Traveler Tips

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Generalities

Time difference

French Polynesia (*) is GMT – 10 (10 hours behind the Greenwich Meridian Time)
When it is noon in In Pape’ete, it is :
• Los Angeles 10.00 am
• New York City 07:00 am
• Paris 11:00 pm or midnight
• Tokyo on Tuesday 05:00 am on Monday
• Auckland on Tuesday 02:00 pm on Monday
(*) Do not forget :
• Gambier Islands are 1 hour ahead of Tahiti
• Marquesas Islands are 30 minutes ahead of Tahiti

Electricity (Voltage)

Power voltage used in French Polynesia is 220 Volts (60 Hz). Be sure to double-check your appliances compatibility before plugging them in. Converters / adaptors are usually available upon request at your hotel front desk.

“PK” & Geographical Addresses

Even in Pape’ete (Tahiti), very few businesses or individuals have a well defined geographical address with a street number and name. Polynesians use major points of interest as a referral to indicate the address.
In larger islands like Tahiti and Moorea, the locals use 3 criteria to indicate an address :
PK (that stands for “Point Kilometer”) followed by a number. The PK is measured from the center of Pape’été at the Cathedral.
Seaside or mountainside
West or East coast
ex : PK 18.5 / mountain side – West coast
This address is located on the West coast, 18.5 kilometers from downtown Pape’ete on the mountain side. Sea / mountain sides refer to the location of your address compared with the road (there is only one road circling the island of Tahiti !). If you are on the mountain side, that means you will need to cross the road to access the lagoon or the sea.

Language

The official language of French Polynesia is French but many locals still speak reo ma’ohi, that is to say one of the local languages (reo means language). Many Polynesians also speak English.

Weather, Climate

When is the best time to visit ?

Actually, it depends on what you want to do and see in Tahiti and Her Islands. The climate is divided into two main seasons: a wet season between November and March and a dry season from April to October.
The wet season is characterized by warmer and more humid weather. The lagoon temperatures are also higher, there are huge rollers to surf, and you can see “springtime” in Tahiti as the vegetation becomes more luxuriant and verdant.
The dry season is characterized by cooler and less humid weather with some sporadic short rains that are often welcomed since drought and water rationing may occur in some islands. During this period, the underwater visibility is the best for scuba diving and humpback whales migrate from Antarctica stopping to rest and give birth to their young in our waters. The very famous Heiva (traditional song & dance festival) is also organized during this period.
Since the climate is tropical, rain may appear at any moment of the year. Our Polynesian islands are spread over a surface of 4,000,000 km², so temperatures and humidity will vary from one archipelago to another!

What should I bring with me ?

As the weather is tropical, lightweight cotton clothes are recommended: shorts, slacks or jeans, summer dresses, swimsuit…
However, a sweater or a light wrap is a good idea since temperatures can get surprisingly cool on top of the mountains or at night during the dry season.
You may also want to bring a windbreaker or a plastic raincoat since rain may fall during your stay or if you plan to go hiking due to mountain humidity and waterfalls. Reef shoes are recommended to avoid cuts and stings when walking on the coral reef. And most importantly, since the sun can burn, bring a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.
Finally, a small first-aid kit can be a good idea.

Air Conditioning

All major hotels have air conditioning in the bungalows and in any enclosed spaces such as spa or meeting rooms.

Entry Requirements

Visas, Valid Passport

France and foreigners holding residence cards for metropolitan France: a passport valid for a minimum of 6 months following the return date, in case of an extended stopover in the USA.
A valid passport but no visa is required for a stay up to 3 months for the following nationalities: European Union, Malta, Australia, Monaco, Cyprus, Vatican Citizens, Iceland, Saint-Martin, Liechtenstein, Switzerland.
A valid passport but no visa is required for a stay up to 1 month for the following nationalities: USA, Latvia, Argentina, Lithuania, Bolivia, Malaysia, Brunei, Mexico, Canada, New Zealand, Chile, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Croatia, Paraguay, Czech Republic, Poland, Equator, Salvador, Estonia, Singapore, Guatemala, Slovakia, Honduras, Slovenia, Hungary, South Korea, Japan, Uruguay.
Other countries or foreigners holding temporary visitor’s permits: a visa is required and must be endorsed “valid for French Polynesia”.
Entry formalities can be modified without notice. It is strongly advised before leaving to contact your nearest French Consulate’s or Embassy’s office in the country where the national lives or an airline serving Tahiti. Except for European Union citizens and foreigners holding a 10 year residence card for metropolitan France, all other foreigners must have either a return ticket or pay a repatriation bond upon their arrival.

Vaccinations

A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travelers who stayed in infected areas for more than a year. No other vaccinations are required for entry into French Polynesia.

Customs

The following items are prohibited in both stored and carry-on luggage : compressed gas and explosives, inflammable liquids, corrosives, poisons, irritants and substances or materials that are oxidizing, toxic, radioactive or magnetized. Safety regulations prohibit certain articles from being carried into the aircraft cabin: firearms, munitions, knives, scissors and other sharp and pointed instruments.
The following duty free items may be legally brought into French Polynesia: 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g of smoking tobacco, 50g of perfume, 2.5cl of eau de cologne, 500gr. of coffee, 100gr. of tea and 2l. of spirits.
Returning home, US Customs allow for an exemption of $400 in goods per resident, including one quart of liquor and 200 cigarettes ; Canadian Customs allow for a $300 exemption, including 1.1lL. of liquor and 200 cigarettes.

Luggage Weight Allowance

International flights (per passenger)
for first-class or business-class passengers: 2 pieces at 32kg (70lbs) per person
for economy-class passengers: 1 piece at 23kg (50lbs) per person
(luggage cannot exceed an overall dimension of 158cm (62”)
carry-on bag : cannot exceed an overall dimension of 115cm (45”)
small handbag, portable computer, camera bag… : maximum 10kg (22lbs)
Domestic flights (Air Tahiti)
Luggage in cabin
Only one luggage per passenger is allowed in the cabin, with a maximum weight of 5kg. Luggage dimensions should not exceed 45cm x 35cm x 20cm.
(luggage remains under passenger’s responsibility during the entire flight)
Check-in luggage
The size of each luggage is limited to: Length + width + height < 150 cm
International passengers are allowed 23kg on Air Tahiti flights, upon presentation of their international plane ticket. For passengers carrying more than 23kg, an extra charge may apply.
A further allowance of 5kg (for a total of 28kg) is available for divers, upon presentation of their diving card (license) and their international plane ticket.
Luggage with a unit weight of over 25kg cannot be checked-in at the Air Tahiti desk and requires a special procedure, please contact us for more details.

Electronic Devices

Following new airline regulations (July 2014), all electronic devices must be fully charged before boarding international flights to Tahiti or Paris that transit through Los Angeles. Uncharged electronic devices, that cannot be turned on will not be allowed on planes bound for the United States.

Money, Exchange

Banks

Banque de Polynésie
Head Office : 335, Boulevard Pomare – P.O. Box 530
98713 Papeete
Tel : (689) 40 46 66 66
Fax : (689) 40 46 66 64
Website : www.sg-bdp.pf
Hours : from Monday to Thursday 7.45am to 3.30pm
On Friday from 7.45am to 2.30pm
Banque Socredo
Head Office : 115, Dumont Durville St. – P.O. Box 130
98713 Papeete
Tel : (689) 40 41 51 23
Fax : (689) 40 43 36 61
Website : www.websoc.pf
Hours : from Monday to Thursday 7.30am to 3.30pm
On Friday from 7.30am to 2.30pm
Banque de Tahiti
Head Office : 38, F. Cardelle St. – P.O. Box 1602
98713 Papeete
Tel : (689) 40 41 70 00
Fax : (689) 40 42 33 76
Website : www.banque-tahiti.pf
Hours : from Monday to Friday 7.45am to 3.30pm

Exchange Rate

The currency used in French Polynesia is the French Pacific Franc. Its abbreviation is XPF or CFP. The exchange rate with the Euro is a fixed flat rate (no fluctuation)
1 Euro (€) = 119,33 French Pacific Franc (XPF)

Credit Cards

The most commonly accepted credit cards are Visa, Mastercard and Amex. Other cards, such as Cirrus or Diner’s Club, are not accepted.

Tipping

Although not obligatory, tipping is not customary in French Polynesia and consequently is not expected. But of course, if you feel that you received good service, your tip will always be appreciated.

Tourist Development Tax and Service Charge

A City Tax between 70 and 200 CFP per day and per person will be charged in hotels and guest houses in order to contribute to the development of local tourism.
Since January 2007, the Polynesian Government has initiated a new service charge (4%).

Offices & Stores

Business Hours

Stores are opened weekdays from 7.30am. to 11.30am and from 1.30pm. to 5 or 6pm. In downtown Pape’ete, most of the stores are also open on Saturday mornings but many services are still not available on Sunday. Banks are always closed on Saturday & Sunday.

Laundry

All the first-class hotels in Tahiti and Her Islands have laundry service and there are dry-cleaning services in Pape’ete and Faa’a.

Photos & Film Processing

In Tahiti, a 24-hour film processing service is available in some stores. In other islands, it can be much longer. Do not forget to check the rates since prices are often much more expensive than at home.

Books and Newspapers

You will find in Pape’ete two main bookshops :
– Archipels – rue des Remparts
– Pureora library – la Mission
And If you want to buy your favorite newspaper, try Le Kiosque at the Vaima Shopping Center or La Maison de la Presse on the waterfront.

Tourist Information

Office of Tourism

Tahiti Tourism is the main tourist office and is located on the harbor side of the Pape’ete waterfront.

Consulates in Tahiti

You will find the list of all the consulates located in Tahiti on this website : www.polynesie-francaise.pref.gouv.fr

Luggage Storage

Storage is available in the parking area of the airport.
This storage is open from 05:00am to 07:00pm and for every international flight arrival and departure.
The price per day is between 410 XPF and 780 XPF according to the size of your items.

Getting Married in the Islands of Tahiti

To say “yes” in paradise is a unique experience that will become the most beautiful day of your life.
To legally marry in French Polynesia you must respect a few simple rules of the French Civil Code.
Both spouses must be at least 18 years of age, can neither currently be married nor related to each other.
Both intended spouses should be physically present for the marriage and exchange their vows in front of a witness aged 18 years or older.
In the case where the couple does not speak well French and there is a concern about misunderstanding the proceedings, a sworn interpreter chosen by the couple, can translate all the formalities and questions into their native language. It is also advisable to not be a French National or reside in a French Territory. If all the rules are respected, the future husband and wife can choose which commune where they will marry and submit two sets of dates. Note that in French Polynesia you cannot get married on a Sunday or on a National Holiday.
In order for the marriage to be legal the wedded couple must each have legal documents.

Traditional Polynesian Ceremony

To complete this special day you can organize an unforgettable traditional Polynesian ceremony. This unique cultural experience will turn your wedding into a romantic, authentic and magical day. Many resorts and hotels feature customized wedding services and chapels: The Brando, Le Taha’a Island Resort and Spa, Intercontinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa, Conrad Bora Bora Nui, St Regis Bora Bora Resort and the Kia Ora Resort and Spa.
Tahiti has always been a unique place for the perfect honeymoon and e-Tahiti Travel will be enchanted to assist you in organizing this official ceremony as well as traditional wedding ceremonies.

Health Risks

Water, Food

Tap water is safe in Pape’ete and Bora Bora only. Elsewhere prefer local bottled spring water like Eau Royale or Vaimato that are of good quality.
As for food, it is very safe since French Polynesia produces a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables that are sold every day (at Pape’ete Market for instance). Meat is also safe, either produced here or imported from New Zealand ; and not to mention the extraordinary diversity of fresh fish that is sometimes prepared raw (the famous “poisson cru”) and you can consume it without any problem.

Natural Dangers

In order to avoid coral cuts – that are painful, need a long time to heal and can become infected – or stonefish and sea urchin stings, it is recommended to wear plastic shoes while swimming near coral. As for fire coral, jellyfish and anemones: simply avoid touching them. Concerning mosquitoes and black flies : use a repellent lotion or spray like OFF, which is commonly used by the locals. As the sun is strong in our islands, it is recommended to use sunscreen, to wear a hat and sunglasses and avoid exposing yourself to the sun between 11am and 3pm. Finally, do not forget to hydrate all day long.

Tropical Diseases

The only common disease to be found in Tahiti and Her Islands is the dengue fever transmitted by the Aedes mosquitoes. The most common form causes intense muscular pain, headaches and a general feeling of weakness.
Unfortunately, there is no vaccination and it is strongly forbidden to take aspirin as it increases bleeding. The only thing to do is to take vitamins and rest while waiting for the symptoms to disappear. This can take from one week to ten days.

Road Security

In French Polynesia, people drive on the right side of the road. Rules, signals and priorities are the same as in Europe or USA. As a consequence, there is only one essential precaution: drive slowly and carefully. The roads are often narrow and not always well maintained and potholes can appear after heavy rains. Priority is given to pedestrians and even two-wheel vehicles. You will meet on a daily basis people alone or in a group jogging in the middle of the road or kids crossing the highways. Don’t be in a hurry. Remain calm. You would not want to waste your vacation just to save a couple of minutes!

Travel Insurance

We strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance and we offer a comprehensive travel insurance. Please click on: Travel Insurance

Post Office and Communication

 

Post Office

Post Offices in French Polynesian offer the same kind of services as you would find in your home country. Mail sent to Europe and the U.S.A. will reach its destination between 8 to 15 days. Post offices are generally opened Monday to Friday from 7am to 3pm.

Telephone

Direct dialing for local and international phone calls is available everywhere in French Polynesia, from your hotel or from a public phone. Calling cards are available for purchase at any post office, newspaper store or shops with phone booths nearby. Local phone numbers are composed of 8 digits and there is no applicable area code.

Mobile Phone

Mobile phone service in French Polynesia uses the GSM system and the main tourist islands are connected. However there might be some blackout zones. For more information about “roaming” you can consult the Vini website, our local operator.

Internet Access

There are two ISP with headquarters located in Tahiti called MANA and VITI that charge a rate of 33 CFP per minute (about 0,25$ / minute). It is possible to retrieve your emails while on vacation since several Internet cafes are now available in Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora. Very few hotels have a modem plug directly available in the rooms and they may charge an extra-fee, so please check with your hotel.

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