Area : The islands of French Polynesia total 1,609 square miles km2
Population : From Tahiti to the Marquesas, there are approximately 265,000 people living in the French Polynesian archipelago. inhabitants
Jet Lag : GMT+11
A flight to French Polynesia is long and tiring. But no doubt worth it once you see where you've arrived. There are no direct flights from the UK, most flights go via Los Angeles where you'll need to connect to another flight. All in all, travel time is about 24 hours to Papeete, more if you plan to travel further to a more remote island!
Tahiti-Faaa international airport is located 3 miles from the centre of Papeete. Taxis service the airport for about £12, otherwise buses make the same trip for about £2. On Moorea, the airport is located at Temae, in the north-east of the island. Some buses (roughly £1.50) and taxis (roughly £8) will take you to the main hotels in town. On Bora Bora, the airport is on Motu-Mute (in the north of the island), in other words on the coral ring between the lagoon and the ocean. A motorboat takes you to the Vaitape embankment, Bora Bora's administrative centre.
When swimming, always be cautious around the coral as it can have extremely sharp edges. If you cut yourself, disinfect the wound (this can be done with lime juice or alcohol). Also beware of the dreadful stone-fish and the elegant red scorpion fish as these two species are venomous. Do not dive at night, and if you enjoy underwater fishing, dispose of all wounded fish. You need to know however, that within the lagoon, sharks are not a threat to swimmers. You can observe them with a snorkel and a tuba without danger.
French is the official language but Tahitian and other Polynesian languages are also spoken.
Every visitor to French Polynesia must have a return airline ticket to their resident country or to at least two more continuing destinations as well as a valid passport with at least six months validity. For further requirements, British citizens are urged to check with the French Polynesia consulate.
Christianity is the main religion of the islands, with most people being Protestant or Roman Catholic.
The currency is the CFP Franc (CFP). Payments by credit card (Visa, American Express, Eurocard/MasterCard) are accepted in most hotels. You will find banks on Hiva Island, Oa Island (in Atuaona, open Monday to Friday from 7:30am to 11:30am and from 1:30pm to 4:00 pm), Nuku Hiva Island (in Taiohae Monday to Friday, from 07:30am to 11:00am and from 1:30pm to 4:00pm) and Ua Pou Island (in Hakahau, Monday to Thursday from 7:30am to 11:30am and from 1:00pm to 4:00pm, and on Friday from 7:30am to 2:30pm). There are no cash machines on the Marquesas Islands.
Getting around French Polynesia is rarely straightfoward but it is fun and always scenic. For travel between islands there are various flights or boats although bear in mind that reaching the more remote islands is slightly more challenging. The boat connections between the larger islands are regular and affordable, while if you have the means to do so, jump on an inter-island flight for the most wonderful views. There are paved roads on some but not all the islands and while the local transport services are easy to use, they aren't everywhere so it's best to rent a car.
No particular vaccine is required, but make sure your current vaccines are up to date. Also remember to protect yourself against sun damage.
Voltage of 220V so you will need an adaptor.
French Polynesia received 144,260 tourists in 2009.
Tipping is not customary in French Polynesia but they are always welcome.
To call French Polynesia from the UK dial 00 + 689 + 6-digit number you are trying to reach.
To call the UK from French Polynesia dial 00 + 44 + number (excluding the initial 0).
French Polynesia Embassy in the UK:
London, United Kingdom
Telephone: 0207 073 1000
French Polynesia Consulate in the UK:
21 Cromwell Road
London, United Kingdom
SW7 2 EN
Telephone: 0207 073 1200
British Honorary Consulate in French Polynesia (Papeete):
Telephone: (689) 706 382