Tahiti is the name of the most populated island located in the windward Society Islands. However, people often use the name “Tahiti” when they speak of the 118 islands and atolls that make up all of French Polynesia. This area is divided into five archipelagos or island groups: The Society Islands, Tuamotu Archipelago, Gambier Islands, Marquesas Islands, and the Austral Islands.
No when flying to Tahiti you do not cross the International Date Line so they are the same day as we are in North America, but it is south of the equator.
While French and Tahitian are the official languages, English is widely spoken and understood in the areas frequented by tourist.
The islands tend to have 2 seasons. June through October tend to be mild and dry whereas November through May are usually warmer and humid. Temperatures are generally fairly constant, only varying between 21° to 30° Celsius (70° to 86° Fahrenheit). Their summer months of December to March tend to be the wettest and also the hottest and most humid months.
Depending on the time of year, look forward to very inviting temperatures averaging from 26° to 29° Celsius (79° to 84° Fahrenheit).
Tahiti Time (TAHT) runs 10 hours behind Universal Time Coordinated (UTC). An easier way to remember it is that Tahiti is two hours behind Pacific Standard Time (Vancouver/LA time zone) except during daylight savings times (April to October) when they are three hours behind.
Both a valid passport and a round trip ticket are mandatory for all visitors entering Tahiti. Passports must be valid for at least 3 months after your expected return date back home. Visas are not required for U.S. or Canadian citizens who stay less than 90 days.
The local currency is the French Pacific Franc or “XPF” or “CFP” which is tied to the Euro at a set exchange rate. You can change your money into XPF when you arrive at the airport. Hotels and some businesses will change your currency, but the exchange rate is much less favorable. Currency notes come in XPF denominations of 500, 1000, 5000 and 10,000, and coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100.
Hotels and resorts typically use 220 volts (we use 110 volts in North America). A combination converter/adapter is required although some resorts have one or two North American style plugs available as well.
Bottled water is readily available. Tap water is generally regarded as, safe-to-drink in most hotels and restaurants.
For the most part, yes. MasterCard and Visa are accepted in all the main island hotels, restaurants and boutiques while American Express is accepted in some. However, as you move toward the lesser visited islands, expect cash to be the primary payment option over a credit card. ATMs are available however are not abundant and best used at the airport when you first land in case you have difficulty getting to them later.
While tipping is not a part of the Tahitian tradition, it is becoming more common in restaurants and hotels on the larger islands of Moorea, Bora Bora, and Tahiti. However you do not need to be tipping 15 – 20% as you do in North America.
The shopping is outstanding in Tahiti. However, bargaining and haggling over prices in markets and stores is not customary.
While there are exceptions to every rule, Tahitians adhere to a layback form of dress. This means that you should plan on packing comfortable fabrics and an ample supply of shorts. During the day, along with a good hat, beachwear is a great option at the resorts, and light adventure clothes are perfect for explorations. Water shoes, flip-flops, or light hiking shoes are good daytime footwear. At night, depending on your property, casual pants and collared shirts are the best choice for men, while cool dresses are most suitable for women.
The most common form of transportation is privately arranged transfers. “Le Truck, the old world open air public busses are slowly disappearing from the main islands. Other alternatives are very limited taxis on some islands, buses, car rentals, and bicycles.
I can arrange your car rental before you go which is advisable as supplies are limited. Having said this, once in Tahiti, rental companies 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.
Tahiti has excellent medical and dental services, pharmacies, a large government hospital, private clinics, and a cosmetic center. Complete travel insurance is available and highly recommended. Please ask me for a quotation on your package.