US citizens need a passport valid for six months beyond their date of return. No immunization certificates are required as of December 9, 2006.
Tahiti and her islands enjoy warm, tropical weatheryear- round. The climate is divided into two seasons: a "summer" that spans from November through March, when the daily temp is about 86 degrees F, and a drier "winter" that spans from April through October, when the daily temperature is about 82 degrees F. The year-round low is about 70 degrees F. The average water temperature is in the low 80's.
Tahiti is in the same time zone as Hawaii, making it two hours behind the West Coast during Pacific Standard Time, and three hours behind during Pacific Daylight time.
Tahitian and French are the main languages spoken throughout French Polynesia. English is spoken at all major hotels and most shops and restaurants.
While tap water is generally safe, we suggest using bottled water sold by all hotels. A good sun screen is essential. Medications, even aspirin should be brought from home...as pharmacies are not always convenient to the hotels.
The Polynesians are a very religious people. The church, whether Protestant or Roman Catholic, is the center of activity in all villages.
Tahiti is very informal. Lightweight washable cottons will serve well. Men will be comfortable in shorts, slacks for dinner, sport shirts and sandals. While ladies may wear shorts, skirts and sun dresses.
Visitors arriving in the capital of Papeete are surprised to discover that Papeete is a modern port. In the downtown area, you will find boutiques, leis, woven hats, purses and other native handicrafts.
The real South Sea experience - a casual, barefoot existence amid white sand beaches, multihued lagoons. Moorea's jagged mountains and volcanic spires reach into the clouds, while below, valleys are blanketed with the colors one only finds when tropical climates and rich, volcanic soils meets.
Bora Bora is truly one of nature's most inspired creations. To most visitors, Bora Bora is the ultimate South Seas experience. Surrounding the small island is the most stunning lagoon in all the Pacific. Its colors, ranging from the palest turquoise to the deepest blues are created by the water's varying depths. The volcanic peak of Mount Otemanu stands against the rich green color of the island itself. You will find endless sand beaches. Bora Bora is famous for its snorkeling, but nearly every water sport is enjoyed on the island. You can explore the coastline on foot or by bicycle - Bora Bora is only 20 miles around. The sights you would see include several ancient Maraes, or temples: typical Polynesian villages, and some of the big guns left by the U.S. Navy in World War II.
Last of the Society Island reached by tourism. Huahine has remained virtually unknown to tourists until recently. Visit the village of Parea, where Polynesians live a happy, stress -free life. Hire horses for a ride through tropical mountain trails and stop by a vanilla plantation. With more than thirty miles to explore, Huahine can take several days to discover completely. Huahine is also home to many of French Polynesia's most important archaeological sites.
Raiatea is revered by the Tahitians as the birthplace of their religion and culture. On this mountainous island visitors can venture up the Faaroa, the only navigable river in French Polynesia. A climb up Mount Temehani will give you a rare glimpse of the Tiare Apetahi, a flower which grows no place else on earth. Taha'a, Raiatea's sister island and short speedboathop away, is almost untouched by the 20th century, with spectacular bays.
Rangiroa, the largest of the atolls, offers the adventurous traveler the rare opportunity to live amid the wild beauty of the Tuamotus. Manihi is a small toll located north of Rangiroa, 330 miles from Tahiti, with a population of just 300. Tikehau, an oval-shaped toll approximately 8 miles from Rangiroa, has a large pass and a series of islets. The charming village of Tuherahera is situated on the south end of the largest motu (islet). Fakarava, an hour and a half flight from Papeete, us the second largest atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelage and part of the UNEO biosphere reserve program. The allure to Fakarava is the remarkable scuba diving available surrounding the atoll.
How you experience French Polynesia will depend to a great extent on the hotels you select. You may elect to stay in a village on an otherwise deserted atoll in a over water bungalow cooled naturally by the tropical winds...or an air -conditioned high rise near cosmopolitan Papeete. The goal you set for yourself my be based on your own picture of paradise.