Welcome to French Polynesia (Tahiti)

French Polynesia (Tahiti)


French Polynesia covers over two million square miles of the South Pacific Ocean and is comprised of 118 islands that are spread out over five great archipelagos. The capital city of Papeete, on Tahiti, is reached by an 8 hour direct flight from Los Angeles.Tahiti is in the same time zone as Hawaii which means no jet lag.

These islands were first colonized by migrants that traveled across open ocean from Southeast Asia. Over several centuries, these voyages also helped to colonize Hawaii, New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Easter Island, Tonga and Samoa. European exploration of the islands began in 1521 but it wasn’t until more than 170 years later that the first British captain stepped onto the island of Tahiti. After the first maps and illustrations of the islands were brought back to England, by Captain James Cook in 1769, the number of expeditions to the islands grew. British missionaries and French military forever changed the Tahitian way of life by creating a French-British rivalry for control of the islands. Finally, in 1957, all the islands of Tahiti were reestablished under French control and became known as French Polynesia. The ancient Maohi heritage, culture and traditions remain rich throughout the islands and every July, Tahitians gather in Papeete for the annual Heiva festival, as a celebration of this heritage.

The all-year-round tropical climate and warm sunshine provide the islands with perfect conditions to offer a stunning array of flora that is totally unique to this region. Sweet perfumes produced by tropical flowers like camellia, poinsettia, frangipani, heliconias, porcelain roses, orchids and hibiscus fill the air, and their vibrant colours contrast beautifully with the rich, green foliage. The Tiare Tahiti flower, which can only be found in Tahiti, is used to make leis for greeting visitors and returning families. Aside from the gorgeous flowers, there is also a multitude of fresh fruits such as pineapples, papaya, guava, cashew, avocado and an abundance of citrus fruits and melons. The most popular fruits of the islands are Mati, with its red edible berries and Noni, which resembles a soft potato.

The more than 90 varieties of birds found on the various islands are the most common species of fauna found. The Indian mynah bird and white tern are the best known of these. The marine life in French Polynesia is very rich, with many species of shellfish, shrimp, coral, sharks, rays, groupers and tropical fish. Dolphins and sea turtles can also be seen swimming around the reefs. Most of the land animals were introduced to the islands by the first Polynesians. They include pigs, goats, chickens, horses and geckos.

Tahiti is unique because of the warm loving Polynesian people, the overwater bungalows, the relaxing Polynesian spas, the many options for snorkeling and diving, but most of all, for its romance. The pristine turquoise waters, white sandy beaches and stunning island backdrops offer the perfect location for weddings and honeymoons.



Information & Facts


French Polynesia is in a moderate tropical region with a climate offering sunny, pleasant days and an average yearly air and water temperature of 27C. Summer is from November through April and the temperatures are slightly warmer and more humid. Winter is from May through October and the temperatures are slightly cooler and dryer.




French Polynesian customs laws prevent you from bringing drugs, steroids, weapons, firearms and protected wildlife into Tahiti. Some common items such as fresh or packaged food, fruit, eggs, meat, plants, seeds, skins and feathers are also prohibited. Antiques and nationally valuable works of art should be checked with customs before leaving the country.

Travelers importing or exporting the equivalent of 10, 000 Euros, in cash or travelers cheques, will need to declare the total sum to the relevant customs officials. All gold, except for personal jewellery, over 500grams will need to be declared before entering or leaving the country.

If you are carrying prescription medicines or controlled drugs, you should have a prescription from your physician advising that the medicine is being used under a doctor’s direction and is necessary for your physical well-being.



Duty Free:

The following items can be imported tax free into the country by visitors aged 17 or over.
• 200 cigarettes
• 50 cigars
• 100 cigarillos
• 250 grams Tobacco
• 1 litre spirits over 22% vol.
• 2 litres fortified wine
• 2 litres stilled wine
• 16 litres of beer
• 500 grams of coffee
• 50 grams of perfume




Hotels use either 110 or 220 volts, depending on the location. Power outlets for shavers are provided in most hotels and a converter/adapter is often required for appliances you bring, including computers. Most of the hotels use a European style plug.



Getting Around:


The French Polynesian islanders drive on the right-hand side of the road. An international visitor may drive in French Polynesia on a valid overseas driver’s licence for the same class of vehicle. Canadian and U.S. citizens do not require an international licence, unless their home licence is in a language other than English. You should carry both your home licence and international licence when driving.


Flights to the other islands are available on Air Tahiti and Air Moorea. These flights leave from Faa’a Airport in Papeete and should be organized by your destination specialist prior to your arrival.


Passenger ferries to Moorea depart from the waterfront in downtown Papeete.

Public Transport

On Tahiti, there are two types of public buses available. Both operate frequently in Papeete and around the island. Taxis can be hired at most hotels, airports and ferry terminals.




Travel Insurance

A travel insurance policy that covers you for theft, loss, accidents and medical problems is highly recommended. If you plan on doing any adventure activities like scuba diving, bushwalking or travelling in remote areas, check that your policy fully covers these activities. Remember to bring your insurance policy details and emergency contact numbers and with you.

No special immunizations or vaccinations are required to visit French Polynesia unless you have come from, or have visited a yellow fever infected country prior to your arrival. However, it is recommended that you check with your family doctor or a travel clinic a few weeks before you travel.

On the islands of Tahiti, good 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 doctor's office or a clinic. Tahitian hospitals and clinics provide a high standard of health care. For a tropical location, Tahiti has very few pest or insect problems, and the region is free from malaria.




French and Tahitian are the official languages of French Polynesia. English is spoken and understood in most hotels, restaurants and shops.




Tahiti’s national currency is the French Pacific Franc (XPF).

Upon arrival most visitors exchange some money at the airport or hotels. However, since most credit cards are readily accepted in all tourist areas, it is not necessary to exchange large amounts.


Tipping in French Polynesia is neither customary nor expected, with the exception of tour leaders.



Passport Visa:

All visitors to French Polynesia must have a passport that is valid for 3 months beyond the date of their arrival, a return airline ticket to their country of residence, or at least 2 more countries, and sufficient funds to support them during their stay.
For stays of up to three months or 90 days, there are no visa requirements for citizens of the U.S., Canada, or Mexico. A foreigner with a residence card for the U.S. is not exempt from the above requirements and should consult the French Consulate based in the U.S. for information.

Citizens of European Union countries do not need a visa for stays of up to three months. Citizens of all other countries should consult the French Consulate.
As entry requirements are subject to modification without notice, it is recommended that you check with your destination specialist before you travel




The islands of French Polynesia are generally a safe destination for travel. With common-sense, you can safely enjoy your visit. However, as with all travel at home or away, you should observe the same precautions with your personal safety and possessions. Take copies of your important documents (passports and credit cards) and keep them separate from the originals. You should also keep a record of the description and serial numbers of valuable items (cameras and laptops).




French Polynesian time is equal to UTC -10.

From March to late October, they move one hour ahead. However, time in the Marquesas is always half an hour ahead of the rest of the islands.