The islands are located south of the equator, in the same time zone as Hawaii, and halfway between California and Australia. Papeete's Faa'a Airport (PPT) is under 8 hours by air from Los Angeles (LAX). From North America, nonstop flights depart LAX nearly every day on Air Tahiti Nui and Air France. Nonstop flights from Honolulu (HNL) to Papeete (PPT) are also available weekly on Hawaiian Airlines.
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. The currency is the French Pacific Franc (XPF).
For stays of up to 90 days, there are no visa requirements for citizens of the U.S. or Canada carrying a US or Canadian Passport. A foreigner with a residence card for the U.S. is not exempt from the above requirements and should consult the French Consulate based in the U.S. for information.
French and Tahitian are the official languages, but English is spoken and understood in tourist areas. Brushing up on a few basic French phrases and learning Tahitian greetings are appreciated.
Seasons and weather in French Polynesia
Cooled by gentle ocean breezes, the climate is ideal. Being tropical but moderate, the climate features sunny, pleasant days and an average yearly air and water temperature of 80∞F. Summer is from November through April, when the climate is slightly warmer and more humid. Winter is from May through October, when the the climate is slightly cooler and dryer. Click here for the Weather Report
Essentials to Bring
Sunscreen, brimmed hats, sunglasses, swimsuits, reef-walking shoes, bug repellent, prescription medicine, and a camera with plenty of film.
Do I Need Health Certifications?
No shots or certifications are required from North America. Regardless of the traveler's nationality, entry from an infected area of the world as defined by the World Health Organization requires certifications.
Among Tahiti's most popular products are black pearls, tiare and coconut soaps, monoi oil, vanilla beans, shell leis, wood carvings, woven hats and baskets, and the colorful hand dyed pareu fabric worn by the island natives. The Papeete public market is a favorite with visitors. Shops usually open about 7:30am and close at 5:30pm (Noon on Saturdays) but there is always a long lunch hour. Except in hotels, all shops are usually closed on Sundays.
How Do I Get Around?
The most inexpensive and common form of transportation is the public bus system. On Tahiti there are now two types of buses: the open-air trucks called Le Truck and the RTC large white coaches. Both operating frequently in Papeete and around the island. Le Truck also operates on most other islands. Taxis can be hired at most hotels, airports, and ferry terminals. For scenic tours around the islands, try escorted excursions by boat, 4x4 safari, bus, or helicopter.
What Activities Are There to Do?
Tahiti is the perfect place to do everything or nothing at all. Popular activities include 4x4 safaris, nature hikes, scuba diving, snorkeling, canoeing, sailing, jet skiing, wind-surfing, surfing, bike riding, tennis, golf on the island of Tahiti, horseback riding, deep-sea fishing, shopping, circle-island tours, helicopter tours, museums stops and archaeological tours.
Can I Rent a Car?
Rental cars 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. Europcar serves you at 7 stations around 3 islands of French Polynesia.
Can I Learn to Dive in Tahiti?
If you have at least one week, you can enroll in a complete certification course or take a shorter resort course at many of the resorts and from the cruise ships. If you are already a PADI, NAUI, or SSI member, your certification is recognized.