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Bora Bora and Tahiti Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Tahiti Vacation Questions

We often get frequently asked questions about Bora Bora and Tahiti. What questions come to your mind when considering or planning your Bora Bora vacation or vacation anywhere else in Tahiti?

We have compiled a list of the most popular Bora Bora and Tahiti FAQs for you. That should help you plan and enrich your Tahiti experience when you find yourself a tourist in French Polynesia.

Takapoto, Tahiti
Takapoto, Tahiti. Photo © Philippe Bacchet.

Where is Bora Bora and the Tahiti Islands located?

Yes, we do get this question a lot, especially from our American readers. Therefore, we need to include this information at the top of our Bora Bora and Tahiti FAQs.

Tahiti is located in the South Pacific Ocean, and it belongs to French Polynesia. It consists of a group of 118 beautiful tropical islands.

Tahiti is located south of the Equator. You do not cross the international date line on a flight from the U.S. to or from Tahiti.

The distance between Los Angeles and Papeete, the capital of Papeete is 6,623 KM or 4,115 miles. The name of Tahiti’s International Airport is Faaa (Fa’a’a). The airports’ three-letter designation you will see on your luggage tags are PPT.

Between Honolulu, Hawaii, and Papeete the distance is 4,412 KM or 2,742 miles.

Papeete (Pape’ete) is the capital of Tahiti (lower left). Credit: Google Maps.

What airlines provide service to Tahiti?

The airlines serving Papeete (PPT), Tahiti from other parts of the world are Air Tahiti Nui, Air France, and a few other international carriers.

A flight between Los Angeles and Papeete takes around 8 hours.

Air Tahiti, the domestic, or inter-island division of Air Tahiti Nui, provides connecting air service to other French Polynesian islands.

What’s the best booking solution for my Tahiti vacation or Bora Bora honeymoon?

Here is a Bora Bora and Tahiti faq that most people have on their mind when first figuring out how to plan their vacation:

Purchasing airline tickets and inter-island travel and accommodations separately will make your trip much more expensive than necessary.

Therefore, we recommend arranging your Tahiti vacation as a package-tour with airfare, lodging, meals, and other arrangements together.

For Bora Bora weddings and honeymoons, you can contact your hotel directly. Alternatively, you can arrange everything through your Tahiti-specialist travel agent.

Many Tahitian resorts and hotels feature customized wedding services, packages for tourists, even chapels.

Contact a travel agency specializing in Tahiti tours for your best options and choices.

What’s the time zone in Tahiti?

Tahiti is in the same time zone as Hawaii. They are two hours behind Pacific Standard Time (Los Angeles-time).

During the Daylight Saving Time period from April to late October Tahiti is three hours behind Los Angeles time since they don’t operate under the Daylight Savings Time system.

Raiatea. Tahiti FAQ's
Raiatea. Photo © Philippe Bacchet.

What is the weather like, and what are the seasons in Tahiti?

The average annual air and water temperature is about 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celcius).

Here is a Bora Bora and Tahiti FAQ of great importance if you want to avoid the rainy season:

Summer, or “the rainy season” starts in November, lasting through April. Tahiti is located in the southern hemisphere of the earth. At this time the climate is slightly warmer, with higher humidity and frequent rain showers.

This Bora Bora and Tahiti FAQ is the most often asked question of all:

Climate-wise, and to avoid experiencing frequent rain showers, the best time to visit Tahiti is during the winter season. The winter season starts in May and lasts through October. The temperature is then slightly cooler and drier, without that sometimes heavy humidity in the air.

You can check the current weather in Papeete here.

What are practical items I should bring for my Tahiti vacation?

1. Waterbottle for reuse

You will be needing plenty of drinking water in the tropical heat. Save money by not having to buy bottled water. You will be needing plenty of drinking water in the tropical heat. Tap water is safe in most of French Polynesia. You can also fill up your water bottle in the hotel workout room water cooler.

2. Hair conditioner

If your hair is long, please be aware that the sun and the saltwater could make a mess out of your hair.

3. Sunscreen

Sunscreen is extremely expensive to buy in Tahiti, so we recommend bringing your own from home.

4. First aid kit

Bring what you feel you should handy. A first-aid kit of things you may need should include bandaid, tweezers, antibacterial ointment, sunburn aid, such as aloe vera, bug-bites ointment, anti-diarrheal meds, antacids, pain medication, and allergy meds, etcetera. You should also pack moistened bug-repellent wipes to keep mosquitos away.

Anaa atoll flyfishing, Bora Bora Tahiti FAQs, Frequently Asked Questions
Anaa atoll flyfishing. Photo © Philippe Bacchet.

What type of clothes should I bring to Tahiti?

Think simple when selecting clothes to bring to Tahiti. Bring your casual and comfortable clothing. It’s best to bring fabrics that are loose-fitting. Comfortable walking shoes are good for your island explorations.

Bring a pair of water shoes for every person traveling. It’s important to protect your feet from sharp seashells or corals. Water shoes also provide traction if you are climbing on wet and slippery rocks.

You may consider bringing a hat for sun protection.

Bring a light jacket for occasional needs during the months of July and August, and for your plane rides to and from Tahiti.

What should female clothing, accessories, and makeup consist of?

Bring lightweight sundresses, sandals, and swimsuits. Leave your high heel shoes at home. Wooden pontoons and uneven walkways are in abundance in Tahiti.

Spending time in the water and dealing with often humid air will make your efforts to maintain a hairstyle and makeup difficult. we suggest leaving your curling iron and makeup at home.

What type of clothes should males bring?

Unless it’s your preference, there is no need to bring pants or closed-toe shoes. You will blend in perfectly wearing cotton or linen shorts, short sleeves. Sandals or flip-flops are the norms.

Vanavana Atoll, Bora Bora & Tahiti FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Vanavana Atoll. Photo © Philippe Bacchet.

How much do I tip for services in French Polynesia?

Tipping is not customary or expected in the Tahitian culture.

However, a service charge has been included in the bills for accommodation and dining in large hotels ever since 2007.

This was done to give employees an incentive to provide great service throughout the year. The charges that were collected are divided and distributed among the staff. This happens once at the end of each year.

Do I need to exchange money currency?

Most visitors do their money exchange at the airport or at the hotel. You don’t need to carry large amounts of money. Most credit cards are widely accepted in all the tourist areas of French Polynesia.

The local currency is the French Pacific Franc (XPF), which is different from the regular French Franc currency.

Depending on the current exchange rate there are 100 French Pacific Francs to one U.S. dollar.

Colorful French Pacific Franc notes used in French Polynesia/Tahiti. These are the new bills that replaced the old bills in January of 2014.

Do I bargain on prices when I shop?

No. Haggling over prices in stores is not the norm. It would be considered rude to do such in Tahiti.

What Tahitian shopping items do you recommend buying?

Popular and affordable Tahitian-produced items include monoi oil, tropical scented soaps, vanilla products (beans and powder), shell leis, bags, baskets, wood carvings, woven hats, and colorful hand-dyed pareu fabric sarongs, typically worn by the Tahitians. For a higher-priced item, we’d recommend buying a Tahitian black pearl, typically priced at $100 USD on up.

When are stores usually open in Tahiti?

Shops are usually open from about 7:30 am to 5:30 pm, until noon on Saturdays. Long-lasting lunch hours are the norm. Shops are closed on Sundays, except in hotels.

Raivavae Tahiti
Raivavae Island. Photo © Philippe Bacchet.

How do I use local transportation?

The public bus system uses two types of vehicles for scheduled service.

  1. The open-air trucks are called Le Truck (operates in Papeete and on most other islands as well). These are independently operated shuttles.
  2. The RTC large white coaches (a typical Papeete operation).

Most airports, hotels, and ferry terminals have taxi service.

For scenic tours around the islands, try escorted tours by boat, 4×4 safari vehicles, busses, or helicopters.

By the way, bicycling is also a popular way to get around in Tahiti.

How about car rental availability?

You may find the need to rent a car in Tahiti an idea not necessary to pursue. Small islands and availability of circle-tours eliminate the need to rent a car in most cases. However, car rentals are available at airports.

Minimum age requirements for car rental is 21, with a major credit card required for those under 25.

Does Tahiti use the metric system?

Yes, the metric system is used, and naturally so, being a French (European) territory. Temperature is also expressed in degrees Celcius, as opposed to degrees Fahrenheit.

What type of electrical voltage is used?

Bring a converter/adapter. Tahiti hotels use either 110 or 220 volts, depending on the location.

West Coast of Tahiti
West Coast of Tahiti Island. Photo © Philippe Bacchet.

Do I have internet access and WiFi in Tahiti?

Another subject area where we get a lot of Bora Bora and Tahiti FAQs has to do with the internet and WiFi questions:

Yes, most hotels offer internet and wifi, some for free for your entire stay. Check with your hotel before you book. Internet speed, however, can be slow in some places. Bring an ethernet cable as a backup to lack of wifi functionality, if your device has an ethernet port.

Most major hotels have wifi access in the common areas in addition to a business center if in-room wifi access is lacking. There are even a few hotels that offer free Internet access during your entire stay.

French Polynesia’s’ high-speed internet service is widely distributed by the Honotua fibre optic submarine communications cable system. This system connects Tahiti with the islands of Hawaii, replacing the need for satellite connections.

East coast of Tahiti
East Coast of Tahiti Island. Photo © Philippe Bacchet.

How do I make phone calls in Tahiti?

There are several ways you can make phone calls during your Tahiti trip.

For instance, if you have an iPhone you can call Facetime using WiFi. Make sure you turn your phone’s airplane mode to ON and Wi-Fi to ON to avoid cellular charges. For those of you still using Skype, Skype is another option for communication.

Which prepaid WiFi and mobile calling card options should I get?

You can buy a rechargeable prepaid mobile phone card for your phone, even a ready to use phone with its own number and card credits, and WiFi from the following Tahiti providers. Check all three possibilities to compare what you may need.

For instance, if you get a portable WiFi device or a prepaid phone or phone card, you can pick this up upon arrival at Papeete Airport (Faa’a).

  1. Unlimited WiFi Data Plan, share up to 5 devices.
  2. Vini.
  3. Vodafone.

Also, be aware that your mobile phone with a U.S. service account may not work in Tahiti. Check with your provider before leaving.

By the way, for someone in the U.S. to call a Tahiti phone number, dial 011, followed by Tahiti’s country code, which is 689, then the local Tahiti phone number.

What are Tahiti’s emergency phone numbers?

Dial:

15 for Urgent Medical Assistance Service (SAMU)

16 for Sea Rescue

17 for Police

18 for Fire

Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva, Bora Bora and Tahiti FAQs
Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva. Photo © Philippe Bacchet.

What are typical Tahiti arrival and departure procedures like?

Upon arrival at Faaa International Airport at Papeete here’s what you can expect:

By the way, Papeete (pronounced “Pah-pey-eh-tey”, means “water from a basket” in the Tahiti-Polynesian language).

Entering the country?

Proceed to the arrivals hall for passport control. After that, you’ll proceed to claim your luggage and clear customs.

All items brought in for personal use are duty-free, as long as they are government-allowed items and then re-exported out of French Polynesia within six months.

Permitted items include 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 500 grams of coffee, 100 grams of tea, 50 grams of perfume, 2 liters of alcohol, champagne, or wine. The minimum age for duty-free tobacco or alcohol is 18 years of age.

Keep receipts for everything you purchase in Tahiti. Tahiti Customs officials are very scrupulous in checking the items of departing passengers.

If you are bringing in professional-grade photographic equipment or video cameras make sure you carry a copy of receipts with the equipment’s registration numbers.

Are you a transit passenger?

You will be directed to the transit hall. They have a few boutiques and a bar there.

Will someone be greeting me after I get out of Customs?

Yes, a representative from your hotel or transfer service will be meeting you as soon as you get out of the Customs area if you booked a custom Tahiti vacation.

Is there a website for customs and duty-free limitation rules?

Yes. However, this site is only in French.

Can I store my luggage at Faaa airport?

Yes, there is a luggage storage unit at Tahiti’s International Airport. Ask for the location.

Is there a duty-free store at Faaa Airport?

Yes. The arrival and departure areas both have duty-free stores.

Is there a website for live Tahiti flight schedules?

Yes, here it is.

Tahiti Peninsula, French Polynesia
Tahiti Peninsula. Photo © Philippe Bacchet.

What is the nightlife like in Tahiti?

There are some bars and night clubs in Papeete that are open late. However, Tahiti does not have the nightlife you would typically find in many big cities around the world.

Do hotel rooms come with air conditioning?

Yes, most do, especially on the islands of Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Moorea. Additionally, bungalows have ceiling fans that circulate the fresh trade winds should you decide to turn off the A/C.

How can I dive in Tahiti?

If you are interested in a complete certification course you need at least one week to complete the course. Less time is required for shorter courses. You can do a course from the resort where you are staying, or from a cruise ship.

Your certification would be automatically recognized if you are already a PADI, NAUI, or SSI member.

Should I bring my own mask for snorkeling?

Yes, bringing your own equipment is recommended. Although you can rent snorkeling masks it’s always best to bring your own. The mouthpiece you’d use using a rented mask has already been on the mouths of countless snorkelers before you. make your own conclusion.

Can I rent a boat?

Yes, if you are an experienced sailor. You can also charter a boat with a complete crew.

Rainforest inTahiti
Rainforest in Tahiti. Photo © Philippe Bacchet.

Can older people enjoy a Tahiti trip?

Yes, Tahiti travel does not favor any particular generation of tourists. Medical facilities in Tahiti are excellent.

Can travelers with disabilities be accommodated on Tahiti trips?

Check with your flight and tour operator on any special accommodations that you would need for your particular destination in Tahiti.

What and when is the annual Heiva festival?

The month-long Heiva Festival is celebrated every July, which also incorporates Bastille Day on the 14th. of July. This is a very popular time to visit Tahiti. So please be aware that flight and hotel reservations for this time a year must be booked well in advance.

What are the medical facilities like?

The main island of Tahiti (Papeete) has an excellent medical services system. It has a large and modern government hospital, and you will find plenty of pharmacies that are open late.

You’ll find smaller hospitals in the islands of Moorea, Nuku Hiva, and Raiatea. There are also large infirmaries in the Australs and Tuamotu archipelagos.

Air Tahiti performs medical evacuations from other islands. The airline flies patients to the nearest hospital.

We recommend you carry a travel insurance policy that includes repatriation, should the need arise.

Are health vaccinations required?

No, health certification is only required for people arriving Tahiti from an infected area of the world.

What languages do people speak in Tahiti?

Tahiti’s official languages are French and Tahitian (a Polynesian language). English is widely spoken or understood in tourist areas and hotels. You may wish to brush up on some French and Tahitian phrases before you go, to enrich your Tahiti experiences. Or, you may decide to learn French in as little as a few weeks by taking an easy to learn French language course, such as Babbel.

What are the passport and visa requirements for visiting Tahiti?

For the U.S., Canadian, and Mexican passport holders there is no visa-requirement for stays up to one month. You do need your passport, however, and tickets for your return trip (or at least two more continuing destinations). The rules for a U.S. Resident (“Green Card”) Permit holder you should check with the nearest French Embassy or Consulate on current requirements.

Citizens of the European Union (EU) countries do not require a visa for Tahiti-stays of up to 3 months.

Passport holders from other countries should check with the French Embassy or Consulate for Tahiti visitor requirements.

Overwater bungalows Tahiti, Tahiti FAQs
Overwater bungalows, Tahiti. Photo © Philippe Bacchet.

Where can I engage a professional photographer for an assignment in Tahiti?

Philippe Bacchet, Tahiti photographer
Philippe Bacchet, Professional Photographer of Tahiti, French Polynesia. © Sylvestre Dupré.

We strongly recommend Philippe Bacchet, one of French Polynesia’s best known professional photographers. The pictures presented in this article (and our other Tahiti-series articles) were all taken by him! To contact Philippe, simply send us a note here, and we’ll make sure he gets your inquiry.

Do you have more questions about Tahiti?

We have spent a great deal of effort to try to include all of the Bora Bora and Tahiti FAQs that we get. If we have missed any questions please send us a note here. If we don’t know the answer to your question we will try to find the answer for you through our vast Tahiti information resources.

Moorea Pineapple Plantations, Tahiti
Moorea Pineapple Plantations. Photo © Philippe Bacchet.

Have you read the other articles in our Tahiti vacation series?

These articles will give you answers to even more Bora Bora and Tahiti FAQS:

Tahiti Vacations Rangiroa, the best kept Tahitian paradise secret?

How to Travel to Tahiti, even on a Budget!

Tahiti Tourism Travel Guide – Tahiti Pictures & Info

Taking Stunning Tahiti Tourism Pictures

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