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Tahiti Bora Bora Moorea Marquesas Islands Huahine
Taha a Raiatea Manihi Tikehau
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January 23, 2018
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Polynesia Travel Tips - with Wired Destinations

Arrival

French Polynesia is readily accessible by air from most parts of the world. Qantas, Air New Zealand, Air France, Aircalin, Corsair and AOM carry most of the visitors, though Hawaiian Air flies between Honolulu and Tahiti once a week. All international arrivals by air passes through Faaa Airport in Papeete, but a US$46 million redevelopment of the airport in the Marquesas island of Nuku Hiva might soon change this situation. There is no departure tax in French Polynesia. Only French citizens can enter French Polynesia without a passport and the visa requirements are much the same as for France itself. Western European and Scandinavian citizens are allowed to stay for up to three months without a visa. Citizens of Canada, the USA, Japan, Singapore and New Zealand can stay up to one month without a visa, but all other visitors need a visa to enter. In Papeete two extra foreign exchange offices are available: the airport office (from Monday to Friday from 7:45 am to 3 :30 pm as well as one hour before departures and after arrivals of international flights); the Overseas Passenger wharf on the waterfront (open from 7 am to 7 pm Monday to Saturday and from 7 am to 1 pm Sundays and holidays). There is no official airport bus, but Le Truk stops right opposite the airport for transfers into Papeete and along the west coast. Taxis are available at all hours but are expensive. Tour Charter Companies meet those on package holidays and some smaller pensions provide meet and greet.

Climate

The French Polynesia weather is typically tropical. Summer, between December and April, is hotter and more humid with a higher rainfall and the risk of tropical storms. Winter is between May and November and is cooler and drier. The main island of French Polynesia and also Moorea are both high volcanic islands and accumulate clouds around its mountain peaks creating more rain and humidity in the south eastern side of the islands (windward or facing south-east trade winds). Similarly, the western sides are much drier and protected from the trade winds making it feel hotter. Small coral islands tend to feel cooler with constant sea breezes although they have less shade from the sun and receive little rainfall.

Currency

The French Polynesia currency is the Cour de Franc Pacifique (CFP) also known as the Pacific Franc and is used in French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna. The main banks are Bank of French Polynesia, Bank of Polynesia and the Banque de Socredo with outlets around French Polynesia, Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea and Bora Bora. The outer islands have few banking facilities but resorts will exchange travellers cheques and allow payments by credit cards. Most credit cards and travellers cheques are accepted and there are ATM machines (or DAB's in French) around the main island of French Polynesia and on Moorea.

Time

UTC / GMT (-10 hours) The Marquesas Islands are a half hour ahead of the rest of French Polynesia.

Business Hours

Papeete Central Post Office, located near the Yacht Wharf and Bougainville Park and is open weekdays from 7 am to 6 pm and on Saturdays from 8 am to 11 am. There is a Philatelic Center at the Post Office. Post offices in the islands usually open weekdays from 7 :00 am to 3 :30 pm. Shops are open from Monday to Friday 7:30 am to 11:30 am and from 1:30 pm to 5 pm/6 pm, and even to 8 :00 pm. Saturdays from 7:30 am to 11:30 am. Some shops also open afternoons. Most places are closed on Sunday except for the colourful Papeete market, which is very busy from 5 in the morning.

Communication

The international dialling code for French Polynesia is (689). Telephone lines are reliable and available throughout the French Polynesia Islands. There are many international card-operated phones throughout most of the islands. Public Internet access is available throughout the main islands but is limited on the outer islands.

Electricity

Electricity is 110 or 220 AC / 60Hz voltage depending on the island visited with 220 AC most common (acceptable for UK, Australia and New Zealand) but if you come from the US you will probably need a converter. Sockets are French style.

Language

French and Tahitian are the two official languages. English is also widely spoken, particularly in tourist areas.

Dress Code

Dress is casual and informal throughout the islands. Visitors should bring a light tropical clothing including slacks for evenings. Casual. "Pareus" wraps are popular over swimsuits around the beach or pool. Papeete is more cosmopolitan.

Transport

Most French Polynesia travel experiences involve inter island flights or fast ferries from Papeete on the main island of French Polynesia.

Public buses known as Le Truk are cheap and frequent around Papeete and its suburbs and are by far the easiest way of travel. If you want to do a sightseeing tour around the island, then hiring a car is the better option. There are several International car hire companies including EuroCar, Budget and Hertz as well as lots of local companies offering cheaper deals.

Air Moorea offers 18 flights per day for the 10-minute hop from Papeete to Moorea, starting at 6.15 am with its last flight at 6.15pm. The cost very affordable making it the most accessible and cheapest of islands to visit. Air French Polynesia flies to 38 islands, with the more popular destinations on a daily basis and to Bora Bora and Huahine at least five times a day. Flights however are very expensive but purchasing one of the many island passes available cuts the cost considerably. Papeete (Faaa Airport) is the hub of all internal flights with few flights connecting the other islands. So, to get from Moorea to Huahine for example means going back to Papeete.

A much cheaper way to get to and from the islands is by inter-island ferry. There are three companies offering ferries to Moorea, one of them a high speed catamaran, between them departing every half hour from the wharf in Papeete. The trip takes about 50 minutes. There are also regular ferries to the other Society Islands including a high speed catamaran which can make the trip from French Polynesia to Bora Bora in 7 hours compared to the regular ferry time of 14 hours and to Huahine in less than 4 hours. The Maupiti Express offers fast connections from Bora Bora to the nearby islands of Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa and Maupiti and there are lots of local water taxis to get you out to the small islands surrounding these. There are 10 ships serving the Tuamotu Islands, one of which connects through to the Marquesas. Reliable schedules service the Marquesas and the Austral Islands. Overall, getting about by ship is very easy.

Health Facilities

Tahiti and the outer islands enjoy a high standard of health, with excellent medical and dental services. No vaccinations are required, except for visitors arriving from an infected area (please contact your travel agent or airline company).


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