Tahiti & French Polynesia: Tips for Travelers
Tahiti and her islands and atolls comprise the country of French Polynesia - five island groups or archipelagos which lie in the South Pacific - south of the equator yet in the same time zone as Hawaii. Tahiti is one of the best vacation destinations for beach lovers. You can picnic on secluded beaches, have a romantic dinner at the waters edge, and participate in a wide range of outdoor activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling, deep sea fishing, catamaran cruises, tennis, and helicopter tours.
Bora Bora is the most popular vacation destination in French Polynesia, offering an array of accommodation options, including the ultra-romantic over-water bungalows. The island of Bora Bora is a 40-minute plane ride from Tahiti. Luxury resorts include Hotel Bora Bora, Bora Bora Lagoon Resort, Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort and Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa. For more a more moderately-priced option on Bora Bora, check out Hotel Maitai Polynesia. Read our Bora Bora Vacation Guide for more information.
Tahiti Vacation Tips
Air Tahiti Nui has just launched non-stop flights from New York to Papeete starting in July 2005. This will add New York as an alternate connecting destination for those who would have been forced to change plans in Los Angeles. Of course this also means that if you live in New York you can reach Tahiti in 12 hours on the new flight.
What The Trip Will Cost
Airfare will be a very large part of your vacation budget so be sure to check the airline websites for any special vacation deals. Air New Zealand often has web specials from Los Angeles to Papeete. Air Tahiti Nui also offers some reasonably priced vacation packages on their website under the vacation specials section. Resorts will often have great specials and packages available throughout the year.
When To Go
The weather in Tahiti features sunny, pleasant days and an average yearly air and water temperature of 80 degrees F. Summer is from November through April, when the climate is slightly warmer and more humid. Winter is from May through October, when the climate is slightly cooler and dryer. There are low season offers available from resorts from January through March.
Getting There and Getting Around
Tahitian-based Air Tahiti Nui and Air France, Air New Zealand and Hawaiian Airlines all fly to Tahiti from the US mainland. Flight time to Tahiti from Los Angeles is seven and a half hours.
On Tahiti, there are now two types of buses: the open-air trucks called Le Truck and the RTC large white coaches, both operating frequently in Papeete and around the island. Le Truck also operates on most other islands. Taxis can be hired at most hotels, airports, and ferry terminals. For scenic tours around the islands, try escorted excursions by boat, 4x4 safari, bus, or helicopter.
Rental cars are available at most airports but with excursions from your hotel and the activities on the water you really won't need a car. You don't travel all the way to Tahiti to drive.
What To Bring
You will not want to leave home without your sunglasses, a digital camera, a hat for sun protection, a new swimsuit, and your snorkeling or dive gear. You also might want to consider a pair of sandals that you can wear in the water when you explore the reef or on trips remote beaches.