Wouldn’t it be nice for travelers if currencies around the world were all the same? Perhaps called the dollar – but not the American dollar, Canadian dollar or Australian dollar. Perhaps we could call it the World Dollar. One that is accepted for the same value in any country, anywhere in the world.
But we all know that is not the case and for reasons of economics it simply impossible. So instead, when you are in Bora Bora you might order those 2 Pineapple Martinis at your swim up bar and sign for a bill of 3,200 XPF. Now what the heck are XPF?
In French Polynesia the local currency is the French Pacific Franc referred to as the Franc and known on world currency markets as either XPF or CFP. The initials CFP originally stood for Colonies Françaises du Pacifique (‘French colonies of the Pacific’). This is the same currency that is used in other French Pacific communities such as New Caledonia, Wallis and Fortuna.
The colourful notes are issued in denominations of 500, 1000, 5000 and 10,000 CFP and then the coins are 1, 2, 5, 10, 50 and 100 francs. Each coin and bill are a different size with the larger the size, the more valuable the bill or coin.
The French Pacific Franc is actually anchored to the Euro on a fixed rate of 1,000 CFP = 8.28 Euros (or 1 Euro = 119.33 CFP). This why you often see pricing for Tahiti in Euros. The actual price and charge is in XPF but it is much easier for people to think and deal in Euros.
But why Euros? Tahiti is an Overseas Territory of France which is why their currency is pegged to the Euro at a set rate rather than the US dollar or being a freely fluctuating currency.
But coming from North America that still leaves most people somewhat confused about dealing in French Pacific Francs. Imagine you walk up to a bank machine downtown Papeete and the screen says “Would you like 5,000 10,000 or 50,000 XFP?” And you stand there feeling a bit stunned not knowing which to select. Here is my tip – as a rough guideline when you see something in Francs divide by 100 (or drop 2 zeros) to get an approximate equivalent in USD. For example, if a drink cost 1,000 CFP that would be about $10 USD. This is not exact at all – but a quick and easy way to get a rough calculation.
With your tickets I will provide you a little wallet sized currency converter you can bring with you to help as well. And remember, credit cards are widely accepted all over Tahiti for payment too so you can always just swipe!