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French Polynesia Guide – Be My Travel Muse


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Anet Kessel



Welcome to French Polynesia, a tropical paradise in the heart of the South Pacific. With its stunning turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and lush green mountains, this archipelago is a dream destination for travelers seeking both relaxation and adventure.


French Polynesia consists of 118 islands and atolls scattered across an area larger than Europe. The main islands are Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea, and Raiatea, each offering its own unique charm and beauty. Whether you want to lounge on the beach, snorkel in crystal-clear lagoons, explore vibrant coral reefs, or immerse yourself in the local Polynesian culture, there is something for everyone in this tropical paradise.


One of the most iconic images of French Polynesia is the overwater bungalows, perched above the turquoise lagoons. These luxurious accommodations provide an unrivaled experience, where you can wake up to the gentle sound of waves lapping at your doorstep and spend your days lounging on your private deck under the warm tropical sun.


But French Polynesia is more than just a picture-perfect destination. It is a place where you can discover the rich Polynesian culture and traditions, visit ancient archaeological sites, and taste the delicious local cuisine. The warm and welcoming spirit of the Polynesian people adds another layer of magic to your stay.


In this comprehensive guide to French Polynesia, we will provide you with all the information you need to plan your dream vacation. From when to visit and how to get there, to the best attractions, activities, and accommodation options, we’ve got you covered. So sit back, relax, and let us take you on a journey through this enchanting destination.


Getting to French Polynesia

Getting to French Polynesia is relatively easy, with most international flights landing at Faa’a International Airport in Tahiti. From major cities around the world, you can find direct flights to Tahiti operated by several international airlines.


If you are traveling from North America, you can find direct flights from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Vancouver. From Europe, there are direct flights from Paris, as French Polynesia is an overseas territory of France. Other major cities in Asia and Oceania also have flight connections to Tahiti.


Once you arrive in Tahiti, you can easily connect to other islands within French Polynesia via domestic flights or inter-island ferries. Air Tahiti operates regular flights between the main islands, and the ferry service is a popular and scenic way to travel between islands such as Moorea, Bora Bora, and Huahine.


It is important to note that French Polynesia is a remote destination, and flight schedules can be limited, especially to smaller islands or atolls. Therefore, it is advisable to plan your travel in advance and allow for some flexibility in your itinerary to accommodate any potential schedule changes.


Another thing to consider is the cost of flights to French Polynesia, as airfare can be a significant portion of your travel expenses. It is best to search for flights well in advance and compare prices to find the best deals. Traveling during the low season (November to April) may also help you secure more affordable flights.


Lastly, make sure to check the entry requirements for French Polynesia before you travel. Most travelers will not require a visa if staying for less than 90 days, but you may need to show proof of onward travel, accommodation bookings, and sufficient funds for your stay. It is always recommended to consult with the local embassy or consulate for the most up-to-date visa requirements.


Best Time to Visit French Polynesia

French Polynesia enjoys a tropical climate, with warm temperatures and abundant sunshine throughout the year. However, there are some factors to consider when determining the best time to visit this stunning destination.


The high season in French Polynesia is from May to October, which corresponds to the dry season. During this time, you can expect less rainfall and lower humidity, making it an ideal time for outdoor activities such as snorkeling, diving, and hiking. The temperatures during the high season range from 24°C (75°F) to 30°C (86°F).


If you’re looking for a quieter and more budget-friendly experience, consider visiting during the shoulder season, which is from November to April. This period is characterized by warmer temperatures and higher humidity, but it also brings occasional rain showers. However, the rain showers are usually short-lived, and the landscapes become even more lush and vibrant. The temperatures during the shoulder season range from 26°C (79°F) to 32°C (90°F).


It’s important to note that French Polynesia is a popular honeymoon and romantic getaway destination, and the islands can be more crowded during holiday periods and school vacations. If you prefer a quieter and more peaceful experience, it is advisable to avoid traveling during these peak periods.


Another factor to consider when planning your visit is the annual events and festivals in French Polynesia. The Heiva Festival, held in July, is one of the most significant cultural events in Tahiti, featuring traditional dance performances, music, sports competitions, and arts and crafts exhibitions. The festival offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the Polynesian culture and witness the vibrant traditions of the locals.


Ultimately, the best time to visit French Polynesia depends on your preferences and the activities you plan to engage in. Whether you choose the high season or the shoulder season, French Polynesia will captivate you with its natural beauty and warm hospitality throughout the year.


French Polynesia Visa Requirements

For most travelers, visiting French Polynesia is a visa-free experience. Travelers from many countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and most European Union countries, do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days. However, it is essential to confirm the visa requirements for your specific nationality before traveling.


When entering French Polynesia, you will need to present a valid passport that is valid for at least six months beyond your intended departure date. Additionally, you may be asked to provide proof of onward travel, such as a return or onward flight ticket, and evidence of sufficient funds to support your stay.


It is crucial to note that visa requirements can change, so it is always recommended to check with the nearest French embassy or consulate or consult the official website of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the most up-to-date information before your trip.


If you are planning to stay in French Polynesia for more than 90 days or intend to work or study, you will need to apply for a long-stay visa or other appropriate visa categories. The requirements for long-stay visas are more stringent and may require additional documentation, such as a letter of invitation, proof of accommodation, and medical insurance coverage.


It is recommended to start the visa application process well in advance, as it may take several weeks or even months to obtain the necessary visa. If you are unsure about the visa requirements or need assistance with the application process, it is best to consult with a travel agent or contact the relevant French diplomatic mission.


In summary, most travelers enjoy visa-free access to French Polynesia for stays of up to 90 days. Ensure that your passport is valid and meets the minimum validity requirement, and be prepared to provide proof of onward travel and sufficient funds. If you plan to stay longer or engage in specific activities, check the visa requirements and apply in advance. By completing the necessary visa procedures, you can enjoy a hassle-free and memorable journey to the beautiful islands of French Polynesia.


Currency and Money in French Polynesia

The official currency of French Polynesia is the French Pacific Franc (XPF). This currency is unique to French overseas territories in the Pacific, including New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, and French Polynesia. The symbol used for the currency is “₣” or “XPF”.


While the French Pacific Franc is the official currency, many tourist establishments in French Polynesia, especially those on the main islands, accept major international credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. However, it is always a good idea to carry some cash in the local currency, especially when traveling to more remote areas or smaller islands where card payment options may be limited.


ATMs, commonly known as “distributeurs automatiques de billets” or “DABs,” can be found in larger towns and cities throughout French Polynesia. It is advisable to withdraw enough cash for your needs in advance, as ATMs may be scarce or inaccessible in some remote locations.


When it comes to exchanging money, it is best to do so at banks or currency exchange offices. While hotels and resorts may offer currency exchange services, they often charge higher fees and offer less favorable exchange rates. It is recommended to compare rates and fees at different exchange locations to ensure you get the best value for your money.


While French Polynesia is a popular tourist destination, it is not as developed as some other destinations, and not all establishments may accept foreign currency. Therefore, it is advisable to exchange your money for local currency upon arrival or carry some cash in small denominations for small purchases, tips, or transactions in more remote areas.


As for tipping in French Polynesia, it is not mandatory, but it is customary to leave a small gratuity for good service. It is common to round up the bill or leave 10% of the total as a tip. However, tipping practices may vary depending on the establishment, so it is always a good idea to check if a service charge has already been included or if tipping is expected.


In summary, the official currency in French Polynesia is the French Pacific Franc (XPF), and credit cards are widely accepted, especially in tourist areas. It is advisable to carry some cash for smaller establishments or remote locations and to exchange currency at banks or exchange offices for the best rates. Tipping is not mandatory but is appreciated for good service.


Language and Communication in French Polynesia

The official languages of French Polynesia are French and Tahitian. French is widely spoken and understood, particularly in tourist areas, hotels, and restaurants. English is also spoken to some extent, particularly by those working in the tourism industry. However, it is helpful to have some basic knowledge of French or Tahitian phrases to enhance your communication and show respect to the local culture.


If you are staying in the main tourist hubs such as Tahiti, Bora Bora, or Moorea, you will likely find English-speaking staff in hotels, restaurants, and activities. However, as you venture to more remote islands or smaller establishments, the level of English proficiency may vary. It is always useful to carry a pocket-sized French or Tahitian phrasebook or download a language translation app to assist you in communicating with locals.


Tahitian, a Polynesian language, is spoken by a significant portion of the population, especially in more traditional communities. Learning a few basic Tahitian phrases can make a positive impression and help you connect with the locals on a deeper level. Common Tahitian greetings include “Ia Orana” (hello), “Mauruuru” (thank you), and “Nana” (goodbye).


Nonetheless, don’t be discouraged if you encounter language barriers during your trip. The warm and friendly nature of the Polynesian people shines through, and they will make every effort to ensure you feel welcome and understood. Simple gestures and a smile can go a long way in overcoming language barriers and fostering meaningful connections.


Additionally, it is important to note that French Polynesian culture places a strong emphasis on respect and politeness. Using basic greetings and courtesy phrases in French or Tahitian, such as “Bonjour” (hello) or “Merci” (thank you), can help you navigate social interactions and show appreciation for local customs.


Furthermore, in the digital age, staying connected with friends and family is essential for many travelers. Most hotels and resorts in French Polynesia offer Wi-Fi, but the internet connection may be slower or less reliable on some of the more remote islands. It is recommended to check with your accommodation about the availability and quality of Wi-Fi before your trip. Alternatively, you can purchase a local SIM card to have a data connection on your mobile device while in French Polynesia.


In summary, French and Tahitian are the official languages of French Polynesia, with French being more widely spoken and understood. English is spoken in tourist areas, but having some knowledge of basic French or Tahitian phrases can greatly enhance your experience. Politeness and respect in communication are highly valued, and local SIM cards or Wi-Fi at accommodations can keep you connected during your trip.


French Polynesia Culture and Etiquette

French Polynesia is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, deeply rooted in the traditions and customs of the Polynesian people. Understanding and respecting the local culture and etiquette is key to having a memorable and enjoyable experience in this beautiful destination.


The people of French Polynesia are known for their warm hospitality and friendly demeanor, and it is important to reciprocate their kindness. Greeting locals with a smile and a friendly “Ia Orana” (hello) or “Mauruuru” (thank you) goes a long way in establishing positive connections.


Respect for elders and authority figures is highly valued in Polynesian culture. It is customary to greet elders and people in positions of authority with a more formal greeting, such as “Ia Orana e” or “Bonjour Monsieur/Madame,” and show deference and politeness in interactions.


When visiting sacred sites or marae (traditional meeting places), it is important to show reverence and follow any guidelines or restrictions in place. These sites hold significant cultural and historical importance to the Polynesian people, and it is important to treat them with respect and sensitivity.


Dress modestly, especially when visiting local villages or participating in cultural events. Polynesian culture values modesty, and it is customary to cover shoulders and knees when entering sacred or traditional spaces. Additionally, when attending traditional dance performances or events, it is appreciated to wear “pareu” (sarong) or Polynesian attire to show respect for the culture.


Like in many cultures, showing gratitude is important in French Polynesia. It is customary to say “Mauruuru” (thank you) for any acts of kindness or assistance. Leaving a small gratuity is also appreciated for good service, but it is not obligatory.


When engaging in conversations, it is polite to listen attentively and allow others to finish speaking before speaking yourself. Interrupting or raising your voice is considered impolite. In Polynesian culture, a more relaxed and easygoing approach to timekeeping is common, so it is advised to be patient and flexible with schedules and appointments.


Overall, embracing the local culture and etiquette is an important aspect of traveling to French Polynesia. By showing respect, kindness, and a genuine interest in the rich traditions and customs of the Polynesian people, you will be warmly welcomed and immersed in the unique cultural experience that this beautiful destination offers.


French Polynesia Weather and Climate

French Polynesia boasts a delightful tropical climate, characterized by warm temperatures and abundant sunshine year-round. The climate is influenced by its location in the South Pacific and can be divided into two main seasons: the dry season and the wet season.


The dry season in French Polynesia lasts from May to October. During this time, you can expect pleasant weather with lower humidity and minimal rainfall. The temperatures range from 24°C (75°F) to 30°C (86°F), making it an ideal time for outdoor activities such as snorkeling, diving, and hiking. It is also the high season for tourism, so popular attractions and accommodations may be busier.


The wet season in French Polynesia runs from November to April. While it is considered the rainy season, the rain showers are usually brief and intense, followed by sunny periods. The temperatures range from 26°C (79°F) to 32°C (90°F), and the humidity is higher compared to the dry season. Even during the wet season, French Polynesia maintains its stunning beauty, with lush green vegetation and vibrant landscapes.


It is important to note that French Polynesia is composed of several islands and atolls, and weather conditions may vary slightly between them. Islands located further north, such as the Marquesas Islands, tend to have a more tropical climate with higher rainfall throughout the year. Islands in the Society Islands group, including Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Moorea, generally experience milder temperatures and lower rainfall.


French Polynesia is also susceptible to tropical cyclones, which typically occur between November and April. While the chances of being directly impacted by a cyclone are relatively low, it is advisable to monitor weather forecasts and check with local authorities if planning a visit during this period.


Regardless of the season, French Polynesia remains a breathtaking destination with its pristine beaches, turquoise lagoons, and diverse marine life. Whether you choose to visit during the dry season for optimal outdoor conditions or during the wet season to witness the lush beauty of the islands, there is never a bad time to explore the enchanting paradise of French Polynesia.


French Polynesia Islands and Atolls

French Polynesia is a stunning archipelago made up of 118 islands and atolls, each offering its own unique charm and natural beauty. From the iconic peaks of Bora Bora to the vibrant coral gardens of Rangiroa, there is something for every type of traveler in this South Pacific paradise.


Tahiti, the largest and most well-known island, serves as the gateway to French Polynesia. It is home to the capital city of Papeete and offers a blend of cosmopolitan amenities and natural wonders. Explore its lively markets, dive into its vibrant cultural scene, and immerse yourself in the warmth of its people.


Bora Bora, with its famous turquoise lagoon and majestic Mount Otemanu, is often referred to as the “Pearl of the Pacific.” This tropical paradise is a dream destination for honeymooners and luxury travelers, offering overwater bungalows, pristine beaches, and world-class resorts.


Moorea, located just a short distance from Tahiti, captivates visitors with its breathtaking landscapes of lush mountains, blue lagoons, and idyllic beaches. It is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering activities such as hiking, snorkeling, and dolphin-watching excursions.


Rangiroa, part of the Tuamotu Archipelago, is renowned for its vibrant underwater world. Divers and snorkelers flock to this atoll to explore its coral gardens, encounter schools of tropical fish, and dive into the Tiputa Pass to see sharks and dolphins up close.


Other notable islands and atolls in French Polynesia include Huahine, with its rich archaeological sites and lush landscapes; Taha’a, known as the “Vanilla Island” for its fragrant vanilla plantations; and Raiatea, the cultural and historical heart of Polynesia, with its ancient marae and sailing traditions.


French Polynesia also offers more remote and untouched destinations, where you can truly escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The Marquesas Islands, located in the northeast, are known for their dramatic landscapes, towering cliffs, and ancient Polynesian culture.


Exploring the various islands and atolls of French Polynesia allows you to experience the diversity of the region, from the luxurious resorts of Bora Bora to the untouched beauty of the Marquesas Islands. Each destination showcases a different aspect of the archipelago, making French Polynesia a treasure trove of natural wonders and cultural riches.


Top Attractions in French Polynesia

French Polynesia is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty and vibrant culture. With its pristine beaches, crystal-clear lagoons, and lush landscapes, this archipelago offers a plethora of attractions that will leave visitors in awe. Here are some of the top attractions in French Polynesia:

  1. Bora Bora: Known for its iconic overwater bungalows, Bora Bora is a picture-perfect destination with its turquoise lagoon and majestic Mount Otemanu. Visitors can indulge in watersports, take a boat tour around the island, or simply bask in the beauty of its beaches.
  2. Moorea: Just a short distance from Tahiti, Moorea is famous for its dramatic landscapes and vibrant marine life. Travelers can hike to panoramic viewpoints, swim with stingrays and sharks, and explore the island’s beautiful coral gardens.
  3. Tahiti: The capital island of French Polynesia, Tahiti offers a unique blend of natural and cultural attractions. Explore vibrant markets, visit the Paul Gauguin Museum, and learn about Polynesian history and traditions at the Museum of Tahiti and Her Islands.
  4. Rangiroa: As one of the largest atolls in the world, Rangiroa is a paradise for divers and snorkelers. Its pristine coral reefs are home to a diverse array of marine life, including sharks, dolphins, and colorful tropical fish.
  5. Marae Taputapuatea: Located on the island of Raiatea, Marae Taputapuatea is an ancient archaeological site of great cultural significance. This UNESCO World Heritage Site showcases the remnants of an ancient Polynesian temple complex and offers insights into Polynesian history and spirituality.
  6. Fakarava: Fakarava is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve known for its untouched natural beauty and pristine ecosystem. It is a haven for scuba diving enthusiasts, with its rich marine life, including schools of hammerhead sharks and manta rays.
  7. Huahine: Huahine is a hidden gem with its lush landscapes, turquoise lagoon, and ancient archaeological sites. Visitors can explore the island’s sacred blue-eyed eels, visit the Maeva archaeological site, and embrace the laid-back Polynesian lifestyle.
  8. Marquesas Islands: For those seeking a remote and off-the-beaten-path experience, the Marquesas Islands deliver. The dramatic landscapes, towering cliffs, and rich Polynesian culture of islands like Hiva Oa and Nuku Hiva offer a truly authentic Polynesian experience.

These are just a few of the top attractions in French Polynesia. Whether you are seeking adventure, relaxation, or a cultural immersion, this tropical paradise has something to offer every traveler, leaving you with memories that will last a lifetime.


French Polynesia Beaches and Water Activities

French Polynesia is celebrated for its postcard-perfect beaches and pristine turquoise waters. Each island and atoll offers a unique coastal beauty, making it a paradise for beach lovers and water enthusiasts. From swimming and sunbathing to snorkeling and diving, there are endless opportunities to explore the underwater world and bask in the sun-drenched shores.


Bora Bora, with its stunning lagoon and powdery white sand, is a beach lover’s dream come true. Matira Beach, known for its crystal-clear waters and palm-fringed shoreline, is often regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Here, visitors can relax on the soft sand, swim in the calm waters, or even try their hand at paddleboarding or kayaking.


Moorea is another popular destination known for its picturesque beaches. Temae Beach, located on the east coast of the island, offers a long stretch of white sand, shallow waters, and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. It is an ideal spot for swimming, sunbathing, or snorkeling along the nearby coral gardens.


Rangiroa, one of the largest atolls in the world, is renowned for its exceptional scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities. The Tiputa Pass, with its strong currents, attracts experienced divers looking to encounter sharks, dolphins, and other magnificent marine life. Snorkelers can explore the coral gardens teeming with colorful fish and vibrant coral formations.


French Polynesia’s beaches are not only perfect for relaxation but also for thrilling water activities. A popular water sport in the region is kiteboarding, with ideal wind conditions and shallow lagoons providing an exciting playground for both beginners and experienced riders. The islands of Tahiti and Moorea offer excellent kiteboarding spots.


For those looking for a unique and unforgettable experience, swimming with gentle stingrays and blacktip reef sharks in the shallow lagoons is a must. Many tour operators in Bora Bora and Moorea offer excursions where visitors can get up close and personal with these fascinating marine creatures, creating lifelong memories.


French Polynesia also offers fantastic opportunities for sailing and yacht charters. With its calm waters and picturesque islands, exploring the archipelago by boat allows travelers to discover hidden coves, secluded beaches, and remote islands that are not accessible by land.


Whether you are seeking relaxation on the soft sand, thrilling water activities, or simply immersing yourself in the beauty of the turquoise waters, French Polynesia’s beaches and water activities promise an unforgettable experience in this tropical paradise.


French Polynesia Land Activities and Hiking Trails

While French Polynesia is renowned for its pristine beaches and vibrant marine life, the islands offer much more than just water activities. The lush landscapes and towering mountain peaks provide opportunities for land activities and exhilarating hiking trails.


One of the most popular destinations for land activities in French Polynesia is Moorea. The island is home to Mount Tohivea, the highest peak on the island, offering breathtaking panoramic views. Hiking enthusiasts can embark on the Belvedere Lookout Trail, which takes you through the lush rainforest and rewards you with stunning views of Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay.


Tahiti also offers some excellent hiking trails, catering to both seasoned hikers and leisurely walkers. The Fautaua Valley Trail is a challenging trek that leads you through dense vegetation and to the awe-inspiring Fautaua Waterfall. For a more accessible hike, the Three Waterfalls Trail takes you on a gentle journey through tropical forests, showcasing the beauty of the island’s natural landscapes.


Bora Bora, known for its iconic overwater bungalows and turquoise lagoon, also offers opportunities for land-based adventures. The Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu trails provide challenging hikes for experienced climbers, rewarding you with panoramic views of the island and lagoon below.


For those seeking a cultural and historical exploration, the island of Raiatea is a must-visit. Here, you can discover the ancient marae, open-air temples that were once the centers of religious and social activities. The Taputapuatea Marae, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the most renowned and offers a glimpse into the rich Polynesian history and spiritual beliefs.


French Polynesia is not just about hiking on land; it also offers opportunities for adventurous ATV tours, horseback riding along scenic trails, and even helicopter tours for a bird’s-eye view of the breathtaking landscapes.


When engaging in land activities and hiking in French Polynesia, it is essential to respect the environment and follow the trail guidelines. Bringing appropriate footwear, such as hiking shoes or sturdy sneakers, and carrying plenty of water and sunscreen are also important for a comfortable and safe experience.


Exploring the land activities and hiking trails in French Polynesia adds another dimension to your journey, allowing you to uncover the natural beauty and experience the diverse landscapes of this enchanting destination.


French Polynesia Traditional Cuisine

French Polynesia not only captivates with its stunning natural beauty but also tantalizes with its unique and flavorful traditional cuisine. Influenced by both Polynesian and French culinary traditions, the cuisine of French Polynesia offers a delightful fusion of flavors, showcasing the abundance of the islands’ natural resources.


One of the most iconic dishes in French Polynesia is poisson cru, a refreshing and flavorful dish made from raw fish marinated in lime juice and coconut milk. The fish, typically tuna or mahi-mahi, is thinly sliced and mixed with onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, and fresh herbs, creating a delightful mix of textures and flavors.


Taro, a starchy root vegetable, is a staple in French Polynesian cuisine. It is used in various dishes, such as poe, a traditional Polynesian dessert made with mashed taro, coconut milk, and sugar. Taro is also used to make bread, chips, and other savory snacks.


Another popular dish is fafaru, a fermented dish made with raw fish or seafood. The fish is marinated in sea salt and soaked in freshly squeezed coconut milk, resulting in a tangy and pungent flavor. Fafaru is an acquired taste but is loved by locals and adventurous food enthusiasts.


French influence is evident in dishes like poisson cru au lait de coco, which is a variation of poisson cru with the addition of rich and creamy coconut milk. French-style baguettes and croissants are also prevalent in French Polynesia, offering a taste of the French patisseries amidst the tropical paradise.


Food from the land is just as essential in Polynesian cuisine. The umara, a sweet potato native to French Polynesia, is a versatile ingredient used in various dishes, including as a side dish or in desserts. Breadfruit, known as uru, is another staple crop that is often cooked and mashed or made into crispy fritters.


When it comes to beverages, Hinano beer has become an iconic symbol of Tahiti and French Polynesia. This smooth and refreshing beer is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike, and it pairs perfectly with seafood dishes and barbecues.


During your visit to French Polynesia, make sure to indulge in the rich flavors and unique dishes of the traditional cuisine. Whether you’re savoring fresh raw fish in poisson cru, enjoying taro-based desserts, or experiencing the delightful fusion of Polynesian and French flavors, the traditional cuisine of French Polynesia is sure to leave a lasting impression on your taste buds.


French Polynesia Accommodation Options

When it comes to accommodation options in French Polynesia, there is a wide range of choices to suit every traveler’s preferences and budget. From luxurious resorts to cozy guesthouses, the islands offer a variety of accommodations that enhance the overall experience of your stay.


The overwater bungalows are synonymous with French Polynesia and are a dream accommodation for many. These iconic and romantic accommodations offer direct access to the turquoise lagoons, with private decks, glass floors to observe the marine life below, and luxurious amenities. Bora Bora and Moorea are popular destinations for these luxurious bungalows, providing an unforgettable experience for honeymooners and couples.


For those seeking a more affordable option or a local experience, small family-owned guesthouses, known as pensions, are scattered throughout the islands. These charming accommodations offer a more intimate and authentic stay, often with warm and personalized hospitality. Pensions provide an opportunity to connect with local hosts and experience the Polynesian way of life.


Resorts and hotels are abundant in French Polynesia, with options catering to different budgets and needs. Many high-end resorts offer world-class amenities, including spas, infinity pools, and fine dining restaurants. Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Moorea are home to some of the most prestigious and luxurious resorts in the archipelago, showcasing stunning natural surroundings and impeccable service.


For those who prefer a more independent style of accommodation, vacation rentals and self-catering villas are available on various islands. These options provide the freedom and flexibility to create your own schedule, cook your meals, and immerse yourself in the local community.


Camping is also an option for those seeking a more adventurous and budget-friendly experience. Many islands have designated camping sites where visitors can pitch their tents and enjoy the natural beauty of their surroundings. However, it is important to check if permits or reservations are required.


When choosing your accommodation in French Polynesia, consider the location, accessibility to attractions and activities, and your preferred level of luxury or simplicity. It is advisable to book well in advance, especially during the high season, to secure your desired accommodation and take advantage of early booking deals.


Regardless of your accommodation choice, French Polynesia’s hospitality and natural beauty will undoubtedly make your stay a memorable one, allowing you to relax, unwind, and immerse yourself in the enchanting paradise of this South Pacific archipelago.


Transportation in French Polynesia

Getting around in French Polynesia is relatively straightforward, thanks to a variety of transportation options available to explore the islands’ beauty and charm. From inter-island flights to ferries and local transportation, traveling within French Polynesia is convenient and allows you to experience the different aspects of the archipelago.


Inter-island flights are the most common mode of transportation to travel between the major islands. Air Tahiti operates regular flights, connecting Tahiti with popular destinations such as Bora Bora, Moorea, Raiatea, and more. The flights offer breathtaking aerial views of the islands, allowing you to fully appreciate their stunning landscapes.


Ferries are another option for traveling between islands, particularly in the Society Islands group. The ferries provide a scenic and enjoyable experience, allowing you to take in the beauty of French Polynesia’s turquoise waters during the journey. Popular ferry routes include Papeete to Moorea and Tahiti to Huahine, offering an alternative to flying.


Local transportation within the islands varies depending on the size and infrastructure of each location. Rental cars and scooters are available on larger islands like Tahiti and Moorea, providing flexibility and independence to explore at your own pace. It is important to note that driving is on the right-hand side of the road in French Polynesia.


Taxis and public buses are available in some areas, particularly around major towns and tourist hubs. Taxis can be hailed at designated taxi stands or booked through your accommodation. Public buses, known as “le truck,” are a more affordable option, although they may have limited routes and a less frequent schedule.


In more remote or less populated areas, it is common to rely on organized tours or private transfers to explore the attractions. Tour operators offer a range of excursions, such as island tours, snorkeling trips, and cultural experiences, providing a convenient way to discover the hidden gems and highlights of French Polynesia.


It’s important to note that transportation schedules in French Polynesia can be subject to changes, especially due to weather conditions or unforeseen circumstances. It is advisable to check and confirm schedules in advance, and allow for some flexibility in your travel plans.


Ultimately, the mode of transportation you choose depends on your preferences, time constraints, and the specific islands you wish to visit. Whether hopping on a flight to explore the iconic destinations or taking a leisurely ferry ride to soak in the scenic beauty, the transportation options in French Polynesia allow you to navigate this South Pacific paradise with ease and excitement.


Health and Safety in French Polynesia

French Polynesia is generally a safe destination for travelers, with a low crime rate and friendly locals. However, it is essential to take certain health and safety precautions to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip.


Before traveling to French Polynesia, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional or travel health clinic to receive up-to-date information on recommended vaccinations and health precautions. It is also important to have travel insurance that covers medical expenses, as healthcare costs can be high in the islands.


The sun in French Polynesia is strong, particularly between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. It is crucial to protect yourself from sunburn by wearing sunscreen with a high SPF, a hat, sunglasses, and lightweight, long-sleeved clothing. Staying hydrated is also essential, especially in the warm and humid climate.


The marine life in French Polynesia is diverse and captivating, but it is important to be cautious when engaging in water activities. Pay attention to instructions from guides or locals regarding safety measures when snorkeling or diving, and avoid touching or stepping on coral reefs to protect the fragile ecosystem.


While tap water in French Polynesia is generally safe to drink, many visitors prefer to drink bottled water. This is particularly recommended if you are traveling to remote islands or atolls where water sources may be more limited or less reliable.


French Polynesia is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, including lush rainforests and mountains. When hiking or exploring the outdoors, it is advisable to wear appropriate footwear and clothing, use insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites, and be aware of your surroundings.


As with any destination, it is always wise to take precautions to safeguard your belongings. Keep your valuables secure and avoid displaying expensive items in public. It is also recommended to use hotel safes when available and carry a photocopy of your travel documents instead of the originals.


Emergency services in French Polynesia are generally well-equipped. The emergency number to contact emergency services is 15 for medical emergencies and 17 for police or security-related issues.


Lastly, it is essential to respect the local customs and traditions when visiting French Polynesia. Polynesian culture values kindness, politeness, and respect. Engaging with the local community in a mindful and respectful manner will contribute to a positive and enriching experience.


By following these health and safety guidelines, you can ensure a memorable and trouble-free visit to the paradise that is French Polynesia. With its stunning landscapes, warm hospitality, and vibrant culture, the islands offer an unforgettable journey of discovery and relaxation.


Sustainable Tourism in French Polynesia

French Polynesia’s pristine natural beauty is a precious resource that must be protected for future generations. Sustainable tourism practices are vital to ensure the preservation of the islands’ ecosystems, cultures, and communities. By adopting sustainable practices, travelers can make a positive impact on the environment and contribute to the long-term well-being of the destination.


One way to support sustainable tourism in French Polynesia is to choose accommodations and tour operators that prioritize sustainable practices. Look for eco-friendly resorts that implement measures to conserve energy, reduce waste, and protect the marine and terrestrial environments. Support tour operators that adhere to responsible practices, such as respecting wildlife and ecosystems, as well as promoting local cultural heritage in a respectful manner.


Efforts to reduce waste and single-use plastics are crucial in protecting French Polynesia’s fragile ecosystems. Travelers can contribute by bringing reusable water bottles, tote bags, and cutlery to minimize plastic consumption. It is also important to dispose of waste responsibly, recycling whenever possible and participating in beach clean-ups or community volunteering initiatives.


Responsible snorkeling and diving practices are essential in preserving French Polynesia’s coral reefs. Avoid touching or stepping on coral, and maintain a safe distance from marine life. Use environmentally friendly sunscreen that does not contain harmful chemicals that can damage coral reefs.


Supporting local communities is another way to promote sustainable tourism. Visit local markets and buy locally produced souvenirs, such as handmade crafts, textiles, or agricultural products. This supports the local economy and helps to preserve traditional arts and crafts. Engaging in cultural activities and attending authentic events organized by local communities can also provide a meaningful cultural exchange experience.


Respect for the local culture and traditions is paramount. Learn about the customs and etiquette of the islands before your visit, and be mindful of local sensitivities. Dress modestly when visiting sacred sites and participate in cultural activities with respect and a willingness to learn.


Lastly, consider the impact of your transportation choices. Take advantage of localized transport options such as buses or bicycles when available. When flying, opt for non-stop or direct flights to minimize carbon emissions.


By practicing sustainable tourism in French Polynesia, travelers can contribute to the preservation of the islands’ natural and cultural heritage. By making conscious choices, we can ensure that French Polynesia remains a pristine and beautiful destination for future generations to enjoy.


French Polynesia Souvenirs and Shopping

French Polynesia offers a diverse array of unique souvenirs and shopping experiences that allow visitors to take a piece of the islands’ beauty and culture back home. From handcrafted arts and crafts to local delicacies, there are plenty of options to choose from when shopping in this tropical paradise.


One of the most popular souvenirs from French Polynesia is black pearls. Renowned for their beauty and quality, these exquisite gems are cultivated in the turquoise lagoons of French Polynesia. Visitors can find a wide selection of black pearl jewelry, including necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. It is essential to purchase pearls from reputable jewelers to ensure authenticity and quality.


Handmade crafts also make for cherished souvenirs from French Polynesia. Local artisans create beautiful wooden carvings, woven baskets, and intricately designed pareos (sarongs) using traditional techniques. These unique handicrafts reflect the rich cultural heritage of the islands and make for meaningful and distinctive gifts.


The islands are also known for their vibrant art scene. Tahitian paintings, sculptures, and prints often depict the stunning landscapes and Polynesian culture. Art galleries in popular tourist areas, such as Papeete in Tahiti and Vaitape in Bora Bora, offer a wide selection of local artwork that captures the essence of French Polynesia’s beauty and creativity.


Food is an integral part of any culture, and French Polynesia offers delicious local delicacies that make perfect edible souvenirs. Vanilla beans, tropical jams, and Monoi oil, a popular cosmetic product made from coconut oil infused with Tiare flowers, are all locally produced and make for unique and fragrant reminders of your time in the islands.


Shopping in local markets is an experience not to be missed. Les Roulottes in Papeete is a famous evening food market where visitors can sample a variety of local dishes, including poisson cru, as well as shop for souvenirs and handicrafts. Moorea and Bora Bora also have vibrant markets where you can find fresh fruits, vegetables, and handmade goods.


When shopping in French Polynesia, it is crucial to support local businesses and communities. Look for products labeled “Made in Tahiti” to ensure you are purchasing authentic locally-made items. Engaging in friendly negotiations, known as “mana’ona’o,” is common in local markets and adds to the cultural experience.


Lastly, remember to check customs regulations and restrictions before purchasing souvenirs such as black pearls or food products to ensure a smooth return home.


Exploring the shopping scene in French Polynesia allows you to immerse yourself in the unique arts, crafts, flavors, and cultural traditions of the islands. Whether you choose a pearl necklace, a handcrafted artwork, or a jar of local jam, these souvenirs will serve as lasting reminders of your enchanting journey through French Polynesia.


Useful Phrases in French Polynesia

While French is the official language of French Polynesia, knowing a few Tahitian phrases can go a long way in connecting with the locals and showing respect for their culture. Here are some useful phrases to help you communicate during your visit:

  • Ia Orana – Hello
  • Mauruuru – Thank you
  • Nana – Goodbye
  • Parau – Speak
  • Maeva – Welcome
  • Faarapu – Please
  • Aita – No
  • Manava – Greetings
  • Pae’ore – Excuse me
  • Moana – Ocean
  • Fare – House
  • Oaoa – Food
  • Maita’i – Good or well
  • Nana i teie po/e – See you tonight
  • Maruru ro’a – Thank you very much

It may be beneficial to carry a pocket-sized Tahitian phrasebook or download a language translation app to assist you in communicating with the locals. Polynesians appreciate the effort made by visitors to learn their language, and using even a few phrases will enhance your interactions and create a positive cultural exchange.


In addition to these phrases, it is also helpful to learn a few basic French phrases, as French is widely understood and spoken in French Polynesia. Here are a few essential French phrases that can come in handy:

  • Bonjour – Hello
  • Merci – Thank you
  • S’il vous plaît – Please
  • Oui – Yes
  • Non – No
  • Excusez-moi – Excuse me
  • Je ne comprends pas – I don’t understand
  • Parlez-vous anglais? – Do you speak English?
  • Au revoir – Goodbye

Using a combination of these Tahitian and French phrases will help you navigate daily interactions, whether it’s ordering food, asking for directions, or simply engaging in friendly conversations. The effort to communicate in the local language will be appreciated by the Polynesian people and enhance your overall experience in this beautiful destination.



French Polynesia is a captivating destination that offers a blend of natural beauty, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality. From its stunning beaches and turquoise lagoons to its rich Polynesian traditions, this archipelago in the South Pacific captivates the hearts of travelers worldwide.


In this comprehensive guide, we have explored various aspects of French Polynesia, providing insights into the best time to visit, visa requirements, currency, language, and cultural etiquette. We have also delved into the top attractions, including the iconic islands and atolls, as well as the abundant water and land activities available in this tropical paradise.


We emphasized the importance of sustainable tourism and responsible practices, encouraging travelers to support local communities, protect the environment, and respect Polynesian traditions. By making conscious choices and embracing the local culture and customs, visitors can leave a positive impact on the destination and help preserve French Polynesia’s natural and cultural heritage for future generations to enjoy.


From the unique souvenirs and shopping experiences to the useful phrases in Tahitian and French, we have equipped travelers with the necessary knowledge to make the most of their time in French Polynesia. By immersing yourself in the beauty of the islands, engaging with the local communities, and indulging in the rich traditions and flavors, you will create memories that will last a lifetime.


French Polynesia is a destination that captivates the senses, where turquoise waters meet lush landscapes and a warm Polynesian spirit permeates the air. Whether you’re seeking relaxation on white sand beaches, exploring vibrant coral reefs, or immersing yourself in the rich Polynesian culture, French Polynesia is sure to leave an indelible mark on your travel journey. So pack your bags, embrace the spirit of adventure, and let French Polynesia enchant you with its natural wonders and laid-back paradise.