This Tahiti Tourism Travel Guide is a follow-up to our first article on “How to Travel to Tahiti, even on a Budget!“. So many of you welcomed our first Tahiti-article with such great enthusiasm.
Since then we have received many inquiries for requests of follow-up and updates. So here it is.
The more you know about your destination, in this case, the Tahiti islands, the more personal satisfaction you can gain from your trip.
Featured photo: Cook’s Bay in Moorea. © Philippe Bacchet
Tahiti Tourism, tips for Americans: What islands do you recommend visiting in Tahiti?
This is a very common, good question I get.
Remember there are 118 Tahitian islands to choose from in French Polynesia. So how do you choose?
Papeete (Pape’ete), on the Island of Tahiti
The main island of Tahiti is where you would first land if you arrive from overseas. Papeete Airport (FAAA) is the main airport from which to initiate your Tahiti adventure.
From here you would catch a smaller “commuter plane” to reach your other destination(s).
It is strongly recommended you stay a couple of nights in Papeete after your initial arrival. Then you can proceed to the next island of your choice.
Lodging-wise, I’d recommend staying at the 4-star InterContinental Resort Tahiti. However, that one is very expensive, at a typical price of US$330 a night! the Intercontinental Resort is located by the Fa’a’a International Airport.
Otherwise, there are many hotels in Papeete, reasonably priced, many at typical U.S. hotel, even motel-class prices.
This most popular island for tourists has changed a lot over the past years. What was one a very authentic, idyllic island unspoiled by tourism has become extremely “touristy.”
Tahiti is full of legends. “Bora Bora” stems from the Tahitian word “Pora Pora” = applause. The name indicates the native’s applause to celebrate the legend of when the island came up from the ocean. Pora Pora was changed to the new word Bora Bora over time.
It is perfectly suited as a place for your honeymoon, or simply a romantic place to experience for yourself or with someone. Don’t miss the overwater bungalow-stay experience there!
This stunning, rather “hidden pearl” of Tahiti is still not spoiled by tourism. Here you can experience a little bit of the REAL Tahiti (in my opinion).
There are no hotels on the island, but you can easily arrange for a day-excursion to Maupiti for your discovery. Just hop on an Air Tahiti island hopper to get there and back.
The Rangiroa Atoll is another place I’d recommend you visit. Air Tahiti has regular flights every day that connects Rangiroa with the other islands located in French Polynesia.
Located next to Bora Bora and Raiatea, Taha’a Island is highly recommended. Taha’a produces pearls of outstanding quality. The island is also known as the “Vanilla Island”. Vanilla is produced here, often experienced as a beautiful scent in the tradewinds of the island.
Languages Spoken on the Islands
A Tahiti tourism and travel guide should include insights as to the language spoken here. French is the official language of the Islands of Tahiti. However, islanders often speak Tahitian in their homes. English is commonly spoken in tourist areas, resorts, restaurants, and commonly understood in general.
The Tahitian Polynesian language
The Tahitian language is a beautiful language, sounding like a siren’s song. Being a simple language, it only has 16 letters and 1,000 words.
Learning the language is fairly easy for most. Tahitian Polynesian has five vowels: a-e-i-o-u. The eleven consonants of the language are: b-f-g-h-k-m-n-p-r-t-v.
Most vowels are pronounced, and an apostrophe indicates a short pause.
Tahitian and French dialects
Tahiti-Polynesian, the native language of French Polynesia comes in many dialects. So does the main language spoken here: French!
“Marquez and Austral Island French dialects, infused with local Polynesian “twang”, is difficult to understand. Even a native French speaker sometimes encounters difficulties understanding these dialects.”
This, according to photographer Philippe Bacchet.
A commonly asked question: Air Tahiti Nui is the main airline of Tahiti. What does the word “Nui” mean?
The word “nui” means “big”.
Another word for “big”, however, is more used…
The common word for big is “rahi” (large), which is a common word in the Polynesian languages.
Useful Tahiti-Polynesian phrases you may wish to know for your Tahiti-trip
Arranged in alphabetical order:
- Beer: Pia (pee-ah)
- Bread: Faraoa (fah-rah-o-ah)
- Black pearl: Poerava (po-ay ra-vah)
- Bye/See you later: Nana (nah-nah)
- Cheers / To your health: Manuia (mah-nwee-ah)
- Child: Tamarii (tah-ma-ree-ee)
- Cloth wrap: Pareu pa-ray-oh
- Evening: Ahiahi (ah-hee-ah-hee)
- Flower: Tiare (tee-ah-ray)
- Good: Maitai (my-tie)
- Hello: Ia Orana (yo-rah-nah).
- How are you?: Maita’i oe? (may-tay oh-ay)
- I am fine: Maita’i roa (may-tay ro-ah)
- I love you: Uua here vau ia oe (oo-ah hay-ray ee-ah oh-ay)
- Island: Motu (moh-too)
- Let’s go: Haere tatou ha-ay-ray tah-taw
- Look: A hi’o (ah-hee-oh)
- Man: Tane (tah-nay)
- Morning: Poipoi (poy-poy)
- No: Aita (eye-tah)
- No problem: Aita pe’a pe’a (eye-tah pay-ah pay-ah)
- Ocean: Moana (mo-ah-nah)
- Pearl: Poe (po-ay)
- Thank you: Maururu (mah-roo-roo)
- Water: Pape (pa-pay)
- Welcome: Maeva (mah-yeh-vah).
- What?: Eaha? (ey-ah-hah)
- Why?: No te aha? (noh-tay ah-hah)
- Woman: Vahine (vah-he-nay)
- Yes: E (ay)
Tahiti Tourism Travel Guide list of recommended souvenirs
If you have money to burn, then the natural black pearls of Tahiti are the most sought after pearls in the world.
You can plan on spending about $100 USD for a small pearl of average quality.
An 18-millimeter diameter round pearl of perfect quality will set you back about $10,000 USD.
Monoi Tiki Tahiti Fragrance
If you are a man, forget the diamonds… If you want your girlfriend to love you forever, then Monoi Tiki Tahiti fragrances, perfumes & oils will do the trick!
For a very cheap price, the fragrance comes in all sorts of scents.
With a unique scent of pure Paradise, the scents include Tiare (Tahitian Gardenia), coconut, vanilla, and more. It even comes as bars of soap. They are easily found everywhere in stores in Tahiti.
This is the Tiare,
a Tahitian Gardenia,
the National Flower of Tahiti