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French Polynesia is made up of over 100 islands and atolls located in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. There are three main groups, the Society Islands, the Marquesas Islands and the lesser know Tuamotu Archipelago.
The Society Islands are mostly rugged and volcanic in origin, with a few small coral atolls mixed in. Of these, the most recognizable names are the legendary islands of Bora Bora, Huahine, Moorea and Tahiti. Tahiti, is the economic, cultural and political centre of French Polynesia. The island is volcanic and mountainous and has spectacular surrounding coral reefs. Tahiti was originally discovered by Polynesians who settled between AD300 and 800 and it then became a colony of France in 1880. Tahitians became legal French citizens in 1946.
Faa'a International Airport Papeete.
American Airlines, United and Air Canada fly to LA. From LA fly to the island of Papeete with Air Tahiti.
British Airways, Air France, American Airlines and most major airlines fly to LA. From LA fly to the island of Papeete with Air Tahiti Nui.
Once in Papeete interior flights between Papeete, Raiatea and Bora Bora are with Air Tahiti. You can also take a ferry to Raiatea, two companies offering this service are Vaeanu or Hawaiki Nui ferry.
French Polynesia is safe and tourists don’t need to be too concerned with safety. Petty theft and violence is almost non-existent on the islands. Tahiti being the largest island has seen a few reported petty crime incidents but still remains very safe compared with other tourist destinations elsewhere in the world.
There are no travel visas required by North American or European visitors to French Polynesia with 30 days granted upon arrival. Guests traveling from outside North America or Europe or not holding valid US, Canadian or European passports, must check with their nearest French Consulate. You require a passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond your stay. It is advisable to check that your tetanus shot is up to date and a certificate of vaccination against tetanus, hepatitis A and B is recommended (but not compulsory) to all travelers. A yellow fever vaccination is compulsory for travelers coming from zones known as infected. The main government hospital for French Polynesia is at Papeete, Tahiti. Medical and dental services can be found in the outer outer islands as well as clinics, dispensaries, and a few private practitioners.
GMT -10 hours.
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.
The exchange rate with the Euro is fixed flat rate (no fluctuation) at 1 Euro = 119.33 XPF. Although US dollars are widely accepted in most tourist places, it is best to exchange your home currency into French Pacific francs upon arrival either at Tahiti international airport or at any bank of Papeete.
The electric current is 220 volts AC 50Hz. French Polynesia has two-pin power outlets, which are identical to Europe. Leading hotels and resorts offer universal outlets for 220v or 11v shavers, hair dryers and other electrical appliances.
Supermarkets and markets of varying sizes are found around the islands with the largest found on Tahiti. Carrefour the French supermarket group has 3 large supermarkets on Tahiti. European imports are heavily taxed so you can expect to pay more than at home. The market of Papeete is colorful and highly perfumed, selling local farming produce as well as handcraft products.
French Polynesia's country code is +689. Many hotels and resorts have direct dialling facilities (IDD), and card phones are available in post offices and stores, the local mobile network is VINI. There are several Internet cafes available in Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora and other islands. More and more hotels are now offering wireless and/or business centers with internet connection.
Tipping is not usual in French Polynesia so it is not expected. If you feel that you were well attended, your tip will always be appreciated.