Tahiti – Tahiti or the Islands of Tahiti, which is officially known as French Polynesia, consists of five island groups, or archipelagoes, which lie in the South Pacific – south of the equator, in the same time zone as Hawaii.
Time Difference: Tahiti is in the same time zone as Hawaii, two hours behind Pacific Standard Time, and three hours behind during daylight saving time (late April through October).
Size: Tahiti extends over such a large area that it took explorers several years to discover and chart all 118 islands and atolls. The total area covers more than four million square kilometers (1.5 million square miles). Total land area of the 118 islands and atolls covers only 4,000 sq. km., or 1,544 sq. mi.
The Islands: The most frequently visited islands are Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Taha’a, and Rangiroa. More and more travelers are discovering the destination’s incredible and distinctive beauty that is found throughout the archipelagoes.
Topography: Tahiti’s varied landscape ranges from just-above sea level coral atolls to volcanic mountain peaks. Tahiti is renowned for warm waters, white-sand beaches, stunning turquoise lagoons, lush green hills and abundant flowering plants.
Capital of Tahiti: Tahiti’s capital city is Papeete, located on the island of Tahiti.
Population: The number of people living in Tahiti is just over 245,000. About 75% are Polynesian; 15% European and about 10% Chinese.
Temperatures and Seasons: Tahiti is a 12-month tourist destination, with predictably tropical weather year-round. The average year-around temperature is 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Many hotels are air-conditioned. Water temperatures average 79 degrees in the winter and 84 degrees during the summer, with less than a degree of variation from the surface down to a depth of 150 feet.
Entry Requirements: U.S. and Canadian visitors need only a passport valid for six months after the return date and a round-trip ticket for entry. Citizens of other countries should consult their travel agents or the French Consulate.
Air Service: Frequent airline connections link Tahiti with Los Angeles, Hawaii, Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan. Airlines serving Tahiti to and from the US mainland include Tahiti-based Air Tahiti Nui, Air France, Air New Zealand and Hawaiian Airlines (out of Honolulu). Air Tahiti Nui codeshares with American Airlines and offers flights from 15 cities throughout the United States including New york, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Chicago, Boston, Dallas/ Fort Worth, Miami and Washington, D.C.
Travel Time: Flight time to Tahiti is just under eight hours from Los Angeles. Air Tahiti Nui, Tahiti’s national carrier, offers nonstop direct service from LAX.
Languages: French and Tahitian are the official languages, though English is widely spoken is tourist areas.
Economy: Tahiti’s economy relies heavily on tourism, Tahitian cultured pearls, agriculture, and ocean resources.
Currency: Tahiti’s currency, the French Pacific Franc (XPF, previously CFP), fluctuates with the euro (there are about 100 XPFs for every U.S. dollar). Hotels and financial institutions offer exchange services. Euros and major credit cards are widely accepted.
Tipping: Tipping is not customary or expected in Tahitian culture. However, tipping is always welcome for exemplary service.
Taxes: There is no sales tax in Tahiti. However, a special 6% reduced rate Value Added Tax (VAT) applies to all rented accommodations (hotel rooms, pensions and family stays), and room and meal packages -- both American Plan (3 meals) and Modified American Plan (breakfast and dinner). A 5% VAT is added for room tax. A 16% VAT rate applies to purchases in shops, stores and boutiques. A 10% VAT rate applies to bars, excursions, car rentals, snacks and restaurants involving meals not included in a room-meal package.
Accommodations: There are more than 4,000 rooms in more than 40 hotels throughout Tahiti, catering to a wide range of budgets and personal preferences, as well as lodging in hospitable family pensions and private homes.
Popular Activities: Some of the world’s best snorkeling, scuba diving and surfing are found in Tahiti. Also popular – outrigger canoeing, bicycle and horseback riding, four-wheel jeep safaris, spear and deep sea fishing, swimming, sailing, jet skiing, wind surfing, tennis, island tours, shark and ray feeding, helicopter rides, museums, ancient maraes (temples), and other cultural experiences. Sunset watching, beach strolling, relaxing in the sand, enjoying exquisite Tahitian cuisine, walking through beautiful fragrant gardens, and simply getting to know the friendly and hospitable Tahitian people are memorable highlights of any visit to Tahiti.
Getting Around: Taxis and buses are popular forms of transportation on the main island of Tahiti. On the outer islands, car and scooter rentals are available and “Le Truck” (open-air buses) are an inexpensive means of getting around. Boats are often the mode of transportation on many of the islands including Bora Bora.
Cruise Ship: Tahiti offers a wide range of cruising options, including Princess Cruises, Paul Gauguin Cruises, and the Aranui.
Profile of the American Tourist to Tahiti: Upper-middle and higher income levels; married couples in their 40s and older; honeymooning couples; water sport enthusiasts (diving, snorkeling, sailing and fishing ); South Pacific island culture enthusiasts. Most visitors stay a week to 10 days; many enjoy shorter visits. The majority visit more than one island.
Shopping: Shops are generally open from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., except on Saturdays when many close at noon; only hotel shops are open on Sunday. Long lunch breaks are common in Tahiti. Duty-free shopping is mainly available on Tahiti. Tahitian cultured pearls, mother-of-pearl shell carvings, coconut and tiare soaps, monoi oil, vanilla beans, shell leis, wood carvings, colorful pareus, and woven hats and baskets are among the most popular items.
Entertainment: Music and dancing tell the story of the Tahitian people. Beautifully costumed dancers demonstrate beauty, strength and grace in traditional dances, which have been passed down for generations.
Tips for Travelers: The electric current in most hotels is 110 or 220 volts, depending upon the specific location. Visitors should bring adapters, sunscreen, sunglasses, insect repellant and a hat for shade. Loose fitting cotton washables are recommended for comfort, and old sneakers or rubber aqua socks are suggested for walking in shallow water. The Activities Desk at hotels in the islands of Tahiti are an excellent source of information. You’ll find knowledgeable staff who are eager to assist you!