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Getting to Tahiti

FAQ

What are the “must-do’s” in the Society Islands?

They are a great combination of water and land activities with a crystal clear lagoon and lush high mountains. Do not miss a traditional picnic on an islet, shopping for your favorite black pearls, ATV or 4WD tours in the beautiful valleys of the islands, fine dining and Polynesian spa treatments, kayaking Raiatea’s only river at dusk, visiting the vanilla plantations in Tahaa, Diving with manta rays in Bora Bora, encountering and maybe swimming with humpback whales around Moorea or Tahiti during the season…

What are the “must-do’s” in the Marquesas?

Take part in the Marquesans’ rich cultural heritage, tattoos, carvings, weaving, which they will share with you. Go on scenic hikes or 4WD safaris along cliffs, waterfalls and meet wild horses running free, discover where the French painter Paul Gauguin spent the last years of his life, share a traditional meal and learn the “bird’s dance”. Snorkel with hundreds of melon-head dolphins and dive with manta rays and hammerhead sharks. Manta rays are often seen at the back of the boat in the evening and it is just spectacular!

What are the “must-do’s” in the Tuamotu?

This is the place to put your head under the water and witness some of the most beautiful underwater sceneries. Diving and snorkeling are world class offering some of the most spectacular spots on the planet. The atolls allow all water activities. Discover pink sand beaches in Fakarava, spend a day with the islanders in a remote village in Toau, visit a pearl farm and discover how they graft the oysters producing this ocean gem, dive and snorkel with wild dolphins in Rangiroa, encounter friendly sharks while diving, go on a wine tasting expedition in the only vineyard under this latitude, fish and enjoy being at the end of the world!

When is a good time to visit French Polynesia?

Basically, anytime of the year. However, the likeliness of rain is higher between November and March (Austral Summer) and it is warmer.

When are humpback whales around the waters of French Polynesia?

When cruising on a yacht between July and October, the likeliness of encountering a whale is high. Given the usual yachts’ itineraries, they are best seen around Tahiti, the Tahiti Peninsula and Moorea but can be spotted in the other islands.

What is the likeliness of a hurricane every year?

It is very low. French Polynesia has a record of an average of one hurricane very 10 years between November and March. Given the reliable weather forecasts, should a hurricane be on the way around the main islands visited, yachts have time cruise to the Marquesas and find shelter there. This group of islands is always outside of the potential depression zone.

What is the dress code in the high-end resorts?

It is very casual as all resorts are located on a beautiful beach. The dress code is more formal in the evening if you go to a fine dining restaurant but will remain casual if you sit at the bar or have dinner on the beach.

Is French Polynesia kids friendly?

Yes, it is. There is a lot for them to do and explore on land, treasure hunts can be arranged in the Tuamotu atolls, for example, and they will enjoy being in shallow, warm water surrounded by hundreds of friendly colorful fish.

Is it easy to get a quality spa treatment?

Yes, it is, especially around the Society Islands. All resorts have a spa area with a wide list of different treatments available and quality products from luxury cosmetic brands.

What kind of provisioning is available for yachts?

Basically anything! Fresh food supplies and dairy produce are imported into French Polynesia from the US, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and France. Crusty baguette and croissants thanks to the French influence can be found anywhere in the main islands every morning. Any provisioning can be air freighted from Tahiti to any of the islands where Air Tahiti - the domestic airline - flies.

What are the most sought after activities when cruising on a superyacht?

Most land activities on a private basis (ATV, 4x4 inner island safari, picnic on a secluded islet), any water activities (diving, snorkeling, surfing, sailing, whale watching during the season, spearfishing, free diving, water skiing, paddle boarding, jet ski riding…) but also hosting a traditional dance group on the aft deck of the yacht

Is it easy to arrange change-over guests other than in Tahiti during a cruise?

Yes, it is as long as the island chosen hosts an airport. Usually, on commercial flights, departing guests often board the plane the new guests have just disembarked.

Can older people travel to Polynesia?

Older people will find no problems travelling to Tahiti and its islands, as there are excellent medical facilities available.

You are recommended to bring with you your medical records including your medical history and current state of health. If you have a regular doctor you should also have his full contact details.
Finally, before you leave for Tahiti, check that you have adequate insurance cover for your holiday.

What about tipping?

Tipping is not expected by hotel and restaurant staff, but it is still a way for the visitor to reward good service and show appreciation. There are no rules or customs as to the amount of the tip.

In Tahiti and its islands, a service charge has been included on the bill for accommodation and dining in large hotels since 2007. At the end of the year, the collected charges are divided up and distributed to the staff, giving incentive to employees to provide top-notch service.

Where can you buy postcards and stamps?

Most souvenir shops sell postcards of our islands.
For stamps, the central Post Office of Papeete, situated near the yacht quay and the Parc Bougainville, is open from 7 am to 6 pm during the week and from 8 am to 11 am on Saturdays. It also has a philatelic centre.

What administrative formalities need to be completed in order to get married in Polynesia?

The following documents must be supplied to the local town hall where the marriage is to be conducted:

  • birth certificates (issued within the last 3 months) of the bride and groom,
  • one electricity, telephone or water bill proving one month’s continuous residence (if the electricity bill is not in the name of the bride or groom, the holder of the account must confirm the residence of the bride and groom and supply a copy of his ID),
  • a copy of the prenuptial agreement, if there is one, drawn up by a solicitor,
  • children’s birth certificates,
  • ID of the principal witnesses, with their profession and address,
  • plus, for those in the armed forces, certificate of presence in the profession.

And here is the list of the town halls in the islands.

What exactly is the weather like? What seasons does Tahiti have?

At Polynesian latitudes, it is summer all year round! However, you can distinguish two main “seasons”, dry and rainy. The first lasts from March to November and has temperatures of between 22° and 27°C; the second, from December to late February, is a little warmer (between 25° and 35°C), but also subject to tropical showers, which are like hot showers which rarely last longer than 30 minutes.
The temperature may appear high, but the trade winds from the Pacific blow all the time and refresh the air of the islands beautifully.

Being much further from the Equator, the archipelagos furthest to the south, the Austral and Gambier Islands, have cooler temperatures than the Society and Marquesas Islands. As for the Tuamotu archipelago, it enjoys record-breaking sunshine, reaching nearly 3,000 hours of sun per year.
The vegetation is particularly luxuriant during the rainy season, or season of plenty, between the months of November and March. This is also the best time for those who love to sample new tastes as all the tropical fruit are ripe.

What is the cost of living?

The following list shows the approximate prices of certain commonly bought items (subject to variation):

  • Loaf of bread: 53 F.CFP
  • Water (1.5l): 300 F.CFP
  • Dish of the day in a snack bar from 900 F.CFP
  • Dish of the day in a restaurant from 1 500 F.CFP
  • Can of fruit juice, soda: 250 F.CFP
  • Fresh fruit juice from 500 F.CFP
  • Sandwich from 150 F.CFP
  • Coffee in a bar from 250 F.CFP
  • Pastry: 150 F.CFP
  • A kilo of carrots: approximately 200 F.CFP
  • A kilo of bananas: approximately 220 F.CFP
  • A kilo of fresh white tuna from 1 000 F.CFP
  • A kilo of fresh red tuna from 1 400 F.CFP
  • A pack of 4 pineapples: 700 F.CFP
  • A local bottled beer (shop): 200 F.CFP

Where can you connect to the Internet?

For the past few years Tahiti and its islands have been enjoying unlimited high-speed Internet service, widely distributed throughout the islands, thanks to the Honotua fibre optic submarine communications cable system that connects the islands to Hawaii, USA, replacing satellite connections.

There are two Internet service providers in French Polynesia: Mana and Viti (operating since 2012), which offer various service plans to keep you connected during your stay.

Internet cafés exist on the most frequently visited islands (Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, etc.). Most hotels now have Internet centres or offer Wi-Fi connections, sometimes at no charge.


3 prepaid Internet access services are available and you can use them from an Internet Kiosk (Post Office access points) or from any Wi-Fi enabled device (notebook, pad, smartphone, etc.). These access points exist at several locations and are accessible using online purchased codes or prepaid cards.

  • Manaspot: www.manaspot.pf. Available on any island that has a French Polynesia Post Office (virtually all inhabited islands). 
     
  • Hotspot WDG: www.hotspot-wdg.com. 300 access points throughout the islands. Available in many hotels.

  • Iaoraspot: used mainly by cruise passengers and yachties. There are hotspots on all the Society Islands and on Hiva Oa, Nuku Hiva, Rangiroa, Fakarava, Tikehau and Mangareva.

 

Viti service plans:
4G Internet available using a 4G dongle within the Viti coverage area (certain Tahiti areas only)
Prepaid Viti 2Mbps broadband Internet roaming cards : www.viti.pf

3G Coverage: Package deals are offered by Vini, the mobile operator. However, they are reserved for people staying in Tahiti and its islands for several months (via a subscription system).

How to call Tahiti? and how to call abroad once in Tahiti?

Making phone calls in Tahiti

The Post Office (Office des postes et télécommunications or OPT) operates two subsidiaries: one that provides mobile phone service (Vini) to Tikiphone and another that provides Internet service to Mana.

You can purchase pre-paid OPT cards to make a call from any landline telephone, mobile phone or phone booth.
Most of the inhabited islands still have phone booths that use cards.
The prepaid “OPT Card” is sold at the Tahiti Philately website (www.tahitiphilatelie.com), in all 80 Post Office branches and by licensed retailers.

Mobile phones

For the last few years, mobile phone network coverage has been expanding by leaps and bounds throughout all of French Polynesia, rates have been falling and there is a wide variety of service plans on offer.
You can bring your own mobile phone and use it in French Polynesia by arranging for international roaming before you leave. You can also buy a rechargeable “Vini Card” or a prepaid card from Vodafone, the Number 2 mobile phone network operator since 2013.

You can buy Vini cards and top up your pre-paid card at any post office branch or from a licensed retailer. You can also top up the cards online at www.vini.pf. In case you leave your mobile phone at home, you can purchase a ready-to-use Viniphone pack (mobile phone + phone number + card credits) starting at 40 euros.

Vodafone cards are sold by licensed retailers (look for the Vodafone logo in the shop window).

What type of electric current is used?

Some hotels offer either 110 or 220 volts (alternating current) but we strongly recommend the use of an adaptor for any equipment you bring, including computers.

What are the official and spoken languages?

The official language is French, but the indigenous languages, including Tahitian, are still widely spoken in each archipelago. English is also widely spoken, especially in tourist areas.
Would you like to learn some Tahitian? (related link)

What are the customs regulations concerning the movement of goods?

All goods must be declared and applicable taxes must be paid at the customs point. Note that on entering or leaving French Polynesia, certain goods are subject to specific regulations. To see a list of these goods visit: www.tahiti-aeroport.pf The General Management of customs and indirect taxes also has information on the website of the Ministry of the Economy, Finances and Industry: www.polynesie-francaise.pref.gouv.fr/

Can you drink the water?

You can drink the tap water in Papeete and throughout the island of Bora Bora. In the other islands, ask if you can drink it or not. If in doubt, use mineral water from sealed bottles.

Do you need any vaccinations before travelling?

No vaccinations are required, except for travellers from countries where there are risks (ask your airline for further information). On the island of Tahiti, health services and facilities are available. Papeete, Taravao (Tahiti peninsula) and Uturoa (Raiatea) have full hospital facilities (hospitals and clinics). The other islands visited by tourists have at least an infirmary or dispensary.

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