Tahiti and French Polynesia Basics

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The Basics

Time: GMT -10 (The Marquesas Islands are half an hour ahead of the rest of French Polynesia).

Electricity: The electric current in most hotels is 220 volts, 60Hz. European-style two-pin plugs, with a round pin plug, are in use.

Money: 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 they shouldn't be relied upon. Credit cards and US currency are readily accepted on the main islands. Tourism taxes are levied for accommodation and activities.

Currency Exchange Rates

XPF100.00 = USD 0.93GBP 0.72CAD 1.21AUD 1.36ZAR 13.54EUR 0.84NZD 1.46
Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: Though French is the official language,Tahitian is widely spoken. English also has a fairly strong presence.

Entry requirements for Americans: US citizens require a passport valid for three months after intended travel. No visa is required for a stay of up to 90 days.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: British citizens require a passport valid for three months beyond travel period but no visa to enter French Polynesia. All other British nationals require a passport valid for three months after intended travel, and no visa is required for a stay of up to three months. Visa extensions are obtainable.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadians require a passport valid for three months after intended travel. No visa is required for a stay of up to three months in any six month period.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australians require a passport valid for three months after intended travel. No visa is required for a stay of up to three months.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South Africans require a passport valid for three months after intended travel. A visa is required for South African citizens wishing to travel to Tahiti and French Polynesia.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for three months after intended travel. No visa is required for a stay of up to three months.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish citizens require a passport valid for three months after intended travel. No visa is required.

Passport/Visa Note: All foreigners entering French Polynesia must hold return tickets or documents for onward travel and proof of sufficient funds. Although French Polynesia doesn't officially require it, we always recommend that passports have six months of validity remaining prior to travel.

Travel Health: A yellow fever vaccination is required for travellers to French Polynesia arriving from an infected area. Vaccinations for hepatitis A and hepatitis B are recommended, and those staying long-term and eating outside of major hotels and restaurants may also want to consider a vaccination for typhoid. Malaria is not a concern but cases of dengue fever are on the rise so precautions against mosquito bites should be taken. Tap water in hotels and resorts should be safe to drink, but bottled water is also freely available throughout the islands. Tahiti has decent medical facilities and there are a few private doctors and clinics in the outer islands but healthcare options are limited outside of major cities. The only decompression chamber is at Papeete. Comprehensive medical insurance is recommended for all travellers.

Tipping: Tipping in Tahiti and the islands is not required or expected - it is seen as contrary to the local custom of hospitality. Generally prices quoted are all-inclusive.

Safety Information: 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 and April.

Local Customs: 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.

Business: Business etiquette is relatively informal in Tahiti and French Polynesia. French is the main language of trade, however English is often understood in more popular tourist areas and main urban centres. Business hours are generally 8am to 12pm and 1.30pm to 5.30pm Monday to Friday.

Communications: 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). Wifi is available in the larger hotels and resorts.

Duty Free: Travellers aged 18 or over do not have to pay customs duty on 400 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco; 2 litres of wine, beer or cider and 2 litres of alcoholic spirits; a reasonable amount of perfume and eau de toilette for personal use; and items valued up to XPF 30,000 (for adults) or XPF 15,000 (children under 15 years) for gifts or personal use.