- in the Marquesas (+30 minutes) : 9:30 AM
- in Paris and Continental Europe (+12h in Summer; +11h in Winter) :
9:00 PM in Summer, 8:00 PM in Winter.
- in Los Angeles and Pacific Standard Time (+3h Summer; +2h Winter): 12:00 Noon in Summer; 11:00 AM in Winter.
- in Honolulu (+0h) : 9:00 AM.
- in Santiago (+6h) : 3:00 PM
- in Auckland (-2h + 1day) : 7:00 AM the next day
- in Tokyo (-5h + 1day) : 4:00 AM the next day.
- in Sydney (-5h + 1 day) : 4:00 AM the next day.
The official language is French but Tahitian (Reo Ma'ohi) is also widely used. English is generally understood and spoken in the hotels, shops and restaurants, so there is no communication problems. In some places that are very oriented toward tourism, Japanese is also spoken.
The local currency is the Pacific Franc (CFP) which has a fixed rate relative to the Euro:
1Pacific (CFP) Franc = 0.008 Euros.
1 Euro = 119 CFP.
Keep in mind:
A 10,000 bill is worth 84 Euros.
More and more, most tourism connected businesses in French Polynesia accept major credit cards such as Visa, Carte Bleue, MasterCard or American Express. You shouldn't have particular problems in Tahiti and Moorea. BEWARE: To get cash from the Automatic Teller Machines (ATM's), it is better to use an INTERNATIONAL VISA card which will work all over French Polynesia. Some ATM's do not take other cards such as Cirrus, Mastercard or Amex. Make sure also, on islands other than Tahiti and Moorea, to bring enough cash if you stay in guest houses (they seldom take credit cards) and for your specicic expenses once you are there (taxis, busses, drinks, souvenirs, restaurants, etc.). Bank offices or post offices located in the island may be able to help you, if you first take note of their business hours (they close between noon and 2PM and often after 3:30!) keep in mind also that the bakn may be located on the other side of the island, or may be closed (local holidays, etc.).
Shops' business hours
Shops are generally open Monday through Friday from 7:30 AM to 11:30 AM and from 1:30 PM to 5 PM, 7:30 to 11AM on Saturday. Some shops sometimes remain open on Saturday afternoon. Except for the Papeete Market, where rush hours starts at 4 AM, most shops and restaurants are closed on Sunday. The Papeete Market is open every day from 4:00 AM and features many shops and handicrafts booths, not tobe missed on the second floor. An entire morning can be spent there if you are looking for a few original gifts. (See Papeete Market chapter).
The Papeete central post office is located on the waterfront near the Territorial Assembly. Business hours: 7 AM to 3 PM every day, with an window remaining open from 3PM to 6 PM for rush transactions. Most townships around Tahiti have their own post office with almost identical business hours. Every island in French Polynesia has its own local OPT (Office des Postes et Télécommunications) office.
Telephone conversations are carried via sattelites and all telecommunication services (telex, minitel, operator, fax, etc.) are available. Many phone booths are located within Papeete and around the island of Tahiti. See our Cartazooms to locate phone booths in the other islands. Most of them work with phone cards, available in many stores and in the post offices. Rates within the island of Tahiti are about 14 CFP/minute, ot 0,12 Euros/minute.
Telecommunications rates to call abroad
They slightly went down in the last few years and are about 0.84 Euros/minute to France, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, 1.39 Euros to U.E. countries and the "DOM-TOM's" (French Overseas Territories), and 1.66 Euros to other countries. Remember to figure the time zone difference to avoid waking up your friends in the middle of the night.
Tikiphone is one of the two only providers of mobile telephone communications in French Polynesia. Its network, called VINI, operates a GSM 900 MHZ network in the Society Islands, Tuamotu, Australs and Marquesas islands.
So, bring your own usual GSM mobile phone along ! Before leaving your country, call your Customer Service to make sure you have the International option. Upon your arrival in Tahiti, you will just need to switch on your mobile phone : you will see the "F VINI" displaid on the screen which means you are connected to Vini network. If your operator is not in the list of Vini's international partners, you'll just have to purchase a local temporary prepaid VINI CARD (sold at the Tahiti Faa'a airport or in Papeete) which you will insert inside your mobile phone. You can renew this card by buying a VINI CARD recharge card among the 150 retailing shops in French Polynesia. This subscription will assign you a temporary phone number (valid 3 months), supply you with voice mail and let you call anywhere. Be aware however that given the rates to call abroad, it is better to receive calls than to make them. It is anyway an ideal way to keep in touch with your friends and family back home,... but use it cautiously.
The only service provider in French Polynesia is called "MANA". For the addicts who bring their friendly laptops along with them in Paradise, it is possible to purchase a temporary connection kit from MANA. The most economic way to stay online is still to go to cyber-cafés (2 or 3 in Papeete and 1 or 2 in each of the Society Islands): an ideal way to send a digital picture of yourself sitting in the lagoon to your friends at work back home.
After you are back home: Send us your comments, suggestions or criticisms to email@example.com. This way you will contribute to the improvement of our information, for the greatest pleasure of future tourists. Thanks in advance.
All electrical power is supplied in 220 Volts – 60 Hz. It is often supplied from generators, sometimes rather noisy and started at some given times of the day or night. More and more however, solar panels are appearing in many hotels and guest houses. Remember to bring transformers if your electric appliances run on 110 volts.
Although water is drinkable in Tahiti, we recommend that you drink bottled water. In the other islands, even if the water seems drinkable, it is also better to drink bottled water. Local bottled spring waters are Eau Royale and Vaimato. Most French mineral waters are also found in the stores. In the atolls (Tuamotu), water is a rare and precious commidity. There is often no natural water reservoir and the islanders often collect rain water in cisterns. It is not always drinkable but it can be used in the bathroom. During heavy rains, water can come out brown from the faucet.
Polynesia has many high quality medical and dental offices. Pharmacies, private clinics, specialists and dental offices are gathered around the very modern Territorial Hospital Center. In the islands, hospitals and infirmaries take over with efficiency as well as general practitioners offering excellent medical care. The local Government sponsored Health Insurance program makes it possible to give the Polynesians and also to tourists the best medical care and coverage agreements negotiated with most major countries. It is better however to be covered for this type of unpleasant matters before leaving home and get information from your own insurance provider or your travel agency regarding medical care reimbursement. In principle, credit card holders benefit from minimal travel insurance covering relatively well various losses as soon as you pay for services with their cards.
No vaccination is required to enter French Polynesia, except of course in case of epidemics.
One of the rare disease a tourist can catch in French Polynesia is dengue fever, a kind of tropical flu. Sudden fever, migraines and muscle aches are the most common symptoms. Except for very rare complications, the only treatments for dengue fever are anti inflamatories and vitamin C. Take absolutelyno aspirin, which would only accelerate blood thinning and could cause serious internal bleeding problems. See a doctor as soon as possible.
Driving is on the right side everywhere in French Polynesia. The major rental companies are Europcar, Hertz and Avis. Roads are generally good, with the particularity that speed is slow as they are narrow, windy and genrally one way each side. Respect the average 50 to 60km /hour speed limit. Do not try to pass, and be extra careful at night as bicyclists and pedestrians could be on the road without lights. So, take your time, distances are short and it would be too bad to spoil your vacation while trying to save a few seconds.
Only home burglaries and car thefts are frequent. But like anywhere else, do not leave anything visble in your rented car and lock it as soon as you leave it. At your hotel, when you leave the room do not leave anything on dispaly (purses, jewelry, money, papers). When you leave your room or your bungalow, lock doors and windows and close the drapes to prevent eventual temptations. Major hotels have safes in the rooms. In other hotels, leave your valuables at the reception office.
Many Polynesian hotels now offer this paradise like type of lodging, ideal to enjoy Polynesian lagoons. Be careful however on the lagoon side ladders, which are often very slippery and often covered of lagoon micro-organisms that cause allergic reactions to some people. Do not forget that lagoons have superb coral formations that are often also very sharp. If you get cut, even slightly when touching these coral heads, do not hesitate to take care of it with lime juice to prevent scars and infections, even if it stings a little! Just a simple matter of local habit!
How much is it? here are some samples:
• A beer at a sidewalk café : 400 CFP = 3 €
• "Poisson cru" in a snack : 1,000 CFP = 8 €
• Lunch in a restaurant: 1, 800 CFP = 15 €
• Dinner in an upscale restaurant: 3, 500 to 7, 000 CFP = 30 € to 60 €
• Bottle of wine in a restaurant: 2,500 to 4,500 CFP = 20 € to 38 €
• Pareo at the market: 1,200 CFP = 10 €
• Necklace with a nice pearl: 18,000 CFP = 150 €
• Trip on "Le Truck": 150 to 300 CFP = 1 to 2.5 €
• Ten kilometers in taxi: 2,000 CFP = 17 €
• One day car rental: 1, 000 CFP = 90 €
• Round trip to Moorea by ferry: 1, 600 CFP = 13 €
• Round trip to Bora Bora by plane: 21,000 CFP = 176 €
While in Polynesia, you can get married according to traditional Polynesian rituals and easily plan the party and accompanying ceremony according to your tastes and your budget, keeping in mind that Polynesian weddings have no legal or religious validity. But just like in Las Vegas, it is possible to make the ceremony official. More
The "Rae Rae"
Transexual, with or without sex change surgery, it is a man who dresses and behaves like a woman. During your visit, you will certainly come across some of these outrageously effeminate characters who will talk to you with a smile and a flower on their ear. The rae rae (pronounce "rayray") phenomenon is widely accepted in Tahiti, as it is part of ancestral customs in ma'ohi culture. A great number of rae rae have various jobs in cloth designing or cooking where they find room for their sensitivity to grow. Their employers will tell you that they are their work place's best assets because of their friendliness and care.
It is THE public transportation in the islands. "Le Truck" (a small truck turned into an island bus) has lost some of its glamor in the past years due to safety regulations and the increasing number of personal vehicles. It keeps however an undeniable charm and remains an original and truly inexpensive way to go around the island (Papeete - Taravao on the South side of: 3 Euros for 60 Km.) in the company of typical mamas and a bunch of laughing kids. Equipped with a loud sound system playing Polynesian music, this "island bus" stops right where you want. You pay your fare directly to the driver, usually once you are where you wanted to go. Destinations are posted on the front and sides of the vehicle. In the islands, "Le Truck" ensures essentially transportation to and from the hotels and guest houses.