You will find here all the practical information you need to organize your holidays in Tahiti and her islands
Tahiti and her islands are located approximately 17100 km from Metropolitan France, 9800 km from USA, 7800 km from Australia, 4100 km from New Zealand. These islands cover a huge ocean surface of some 4 million square kilometers, which is the same area as Europe.
With a hundred and eighteen islands spread, French Polynesia (Tahiti and her islands) offers an infinite range of travel possibilities: honeymoon, romantic escape, adventure, sports, cultural insights, spa and well-being, scuba diving exploration, cruises, etc…
The islands are divided into five archipelagoes, each having its own personality.
The most visited islands are Tahiti (where you will find the only international airport for French Polynesia), Moorea (a 30-minute fast ferry ride away from Tahiti), Bora Bora(the Pearl of the Pacific), Raiatea ( The cultural center), Taha’a (the Vanilla island), Huahine (the Garden island), Rangiroa and Fakarava (divers’ paradise), and for a few the mystical Hiva Oa (Marquesas islands) that inspired so many artists among which famous painter Paul Gauguin.
Tahiti and her islands are 10 hours behind GMT.
This is a 12-hours summertime or 11 hours wintertime difference from Paris, 2 hours difference from the United States Pacific Coast, 6 hours difference from Santiago de Chile, 19 hours from Tokyo and the Australian eastern seaboard and a 22 hours difference from New Zealand.
Tahiti and her islands enjoy a tropical climate. The average ambient temperature is 27°C and the waters of the lagoon are a fairly constant 26°C.
While further away from the equator, the archipelagoes down south, (The Austral and the Gambier) enjoy cooler temperatures.
There are two « seasons » , a dry and a wet season :
- • The dry season runs approximately from March to November with temperatures varying between 22 and 27 °C.
- • The wet season runs approximately from December to February is warmer with temperatures between 25 and 35 °C . You may also experience some tropical showers which do not last more than 30 minutes
- Bring summer clothes, beachwear, sportswear and boat wear, all preferably in cotton
- Have something warm available for the evenings which are sometimes cooler
- Footwear : sandals, sneakers, boat shoes
- Essential : swimming costumes, sunglasses, hat, sunblock creams and a powerful anti-mosquito lotion.
Once in Tahiti or in the islands, you can buy “pareo”, typical Polynesian apparel to wear anytime during day or night time. You will find them in most shops and boutiques on all the islands.
While the official language is French, the indigenous languages, such as Tahitian, are still widely in each archipelago.
English is also widely spoken, particularly in tourist areas.
The currency used in French Polynesia is the Franc of the “Compagnie Française du Pacifique” usually called French Pacific Franc.
Its abbreviation is XPF or CFP.
Its exchange rate with the Euro is fixed flat rate (no fluctuation):
- 1 € = 119,33 Pacific Franc(XPF).
- 1 USD = 88 Pacific Franc(XPF) rate as of April 2012.
US dollars are widely accepted in most tourist places, however we suggest you to exchange your home currency into French Pacific francs upon arrival either at Tahiti international airport or at any bank of Papeete.
Bank notes come in denominations of 500, 1 000, 5 000 and 10,000, and coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100.
Some words in Tahitian :
- Ia Ora Na : Hello
- Maeva : Welcome
- Mauru’uru : Thank you
- Motu: Small island (small islet inside the lagoon)
- Moana : Sea
- Pape (papé) : Water
- Pape monamona : Juice
- Faraoa : Bread
- Faraoa monamona : Cake
- Hapaina : Glass
- Pia : Beer
- E (é) : Yes
- Aita : No
- Nana, Parahi : Goodbye
- Tiare Tahiti : Flower, emblem of the French Polynesia
- Tiki : Polynesian handcrafted statue
- Matete (Matété) : Market
- E aha to oe huru ? How are you ?
Several companies operate to French Polynesia and land at Faaa International airport (PPT)
• Air Tahiti Nui : Air Tahiti Nui is the French Polynesia flag carrier. It operates direct flights from :
- France – Paris Charles de Gaulle (with a technical stop in Los Angeles): 4 to 7 flights per week.
Air Tahiti Nui has also special rate agreements from main French and European cities. Please ask our travel experts for more information.
- The United States(Los Angeles) : 4 to 8 flights per week
- Japan (Tokyo) : 2 flights per week
- New Zealand (Auckland) : 2 à 3 flights per week
• Air France from Paris Charles de Gaulle and Los Angeles
• Air New Zealand from Auckland
• LAN from Santiago de Chile
• Hawaiian Airlines from Honolulu
• Air Calin from New Caledonia (Nouméa)
Tahiti Cruise and Vacation has special rates with Air Tahiti Nui and the flights we include in the packages are operated by this company.
Passengers (except infants) on Air Tahiti Nui are allowed the following carry-on baggage:
All Destinations (All Class of Services)
*In addition to your maximum allowance, you may carry one (1) additional personal item in the cabin (except infants): Handbag or pocket book, Small camera case or binoculars, Infant bag or baby food, Briefcase or laptop computer with case. (Additionally, assistive devices such as walking sticks, canes or crutches are also permitted to be carried, provided they can be safely stored onboard).
*** Government and labor regulations limit the maximum weight per piece to 70 pounds / 32 kilos for safety reasons.
(Next to Hawaiian Airlines and the “Banque de Polynésie”).
Luggage storage is paid from 0 to 24 hours by piece and by day upon deposit.
The rate per day and per piece are as follows :
- surf boards : 950 XPF
- Surfboards over 2meters : 2200 XPF
- Wind surf : 2700 XPF
With a territory as wide as Europe, air transportation is the most practical and fastest way to travel in remote islands and archipelagoes from Tahiti.
However, boat transportation between the islands has improved, especially in the Leeward islands where it is now possible to discover the islands at one’s own pace.
Air Tahiti operates regularly scheduled flights out of Tahiti over a network of 47 islands and atolls.
The airline company has also implemented inter island passes which enable anyone to benefit from special fares for any combination of islands : Bora Bora Pass, Lagoon Pass…
Our travel experts will include in your package the best possible offers.
There is a maximum luggage allowance of 10 kg / person (child and adult) except under certain conditions:
- Passengers living on the islands (other than Tahiti) and needing to go abroad: luggage allowance of 20 kg. With proof of travel (itinerary, boarding pass …), passengers have a maximum of 7 days, both the outward and return, to take the international flight after the local one and vice versa.
- Reserved passengers and tourists whose go on the islands and have fly ticket emit by Air Tahiti:
- • Passengers reserved in class Y : 20kg
- • Passengers reserved in class Z : 50kg
- Passengers traveling toward the islands and has not booked with Air Tahiti are subject to the baggage excess marked on their ticket. Check with your company.
- Divers: Extra baggage allowance of 5 kg only on ATR flights and on presentation of their diving card.
There is no baggage allowance for babies.
For any charter request, Air Archipels and Pol’Air also provide rates based on some special itineraries. For more information, please ask our travel experts.
Catamaran and ferry boats cross several times a day between Tahiti and Moorea with Aremiti.
The Aranui, a cargo and passenger vessel also operates spectacular cruises in the Marquesas islands.
On request, Tahiti Helicopters operates private rotations from Tahiti and also in the Leeward islands between resorts.
On the island of Tahiti, buses and taxis are available for those who do not have a car. Car rentals are also located on the main islands.
You will still be able to get on the typical local “trucks”. According to the islands, biking or riding a horse is very convenient.
On the Tuamotu islands, boat is the most practical way of transportation especially to go from one “motu” (little islet) to another.
For your movements on Tahiti and Moorea, taxis are at your disposal.
In Polynesia, taxis do not possess meters, the coverage is of 1000 F.CFP of day and night to that it is necessary to add the kilometric rate which is of 130 F.CFP/km (day rate) and 230 F.CFP/km (night rate).
Welcome to Tahiti! When you will make your booking , you can choose between 2 types of transfer : The Standard (or regular) transfer or the Private one.
Regarding the standard transfer, our agent will welcome you with a flower lei, give and explain you your travel documents (vouchers, itinerary, etc….) upon your arrival at Tahiti International airport. With this option, all guests must be present before going to the hotel by van.
For the private transfer, no waiting time ! you’ll be immediately transfer to your hotel by private car. Of course, all documents will be given to you before.
This service includes some special amenities like VIP greetings with special flower lei, a chilled bottle of water and moist chilled hand towel.
Note that depending of the islands, all transfers are operated by one of our provider OR directly by the hotel.
Passport valid six months after the return is required for anyone wishing to travel to French Polynesia
- 1/ the following nationalities can stay without visa from one to three months in French Polynesia except those from gainful employment during their stay, no matter for how long is it:
- European Union : Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Romania, The United Kingdom, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Spain, Greece..
- Asia-Pacific : South Korea, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand, Tokelau Islands, Niue, Cook Islands, Mariana Islands, American Samoa Islands, Guam and American passport holders, Australia, Norfolk citizens and holders of Australian passports, Malaysia, Brunei, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Western Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Taiwan ( the condition to have a passport bearing the identity card number)..
- Chinese nationals from Hong-Kong with HKSAR passports and those from Macao with RAEM passports.
- North, South and Central America : United States, Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, Costa Rica, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Uruguay, Guatemala, The Bahamas, The Barbados.
- Others countries : Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Holy See, Switzerland, Croatia, Antigua and the Barbados, Israel, Macedonia, Maurice, Montenegro, Palaos, Saint Christophe and Nevis, Serbia, Seychelles.
2/ Nationals from all others countries are required to obtain a visa from the Embassy of France or the French consulate of their country. This visa must have the required mention “Valid for French Polynesia”..
3/ for others foreigners exempted of visa, it’s better to contact the direction of borders police of French Polynesia.Tel: 689 80 06 20
Since January 12, 2009, to transit on USA, you must:
- • Being in possession of a round-trip plane ticket (that proves you leave the U.S territory, no matter the airport of entry or departure).
- • Submit an electronic passport except if you have a valid individual machine readable passport and emitted no later than October 25, 2005. Otherwise, obtaining a visa will be required.
- • Complete the ESTA formalities, paying since September 2010, on this site before travelling to receive a travel authorization.
No vaccines are required except for passengers from high risk countries.
What currency do we use?
The currency used in French Polynesia is the franc CFP (abbreviation XPF). Its exchange rate with the euro doesn’t change and is fixed on basis of 1 euro = 119,33 francs CFP
Exchange offices are available at the international airport of Tahiti and in most of Polynesian banks and hotels.
They’ll give you back local coins of 1, 2, 5,10,20,50 and 100 francs, or bills in denomination of 500, 1000, 5000 and 10 000 francs. Are accepted: every currencies having official rate, international credit cards, travel checks (there’s an exchange commission on them).
The main Banks in French Polynesia are: Bank SOCREDO, Banque de Polynésie, Banque de Tahiti.
Most storekeepers, restaurants and hotels accept credit cards Master Card, Visa card, American Express, Diner’s Club with which cash withdrawals are possible on ATM’s.
We recommend that you check with your bank for the amount of the weekly withdrawals which can be capped to 300 euros.
Exchange offices are available at the international airport of Tahiti and in most of Polynesian banks and hotels.
Warning : some atolls and remote islands have neither exchange offices nor ATM’s and are not equipped to accept credit card. Then before leaving Tahiti, save the money needed to pay your expenses in the islands.
Cost of living
Here are some approximate prices of main items found in French Polynesia. These prices vary according the shops (stores, snack bars, restaurants…) and the islands.
- A baguette : 53 CFP
- A water bottle 1.5L : 200 CFP
- A can of juice 33 cl : 150 CFP
- A raw fish in coconut milk : from 800 CFP
- A Hinano beer 33 cl : from 200 CFP
- A flat/meal in a snack bar : from 900 CFP
- A dish/meal in a restaurant : from 1500 CFP
Tips are not required in Polynesia and the services charges are mostly included in prices in restaurants. However, they are not prohibited.
Apart the VAT applicable fee and a tourism promotion included in hotel prices, a tourist tax is also payable and is collected by municipalities. It is payable on site within the accommodation.
This tax is charged in Papeete, Faaa, Punaauia, Moorea, Bora Bora, Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa, Rangiroa, Mataiva, Tikehau and Nuku Hiva and is:
• 150 Euros / person / day for cruise ships, classified hotels and other establishments with similar characteristics.
• 50 Euros / person / day for non-classified hotels, guest houses and homestays or other accommodation having similar characteristics.
Are exempt from tax children under 12 years old staying with their parents as well as travelers and agents carrying the professional identity card during their stay made for the exclusive needs of the profession.
This aforesaid exemption is granted for a stay of 3 days.
Tap water is drinkable only in Papeete and on Bora Bora. In the other islands, please inquire.
If in doubt, use bottled water in sealed bottles.
Electricity: 110 or 220 volts (60Hz) depending on the island and the types of accommodation. Check before connecting.
Opening hours of shops and restaurants
Monday to Friday from 7:30 AM to 11:30 AM, and 01:30 PM to 05:00 / 06:00 PM, also on Saturday: 7:30 AM to 11:30 AM and afternoon for some of them.
Most shops are closed on Sunday morning but at the Papeete market the animation starts at 5:00 AM.
There are a wide variety of flowers, fruit, pareo, hats, pearls, shells, handcrafts and various souvenirs.
Official wedding in French Polynesia is now possible since 2009 thanks to a new French law which allows foreigners to get a legal marriage here.
The dream comes true!
Now couples can have a memorable legal wedding on a part of paradise on Earth!
Here is all you need to know to prepare this special day. The process can take three to five months, then we would highly recommend you to plan your wedding ahead of time.
Our travel experts will help you organize this wedding by being your local assistant in Tahiti
These are the conditions to apply to legal wedding in Tahiti and her islands:
- Must be at least 18 years old.
- Can not be already married.
- Must be opposite sex.
- Cannot be related by direct lineage.
- Are not French nationals or residents in France.
- Must have witnesses who are at least 18 years old. If the chosen witness cannot be present, the mayor’s office can provide a witness.
Here are for your information the required documents, however Tahiti Cruise and Vacation will take care of all the formalities for you :
- The completed “Marriage of Foreign Citizens in French Polynesia” application.
- A letter signed and dated by both future spouses, addressed to the mayor of the commune chosen for the marriage ceremony.
- A copy of both spouses’ passports is required to prove their identities.
- A certified copy of both spouses’ birth certificates authenticated (issued less than 6 months prior to the date of the marriage) with an “Apostille”. These documents must be translated into French by an approved translator and legalized by the French Consulate. Translators can be found on the consulate’s website.
- A “Certificate of Non-Marital Status” (“Certificat de Celibat”) signed by a lawyer, translated into French and legalized by the French Consulate. Lawyers can be found on the consulate’s website.
- Proof of residency for both of the future spouses (a utility bill or any bill noting names and physical address will suffice). A photocopy of bills for both spouses is acceptable.
- Optional, if a prenuptial agreement has been created, it must be translated into French and authenticated by the French Consulate.
On the day of the ceremony the futures spouses, guests and witnesses go to the city hall where the mayor (or an appointed representative from the mayor’s office) will perform the ceremony.
At the issue of the legal ceremony, the mayor will give the Marriage Certificate dated and signed by the mayor’s office.
Apart civil marriage, spouses may make a traditional wedding ceremony, without legal force, to complete a civil marriage or renew their vows. Most resorts, local partners and the Moorea Tiki Village Theatre offer different options.
In hotels, honeymoon visitors are greeted with welcome gifts.
Many services “Honeymoon” are also available (romantic dinner, floral arrangement, private tour …).
Private providers also organize traditional wedding ceremonies on the island of Tahiti and the islands.
Our travel experts will help you to organize your wedding ceremony.
A typical traditional wedding ceremony
While the guests are in separated bungalows, the priest’s assistants will come to dress up the bride and groom with white pareo (painted wraps, like sarongs). The ceremony includes traditional clothes, a priest, a group of dancers and musicians, tropical flower arrangements, leis and crowns and a wedding certificate made of traditional “tapa”.
There is not sharing rings. Spouses crowned each other with leis and crowns made with the emblematic flower of Tahiti, The Tiare Tahiti.
Then they are wrapped in a “Tifaifai” (Tahitian quilt) following the ceremony to symbolise their union. At the end of this ceremony, the priest gives a Tahitian name to the couple which represents them and means that they are One.
A memorable “tapa”, with the couples’ joint Tahitian name and the pictures took by a professional photographer, will be given to commemorate this unforgettable occasion.
After the ceremony, a cocktail is served to the couple. A romantic dinner can be prepared on a private islet, on the beach, or at a restaurant.
What a wonderful occasion to make dream come true!
French Polynesia has a good health and structure coverage. On the island of Tahiti, sanitary facilities and health services are available. The cities of Papeete, Taravao (peninsula of Tahiti) and Uturoa (Raiatea) have fully equipped hospitals. Other tourist islands at least possess a hospital or a clinic.
- The Central Post Office in Papeete, located near the wharf of yachts and Bougainville Park is open weekdays from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm and Saturday from 8:00 am to 11:00 am. It has a philatelic center. Other post offices are available in each municipality on Tahiti. In add, each island, has a post office, very useful for cash withdrawals.
- To make calls: There are always international phone boxes and prepaid cards are sold in post offices and tobacco shops.
The mobile phone service in French Polynesia
There are now two providers of mobile telephony, Vini and Vodafone (launched in June 2013).
Created in June 1995, the Vini mobile network uses the GSM 900 Mhz standard and now covers 98% of the population of French Polynesia.
To continue using your mobile phone on the Vini network in French Polynesia without changing your SIM card, make sure that your operator is a Vini partner :
If your operator is not on our list, you can buy on-site the “Vinicard”, Vini’s prepaid card.
To find out more about the “Vini” network, click on this link.
Most hotels and some guesthouses offer internet access to their customers as well as post offices and cafes in some islands.
The connection can be free or charge depending on the establishments.
Internet access in Polynesia is mainly provided by Mana, a subsidiary of the Office des Postes et Télécommunications, which offers classic modem access solutions to ADSL offers.
During a short stay, it is advisable to use a connection without a subscription.
Another supplier, Viti, was born and offers coverage on the island of Tahiti. www.viti.pf
The “Wi-Fi” wireless connection remains the most convenient way to stay connected from your laptop or smartphone.
Mana offers a wireless network access called Manaspot It is enough to obtain a prepaid card ManaSpot from OPT agencies or authorized distributors or to make a secure online payment on www.mana.pf .
If the Manaspot network is not available, other wireless networks will allow you to connect to the web!
WiFi wireless access is also available at most OPT locations or in public places covered by ManaSpot.