FAQ and Advice

An INTRODUCTION to TAHITI and HER ISLANDS

What is so great about Tahiti and its islands?
Well, that's an easy one: for starters, these are truly THE most beautiful tropical islands in the world, thanks to their dramatic geography, the lush tropical vegetation and their unique multicolored crystal lagoons. Then there are the flowers, lots of them, and all the lovely people (wearing the flowers in their hair, as leis or behind their ears) and their culture. And then, there is the famous magic of these islands ... and this, I can't explain.


Why should I go to Tahiti rather than Hawaii, Mexico or the Caribbean's?

If you want big high-rise hotels, lots of people around and an ordinary vacation, then Tahiti and her islands is not for you.
Tahiti receives less tourists in 1 year than Hawaii gets in 1 day. No big resorts in Tahiti ( the largest will accommodate 180 guests!), very few tourists or locals to be seen, and all this magical environment basically all to yourself.

Is it expensive to vacation there?
If you compare a week in Tahiti to a 1 week in Hawaii or Cancun all inclusive for $999, it will not be a fair comparison. For that price, Hawaii or Mexico will not include private bungalows on pristine secluded beaches or bungalows over turquoise lagoons. Tahiti is not for every budget, but it is an excellent value for extraordinary memories. Also, in Tahiti, there is no tipping or added taxes. What you read is what you pay. NO hidden costs !

Is it really, really romantic?
Because of the wild beauty of it's scenery and it's pristine multi-hue lagoons, French Polynesia is the essence of romance and sensuality. These islands will cast their love spell on you as you arrive and will make it last way after you return home. The exotic islands of French Polynesia were made for lovers. Intoxicating scents, palm-shaded beaches, secluded coves, private bungalows on crystal lagoons with a view of emerald islands more sensuous than the works of Gauguin. Tahiti is without a doubt the most romantic place on earth.

We want to go there for our honeymoon. Do you have any suggestions?
Tahiti is the idyllic setting for a honeymoon in paradise. Sleep in your own private thatched-roof bungalow on the edge of a turquoise lagoon...cruise under star studded skies propelled by gentle trade winds...spend the day on your own secluded motu. You couldn't pick a better honeymoon destination. While in French Polynesia you may renew your vows in a romantic, traditional Tahitian Wedding Ceremony.

Regarding the choice of islands, I would say go to Tahaa for the upscale privacy and spectacular resorts, to Bora Bora for the spectacular resorts and lagoon scenery, to Moorea for the dramatic beauty and lushness of the island, and, if you are a true romantic, to the Kia Ora Sauvage (currently closed for rennovations) for the ultimate South Sea fantasy.
 

How about privacy, seclusion..?
Due to the low population of the islands and only few tourists, you will find many deserted beaches.  Also, most of the accommodation is in private bungalows, either near or on the water, and most guest stay in the privacy of their bungalows. Topless sunbathing is routine and will be ignored. 

How do I get there and how long does it take?
It's very easy. There are 2 international airlines serving Papeete, the capital of Tahiti from the USA. It is just a short 8 hour flight, non-stop from Los Angeles.

What airlines fly to Tahiti?
Air Tahiti Nui, the Tahiti-based international carrier has daily flights from Los Angeles. Other International airlines providing services include Air France, Hawaiian Airlines, Lan Chile, and Air Caledonia International.

How do I get to the other islands?
The local domestic airline, Air Tahiti, operates a number of flights daily between islands. Flights start early in the morning and end soon after dark. If only going to Moorea from Tahiti you have a choice between flying and taking the ferry. The flight only takes approximately 15 minutes, whereas the ferry will take approximately 45 minutes.  There are no ferries to any other island other than Moorea.

How do I know which hotel?
The hotels you select are very important to the overall success of your trip as your hotel is likely to be the center of your activities. Hotels in French Polynesia can range from a 100 bungalow resort to a small intimate hotel with a few Polynesian bungalows and few amenities.  All the hotels are located on a beach or a lagoon no matter what island. We, at TahitiTravel, have an intimate knowledge of every resort so we will be glad to advise you on the best hotel choice for your needs. Call us for advice and a quote.

What kind of room?
The vast majority of accommodations in French Polynesia are individual units called "bungalows" made of natural woods and local materials with upscale decor and amenities, depending on the quality of the resort (some are very luxurious). Much of the fun of coming to Tahiti is being able to stay in one of these thatched-roofed bungalows. Accommodations typically feature king size bed and a day bed for a third person or child. Please keep in mind, there are very few hotels that can accommodate more than 3 people in one bungalow. Typically the hotels categorize the bungalows by location on the property . Least expensive is a Garden Bungalow, then a Beach Bungalow, then an Overwater Bungalow and then a Premium or Horizon Overwater bungalow.

What about High and Low season rates? 
The Hi/Low seasons are purely determined by the demand and are not related to the weather (same all year long - there is no "bad" weather season).  Each resort (and airline) determines their "Hi season".  The rates usually increase from April to October with a peak in July/Aug. , and again in December.

What about the weather -- what can I expect and when should I go?
Although Tahiti is a tropical environment, the rainfalls do not follow a "wet" and "dry" type of season. This means that there is no pattern of weather or rainfalls and the weather is not predictable from day to day or year to year. It will be mostly sunny, with intermittent and localized showers or storms at any time. But there is always far more sunshine than rain in any period. There are no real seasons in Tahiti and the temperatures remain fairly constant day and night (about 80/85�). So, the weather issue is not relevant when deciding your vacation date. There is no "hurricane or cyclone season" as these islands are outside the cyclonic zone of the Pacific.  Cyclones are a very rare and freak occurrence.

My flight arrives early in the morning. How soon can get into my room?
Like most hotels in the world, check-in time is 1 to 3 p.m. and you may have to wait by the pool or on the beach for your room to be ready. Hotels will make you conformable and offer refreshments. If you wish to go into your room upon early arrival you will need to prepay the night before. If it is already included, this will be indicated in the "Included Features" as "includes pre-registration."

What is a Day Room?
This can be a late check-out from your room that you keep until approximately 6p.m. Some international flights depart from Tahiti very late in the evening. Most hotel check-out times are around 11:00 a.m. You may want to consider pre-purchasing a late check-out. If already included in a package, it will be indicated in the "Included Features" as "includes dayroom". Dayroom check-out times vary from hotel to hotel.

What is the local currency?
The currency in Tahiti is the French Pacific Franc or CFP (90 CFP= 1US$) listed as xpf in the international currency code.  See current exchange rate in Tahiti.

Where can I exchange my money?
It is best to exchange your money in Tahiti. This is where you'll get the best rate.  There are 2 banks inside Faaa International Airport in Tahiti open for all arriving flights as well as currency-exchange ATM's. A privately operated foreign exchange office is located on the Papeete waterfront next to the harbor and in back of the port immigration office and the Socredo Bank.

Credit Cards?
Credit cards are widely used and US dollars are easily exchanged. ATM's and and currency machines are also available. 

Do they take travelers checks?
Travelers' checks are easily cashed at banks and hotels. Visitors are advised to carry both traveler's checks and credit cards to make their trip more convenient. All banks charge a 350 to 400 CFP (U.S. $4.00 to $5.00) commission on cash or travelers' check currency transaction.

What about the food? (and the cost?)
This is French Polynesia, so food matters. The Tahitians love good food and have wonderful (and healthy) dishes of their own. In the main town of Papeete. (Tahiti) there are many types of restaurants to choose from. The prices are in the same range as similar French or Italian restaurants in the US. Because the standard of living is high and most of everything needs to be imported, you will not find anything "super cheap", and you will find few fast food restaurants. There is no added tax and no tipping.  There are some very good restaurants in Moorea and Bora Bora besides those within the hotels (also v. good). Meal plans are available prior to the start of your trip and will generally represent cost savings. Meal prices are comparable to those at better restaurants in other resort destinations. Most restaurants have a la carte menus so that you will not have to order a complete meal if all you want is a salad. A package that includes meals represents a value.


What about bugs or insects?

The only bugs you could encounter are the occasional mosquito, and maybe sand flies if you wander onto remote beaches. All resorts treat their grounds and you may never encounter any insect. If any are present, the Garden Bungalows would be more likely to have some mosquitoes, Beachfront less likely, and Overwater will never have any. It is never a problem that an occasional application of repellent would not take care of.
You are also likely to see geckos (small lizards) on the walls, waiting to gobble-up mosquitoes and any insects nearby. They are totally harmless and very useful, but can be noisy at times with a frog-like croaking.
  Other than that, there are no other bugs or critters that would harm or sting you.

I want to go there with my children, is it suitable?
Most visitors are couples, but kids love it .. calm, warm water with pretty fish, "cool" bungalows, lots of water activities, etc..All the hotels welcome children.

I don't speak French. Is this going to be a problem?
Non...Everyone speaks English in the hotels, and so do many local people.

I am looking for cultural authenticity. What about it?
Traditional Tahitian culture is very much alive and can be felt in many ways, from the way the Tahitians dress, to the flowers, the ever present music, the dance, the crafts and the way of life. And they don't do it for the tourists. Its just the way they are.

What kinds of activities are available after I get there?
There is an abundance of activities in and around the water and much to do on land. Most of the hotels offer free snorkeling, outrigger canoes, windsurfing and lazing in a hammock - which you may find to be your favorite activity...


What about day-trips to different islands?
From Tahiti, you can go to Moorea for the day easily and inexpensively by ferry. You can also take excursions to Tetiaora atoll near-by.
But for the other islands such as Bora Bora or Huahine it isn't practical to fly for the day. And there is no ferry service returning the same day. So if you are in Moorea and want to see Bora Bora, you have to go there for at least a couple of days.


What are your favorite islands?

Among the more accessible islands: Moorea and Huahine for the scenery and the lushness, Bora Bora for the scenery and the lagoon and Rangiroa for the diving and the Kia Ora Sauvage, the best "lost island" experience you could dream of.


O.K., it all sounds great, but what are the downsides?

That we all have to go home too soon ...


Maruru (thank you).......and simply remember that, no matter what style of vacation you choose, just being there is unforgettable!

Yves Courbet
TahitiTravel - The Tahiti Experts


1 800 747 9997 | HOME