French Polynesia

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French Polynesia

Welcome to French Polynesia

No matter if you’re traveling to French Polynesia in the lap of luxury, or backpacking between island hostels, the result is the same: a postcard-perfect paradise.

Verdant peaks jut up out of lush forests, while turquoise waters lap at white- (and pink- and black-) sand beaches. There are 118 islands and atolls spread across five archipelagos, the most popular being Tahiti and the Society Islands (think, Bora Bora). But, do not overlook the remote Australs or the Tuamotus, untouched by mass tourism and renowned for their black pearls. Snorkel with rainbow-colored fish, rays and turtles over pristine coral gardens. Try kite-surfing, or mountain bike through the jungle.

Wake up in an overwater bungalow, your breakfast delivered by canoe and fish swimming by under your glass coffee table. Stroll the stalls of the Papa’ete open-air public market, picking up fresh tropical fruit, local crafts and vanilla and chatting with the islanders. Pinch yourself – it’s all real.

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Need To Know

Unique Facts

  • Rather than mail in your sidewalk mailbox in Tahiti, you’ll receive fresh bread twice a day. There is no residential mail service. Instead, you have to go to the nearest post office to pick up mail.
  • The national flower of Tahiti is the Tiare Apetahi, which has not been successfully grown anywhere else in the world. The flower is used to signify one’s relationship status. If you’re in a relationship, tuck a single flower behind your left ear. If you’re single and open to meeting someone, tuck the flower behind your right ear.
  • The islands’ biggest import industries are pearls and vanilla. There’s even a pearl museum, where you can see presentations about Tahitian Cultured Pearls and learn about their cultivation and significance in art, history, mythology and religion. The cherished black pearls are indigenous to the Tuamotu Islands.
  • There are no poisonous snakes or insects in French Polynesia.
  • Looking for the best place in the world to relax? It’s called Motu Tapu and it’s a tiny islet a few hundred yards from Bora Bora. It’s the most photographed isle in the South Pacific.

Language

French Polynesia’s official languages are French and Polynesian.

When To Go

The best time to go to French Polynesia is during the dry season, May through October. The temperatures are slightly cooler and the rainfall not significant. From November to April, the rainy season, the temperatures rise and it’s humid, cloudy and wet.

Airports

Tahiti International Airport

Passport Validity

Passport must be valid at time of entry for six months beyond arrival date.

Visa Required By US Citizen?

None for days of 90 days or less.

Vaccinations

The CDC recommends the following vaccines for most travelers when visiting French Polynesia: Hepatitis A and Typhoid. Depending on where you are traveling, you may also need Hepatitis B and Yellow Fever vaccines.

Electrical Outlets

Power plugs and sockets: types A, B and E. Standard voltage: 110/220V. Frequency: 60/50Hz.

Currency

Official local currency: Pacific franc

Getting Around

If self-driving, be aware that while most major roads are paved, most secondary roads are not. Traffic is brisk in urban area. Use caution, particularly when driving at night. Take extra precaution if you rent a bicycle or moped, as you will be competing for space on narrow streets with vehicles and pedestrians.

Most of the islands are connected only by airplane, although Tahiti and Moorea are linked by high-speed ferry.

Driver’s License

Valid US driver’s license is required.

US Embassy Info

U.S. Embassy Suva
158 Princes Rd, Tamavua
Suva, Fiji Islands
Telephone: +(679) 331-4466
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(679) 772-8049
Fax: +(679) 330-2267
SuvaACS@state.gov

Local Visitor Info

Tahiti Tourisme
B.P. 65
98713 Papeete
French Polynesia
Tel: 50.57.00
Fax: 43.66.19
www.tahiti-tourisme.com

Local Emergency Phone Numbers

Ambulance: 15
Fire: 120
Police: 20

Safety and Security

The crime rate is low in French Polynesia, but petty crime, such as pick ocketing and purse snatching, does occur. Secure your valuables at all times and remain vigilant at night. Ensure that items purchased in French Polynesia are not pirated or counterfeit. Purchasing or owning these items may have legal consequences in French Polynesia or the United States.

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