Need to know how warm it will be, what the time zone is and how gratuity is handled? Our handy list will give you a little bit of advance information to travel in French Polynesia.
Average air temperatures
A tropical climate maintains even temperatures throughout the year, ranging from 24-32°C (75-89°F) during the day and 20-26°C (68-79°F) at night.
Average water temperatures
A tropical climate keeps the rich waters warm year-round, ranging from 26°C (79°F) in August to 28°C (82°F) in April.
Wind and sea
Tahiti has prevailing warm trade winds that are easterly between 15-20mph throughout the year, guaranteeing nice sailing on calm seas within the lagoons and spirited sails on the open-water passages. Inside the lagoons navigation is line of sight, but care is needed for shallow reefs. The tidal range is insignificant at less than a half meter.
Faa’a International Airport Papeete. Tahiti Island.
How to get to French Polynesia from North America
American Airlines, United and Air Canada fly to LA. From LA fly to the island of Papeete with Air Tahiti Nui.
How to French Polynesia from within Europe
British Airways, Air France and most major airlines fly to LA. From LA fly to the island of Papeete with Air Tahiti Nui.
Travel within French Polynesia
Once in Papeete regular 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.
ETIAS – European Travel Information and Authorization System
North American visitors are permitted to access Europe for up to 90 days visa free. Visitors are not allowed to work or study, but can engage in business and tourism activities. To reduce procedures and wait times, as well as address security concerns, the European Commission (EC) has come up with a solution – ETIAS. It is a completely electronic system completed in advance which allows and keeps track of visitors from countries who do not need a visa. The system is expected to be in place by 2021.
Vaccinations, insurance and health
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 travellers. A yellow fever vaccination is compulsory for travellers 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 islands as well as clinics, dispensaries, and a few private practitioners. It is advised to purchase medical and cancellation/interruption insurance when traveling abroad on adventurous holidays.
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.
On shore: 220V, 2-pin European plug, so adapters and power converters (110 ~ 220) may be required for North American electronic devices. Be sure to check device compatibility especially for medical equipment such as CPAP machines.
On yacht: Generally, the power supply aboard yachts is 12V DC by cigarette adapter so an AC anywhere cigarette 12 volt inverter device is a handy thing to pack if you wish to charge at all times. Yachts can also offer power from yacht electrical sockets when connected to shore power. The power supply will then be the same as on shore power.
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. For charters boarding in Raiatea, there is a large supermarket in Uturoa town a short taxi ride from the charter bases. There are smaller markets and shops in Bora Bora and Huahine. European imports are heavily taxed so you can expect to pay more than at home. The markets of Raiatea and Papeete are colourful and highly perfumed, selling local farming produce as well as handicraft products.
Telephone and internet services
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 centres with internet connection but the wifi can be a little hit and miss. Reuter hubs are available to hire, but the service can be limited.
Tahitian food includes the national dish ‘Iaota’ or ‘Poisson Cru’, which is raw tuna marinated in lime juice and coconut cream. The marinated fish is often rolled into balls with rice, cucumber tomato and spices making a Ceviche salad. A Tamaaraa is a Tahitian feast of chicken and pork cooked in an underground oven (like a Hawaiian Luau or Fijian Lovo). Restaurants will also often serve Chinese food and western fare such as hamburgers. Meals vary in price, a lunch ashore could cost USD20 while dinner could be USD50 per person. The local lager beer Hinano is exceptional.
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.