaii.

While Tahiti may be hotter than Hawaii, both destinations are the hottest and the sunniest holiday destinations in the world. A lot of it comes down to their geographical location. Tahiti and Hawaii can get hot but they also see lesser rainy days, and there are the trade winds that somehow regulate the perceived heat.

Is Tahiti in Hawaii?

Tahiti and Hawaii are both on the Pacific Ocean and are located within the Polynesian region of Oceania. But they are completely separate from each other geographically. Hawaii is located north of Polynesia while Tahiti is located southeast.

Are Hawaiians From Tahiti?

A great deal of Hawaii’s Polynesian culture and identity came from French Polynesia, specifically the island of Tahiti. But not all Hawaiians have descended from Tahitian Polynesians, others are from the Marquesas Islands.

Where Is Tahiti Compared to Hawaii?

Tahiti and Hawaii are both located in the subregion of Oceania called Polynesia, located in the Pacific Ocean. Tahiti is located in the southern Pacific Ocean, south of Hawaii, and halfway between California, in the US, and Australia. Hawaii, on the other hand, is located north of Tahiti, and 2,397 miles (3,857 km) from San Francisco, California.

How Far Is Tahiti From Hawaii?

Tahiti is approximately 4,384 km or 2,724 miles from Hawaii, directly.

Is Hawaii and Tahiti in the Same Time Zone?

Given their geographical locations, both Hawaii and Tahiti are in the same GMT-10 time zone.

How Big Is Tahiti Compared to Hawaii?

The Hawaiian archipelago’s total landmass is estimated to be about 16,635 sq km or 6,422 sq miles. Meanwhile, the islands of Tahiti have a total of about 1,045 sq km or 403 sq miles, making Hawaii a great deal bigger.

How to Get From Hawaii to Tahiti

The only way to get to Tahiti from Hawaii, or basically anywhere outside of French Polynesia is by flying. You can book flights with Hawaiian Airlines, United Airlines, and American Airlines.

How Many Hours Is Tahiti From Hawaii?

Flying to Tahiti from Hawaii can take you around 8 to 9 hours, depending on certain factors.

Can You Fly Direct From Hawaii to Tahiti?

You can fly direct from Hawaii to Tahiti, however, you can only do that with Hawaiian Airlines.

How Many Hours Does It Take to Fly From Hawaii to Tahiti?

Flying from Hawaii to Tahiti can take anywhere from 8 to 9 hours. Due to a variety of conditions, however, your estimated flight duration could potentially change.

How Many Nautical Miles Is It From Hawaii to Tahiti?

Tahiti is approximately 2,383.6 nautical miles from Hawaii.

How Far Is Hawaii From Tahiti by Boat?

Getting between Hawaii and Tahiti by boat is around 4,023 km or 2,500 miles. Should you brave the Pacific Ocean by boat or by cruise, it can take you between 10 to 20 days, depending on your craft and speed.