14 Essential tips for traveling to French Polynesia

Manava Resort in Moorea in French Polynesia

If someone tells us to close our eyes and imagine the prettiest beach that you can dream of, those islands and atolls among palm trees quickly come to mind with their barriers of coral, crystal clear water and full of fish of all kinds of colors.

Well after coming back from the French PolynesiaI think I have found the place we all dream of.

Most mortals had always dreamed of living the experience of being in one of the amazing movie atolls we've seen in hundreds of photos.

Corner of the island of Rangiroa in French Polynesia

Recently we have just fulfilled that dream and, although it seems incredible, it is still better than we had imagined and probably what we are able to express.

It is a trip worth experiencing.

We also had an extra reason, since most of the coral the world is disappearing due to the warming of the sea, and before we run out of it, we wanted to travel to one of the best areas in the world to see it.

Swimming among sharks, feeding manta rays, diving among schools of fish and with dolphins, there are many unique experiences that are lived in these incredible islands.

Here we leave you the video we made of the trip, where we tell you what it is like to travel to paradise and we put images to the information in this article.

But let's start at the beginning and explaineverything you need to know to travel to French Polynesia.

Where is French Polynesia

One of the first questions that arise when you hear about the French Polynesia is the classic question where is French Polynesia?

The French Polynesia is in the middle of South Pacific and occupies an extension of the size of the European continent.

They are a set of 118 islands of volcanic origin spread over 5 archipelagos with transparent waters absolutely full of coral, so here are some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Beach on the island of Rangiroa in French Polynesia

Specifically here you have information about which are the best islands to visit in French Polynesia.

This Pacific zone It is five hours by flight from New Zealand, which is the largest population group that is closest and that the Polynesian islands are supplied with.

The magic of Polynesia is in its formation.

They are ancient volcanoes that once they have died, they have begun to sink, and this has given way to the interiors of the boilers being submerged, but their edges are not, which causes a central lagoon to be formed protected by a Coral reef.

A perfect environment for incredible marine reserves to form, a true wonder of nature that we are lucky to see.

Air Tahiti Nui plane at Papeete airport

How to fly to French Polynesia

The capital of French Polynesia it's the city of Papeete, which is located on the island of Tahiti, which is where all international flights arrive.

Although we must clarify that it is not really in Papeete where the planes land, even if the airport is called that, if not they arrive at Faa'a.

It is curious because Polynesia is in the area where from Europe it is already faster to go through America and not crossing Asia, as many would think, especially those who have been able to travel to Indonesia or Australia.

It is very close to the imaginary line that marks the change of day, so when in Polynesia you enter the new day, after 12 at night, in areas of the world like Australia or New Zealand that are a few hours away, that same day is about to end.

Although there are other alternatives, if you travel from Europe the most normal thing is to make the journey with Air Tahiti Nui, which is the airline that makes the connection from Paris and the one that makes the flights between islands with the mark Tahiti Air.

Coral on the island of Rangiroa in French Polynesia

It's very important choose the company and the type of ticket, because they are many hours of flight and it is key to have enough leg room during it.

Specifically it is 12 hours of flight from Paris to Los Angeles and another 8 up Papeete, and from Spain you have to add another two hours to reach the French capital.

In total there are about 22 hours of flight without counting on the time of the stops, and therefore there is a lot of difference between making the trip in Business or with a company like Air Tahiti Nui, to do it in a low cost, which has to be to shoot yourself.

If you travel from other countries of Latin America there is another way that is to travel from Chile through the Easter Island, which means 11 hours of flight to Tahiti from Santiago of Chile.

To move between islands, it is best to go by plane, being carried out all internal flights by Air Tahiti, and yes, they are not cheap flights and they are also made in small planes so it is convenient to make reservations in time.

Landscape of the island of Moorea in French Polynesia

What visa is needed to travel to French Polynesia

As for the papers that are needed to travel, there is only one essential.

Obviously, depending on your nationality of origin you should consult it in the embassy of your country, but for a European citizen the only procedure, apart from having the passport in force for more than 6 months, prior to the trip you must request the IS to enter U.S.

He IS It is the tourist visa issued by the United States as an essential requirement to enter your country.

If you travel via Paris and stop at The Angels, although it is only a transfer at the airport, they make you leave the plane and pass all the controls, since you are going to step on American territory.

Best time to travel to French Polynesia

Paradise is always a good time to travel, but it is true that there are two times, one cold and dry and one wet and hot.

Tourist guide in Tahiti in French Polynesia

The rainy and hot season is from November to April, while the dry and cold is of May to October.

The temperature is great all year, but when we talk about cold temperature, we are always talking about more than 20 degrees of minimum temperature, and the maximums are below 30.


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What is the weather like in French Polynesia

So when we talk about two different timesBasically, the most notable difference is the rains, because when it is a little hotter, tropical storms form.

But for those of us who come from thermal oscillations as large as there are in Spain Between summer and winter, the difference in times here is quite insignificant.

We can conclude that it is summer all year.

What currency do they use in Polynesia

Despite belonging to France, the currency used in French Polynesia It is not the euro, although it is also true that in some places they can accept it just like the dollar.

In the Polynesia they use the frank polynesian, that the change is around 120 francs for 1 euro. The mental trick to know the price of things is to remove two zeros at the price you see and then a little less.

It is an orientation calculation that helps a lot to make the conversion.

When it comes to getting money, we always do the same in all the countries we travel to, find a cashier to put ATM They charge you a fixed commission of 2 euros every time you withdraw cash.

Ideally, get money when landing on Tahiti, although if you are going to be on this island, there are quite a few ATMs especially around the Papeete market.

Beach on the island of Rangiroa in French Polynesia

If you are going to move around slightly lost islands or atolls, keep in mind that there are fewer ATMs than in islands like Tahiti, Moorea or Bora Bora, although at airports you will always have the possibility to get money.

On the other hand, in the vast majority of restaurants you can pay by card, even in stores You can pay by card, yes, there is usually a minimum purchase of between 6 and 12 euros

Insurance to travel to Polynesia

Before traveling to any corner of the world, there are two things that cannot be missed.

He passport and the travel insurance; From there you can move around the globe without problems.

I would not want to see myself in the situation of being on a remote island with a health problem such as appendicitis, as it happened to us. You never know where something is going to happen to you, so it is essential to bring a travel medical insurance Let me solve it.

In fact there are countries that ask you to enter.

Tour in Rangiroa in French Polynesia

In addition, these travel insurance include compensation for lost luggage, flight cancellations or delays, which is very important in a trip in which from Spain you have to take three planes.

It is important to hire a company that responds to the moment and that they are the ones who advance the money because if you can not raise problems.

Because if you are on an island, how can it happen on the French Polynesia, where you have to catch a flight to go to the nearest hospital, the solution may not be simple without insurance.

We always travel with the insurance of IATI, which is a leading travel insurance company with which also entering through this link you have a 5% discount.

What language is spoken in Polynesia

In French Polynesia, the language spoken mostly is the French, although there are two official languages ​​if we include the tahitian.

Waterfall on the island of Tahiti in French Polynesia

In some islands there are also dialects that have evolved from Tahitian, especially in certain more isolated islands such as those of the Marquesas Archipelago.

Although when you go as a tourist the first thing they do is speak to you in French and if you don't understand it they speak to you in English, almost everyone related to tourism speaks it, so there is no problem to communicate.

There are some Tahitian words what you should know to integrate into the local culture and that you will listen very often.

I pray na it means Hello and it is used in all kinds of situations, since it also applies when you want to say good morning or good night, as it happens in Hawaii with the wordAloha,It is used for everything.

For its partMaururu means thank you, and if you want to say thank you very much, it's Maururu Roa.

By last,Nana It is used to say goodbye, although they told us that it is not the real word, that it is used Nana Because it is very easy for anyone.

What to eat in French Polynesia

Logically, being very isolated islands from the rest of the world, everything is expensive, especially fresh produce.

Here some fruits such as pineapple or mangoes are produced, which is brutally good, but as for meat, just some chicken and pork; the rest of the meat like veal is brought from New Zealand.

Most of the traditional foods They are closely related to the products they have historically had, such as coconut and fish.

That is why it is very common to find dishes similar to Ceviche made with fish and coconut milk, which is the typical dish that you always recommend to try, the poisson cru.

But there is another part of the kitchen linked to immigration, especially the China, since the Chinese were the first important source of immigration, so it is very common to see the influence of this culture on food.

Poisson cru, typical dish in French Polynesia

On large islands, as in Tahiti,It can be seen perfectly in the downtown Papeete market, next to the ferry station, that there is an area with many Chinese food stalls, with mixed dishes of rice with chicken or veal and vegetables in sauces.

Another very curious thing is how they have adapted customs of France, especially when we talk about bread.

It is very common to see snacks, especially baguetes Stuffed with anything, like meat sandwiches in salsa with chips, something we had never seen in other corners of the world.

And if you like them food trucks, you are in luck because there are markets full of this type of van where you can try different Tahitian food dishes.

I don't want to forget to recommend you try the coconut bread, a real delight that is made in every corner of Polynesia.

Papeete Market in Tahiti in French Polynesia

What does it cost to eat in French Polynesia

To give you an idea of ​​the prices, a jug of beer next to the Papeete market It costs around 8 euros; a combined Chinese dish of rice in the same market 7 euros, and if you add a soda, 1 euros more.

And dinner in a restaurant of a good hotel, two dishes plus drink, will cost you around 30-40 euros per person.

What is essential to take to Polynesia

When you travel to a destination like the French Polynesia In addition to carrying the swimsuit and towel, there are several essential things that you should put in the suitcase.

The sun hits quite hard so you have to wear sunscreen, but that is not all, since when you buy the cream it is very important that you see that it is biodegradable so that neither the coral nor the fish that live in it are affected .

Excursion in Moorea in French Polynesia

Since you travel to one of the world diving paradises, you can not forget to wear glasses and tube to do snorkel, since at any time you can dive into the sea between corals to see fish, especially if you go to atolls like Bora Bora or Rangiroa.

In our case we also take small fins just in case, but at the end of the trip we only use them twice, so it is an option to value.

In some hotels, the rental of equipment to do is usually included snorkel on the beaches of the hotels, as happened in the Manava Resort of Moorea.

And there is another thing to take if or if, which is a mosquito repellent.

For example, if in Tahiti you will know the interior of the island, you should know that it is a very leafy area full of mosquitoes wanting to bite you; In fact, this is where we use it the most.

We recommend you always carry very much hand, both sunscreen and mosquito repellent, it is vital!

Manava Resort in Moorea in French Polynesia

How are the hotels in Polynesia

The hotels in French Polynesia They are absolutely amazing.

Here came the first hotels with bungalows of wood that are built on top of the water, with which everyone has dreamed of being able to sleep in them sometime.

This type of accommodation is undoubtedly the most demanded because they have stairs that allow you to go directly to the sea between corals full of fish, and in this type of bungalow You can enjoy incredible sunrises and sunsets.

We were in one of these hotels, in the Manava Resort & Spa, in Maharepa on the island of Moorea, which was next to the coral reef in the north of the island.

Only the best accommodation has this type of accommodation resortYes, but there are others that offer you cabins on the beach or some that are in incredible places, so there are many options.

Sharks at Moorea in French Polynesia

We would recommend that if you are going to be on several islands, you change the type of hotel and not only choose the same option.

In addition there are atolls that do not have this offer, or if they do, it is not the best option, such as in Rangiroa.

It is this atoll that is interesting to be near one of the two water inlets that open towards the inside of the caldera, since there is a lot of marine fauna in that area.

On this island we stayed at the hotel Les Relais de Josephine, which were a few cabins among palm trees, from where every afternoon, during the sunset, a family of dolphins was seen surfing and jumping the waves that the current produces when leaving the atoll.

It is a family that lives there all year and that has made this island famous, in short, seeing these dolphins is an absolutely incredible experience.

This link will be useful for your trip booking.com to search hotel in Tahiti and in other islands of French Polynesia.

Tattoo shop in Rangiroa in French Polynesia

Traditions of French Polynesia

To know a place well, it is best to learn and live its traditions and Polynesia has some very curious

Tattoos in Polynesia

Perhaps the most significant and recognizable tradition of Polynesia is the tattoo culture, and it is curious because everyone is tattooed.

Tattoos in Polynesia are almost like a religion and are full of symbology.

It is a tradition that comes from the archipelago of the Marquesas Islands, which is the northernmost group of islands in the French Polynesia.

Sunrise in Rangiroa in French Polynesia

The tattoos originally had a function: the part of the body where the tattoos were made indicated the origin of the tattoo.

In the same way they had a symbology related to power, the greater the hierarchy, the greater the number of drawings.

The drawings are not made because, yes, each drawing represents pagan icons that are associated with a concept.

For example, turtles are associated with longevity

Pareos in Polynesia

The pareo It is the most characteristic attire of the islands, as it is worn by both men and women.

It is very common to see some Polynesians who only dress with pareos, since they have also developed many different ways to tie it.

If you have the chance, ask the people who sell them in the markets, because they love to explain this part of their culture.

Traditional music and dances in Polynesia

Music and dancing are the essence of the islands, almost everyone plays an instrument.

You realize right away, just by walking through any place where people are gathered, music and dancing is always there.

The guitar and drums accompany the instrument par excellence, which is the ukulele.

It is so much that love of music and traditional dance, that many hotels offer their own show every week to their visitors.

Do not miss the video with images we recorded of traditional music and dance of French Polynesia.

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