We traveled to Tahiti in the late 1980s so I am sure things have changed a lot. We stayed on Moorea and Bora Bora which I highly recommend. Both islands were very different. We flew to each island. Papeete was much more commercial so don't recommend much time there. Scuba and snorkeling are a must.
Food is very expensive. I remember $18 hamburgers, and $50 breakfast buffets in the late 1980s. I shudder to think what it must cost now. Eat local fish and fruit. French influence significant with people carrying baguettes everywhere you go.
I am very tempted to return and try a Tradewinds cruise as our "overwater bungalow" because that's a killer deal and this would be a different way to explore the islands. @klpca
was your boat air conditioned? If not, was it comfortable to sleep at night?
We did the Tradewinds cruise just last August 19 and then spent 5 days at the Hilton on Moorea.
Tradeswinds does have AC......But it is up to the captain to run it. Our captain was beyond stingy. He only ran the AC at night when the first person went to bed. Think showering each night in a sauna. The AC also broke and we spent 1 sleepless night and then had to move to another boat. We did not have the normal crew. The base manager was our Captain.
The Hilton OTW bungalow was nice ish. The price outrageous. For the price I did expect the resort to be in better condition. If we ever return we would pick a less expensive option.
We got a great deal on airfare on Air France/Delta partner and we used Costco travel for the Hilton, inter island air fare and all our transfers. Definitely would recommend Costco, they made a complicated itinerary a breeze.
We stayed 1 night at a 3 star hotel on Raiatea called the Raiatea Lodge. We got 5 star treatment in a modest, clean, acceptable hotel. Which we preferred to the Hilton believe it or not. They had great snorkeling out in front of the hotel. We wished we had stayed 2 to 3 more days here.
We spent our last night on Tahiti at the Manueva. ( I think, I will have to check arranged by Costco) it was a dump, buggy, and just gross with bad food. We essentially just slept there before our flight. In hindsight we should have payed for the Intercontinental. It worked but we would not do it again.
Will we return? Not sure. It was gorgeous and definitely a bucket list item. The overall expense was 10 k for 2 people for 2 weeks. We discussed how we could have spent a month in Hawaii or St Martin for the $$ But we saw and did somethings we will never forgot. YMMV