What Is Tahiti?
Tahiti is the largest of the 118 islands and atolls that constitute what is officially known as French Polynesia. The island of Tahiti and the capital city of Papeete are located in the Society Islands, an archipelago that includes the high-rising islands of Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Taha'a, and Bora Bora. Other dramatic island groups are the Tuamotu Atolls with the slender coral wreaths of Rangiroa, Manihi, Tikehau, and Fakarava and the Marquesas - with the massive mountains on the islands of Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa.
Where Is Tahiti?
The islands are located equal distance south of the equator as Hawaii is north, in the same time zone as Hawaii, approximately halfway between Los Angeles, California and Sydney, Australia. Papeete's Faa'a Airport (PPT) is an 8 hour flight from Los Angeles (LAX). From North America, nonstop flights depart LAX nearly every day on Air Tahiti Nui and Air France. Nonstop flights from Honolulu (HNL) to Papeete (PPT) are also available weekly on Hawaiian Airlines.
What's the Time?
The islands are just two hours behind Pacific Standard Time. During Daylight-Saving Time (April to late October) they are three hours behind. Time in the Marquesas is half an hour ahead of the rest of the islands.
Where Can I Exchange Money?
Upon arrival most visitors exchange some money at the airport or at their hotels. Since most credit cards are readily accepted in all tourist areas, it is not necessary to exchange large amounts. The currency is the French Pacific Franc (XPF).
Do I Need a Passport/Visa?
For stays of up to 90 days, there are no visa requirements for citizens of the U.S. or Canada carrying a U.S. or Canadian Passport. 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.
What's the Language?
French and Tahitian are the official languages, but English is spoken and understood in tourist areas. Learning a few basic French phrases and learning Tahitian greetings are appreciated.
Do I Need to Tip?
Tipping is not customary in Polynesian culture and is not expected. However, tipping is welcomed for exemplary service.
What Are the Seasons and Climate?
Cooled by gentle ocean breezes, the climate is ideal. Being tropical but moderate, the climate is typically sunny and pleasant with an average yearly air and water temperature of 80°F. Summer is from November through April, when the climate is slightly warmer and more humid. Winter is from May through October, when the the climate is slightly cooler and dryer.
Oh, What to Wear?
Both the climate and lifestyle call for casual and comfortable clothing. Pack loose-fitting, natural fabrics that will breathe and plenty of shorts. Pareus and swimsuits can be worn during the daytime at the resorts, while casual shirts and walking shorts provide the most comfort during island explorations. For dinner, casual slacks and sport shirts are the best choice for men while cool sundresses are most appropriate for women.
What to Pack?
Sunscreen, brimmed hats, sunglasses, swimsuits, reef-walking shoes, bug repellent, prescription medicine, and a camera. Very important:
make sure and make a photocopy of your passport before leaving your home country and leave it with a trusted friend. If you lose your passport while in Tahiti this simple step can save you loads of time getting a new one.
Can I Drink the Water?
Tap water is good in most hotels and restaurants. Bottled water is also available everywhere in stores, markets, and hotels.
Do I need Any Shots?
No shots or certifications are required from North America. Regardless of the traveler's nationality, entry from an infected area of the world as defined by the World Health Organization requires certifications.
Can I plug in my Laptop?
Hotels use either 110 or 220 volts, depending on the location. A converter/adapter is often required for appliances you bring, including computers.
Is there internet access?
Internet access is readily available in French Polynesia, although keep in mind you are on an island so the speed is not necessarily 4G. If you are bringing your own laptop or tablet, please note that not all accommodations are completely Wi-Fi enabled, so you may need the Ethernet cable. In room access may be via phone modem and usually comes with a fee. If you don’t have your own laptop or tablet along, the resorts often have their own business centers. Some resorts are now offering free Wi-Fi access in the common areas, and there are even a few hotels that offer free Internet access during your stay. Your Tahiti.com salesperson can advise you on your specific resort’s Internet capabilities.
How Do I Make a Call From Tahiti?
Direct dialing international calls are available in most hotels. Phone cards are easily purchased in Tahiti. When calling from the U.S. to Tahiti, dial 011 and then the country code of 689 along with the local number. Your mobile phone with U.S. service may not work in Tahiti - check with your mobile provider before traveling.
Is there Air Conditioning?
Most rooms and bungalows have air conditioning and also have ceiling fans that draw in the fresh trade winds if you choose to turn off the A/C and enjoy the fresh tropical breezes.
Do I Bargain When Shopping?
Bargaining and haggling over prices in markets and stores is not normal in Tahiti and will often be perceived as rude.
Tell Me About the Shopping?
Among Tahiti's most popular products are Tahitian black pearls, tropical soaps, monoi oil, Tahitian Vanilla beans and powder, shell leis, wood carvings, woven hats, bags, and baskets, and colorful hand dyed pareu (sarong) fabric worn by the islanders. The Papeete public market, called Le Marché
is a favorite with visitors. Shops usually open around 7:30am and close at 5:30pm (Noon on Saturdays). Except in hotels, all shops are usually closed on Sundays.
Is There Local Transportation?
The most inexpensive and common form of transportation is the public bus system. On Tahiti there are now two types of buses: the open-air trucks called Le Truck and the RTC large white coaches. Both operating frequently in Papeete and around the island. Le Truck also operates on most other islands as well. Taxis can be hired at most hotels, airports, and ferry terminals. For scenic tours around the islands, try escorted excursions by boat, 4x4 safari, bus, or helicopter.
What Can I do There?
In Tahiti you can be as active or as inactive as you choose to be. Popular activities include 4x4 safaris, hiking, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, jet-skiing, wind-surfing, kite-surfing, surfing, bike riding, tennis, golf (on the islands of Tahiti and Moorea), horseback riding, deep-sea fishing, shopping, circle-island tours, helicopter tours, museums stops and archaeological tours.
Can I Rent a Car?
Rental cars are available at most airports for drivers over 21 years of age with a valid driver's license. Major credit cards are usually required for drivers under 25. Because of the small size of many islands, and the uniqueness of many circle island tours, you may find renting a car unnecessary.
Can I Learn to Dive in Tahiti?If you have at least one week, you can enroll in a complete certification course or take a shorter resort course at many of the resorts and from the cruise ships. If you are already a PADI, NAUI, or SSI member, your certification is recognized.
What Kind of Diving Can I Expect?
The islands of Tahiti offer world-class diving and are famous among divers for the large marine life, drift dives, warm and pristine waters, and uncrowded dive sites. The clear lagoons, coral gardens, underwater passes, and oceanic drop-offs all create an abundant aqua-culture with infinite sea life.