Facts about French Polynesia
Location South Pacific. The 120 islands of French Polynesia are scattered over 2.5 million sq km of the South Pacific, 6,120km northwest of Sydney and 4,000km northwest of Auckland, New Zealand.
Area 4,167 sq km
Country name French Polynesia
Capital city Papeete (population 26,181), located on the main island of Tahiti
Government French Overseas Territory since 1946
Climate The Society Islands of French Polynesia (Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Huahine, Raiatea) and the Tuamotu atolls (Rangiroa, Fakarava, Manihi) enjoy a mild, mostly sunny and pleasant tropical climate all year round, averaging eight hours of sunshine per day over a year. However, you may experience the occasional brief rainstorm at any time of the year.
The average annual temperature is 29°C, with little variation throughout the year. The wet season lasts from November to April, with February and March being the hottest months of the year. Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Huahine and Raiatea are generally a little more humid than the atolls of Rangiroa, Fakarava and Manihi, which are more exposed to the cooling influence of the trade winds. The water temperature generally hovers between 26°C and 29°C, making for pleasant swimming all year round.
Time Zone Australian East Coast -20 hours
Currency French Pacific Franc (CFP)
Electricity 110/220 volts, 60hz. European-style two-pin blade plugs.
Tipping No tipping is required – or expected – in French Polynesia as it goes against local custom where hospitality is paramount. All prices quoted are all-inclusive.
Language French and Tahitian; English widely spoken
Useful phrases Try these Tahitian phrases: La ora na/nana – hello; prahi – goodbye; ha’ amauruuru – please; mauruuru roa – thank you. Try these French phrases Bonjour – hello; ca va? – how are you?; merci – thank you.
Local etiquette Act and dress respectfully whenever you visit a religious location and never remove a sacred stone or tiki. Swimwear should be confined to the beach.
Tip Hats and sunscreen are a must and sneakers or sandals are advisable for walking and swimming around coral. If you cut yourself on coral pour lemon or lime juice over the wound to relieve the pain, or use hydrogen peroxide.
Flying in Fa'aa International Airport is located 6km from Papeete on the main island of Tahiti. Hotels and resorts provide pre-arranged transport for guests. Le Truck buses run regularly. Taxis and hire cars are also available.
Getting there Air Tahiti Nui operate twice-weekly flights from Sydney to Papeete and via Auckland once a week. Qantas (with Tahiti Nui) offer services from Sydney via Auckland. Air New Zealand flies 4 times a week via Auckland to Papeete with connections from all major Australian airports.
Flight time Papeete is 7 hours from Sydney, 12 hours from Perth (via east coast). From Papeete: Bora Bora is 40 minutes away; Moorea is 10 minutes; Rangiroa and Huahine are 90 minutes.
Entry requirements A passport valid for at least six months beyond intended period of stay as well as a ticket for return or onward travel. Australian citizens do not need a visa for stays up to 90 days.
Getting around Between islands: Air Tahiti offer daily flights from Tahiti to the neighbouring islands of Bora Bora, Huahine, Maupiti, Moorea and Raiatea as well as the remote archipelagos, including: Tuamotu East and North with Manihi, Rangiroa, Takapoto and Tikehau; Austral Islands of Rurutu and Tubuai; Marquesas Islands of Hiva Oa and Nuku Hiva. Fast inter-island catamarans and regular ferries exist between Bora Bora, Huahine, Moorea, Papeete and Raiatea.
On land: Le Truk open-air bus is cheap, frequent and an easy way to get around Papeete and suburbs. Hire cars are available. Traffic drives on the right.