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A first-timer's guide to holidaying in Tahiti
Don’t be put off by Tahiti’s black sand beaches, they’re strikingly beautiful, with mountain backdrops and a unique allure we wouldn’t want you to miss.
Enjoy a little slice of heaven in Tahiti. It may be remote but its reputation has made it popular amongst all who visit the Society Islands. It is, however, still possible to get that complete castaway island experience here and as Tahiti has French Polynesia’s only international airport, it’s the perfect place to start and end your island hopping adventure.
Follow in the footsteps of Captains Cook and Bligh. Most visitors are drawn to the coast but expand your horizons further and you’ll discover so much more on this breathtaking and serene island. Take a truck and explore lush mountain interior, valleys, streams and waterfalls. Or, lovely Papeete for world-class resorts, spas, fine dining restaurants, colourful markets, boutiques and pearl shops.
Hospitable and relaxed, everyone is welcome on the largest and liveliest of The Islands of Tahiti. Immerse yourself in Tahitian art, culture and music and enjoy French and Polynesian flavours from the delicious island cuisine. Smell the exotic fragrance of flowers and hear Tahitian music fill the air. For tranquil getaways, adventure-filled family fun or a romantic retreat – Tahiti is your paradise isle.
Take a leisurely read through our guide on Tahiti. Or, call us if there’s anything more we can help you with.
Flights and transfers
The best way to reach Tahiti is with Air New Zealand, via Los Angeles. Flights go daily from London Heathrow to Papeete (Tahiti’s capital) and take 23¼ hours. You can also fly with Air France, via Paris or Los Angeles. These take a little longer, however, Air France departs from London, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Manchester.
All passengers travelling via Los Angeles International Airport must have their own machine-readable passports and completed the ESTA online form at least 72 hours prior to departing the UK. Even if you’re just transiting Los Angeles, you’re still required to meet all entry requirements. More information can be found here US entry and transit requirements.
Tahitian and French are the official languages of French Polynesia, but English is widely spoken in hotels, shops and restaurants. Tahitians are very friendly but can be shy, so we recommend brushing up on your French and learning a few Tahitian greetings. They will certainly appreciate it!
The capital of Papeete is a 10-minute drive along the coast from Faa’a International. Tahiti is the only island in French Polynesia with public transport. Outside major towns there aren’t many major roads; tracks connect local villages and are more suited to 4WDs.
Taxis are easily available to get you to most points on the island, however they can be expensive. A taxi from the airport to Pape’ete will cost about £5 (300 French Pacific francs).
Tahiti operates a local bus service known as Le Truck. These modern air-conditioned buses can be picked up wherever you see a blue sign. It is also sometimes possible to hail one down. Just hop on board and pay at the end of your journey.
Our favourite way to explore Tahiti and any of the Society Group’s larger islands is by car. Explore at your own pace, without the need to rely on public transport.
Car hire is not cheap and you can except to pay around 8000 CFP a day including unlimited kilometres and basic insurance. You won’t have to pay much extra for petrol though as you won’t be covering long distances. Bear in mind that off-road adventures into the island’s interior are generally only possible if you’re in a 4WD. Book your car a few days in advance as there are a limited number of rental cars on the island. Driving is on the right-hand side and traffic is fairly light, except around Pape’ete on Tahiti.
The French Pacific Franc is the official currency of French Polynesia. Otherwise known as the franc cours pacifique (CFP). Foreign exchange services are available at the airport and banks. Hotels exchange currency but the rate may not be as good. Bring cash and credit cards as you’ll often get a better exchange rate by card and they’re accepted at most hotels, restaurants and shops.
Tipping is generally not expected, so it’s entirely up to you if you’d like to show your appreciation.
Electricity in Tahiti is 220 Volts. If you have a device that doesn’t accept 220 Volts at 60 Herts, you’ll need to purchase a voltage converter. Plugs with either two flat blades or two round pins are accepted.
Vaccination and health
No special vaccinations are required for Tahiti; however, we recommend you are up to date with routine immunisations. Please contact your GP to check for the latest recommendations. There is no risk of yellow fever, however proof of vaccination is required when arriving from a country with a risk of yellow fever.
GMT -10 hours
Weather & Climate
Tahiti is blessed with year-round tropical weather and gentle Pacific breezes. There are two seasons: November to May is warm and humid with temperatures reaching 30 degrees C and from June to October the climate is cooler and drier at about 28 degrees C.
Festivals and Events
Feel the Polynesian pulse with musical and cultural celebrations in Tahiti and throughout the islands.
Spend a magical Christmas in Tahiti; with shop fronts and the Boulevard Pomare on the waterfront shining brightly. Celebrate the country’s emblematic flower, the Tiare Tahiti at a flower decoration contest or at a festival to celebrate breadfruit ‘uru’. Take part in a circle island tour of Moorea; from Pape’ete ferry docks to Vaiare wharf, riding “Le truck” - experience the sounds of the ‘ukulele and enjoy a typically Tahitian meal. Hop on a boat to Moorea island to experience the Tahiti Nui Tour, a cycling tour hosted by Taihiti. Join in the Bastille Day festivities. There is plenty going on, in and around the islands of Tahiti.
Food, drink and nightlife
Enjoy delicious food in Tahiti; with French and Polynesian fusion cuisine with plenty of fruit, vegetables and spices. Explore food markets, mingle with locals and sample oysters, mahi mahi, pineapples, breadfruit, coconuts and the Tahitian vanilla bean. Try the signature dish of poisson cru - a tasty meal of raw tuna marinated in lime juice, with vegetables and coconut milk.
Tahiti isn’t LA, but has plenty of nightlife along to enjoy. Venture into the nation’s capital, Papeete for dancing and fun into the late hours. Enjoy chic restaurants or join the locals down at the waterside Roulettes. Families gather at tables at the waterfront promenade of Vaiete Square, where the famous food trucks ‘Roulettes’ serve grilled steaks, fresh fish and banana crepes. A great way to enjoy Tahiti’s version of street food, for fresh, cheap and quick dishes, washed down with a refreshing Hinano beer. As night draws in, move your hips with a traditional Tahitian dance, called tamure and unwind in cafes and bars. Read our Taste of Tahiti article for more information.