Tahiti is the pearl of the South Pacific. This jewel of a destination offers more than just its beauty. It is the economic, cultural and political centre of French Polynesia and is the largest island. The most popular islands to visit are Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea, which are part of the Society Islands, but the country also incorporates the Tuamotu Islands, Gambier Islands, Marquesas Islands and Austral Islands.
This idyllic island paradise incorporates 118 islands spread across 5 archipelagos. Choose from high mountainous islands or coral reef atolls.
There is more to this destination than just stunning blue waters, gleaming white sand and vibrant green nature. French Polynesia is a cultural melting pot with a mix of strong traditions and culture, delectable cuisine and friendly locals.
This destination is perfect for honeymooners, and resorts cater exceptionally well to this market, but it is also an excellent choice for more mature couples wanting some relaxation time, stressed executives needing to chill out and it’s even suitable for families with several resorts offering kids clubs and family friendly facilities.
Best Time To Go
Tahiti enjoys fairly consistent weather all year around. The average temperature is consistently around 26°C. In terms of pricing, high season is from 1 May to 31 October, although some resorts change their prices starting 1 April. The low season covers 1 November to 30 April. Low season is generally the wet season, so you will experience rain during this time, although Tahiti gets less rain and more sun that Hawaii during the low season. It is rare for Tahiti to experience a cyclone, although they do get the occasional storm during the wet season. The last powerful cyclone to hit Tahiti was over 30 years ago.
If you’re a lover of French food, Tahiti is the perfect destination! There are a great range of options from fancy restaurants to casual cafes to roadside food vans to choose from. You’ll find plenty of variety from Chinese to French, American to Japanese, and Polynesian to Italian.
Tahitian pearls are world renowned, especially the Black Tahitian Pearl. You’ll find them much cheaper buying them in Tahiti than at home. One of the best places to make a pearl purchase is Champon Pearl Farm, which sells bespoke pearl jewellery. Visit www.tahiti-pearl-online.com
This pretty stretch of water on Moorea is worth a look. With it’s backdrop of Rotui, this Bay is peppered with restaurants, shops and hotels. A nice way to spend an afternoon.
For those wanting to learn to dive, there are plenty of PADI schools. For the more experienced diver there are many dive sites, with varying degrees of difficulty and experiences. All year you’ll see deep sea sharks, lagoon sharks, dolphins, tortoises, rays, barracudas, eels and plenty of varieties of tropical fish. If you’re visiting July to November, you’ll spy some humpback whales as well.
It is essential that you hire a guide if you’re planning on hiking in Tahiti. This ensures you meet all the security regulations, as well as provide you an itinerary, equipment and useful local knowledge. There are hundreds of registered hiking routes on Tahiti Island and Moorea alone, so you will be spoilt for choice.
This is a fabulous way to see this archipelago, and there are many mooring places and nautical facilities. You can rent a sailboat easily, with or without a crew. There are also many cruises that visit the area.
Although Tahiti is known for its big wave surfing, there are surf breaks suitable for all levels of experience. May to August is when you get the best waves. For smaller waves, you get the summer swells from October to March. The islands of Tahiti and Moorea only have reef breaks, so you’ll need access to a boat to reach these excellent waves. Most resorts offer this service. The Teahupoo region has the most amount of surf breaks, with 7 spots within a short distance, and there are swells all year around.
Tips & Tricks
Visitors flying in from Australia’s east coast can fly direct into Papeete from Auckland flying Air Tahiti Nui. You will generally have to stay overnight in Papeete and then catch your onward island flight or ferry the next day. The return journey you will also require a night in Papeete due to the flight schedules.
You can travel between islands by scheduled flights, charter flights, seaplane, helicopter or by using the catamarans and ferry boats that cross between Tahiti and Moorea several times a day.
To get around on the island of Tahiti, there are buses and taxis, and car rentals are available. Depending on what island you are staying on, there is usually a choice of bikes, horses and taxi boats to get you around. Riding a bike around Bora Bora is a great option.
The local currency is the French Pacific Franc, abbreviated to CFP or XPF. Although US dollars are widely accepted in most tourist places, we suggest you to exchange your home currency into French Pacific Francs upon arrival either at Tahiti international airport or at any bank of Papeete.
Bank notes come in denominations of 500, 1000, 5000 and 10,000, and coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100.
Tipping & Etiquette
Tipping is not expected, however it is appreciated if the service is outstanding.
Bargaining or haggling is not customary in Tahiti, even at the markets.
Australian passport holders don’t require a visa for stays less than 3 months for leisure purposes. Please always check your specific visa requirements with the appropriate embassies or consulates before making travel arrangements.
The official language is French, although English is spoken widely in all tourist areas. Traditional Tahitian is still spoken in some areas. Our tip is to learn a little French before you go – a little effort will impress the locals.
Tap water on Bora Bora or Papeete is safe to drink, but you’ll need to check with your hotel on other islands.
We strongly recommend booking your sightseeing excursions before you leave home. There are some amazing experiences to be had, such as the Ultimate Shark and Ray Watching Tour, which always book out well ahead of time. And don’t be afraid to do something indulgent like a day on a yacht – this is a once in a lifetime destination, so make sure you experience all it has to offer.
When you picture Tahiti, you’re probably picturing those beautiful overwater bungalows. They certainly are a unique experience, but there’s a couple of things to keep in mind. If you love the thought of hearing the water lapping against the foundations all night, then this is the accommodation type for you. If you think this will keep you awake all night, save the money and go for beachfront accommodation.
Cherry Hint: Take your own MP3 device and Bluetooth speakers – there’s nothing like watching the sun go down from your bungalow with your favourite tunes in the background!
Board & All-Inclusive Packages
Tahiti isn’t known for all inclusive meal and drinks packages like you will find in the Maldives. Generally accommodation comes with breakfast, and you can pay additional to have dinner included. If you’re staying on a resort island, this is usually the most cost effective way to go. If you’re staying on Moorea, for example, where you can leave the resort for meals, you may like to just stick with breakfast. Generally in Tahiti there aren’t many resorts offering all inclusive packages that include all meals and alcoholic beverages.
Weddings & Honeymoons
It is legal to marry in Tahiti, with certain conditions being met. Same sex marriages are not allowed in Tahiti. Many resorts provide beautiful traditional Polynesian ceremonies. To get all the information you need to be married in Tahiti, visit www.tahiti-tourisme.com/weddings/how-to-tahiti-wedding.asp
Plan a Multi-Destination Holiday
From Tahiti you can fly direct to the Cook Islands or Samoa. So why not enjoy two destinations?
Resorts For Families
These are just a few of our preferred resorts for families. Ask a Cherry consultant for options that specifically suit your requirements.
Resorts for Honeymoons & Special Occasions
These are just a few of our preferred resorts for honeymooners and couples. Ask a Cherry consultant for options that specifically suit your requirements.
InterContinental Bora Bora Resort Thalasso Spa
InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa
Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora
St Regis Bora Bora
Le Meridien Bora Bora
Conrad Bora Bora Nui
Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa
Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island
Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach Resort
Sofitel Moorea La Ora Beach Resort
Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa
Manava Beach Resort & Spa-Moorea
Maitai Polynesia Bora Bora
Resorts for Surfing
These are just a few of our preferred resorts for surfing. Ask a Cherry consultant for options that specifically suit your requirements.
A special thanks to our Tahiti wholesale partner, Omniche Holidays, for their contribution to the content of this guide.
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