Holidays to French Polynesia are as close to ‘desert island paradise’ as you can get. Stay in luxurious bungalows that hover above the azure water, dive among clear-water coral gardens and spend guilt-free days lounging on sugar-soft sand. Before you set off, here are some things to know before travelling to French Polynesia…


Climate & Weather in French Polynesia

French Polynesia’s climate is tropical, warm and humid, influenced by the south-east trade winds. The most humid season occurs between November and April, and this is also the time when more rainfall takes place (and sometimes cyclones). From May to October, the climate is cooler and the weather is drier. While temperatures don’t tend to vary across the country, there are slight variations with higher climes on the northern islands, which get cooler as you move south.

Currency in French Polynesia

The currency used in French Polynesia is the Pacific Franc (CFP), although the Euro is now more widely accepted and is generally used at larger resorts (but not everywhere). ATMs are available on the main islands, although it’s a good idea to exchange some cash beforehand as they can be harder to locate in more rural regions. Small change is best for buying from street vendors and using public transport. Most shops and restaurants will accept credit cards and bringing an international card (with no transaction fee) is recommended. While tipping isn’t required or expected, it is a nice way to show appreciation for good service at restaurants; between 10 and 20% is standard for a tip.

Transport in French Polynesia

The main forms of transport in French Polynesia are taxi, boat and plane. Taxis operate throughout Tahiti, however few have proper metres, so make sure to agree on a fare in advance and only use licensed taxis. Car rental is also available on the larger islands, with road conditions ranging from freshly paved to pockmarked by potholes. There is a bus service on Tahiti, although timetables are seldom stuck to and asking locals for their advice on which bus to take and when will be your best bet. For island hopping, travelling by boat or ferry is a good way to get from place to place, while domestic flights also operate between the main islands. Once there, many of the islands are small enough to navigate on foot.

Etiquette in French Polynesia

The people of French Polynesia are generally very laid-back and dress is casual, with sarongs, shorts and t-shirts commonly worn. Polynesians are, however, very religious, so if attending church services you should make sure to dress more conservatively. Remove your shoes at the front-door if invited into a Polynesian home or when staying at a family-run hotel, and it’s polite to greet people as you pass them; locals are very welcoming towards travellers. When visiting archaeological sites and places of spiritual importance, don’t touch or move sacred stones or tikis. The most common way to greet someone when meeting them is a handshake or kiss on the cheek.

Health & Safety in French Polynesia

Crime rates are low in French Polynesia and it’s generally considered to be a safe country to travel around. However, it’s still worth being mindful of your belongings as you would in any country – be sure to have travel insurance for your belongings, remain attentive to your possessions and keep your passport, travel documents and other valuable items in a safe place.

There have known to be outbreaks of Dengue fever, so avoiding mosquito bites is wise, however malaria and other mosquito-borne illnesses are not an issue in French Polynesia. Tap water is safe to drink in Papeete on Tahiti and on Bora Bora, however you may wish to stick to bottled water and in this case bringing a filtered reusable bottle is good to avoid plastic waste.

Since water sports and diving are common activities in French Polynesia, it’s advisable to seek local advice before venturing into the sea away from hotel beaches. Only partake in water-based activities with reputable companies and ensure you have travel insurance that covers everything you wish to do. Beware of sharp coral reefs and sea urchins in the shallows – bringing water shoes is best for avoiding injuries.

Things to Bring to French Polynesia

Mosquito repellent is advised to avoid being bitten, while the tropical sun makes suncream, sunglasses and a hat essential for sun protection. It’s a good idea to bring enough suncream and bug spray with you, as these products can be expensive to purchase once there. Waterproof bags and electronics cases can be helpful when partaking in water sports or at the beach, as well as water shoes.

Useful information

Contact one of our French Polynesia specialists