Tahiti & Her Islands cover over two million square miles of the South Pacific Ocean and is comprised of 118 islands spread over five great archipelagos.
Many islands are crowned with jagged peaks while others appear to barely float above the breaking waves. Spread over an area as large as Western Europe, the total land mass of all the islands adds up to an area only slightly larger than the tiny state of Rhode Island.
The three archipelagos most sought by visitors are the Society Islands, comprised of Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Huahine, Raiatea and Taha'a; The Tuamotu Atolls or "Tahiti's Strand of Pearls", include the atolls of Rangiroa, Manihi, Tikehau, and Fakarava; and the Marquesas, or "The Mysterious Islands."
The two other archipelagos, the Austral Islands and the Gambier Islands, lie to the south and the southeast, respectively, of the Society Islands. While very few travelers venture to these remote islands, those that do are not disappointed by the pristine environment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Tahiti a favorite among honeymooners and romantics?
Tahiti is simply the ultimate in romance. Couples can immerse themselves in the incredible beauty of the islands and the casual, relaxed pace. With its mesmerizing sunsets and sweet aroma of flowers, Tahiti radiates romance. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast brought to your overwater bungalow by canoe. Find a secluded motu (islet) for a private picnic. Arrange a traditional Tahitian wedding ceremony or renewal of vows. Spend a romantic evening dinner for two at your hotel. Or simply take a leisurely stroll along a secluded white sand beach and enjoy the most spectacular place on earth.
What is the best time to visit?
Cooled by the gentle breezes of the Pacific, the climate of these islands is sunny and pleasant. There is a mild, dry season June through October, with a hotter humid season November through May. Temperatures range from 21-30 celsius (70F-86F).
What's the time difference?
Two hours behind Pacific Standard Time except during daylight savings times (April to October) when they are 3 hours behind.
Do we cross the International Date Line to get to Tahiti?
No, but you do cross the equator.
Do we need a passport or a visa to go there?
A passport and a roundtrip ticket are required of all persons entering Tahiti (except returning residents). Visas are not required for U.S. or Canadian citizens for stays of less than one month.
What clothing should I take?
Tahiti is very informal. Lightweight, washable cottons will serve well. Men will be comfortable in shorts, slacks for dinner, sport shirts and sandals, while ladies may wear shorts, skirts and sun dresses. We recommend at least two swimsuits per person, comfortable rubber-soled shoes for walking on coral (a necessity on the shark feeding excursion), a hat or visor, sunglasses and a waterproof bag to protect your camera equipment from salt and spray.
Will we need to exchange money? If so, what's the rate?
The local currency is the French Pacific Franc or XPF which is tied to the Euro dollar. 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. 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. On the primary tourist islands, Mastercard and Visa are accepted in all hotels, restaurants and boutiques while American Express is accepted in some. Cards may not always be accepted on less visited islands. While ATMS are more common, they may not always recognize foreign cards.
What types of activities are there?
Opportunities abound for the adventurer. Thrilling jeep tours let you explore the lush interiors of the larger islands. Discover waterfalls and grottos as you hike or mountain bike through the heart of the islands. Or cycle leisurely around the perimeter of the islands. Circle island tours are offered on many islands and provide a glimpse of Tahitian lifestyle. Sunset cruises that sail from Tahiti's capital city of Papeete are also available. Learn more about Polynesia at the Tahiti and Her Islands Museum and the Gauguin Museum. Ancient maraes (temples) hold the mysteries of early Polynesians. Lagoonariums offer an opportunity to view sea creatures in their own environment. The Marche, the bustling public market in Papeete, is ideal for finding picnic items as well as colorful pareus and other souvenirs.
What types of water activities are available?
Most visitors enjoy the lagoons as the natives do, swimming and snorkeling in the warm, turquoise waters, or outrigger canoeing, sailing, wind surfing, parasailing, deep sea fishing, jet skiing and water skiing. The Tahitian islands are world renowned for their scuba diving and snorkeling. Or you can go on a shark feeding expedition, where you're in the water with hungry reef sharks that are being hand-fed by a guide. You can charter a yacht, perhaps with a captain and chef, to sail among the islands.
What's the water temperature?
The water temperature averages 79°F (26°C) in the winter and 84°F (29°C) in the summer with less than a degree of variation from the surface down to 50 meters.
What kind of dive and snorkeling sites are there?
Lagoons, passes and outer reef dives offer aqua-culture at its best, with an abundance of all kinds of sea life, from the tiniest, beautifully colored tropical species, to awesome large varieties, such as rays, sharks, occasional sea turtles and more.
Can I learn to scuba dive at a hotel?
If you have at least one week, you can enroll in a complete resort certification course during your vacation. If you are already a PADI, NAUI or SSI member, your certification is recognized.
What about night life?
Most hotels offer Tahitian post-dinner entertainment on a regular basis. Dancing is a popular evening entertainment in Papeete.
Do you need to tip?
Although tipping is not customary in Tahiti, it is appreciated for exemplary service.
How do we get around?
Taxis and buses are available, as well as car rentals. The most common form of transportation is "le truck" independently operated shuttles that run most everywhere on the islands. Bicycling is also a very popular mode of getting around.
Is there shopping available? Duty-free?
Shops usually open about 7:30am and close at 5:30pm (noon on Saturdays), but there is always a long lunch hour. Duty-free shopping is mainly available on Tahiti only. Except in hotels, all shops are closed on Sundays.
How are the hotel rooms cooled?
Many of the hotel rooms on Tahiti are air-conditioned. On the other islands, cool tropical breezes are drawn in by ceiling fans.
Will my hair dryer work there?
(electrical voltage) The current is 110 or 220 volts, depending on your location. An adapter is recommended for using appliances you bring with you.
Hotel Check-in Times?
Rooms in the hotels are normally available for check-in from 2.00pm-3.00pm. Check-out by 11.00am on day of departure.
What about communications?
Telephones are available in all hotel rooms for international and local calls, however their charge per minute is expensive. There are public phone booths on all islands and the majority of them are operated with Phone Cards ("Telecarte"). The telecartes can be purchased at airport shops, in some stores and at the Post Office. The telecartes are priced according to time units pre-loaded. While you talk, the card is debited and you can read how many units you have left.
Cell/Mobile Phone French Polynesia uses the Global System for Mobiles (GSM) technology. Check with your wireless company before traveling to see if you have a GSM phone. If so, you may be able to use it in the islands if your home provider has an international roaming agreement with the mobile network Vini (www.vini.pf). If not, you can always rent a phone or buy a local SIM card from Vini once you arrive. You can also purchase a phone from Air Tahiti Nui (www.tahiti-airstore.com). Note: you must preorder online before your flight, and they will deliver your phone to you on the plane. Internet Access is readily available in Tahiti but it can sometimes run on island time. If you are bringing your own laptop or tablet, please note that not all hotels are completely Wi-Fi enabled and you may need to use an Ethernet cable in your room. More resorts offer free Wi-Fi in the common areas, and some provide free Internet access in the guest rooms. If you don't have your own laptop or tablet, the hotels often have business centers.
Is the water safe to drink?
The water is drinkable, and most hotels also offer bottled water.
Is there a hospital?
Tahiti has excellent medical and dental services, pharmacies, a large government hospital, private clinics and cosmetic center.
Is there anything else we should bring?
If you desire, you can bring cigarettes (up to two cartons), film (up to ten rolls), and liquor (up to two liters). And don't forget an extra bottle of your favorite suntan lotion, hats, sunglasses, water socks (reef walkers), your prescription medicine and any common insect repellent.
WHERE IS TAHITI?
HISTORY & CULTURE