Travel Tips for Tahiti
UPDATED Dec 3, 2022: I have added a few more tips that I have discovered over the years!
Originally published Dec 20, 2018: I just returned from a really great trip to Tahiti last week and it was a fantastic experience. I cannot wait to go back and take my husband with me. The trip that I just returned from was a work trip so it was jam packed with hotel inspections (15 total over 7 nights), hotel hopping (6 different overnight hotel stays), island hopping (4 different islands visited) and multiple plane rides (8) plus one ferry. The whole point of the trip was to further my education on the destination and also attend a travel conference to make connections with our travel partners.
I am still going through all my photos and eventually I hope to blog some more about the trip. However, in the meantime, here are some travel tips that I have shared with my clients. I can confirm that many of these tips from the Tourism Board are great recommendations.
The local currency is the Pacific Franc, CFP or XPF. It is linked to the Euro.
Credit cards are widely accepted in the most touristy islands and travelers should advise their banks that they will be overseas and make sure their card will work there.
Travelers checks can be used but are not accepted everywhere. High fees apply in banks and resorts to change them. Honestly, I would just avoid these entirely.
US dollars are accepted in some stores but the exchange rate will not be the greatest.
Currency exchange services are available from banks and resorts. Fees apply.
ATMs are available at the Faa'a International Airport as well as banks in Papeete and the most touristy islands and areas. ATMs will give the best exchange rate that you will find on the islands and I recommend visiting the ATM upon arrival at the Papeete airport.
We recommend that visitors travel with a bit of cash as a precaution. Some small vendors only take cash or will offer a poor exchange rate.
Tipping is not customary or expected in Tahitian culture. However, tipping is always welcome for exemplary service.
If you are staying at a high end resort with butler service, you can either tip daily (if your butler changes) or at the end of the stay (if you have the same butler). Please hand your butler the gratuity in an envelope.
Also, many restaurants, activities and hotels offer a monthly bonus when you mention the employee's name on a review site so consider doing a review instead of a tip! If you mention an employee when filling out the hotel questionnaire at the end of your stay also works.
For men, another way to tip or show your appreciation for good service is to trade a baseball cap or t-shirt with your tour guide or hotel employee.
Insider Tip: Between 1st September 2020 to 31 May 2022, there is a dual circulation of old and new XPF coins. Both are valid, so don’t worry if you receive XPF change with the old coins! Starting 1st June 2022, only the new coins will be in circulation. They look like the ones in this photo.
The islands have tropical weather and are blessed with a lot of sunshine and enough rain to keep mountains and valleys lush and green.
Average temperature is about 80°F throughout the year, both air and water.
Summer runs from November to April. This is when I visited and I do not recommend it if you want to avoid the rains.
The "Tahitian winter" or cooler season is from May to October. This is the high season which means the prices are higher but the weather is much better too.
There is no cyclone season in French Polynesia.
What to Bring
Pack light, comfortable clothes (light, flowy sundresses, 2-3 swimsuits, few sarongs or buy them in destination)
Full face snorkel mask (if you have problems with snorkel masks, fins are available at all resorts)
Pool float (optional but lots of guests have fun with them)
Any prescription medicine
Adapter for electronic appliances (the islands have 220 volts and French plugs - most resorts have 110 volts for small appliances such as razor)
Wine/cocktail tumbler (if you like your cocktails to stay cool)
Many resorts provide their guests in-room amenities like towels, beach totes, umbrellas, beach towels, sunscreen and more. Ask your Travel Advisor what is included with your room!
You can bring a total of 4 liters of alcohol per person. Two liters can be spirits (such as whiskey, vodka, etc.) and the other two liters can be champagne or wine.
Option 2: Buy 2 liters of alcohol at the Airport Duty Free shop as you depart the USA.
On arrival at Faa’a International Airport, buy 2 more liters at the Tahiti Duty Free shop. It is located in the luggage area after going through Passport Control. If you are stopped at Customs when exiting, you are safe to declare all 4 bottles.
Be careful if you have an inner island flight because you can easily go over the carry on weight limits! The smaller airline will NOT accept a duty free bag, carry on AND personal item.
Don't use the mixers for drinks/cocktails from the hotel minibar unless it is already included in your room rate. Buy them at the hotel souvenir or convenience shop.
Otherwise, buy your juice/mixers at a local supermarket or corner store. Ask your hotel concierge for directions. Some resorts on private motus will require a shuttle by boat which usually costs extra!
In the islands, the locals' daily schedule starts with sunrise and ends at sunset. There is not much happening as far as nightlife. It is not Vegas, Ibiza or Mexico.
Most night clubs are located on the main island of Tahiti.
Some of the resorts' offer live band performances at their bars and pool areas.
Local dance troupes perform in hotels to give the travelers an insight into Tahitian music, dances and songs.
Visitors do not travel to The Islands of Tahiti for the nightlife but for the pristine, breathtaking beauty and majesty of the islands, the kindness and warmth of its inhabitants and culture, the authenticity and serenity that can be found each day in what many call "paradise".
Enjoy a nightcap in your room without having to pay extra for room service or heading to the bar. Stop by the Duty-Free shop at the airport when you arrive and pick up a bottle of your favorite spirit (gin, vodka, rum, etc.) and use that in your room/bungalow throughout your stay.
If you have an overwater bungalow, turn on your Tahitian TV by bringing a bit of bread leftover from dinner. Open the top of your glass coffee table and sprinkle in some bread. Turn off the lights inside your bungalow and on under your bungalow. Watch the sharks and fishes on your “TV” while enjoying your nightcap tip from above.