Information & Facts
Business etiquette is relatively informal in Tahiti and French
Polynesia. French is the main language of trade, however English is
often understood in more touristy areas. Business hours are
generally 8am to 12pm and 1.30pm to 5.30pm Monday to Friday.
French Polynesia enjoys tropical, warm and humid weather all
year round, averaging eight hours of sunshine per day over a year.
The islands experience a rainy season, generally between late
October and early March, when cloudy skies and brief heavy rain
showers can occur. The rest of the year rain is rare and
temperatures constantly high, tempered sometimes by refreshing
breezes. The water temperature ranges from 79°F to 84°F (26°C to
29°C) making for extremely pleasant bathing all year round.
The international dialling code for French Polynesia is +689 and
the outgoing code is 00, followed by the relevant country code
(e.g. 0027 for South Africa). City/area codes are not in use. There
are public phone booths on all the islands, most operated with
phone cards called 'Telecartes', available from the airport, some
bars, magazine stands and the post offices. A GSM 900 mobile
network provides limited coverage on Tahiti. United States cell
phones will not operate on the islands. Internet access is
available in the larger hotels and resorts and the main tourist
islands all have Internet cafes.
The culture in Tahiti and French Polynesia is relaxed and
welcoming, with hospitality and generosity considered important
values. People greet each other with a handshake or kiss on the
cheek, and it is considered impolite not to greet everyone in the
room unless there is a large group. Guests should remove their
shoes when entering someone's home.
Travellers arriving in Tahiti do not have to pay customs duty on
400 cigarettes, 1 litre of alcoholic spirits or 2 litres of still
wine, a reasonable amount of perfume and eau de toilette for
personal use, and items valued up to CFP5,000 (for adults) or
CFP2,5000 (children under 15 years) for gifts or personal use. The
import of food, weapons or drugs is prohibited.
The electric current in most hotels is 110/220 volts
AC, 60 Hz. American-style two-pin flat blade plugs and a round pin
plug and receptacle with male grounding pin are used.
A yellow fever vaccination is required for travellers to French
Polynesia arriving from an infected area. Immunisation against
hepatitis A is recommended, and the territory is subject to
increasing outbreaks of dengue fever. A typhoid vaccine is also
suggested for most travellers (except short-term business
travellers or cruise ship passengers). Tap water in hotels is safe
to drink, but bottled water is also freely available throughout the
islands. Tahiti has good health facilities with pharmacies and a
large government hospital. There are a few private doctors and
clinics in the outer islands. The only decompression chamber is at
Papeete. Medical insurance is recommended for travellers.
French and Tahitian are the official languages; English
is widely spoken.
The unit of currency in French Polynesia is the French Pacific
Franc (XPF), divided into 100 centimes. The exchange rate is fairly
stable as it is linked to the Euro. Banks throughout the islands
are open mainly on weekdays only and are the best place to change
foreign currency; rates of exchange are not as good at hotels.
There are ATMs on a few of the islands, but shouldn't be relied
upon. Most hotels and resorts will exchange travellers cheques in
US$ or Euros, and credit cards and US currency is readily accepted
on the main islands. Tourism taxes are levied for accommodation and
All foreigners entering French Polynesia must hold return
tickets or documents for onward travel to two successive
destinations. A passport valid for three months after the date of
entry is also required. Extensions are possible.
Visits to French Polynesia are usually trouble-free. The crime
rate is low, but sensible precautions should be taken with
valuables. Tropical storms and cyclones can occur between November
GMT -10 (The Marquesas Islands are half an hour ahead of the
rest of French Polynesia).
Tipping in Tahiti and the islands is not required - nor expected
- as it goes against local custom where hospitality is paramount.
All prices quoted are all-inclusive.