Tahiti Frequently Asked Questions
Exotic Tahiti and Her Islands have always been considered among the most romantic destinations on earth. So while you're planning that perfect trip, here are answers to some commonly asked questions about the extraordinary islands of Tahiti.
WHAT IS TAHITI?
Tahiti is the largest of the 118 islands and atolls that comprise French Polynesia. Neighboring islands include Moorea, Tetiaroa, Huahine, Bora Bora, Raiatea, Taha'a and Maupiti. Also, easily accessible are the islands of Tikehau, Rangiroa and Manihi in the Tuamotu Archipelago and the Marquesas Islands in the northern part of French Polynesia.
WHERE IS TAHITI?
Tahiti and Her Islands lie in the Pacific Ocean, just south of the equator, in the same time zone as Hawaii, approximately seven and one-half hours by air from Los Angeles, midway between North America and Australia.
WHAT'S THE TIME DIFFERENCE?
Two hours behind Pacific Standard Time.
DO WE CROSS THE INTERNATIONAL DATE LINE?
No, but you do cross the equator.
DO WE NEED A PASSPORT TO GO THERE? A VISA?
A valid 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.
WILL WE NEED TO EXCHANGE MONEY?
Upon arrival in French Polynesia, most visitors exchange some money at the Faaa Airport or at their hotel. Generally, it's not necessary to change very much since credit cards and U.S. dollars are accepted.
The currency used in French Polynesia is the French Pacific Franc or CFP. There are approximately 100 CFPs to one U.S. dollar (although the actual rate may vary).
WHY ARE TAHITI AND HER ISLANDS CALLED "ISLANDS BEYOND THE ORDINARY"?
Tahiti and Her Islands have long been referred to as a tropical paradise. But their unspoiled islands are not for everyone. If you're looking for a familiar, commercial environment like your own hometown, you won't find it in Tahiti.
These extraordinary islands are for people seeking the unique, novel or adventurous honeymoon experience, and who want to visit a destination whose culture is different from their own.
IS ENGLISH SPOKEN?
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.
WHAT ABOUT TIPPING?
Tipping is not customary in Polynesian culture and is not expected. However, tipping is welcomed for exemplary service.
WHAT ARE THE SEASONS AND CLIMATE?
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 climate is slightly cooler and dryer.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
The climate and lifestyle on the islands call for casual and comfortable clothing. Pack loose-fitting, natural fabrics and plenty of shorts. Pare us and swimsuits can be worn during the daytime at the resorts, while casual shirts and walking shorts provide the most comfort during island explorations. For dinner, casual slacks and sport shirts are the best choice for men while cool sundresses are most appropriate for women.
WHAT IS THE VOLTAGE?
Hotels use either 110 or 220 volts, depending on the location. A converter/adapter is often required for appliances you bring, including computers.
DO ROOMS HAVE AIR CONDITIONERS?
Many do, particularly on the islands of Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora. Most bungalows are cooled by ceiling fans that draw in the fresh trade winds.
DO I BARGAIN WHEN SHOPPING?
Bargaining and haggling over prices in markets and stores is not customary.
WHAT KIND OF SHOPPING IS THERE? WHAT SOUVENIRS SHOULD I BUY?
Among Tahiti most popular products are black pearls, coconut and tiare 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.
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 within the at most hotels, airports, and ferry terminals. For scenic tours around the islands, try escorted excursions by boat, 4x4 safari, bus, or helicopter.
CAN I CHARTER A BOAT?
If you are an experienced sailor, yacht and sailboat charters are available on most of the major islands for short- or long-term voyages. Some can come complete with a captain and crew. Fishing boats can also be chartered for deep-sea fishing for big species.
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 colourful 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 coloured 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.
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.
Beautiful black pearls, cherished by natives and visitors alike, are indigenous only in the Tuamotu Islands of French Polynesia
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.
WHAT ABOUT COMMUNICATIONS?
Telephone, telegram, telex and facsimile services are available. Post offices are the center of international communications on the islands.
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) and any common insect repellent.
WHY IS TAHITI A FAVORITE AMONG HONEYMOONERS?
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.
IS THERE ANYTHING SPECIAL FOR HONEYMOONERS?
Yes. Specifically mention to our Romance specialists at Goway and Islands Escapes that you will be on a honeymoon.
Tahiti Travel Information
At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy to navigate travel information section dedicated to Tahiti.
Learn about the history and culture of Tahiti, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about Tahiti's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering Tahiti for yourself. Start exploring...book one of our Tahiti vacations today!
Extend Your Stay
Consider an additional stopover after or before your Tahiti vacation at one of Goway's other South Pacific destinations. You can choose from our selection of Australian vacations, New Zealand vacation packages, one of our Fiji resorts or perhaps take a Cook Island vacation.
Book your Tahiti vacation with Goway!
With a wide choice of Tahiti vacations and experiences, Goway’s Downunder wizards can offer you many ways to explore, and enjoy the Islands of Tahiti. Relax with a romantic tropical island stay, enjoy a luxury cruise through turquoise blue waters, escape on a air-land getaway and more. We want to be your first choice when next you go globetrotting to Tahiti.
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