An Introduction to Tahiti & her islands


The following article is a collection of facts that I have gathered from several travel sites in hopes that this can answer questions of those who may be interested in the islands of Tahiti. Enjoy!

What is so great about Tahiti and its islands?
Well, that’s an easy one: for starters, these are truly THE most beautiful tropical islands in the world, thanks to their dramatic geography, the lush tropical vegetation and their unique multicolored crystal lagoons. Then there are the flowers, lots of them, and all the lovely people (wearing the flowers in their hair, as leis or behind their ears) and their culture. And then, there is the famous magic of these islands … and this, I can’t explain.


Why should I go to Tahiti rather than Hawaii, Mexico or the Caribbean’s?

If you want big high-rise hotels, lots of people around and an ordinary vacation, then Tahiti and her islands is not for you. Tahiti receives less tourists in 1 year than Hawaii gets in 1 day. No big resorts in Tahiti ( the largest will accommodate 180 guests!), very few tourists or locals to be seen, and all this magical environment basically all to yourself.

Is it expensive to vacation there?

If you compare a week in Tahiti to a 1 week in Hawaii or Cancun all-inclusive for $999, it will not be a fair comparison. For that price, Hawaii or Mexico will not include private bungalows on pristine secluded beaches or bungalows over turquoise lagoons. Tahiti is not for every budget, but it is an excellent value for extraordinary memories. Also, in Tahiti, there are no tipping or added taxes. What you read is what you pay. NO hidden costs!

Is it really, really romantic?
Because of the wild beauty of its scenery and its pristine multi-hued lagoons, French Polynesia is the essence of romance and sensuality. These islands will cast their love spell on you as you arrive and will make it last way after you return home. The exotic islands of French Polynesia were made for lovers. Intoxicating scents, palm-shaded beaches, secluded coves, private bungalows on crystal lagoons with a view of emerald islands more sensuous than the works of Gauguin. Tahiti is without a doubt the most romantic place on earth.

We want to go there for our honeymoon. Do you have any suggestions?
Tahiti is the idyllic setting for a honeymoon in paradise. Sleep in your own private thatched-roof bungalow on the edge of a turquoise lagoon…cruise under star studded skies propelled by gentle trade winds…spend the day on your own secluded motu. You couldn’t pick a better honeymoon destination. While in French Polynesia you may renew your vows in a romantic, traditional Tahitian Wedding Ceremony.
Regarding the choice of islands, go to Tahaa for the upscale privacy and spectacular resorts, to Bora Bora for the spectacular resorts and lagoon scenery, to Moorea for the dramatic beauty and lushness of the island, and, if you are a true romantic, to the Kia Ora Sauvage for the ultimate South Sea fantasy.

How about privacy, seclusion..?
Due to the low population of the islands and only few tourists, you will find many deserted beaches. Also, most of the accommodation is in private bungalows, either near or on the water, and most guest stay in the privacy of their bungalows. Topless sunbathing is routine and will be ignored.
How do I get there and how long does it take?
It’s very easy. There are 3 international airlines serving Papeete, the capital of Tahiti from the USA. It is just a short 7 1⁄2 hour flight, non-stop from Los Angeles and 10 1/2 hours from JFK.

What airlines fly to Tahiti?
Air Tahiti Nui, the Tahiti-based international carrier has daily flights from Los Angeles, and from JFK, Mon, Wed, Fri. Other International airlines providing services include Air France, Hawaiian Airlines, Air New Zealand, Qantas Airways Limited, Lan Chile, and Air Caledonia International.

How do I get to the other islands?

The local domestic airline, Air Tahiti, operates a number of flights daily between islands. Flights start early in the morning and end soon after dark. If only going to Moorea from Tahiti you have a choice between flying and taking the ferry. The flight only takes approximately 15 minutes, whereas the ferry will take approximately 45 minutes. There are no ferries to any other island other than Moorea.

How do I know which hotel is best for me?
The hotels you select are very important to the overall success of your trip as your hotel is likely to be the center of your activities. Hotels in French Polynesia can range from a 100 bungalow resort to a small intimate hotel with a few Polynesian bungalows and few amenities. All the hotels are located on a beach or a lagoon no matter what island.

What kind of room?
The vast majority of accommodations in French Polynesia are individual units called “bungalows” made of natural woods and local materials with upscale Polynesian decor and amenities; depending on the quality of the resort (some are very luxurious). Much of the fun of coming to Tahiti is being able to stay in one of these thatched-roofed bungalows. Accommodations typically feature a queen or king size bed and a day bed for a third person or child. Please keep in mind, there are very few hotels that can accommodate more than 3 people in one bungalow. Typically the hotels categorize the bungalows by location on the property. Least expensive is a Garden Bungalow, then a Beach Bungalow, then an Overwater Bungalow and then a Premium or Horizon Overwater bungalow.

What about High and Low season rates?
The Hi/Low seasons are purely determined by the demand and are not related to the weather (same all year long – there is no “bad” weather season). Each resort (and airline) determines their “Hi season”. The rates usually increase from April to October with a peak in July/Aug. , and again in December.

What about the weather — what can I expect and when should I go?
Although Tahiti is a tropical environment, the rainfalls do not follow a “wet” and “dry” type of season. This means that there is no pattern of weather or rainfalls and the weather is not predictable from day to day or year to year. It will be mostly sunny, with intermittent and localized showers or storms at any time. But there is always far more sunshine than rain in any period. There are no real seasons in Tahiti and the temperatures remain fairly constant day and night (about 80/85º). So, the weather issue is not relevant when deciding your vacation date. There is no “hurricane or cyclone season” as these islands are outside the cyclonic zone of the Pacific. Cyclones are a very rare and freak occurrence.

My flight arrives early in the morning. How soon can get into my room?

Like most hotels in the world, check-in time is 1 to 3 p.m. and you may have to wait by the pool or on the beach for your room to be ready. Hotels will make you conformable and offer refreshments. If you wish to go into your room upon early arrival you will need to prepay the night before. If it is already included, this will be indicated in the “Included Features” as “includes pre-registration.” What is a Day Room?
This can be a late check-out from your room that you keep until approximately 6p.m. Some international flights depart from Tahiti very late in the evening. Most hotel check-out times are around 11:00 a.m. You may want to consider pre-purchasing a late check-out. If already included in a package, it will be indicated in the “Included Features” as “includes dayroom”. Dayroom check-out times vary from hotel to hotel.

What is the local currency?
The currency in Tahiti is the French Pacific Franc or CFP (95 CFP= 1US$) listed as xpf in the international currency code. See current exchange rate in Tahiti.
Where can I exchange my money?
It is best to exchange your money in Tahiti. This is where you’ll get the best rate. There are 2 banks inside Faaa International Airport in Tahiti open for all arriving flights as well as currency-exchange ATM’s. A privately operated foreign exchange office is located on the Papeete waterfront next to the harbor and in back of the port immigration office and the Socredo Bank. Credit Cards?
Credit cards are widely used and US dollars are easily exchanged. ATM’s and and currency machines are also available.

Do they take travelers checks?

Travelers’ checks are easily cashed at banks and hotels. Visitors are advised to carry both traveler’s checks and credit cards to make their trip more convenient. All banks charge a 350 to 400 CFP (U.S. $4.00 to $5.00) commission on cash or travelers’ check currency transaction.

What about the food? (and the cost?)
This is French Polynesia, so food matters. The Tahitians love good food and have wonderful (and healthy) dishes of their own. In the main town of Papeete. (Tahiti) there are many types of restaurants to choose from. The prices are in the same range as similar French or Italian restaurants in the US. Because the standard of living is high and most of everything needs to be imported, you will not find anything “super cheap”, and you will find few fast food restaurants. There is no added tax and no tipping. There are some very good restaurants in Moorea and Bora Bora besides those within the hotels (also v. good). Meal plans are available prior to the start of your trip and will generally represent cost savings. Meal prices are comparable to those at better restaurants in other resort destinations. Most restaurants have a la carte menus so that you will not have to order a complete meal if all you want is a salad. A package that includes meals represents a value.


What about bugs or insects?

The only bugs you could encounter are the occasional mosquito and maybe sand flies if you wander onto remote beaches. All resorts treat their grounds and you may never encounter any insect. If any are present, the Garden Bungalows would be more likely to have some mosquitoes, Beachfront less likely, and Overwater will never have any. It is never a problem that an occasional application of repellent would not take care of.
You are also likely to see geckos (small lizards) on the walls, waiting to gobble-up mosquitoes and any insects nearby. They are totally harmless and very useful, but can be noisy at times with a frog-like croaking. Other than that, there are no other bugs or critters that would harm or sting you.


I want to go there with my children, is it suitable?

Most visitors are couples, but kids love it… Calm, warm water with pretty fish, “cool” bungalows, lots of water activities, etc… All the hotels welcome children.

I don’t speak French. Is this going to be a problem?
Non…Everyone speaks English in the hotels, and so do many local people.

I am looking for cultural authenticity. What about it?
Traditional Tahitian culture is very much alive and can be felt in many ways, from the way the Tahitians dress, to the flowers, the ever present music, the dance, the crafts and the way of life. And they don’t do it for the tourists. It’s just the way they are. What kinds of activities are available after I get there?
There is an abundance of activities in and around the water and much to do on land. Most of the hotels offer free snorkeling, outrigger canoes, windsurfing and lazing in a hammock – which you may find to be your favorite activity…

What about day-trips to different islands?

From Tahiti, you can go to Moorea for the day easily and inexpensively by ferry. You can also take excursions to Tetiaora atoll near-by.
But for the other islands such as Bora Bora or Huahine it isn’t practical to fly for the day. And there is no ferry service returning the same day. So if you are in Moorea and want to see Bora Bora, you have to go there for at least a couple of days.
Among the more accessible islands: Moorea and Huahine for the scenery and the lushness, Bora Bora for the scenery and the lagoon and Rangiroa for the diving and the Kia Ora Sauvage, the best “lost island” experience you could dream of.

How to Select Your Islands

Choosing your island(s) for your Vacation or Honeymoon is easier than you think:
Bora Bora is considered the most beautiful island in the world because of it’s extraordinary lagoon and water hues, and its spectacular resorts “floating” on the turquoise water overlooking picture-perfect mount Otemanu.

Moorea is a very close second to Bora Bora because of the dramatic beauty and lushness of the island. But its lagoon is not as spectacular as in Bora Bora. However, many people also put Moorea on top of their list.

Huahine is similar to Moorea, with even more lush vegetation, but less dramatic mountains. Very quiet and more “remote” island with only 2 hotels.
Tahaa is lovely and secluded. The Le Tahaa Private Island Resort is now one of the most sought-after resorts in the South Pacific because of its unrivaled location, stunning views, crystal lagoon and spectacular bungalows and amenities.

Rangiroa, Manihi and Tikehau are atolls instead of mountainous islands and offer a very different style of landscape, with a more remote and exotic feeling. This is where you will find the best snorkeling/diving.
Below are some basic guidelines:
– The length of stay in any island shouldn’t be less than 2 nights, and not more than 8 nights.
– Traveling between islands is easy and fast, so you should plan on visiting more than 1 island if you stay a week or more.
– All islands/resorts are wonderful for everyone, whether on vacation, a honeymoon, or with your family.
– The weather/seasons should not be a factor in choosing your dates. It will always be warm, sunny, but rain can happen at any time.
– The Hi Season rates are from May to November as well as late December, and are arbitrarily set for the more popular travel seasons and not the weather.

How to Select Your Bungalow

In French Polynesia, hotel accommodation is 90% in individual bungalows. All the bungalows have a thatched roof and an upscale decor with natural woods and materials, a private deck and all the modern amenities.
All the resorts are located on properties/beaches bordering the lagoon.
These are not “huts”, but luxurious and spacious private villas. Bungalows feature king-size bed, with separate bathrooms with bath and shower, fridges, flat screen TV, and very upscale amenities on par with similarly classed hotels anywhere in the world. They all have a private deck with lounge chair/table.
All the bungalows also have a day-bed for a child or third person. But there are very few hotels offering accommodation for more than 3 people in 1 bungalow.

Some Beach and Garden bungalows have their own private splash pool at some resorts.

Here are the different types of rooms and bungalows, starting with the least expensive:
• Lagoon or Garden View Room or Lanai Room: located in a 2 or 3 story building with a balcony or terrace, overlooking the garden and/or the water.
• Garden Bungalow: on the property bordering the beach, but behind the Beach Bungalows. May not have a view of the water a short distance away.
• Beach or Beachfront Bungalow: at the edge of the garden, the first row of bungalows from the beach.
• Overwater Bungalow/Villa: built on stilts in the lagoon, accessed via a gangway. Often more luxuriously appointed than Beach Bungalows.
• Deep Overwater , Horizon Overwater, Premium Overwater: often the same layout and amenities as the Overwater, but with a better view and more privacy. Usually at the end of the walkways. These are the most expensive accommodation, from US$ 750 up to $2400 per night.

The Special Experience of Tahiti

Overwater Bungalows
Unlike any other hotel room you’ve stayed in before, these traditional thatched-roof bungalows are perched above the turquoise lagoon waters. In many of the rooms, tropical fish swim below as you look through the glass floor or coffee table. With all the amenities of a first-class hotel room, here on your private balcony surrounded only by water and sky, you can enjoy both breakfast (often delivered by canoe) and the sunset (seemingly delivered by the heavens).

Island Tours
There is no better way to gain a sense of everyday Tahitian life than passing through the small villages on a circle-island tour. As nearly every island has a coastal road following the lagoon shores, you can either drive around the island by rental car or take a guided bus tour. Explore the island interiors on a 4×4 safaris, guided nature hike, or horseback ride. Skim across the lagoons on a motorized canoe, sailboat, or powerboat. For dramatic views above the islands, take a helicopter tour.

Snorkeling & Diving
World-class snorkeling and diving in Tahiti is one of the South Pacific’s best-kept secrets. Both experienced and beginner divers and snorkelers are amazed by how clear the waters are and how close they can swim to the marine life, such as the gigantic manta rays. With hundreds of dive sites throughout the islands, divers can choose from the amazing drift dives, oceanic drop-offs, sunken ships, and lagoon dives with infinite marine life.

Shark Feeding
This excursion is one of the most thrilling and popular and can be enjoyed on most of the main islands. After a short trip into the lagoon by powered outrigger canoe or powerboat, you’ll float or stand in four to seven feet of clear water behind a secure rope as the docile sharks are hand-fed by an experienced guide. Even non-swimmers can enjoy this exciting scene from the boat.

Tahitian Black Pearls
The world-renowned iridescent luster of Mother Nature’s most perfect gem can only be created in Tahiti warm lagoon waters. Commonly known around the world as Black Pearls, each Tahitian Cultured Pearl ranges in size and shape and the colors range from the darkest black to shimmering shades of green, blue, bronze, aubergine, or even pink. Tour a pearl farm on Manihi, Rangiroa, Raiatea, Huahine, Taha’a, Tikehau, and Fakarava or visit one of the many pearl shops.

Polynesian Spas
Tahiti is now a world-class spa destination with many of the resorts offering new luxurious spas. Surrounded by a backdrop of natural beauty and floral fragrances, there is no better setting for relaxation. Enjoy fresh-flower baths, herbal rain showers, or even a body wrap in banana tree leaves. You can also rejuvenate your romance at the spas aboard the cruise ships including the Parisian-influenced private Spa Villa for two on the m/s
Paul Gauguin.

Unique Cruise Ships

A wide variety of cruise products set sail in these romantic isles. Each week, luxurious cruise ships offer first-class meals and balcony cabins, Tahitian-owned “super yachts” sail deep within the smooth-water lagoons, a passenger freighter voyages between 17 ports, sailing catamarans offer small groups or families a vacation at sea, and barefoot cruising creates an environment for the independent and adventurous. Something for everyone on cruises found nowhere else on earth.

Tahitian Wedding Ceremony

A traditional Tahitian wedding is a meaningful yet legally non-binding ceremony for couples wishing to wed or renew their vows. Couples are bedecked in bright pareu, flowers, and shells. The groom is brought to the beachside location in a canoe while the bride is carried on a rattan throne. Music and dancers enhance the ceremony while a Tahitian priest performs the rites and gives the couple their Tahitian name.

Motu Picnic
Enjoy a private or group picnic on your own motu (tiny islets in the lagoon.) Your resort or cruise ship can provide an unforgettable experience where gourmet meals are prepared and enjoyed on a table set either under a coconut tree or in the warm, shallow waters along the beach.

Travel Info | French Polynesia
You do not need to get ANY Immunization shots prior to going to French Polynesia.
Money and Exchange:
The local currency is the Central Pacific Franc (code is XPF). Yopu can see the ACTUAL Exchange Rate in Tahiti – under “Achat”, “BB”.
No matter where you come from, it is best to change your currency into CFP when you get to Tahiti. Money can be exchanged at the airport ATM upon arrival, even in the middle of the night, or later at a bank in any island. Hotels and some businesses will change your currency, but not at the bank rate.
Notes come in CFP denominations of 500, 1000, 5000 and 10,000, and coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100.
The average value of the CFP in relation to the US$ is about 85 CFP for 1 US$
You don’t need to bring more than US$1000 in cash as credit cards are widely accepted (Visa MC mostly) and banks will give you a cash advance (however, your credit card issuer may charge a 3% exchange fee on all foreign purchases. Inquire).
Traveler’s checks ($US or Euros) are easily cashed (you will have to show your passport).
Safety is not an issue, and carrying cash around is not a problem. Just don’t be careless, and lock your valuables in the hotel safety box (most of them have one in the room).
There are a few ATM machines in all the islands as well.

Luggage Weight Allowance:
On all the flights the weight limit is 20 Kg (42Lbs) per person – 1 bag – but not including hand luggage (limit is 5 kg pp, must be a small bag). They will enforce this limit!. Divers get another 5kg allowance on presentation of their C Card.
Hand luggage has to be small to fit in overhead bins on the local flights (not thicker than 10″), otherwise Air Tahiti will not let you take it onboard and will check it with regular luggage.
Customs and alcohol:
Each person can “officially” bring 1 liter of wine or spirit into French Polynesia. But, tourists are very seldom asked or searched… (hint…hint..)
Inter Island Transport and Airport Transfers:
If you book a vacation or honeymoon package, your inter-island air, meet-and-greet and airport/hotel transfers will be included.

If you book hotels individually, you will need to buy your inter island air directly with Air Tahiti (reservation office is in Tahiti only – They are not the same company as the international carrier Air Tahiti Nui).
Your also need to arrange your airport transfers ahead as hotel do not provide this service (particularly in Moorea). Taxi are available, but expensive and not always present at the airports. There is no other practical public transport available for arriving/departing passengers.

The onlyl way to travel between islands is via Air Tahiti. Except for Moorea, there is no frequent or reliable passenger boat service.

Hotels – Check-in and Check-out time:
If your flight arrives before check-int time at an island where you are staying: you will be taken right away to your resort where you are made welcome and can enjoy all the facilitites and amenities until your room is ready. If your return flight departs late in the afternoon you will check-out of your room but stay at the resort untli about 1 hour before the flight.

Electricity/Voltage:

The standard current is 220 volts AC with round European-style plugs. But all the hotels have a US 110 v. shaver socket in the bathroom that will recharge camcorders and cameras(no adapter needed), however you’ll need to bring a plug adapter if you want to use a room socket other than the shaver socket.
All hotels have hair dryers in the bathrooms, but if you want to use your own hair dryer/curling iron you’ll need a voltage converter that can handle the wattage of your appliance.
In any case, to recharge your camcorder/camera in 220v sockets, you only need the Euro plug adapter (not the voltage converter), as all chargers are multivoltage.

What to Bring:
As far as clothing is concerned, casual is the style, and because of the warm climate clothing should be light, even in the evenings which remain pleasantly mild.
Shorts and Tshirts for men in the day, and cotton slacks with cotton shirts (no jacket ever) if you go to a nice restaurants in the evening. Shorts, light blouses and sun dresses for women are ideal. A local “Pareo” (sarong) is a perfect and easy daytime wrap that will always look pretty – made all the better if you add a flower in your hair. You will need a light plastic raincoat or a windbreaker for the odd tropical downpour, a hat to shield you from the intense sun, lots of sunscreen, some insect repellent, reef or water shoes, a aspirin, Band-Aids. a small flaslight, etc.. A mask and snorkel if you intend to do a lot of snorkeling (hotels have them, but usually in bad shape). You can bring some packaged snacks, and even a bottle (per person) of your favorite liquor. You do not need to bring a hair dryer as most hotels provide one. You can bring some CD’s or DVD’s as many hotels have players in the room. But, whatever you do, don’t over pack. You’ll need a lot less stuff that you think you do, and total weight limit is 40 lb. per person on the local flights.

Telephone:
The telephone system in Tahiti is excellent.
There are public phones (multilingual) in all the islands and most of them are operated with phone cards (telecarte ) which can be readily purchased at the airport coffee shop, in some bars (bar- tabacs), at some magazine stands and of course at the Post Office.
These phone cards are priced according to time unites pre-loaded in a microchip embedded in the card. The phone box debits the card and tells you how many units you have left as you are talking. There are cards priced at 1, 2 and 5 thousand Pacific Francs depending on the number of units.
You will find these public phones everywhere in French Polynesia, even in the most remote atolls.

From the US to Tahiti dial: 011 + 689 + phone number.
From Paradise to the world dial: 00 + country code + area code + number.

All the hotels have direct dial, but they may charge you up to $10 per minute to the USA.

Cell phone service:
Excellent cell phone service has been available in FP for many years in the main islands (Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Tahaa/Raitea, Huahine and Rangiroa).
It uses the GSM 900 system which is not compatible with most US cell phones. Some multiband unlocked phone may work if you buy the connection kit ($75) while in Tahiti. You will also need to buy air time ($55 for 45 local call minutes). But ask to test a local SIM card in your phone at the shop prior to buying, as many GSM phones may not be compatible or may be locked by your provider. You can also ask your US cell provider about possible service in French Polynesia. At&t and Tmobile offer it. Not cheap, but available.

Internet Access in French Polynesia:
Most resorts now have WI-FI or an Ethernet port in the room, or/and a “business center” with public internet access. A per minute charge may apply.

Tipping:
Tips are not part of the Tahitian culture and should not be given on a routine basis.
All the prices quoted on menus, hotels or shops are all inclusive and you need not add anything for service or tax.

Air Conditioning:
All resorts have A/C in their bungalows. If you stay in an overwater bungalow, you will most likely find the trade winds cool enough and more pleasant, and probably will not use the A/C while still sleeping with a light blanket.

Business Hours:
Offices and shops are usually open from 8 am to 12 noon and from 1.30 p.m. to 5 or 5.30 p.m. In the suburbs, smaller family corner stores may not close until 10 p.m. Shops close at 11 am on Saturdays.
Banking hours are 7:45 am to 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, and some banks (e.g. the Bank of Tahiti) are open on Saturday from 7:45 to 11:30 am.
Currency Exchange counters are available at Faaa International Airport and are open for all arriving flights, no matter the time.

Post Office:
The French Polynesian postal system is on par with any standards. The mail delivery is efficient, but count on one week to ten days for mail to and from the US (USPO can’t figure-out where French Polynesia is..). The main Papeete post office is very modern and located on the waterfront boulevard. It offers all types of services including photocopying, fax and telegrams as well as and “poste restante” where you can have your mail delivered and waiting for you. They also sell sets of beautiful collector’s stamps. Hours are 7:30 am to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays and 7:30 to 11:30 am on Saturdays.

Time:
French Polynesia is 10 hours behind GMT, two hours behind US Pacific Standard time (same time as Hawaii) and 21 hours behind Australian Eastern Standard time
Thus, when it is noon Sunday in Tahiti, it is 2pm Sunday in Los Angeles (+1 hour summer time) and 9 am Monday in Sydney.

Water:
The tap water is good tasting and safe to drink in hotels, restaurants etc. Bottled mineral water is readily available in food shops around the islands.

Health, Medical Care and Critters:
No need for any type of inoculation against exotic diseases when going to Tahiti.
French Polynesia enjoys a high standard of health, with excellent medical and dental services, pharmacies, private clinics and a large hospital in Tahiti.

There are NO snakes, poisonous spiders or any land critters that can hurt or sting you. There could be some mosquitoes and sand flies (called nono) depending where you are, but their bite is very mild and the itch doesn’t last (rub lime). It is a good idea, however to pack some bug repellent.

Sharks:
The lagoons of French Polynesia have a few species of sharks, mostly the harmless black tip shark which makes for wonderful entertainment during the Shark Feeding excursions (a must!).There has not been any shark attack in French Polynesia in recent memory.

The Sun:
One thing you must not forget is lots of sunscreen, as the sun is VERY strong and will burn you after only 1/2 hour of exposure. Wear a T-shirt and waterproof sunblock when snorkeling. Also a good idea: reef shoes if you are going wadding in the shallows or the reef. Beaches are all coral, with chunks which can be sharp.

Personal Safety, Terrorism:
Tahiti is very safe by any standard and the worst crime is usually domestic violence. Theft does happen occasionally, but you need not be concerned. Just don’t be careless (all hotels have room safe).

As far as any potential terrorist threat is concerned: this is probably one of the safest country in the world — low population, zero immigration, strict border control (only 1 point of entry) and an overwhelming majority of Polynesian Christians make these islands a heaven of peace and safety. There is also a very pro-American sentiment at all levels of the population and American tourists are made to feel very welcome.

Bugs:
The only bugs you could encounter are mosquitoes or sand flies in the more remote beaches. It all depends where you are on any island, and it can vary within 50 feet. Most resorts treat their grounds and you may not come in contact with any insect. It really is not a problem that an occasional application of repellent would not take care of.

Tourism and Information Center in Tahiti: The main tourist office is in the center of Papeete., on the waterfront where the cruise ships dock. It is very easy to find across the street from the Vaima Shopping Center, in a large traditional Tahitian building. They have maps and info on most islands with accommodations and excursions. They are very helpful and speak excellent English.
The address of the Tahiti Tourist Office is Fare Manihini (689 / 42-96-26), Boulevard Pomare, BP 65, Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia.
For their US (LA) office, call: (310) 414 – 84 84.

Travel Insurance:
Travel insurance is always a good idea, if for no other reason than a plane delay and the loss of a few (expensive) nights of accommodation. Cost and coverage may vary depending on the cost of your trip.

Car rentals:
They are available everywhere…At the airports, the hotels, in the islands, etc..
However, they are usually small cars with stick shift and no A/C. Scooter rental is not recommended due to road hazards and fast drivers.

Weddings:
Tahitian wedding ceremonies are spectacular and very romantic, but they are not legal unless you have been a resident of the particular island for 30 days prior.

Work and Work Permits:
No, there are no jobs in Tahiti, and work permits are impossible to get, unless you have an employer who can be responsible for you, as well as having been granted a residency permit (also hard to get).

FIJI TRAVEL GUIDE
A Warm Welcome. Fijians have a talent for making guests feel welcome. Whether you meet locals at your resort, in a village, or on a public bus, the encounter is sure to thaw even the frostiest big-city commuter.
Pampered Luxury. Speaking of friendly, most resorts are quiet and intimate, housing no more than 40 guests, and the staff will remember your name the first time you meet and know your favorite drink by the third day. You’ll be blown away by your lush, comfortable surroundings as well.
Soft Coral Capital. Both seasoned and first-time divers and snorkelers will delight in the coral’s shapes, sizes, and colors. Some reefs are only a short swim from the beach, so even those made timid by deep water can take a peak.
Beautiful Beaches. The blanket-soft, blindingly white beaches of the western island groups easily rival those of the Caribbean, and many have a sexy volcano-and-rain-forest setting to boot.
Natural Riches. Fiji’s pristine natural riches are by no means limited to its coasts. There are kayaking and hiking in Viti Levu’s rain forest and swimming beneath breathtaking waterfalls in Taveuni’s Bouma National Heritage Park, just to name a few.
Fiji is blessed with 333 magnificent Fiji islands, some inhabited, most not. The Fiji islands are the essence of a tropical island paradise. White sandy beaches, swaying coconut trees, pristine oceans and waterways, and a range of things to do and see that will appeal to the most discerning traveler. As for the accommodations, Fiji’s hotels and resorts are some of the best in the world. Filled with warm smiles and sunshine, Fiji welcomes you.
Culturally, Fiji has become the melting pot of the South Pacific. The influences of Pacific, Indian, European and Chinese cultures are reflected in the food, architecture, language and religion, so cultural enthusiasts will have much to see and do. While there, also discover a huge variety of choice in accommodation styles, from five-star resorts with an international flavor, to secluded, traditional “bures,” to thatched cottages on private beaches and everything in between.
Fiji’s diversity, proximity and untrammeled beauty make it the ultimate reward. The genuine friendliness of the islands’ residents combined with the unique environment, extreme beauty and soothing tranquility make it a perfect holiday destination.
Denarau Island/Nadi Area
Denarau Island is located on the western side of Viti Levu and is famous for its year round blue sky. Only 20 minutes from Nadi International Airport and 8 minutes from Nadi Town, it is ideally situated for trips to the Mamanuca and Yasawa islands from the newly upgraded Port Denarau Marina.
Port Denarau Marina is Fiji’s finest retail and dining experience on the famous Denarau Island. There are plenty of other food choices to consider while working up a hunger while walking around the premium shops and handicraft retailers. The marina also features regular transport service, outstanding adult and kid’s entertainment, cultural and community activities, such as traditional Fijian and Indian dance – a genuine experience that will inspire all ages.
Denarau Island also boasts the region’s ultimate sports complex, with a magnificent 18-hole championship golf course and 10 court tennis center with spectacular grass courts. There are a diverse range of leisure activities to challenge or relax you, such as game fishing, hiking, camping, parasailing, sky diving, water skiing, helicopter rides, island tours, spa treatments and much more. Denarau Island also offers abundant and diverse restaurant choices and an array of bar and lounges, each with individual ambience.
A range of accommodations will suit any need, taste or budget. Visit Denarau Island for the ultimate tropical paradise vacation!
Fun Fact: Port Denarau Marina acts as a major departure point for cruises and transfers to the Mamanucas and Yasawa Islands, off the coastline of Denarau Island.
Coral Coast
Traditionally known and promoted as the most densely populated tourist area in Fiji, the Coral Coast is around 80 km of beaches, bays, rocky outcrops and lush vegetation along the southwest of Viti Levu.
The Coral Coast is heavily dotted with hotels, resorts and back packer retreats like no other region in Fiji and is a haven for the adventurous or for those who simply want a bit of sun, sand and fun.
The name is apt as the coast is wrapped by one of the largest fringing reef systems in the world and while its beaches are not quite the standard of the outer islands, it has the benefit of being conveniently located halfway between Nadi and Suva.
Fun Fact: The Coral Coast is the heart of Fiji’s tourism industry and basically where it all started back in the good old days.
Mamanuca Islands
Fiji’s tropical islands with gently swaying palm trees, surrounded by white sand beaches, set among deep blue waters with fringing coral reefs of turquoise and pastel green. These are the famous Mamanuca Islands of Fiji.
Every Fiji island resort in the Mamanuca Islands is what an island vacation should be about. Each of these special islands is different from each other and was created for those who want to forget the pressures of their busy lifestyle.
The Mamanuca Islands in Fiji are all different. Some islands are uninhabited, others are still the traditional homes of the Fijian people, many offer a range of Fiji Island resorts, a few are just for day trips from Nadi, and still others provide overnight resort style accommodations.
You can make your Fiji Island resort dream come true either by choosing an island that will encourage you to immerse yourself in tranquility, or one that will encourage you to party in paradise.
Home to almost twenty island resorts, the Mamanuca Islands provide a range of accommodation and service experiences from simple, yet comfortable, to incredibly secure and luxurious retreats. You have found the treasure… the real Fiji, the Fiji Islands of the movies and the lost paradise featured in your vacation dreams.
Fun Fact: Pronounced “Mamanutha,” this island is home to more than a dozen resorts, and their proximity to Nadi International Airport allows quick and easy access.

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