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 valid passport and a round trip 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 90 days. 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.
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 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. Pareus 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 Are the Essentials to Bring?
Sunscreen, brimmed hats, sunglasses, swimsuits, reef-walking shoes, bug repellent, prescription medicine, and a camera with plenty of film.
Is the Water Safe to Drink?
Tap water is good in most hotels and restaurants. Bottled water is also available everywhere in stores, markets, and hotels
Do I Need Health Certifications?
No shots or certifications are required for visitors 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.
What Is the Voltage?
Hotels typically use 220 volts. A combination converter AND adapter is often required for appliances you bring, including computers.
How Do I Use the Telephone in Tahiti?
Direct dialing international calls is available in most hotels and phone booths. Phone cards are easily purchased in Tahiti. When calling from the U.S. to Tahiti, dial 011 and then the country code of 689 along with the local number. Your cell phone with U.S. service may not work in Tahiti depending on the type of phone you have and your service provider. Visit: www.vini.pf
for more information. There are also rental options.
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. Because of the small size of many islands, and the uniqueness of many circle island tours, you may find renting a car unnecessary.
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. It is best to change your currency into XPF when you get to Tahiti. Money can be exchanged at one of the two international airport bank exchanges upon arrival, they are open at the times of international arrival and departure flights. You can also exchange currency later at a bank in Tahiti or on the islands ( banks charge a service fee ). Hotels and some businesses will change your currency, but not at the bank rate so these should be avoided. 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. The average value of the XPF in relation to the US$ is about 90 XPF for 1 US dollar. Traveler's checks ($US or Euros) are easily cashed (you will have to show your passport).
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?
Historically, tipping has been contrary to the Tahitian custom of hospitality. While tipping is still not necessarily "the norm", it is becoming more common in restaurants and hotels on the larger islands of Moorea, Bora Bora, and Tahiti.
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.
Do I Bargain When Shopping?
Bargaining and haggling over prices in markets and stores is not customary.
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 1.00pm. Check-out by 11.00am on day of departure.
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.