Area : 1593.0 km2
Population : 227000 inhabitants
Jet Lag : French Polynesia is 10 hours behind the UK in winter, 11 hours in summer.
Tahiti is 9,560 miles from London, with a flight time of about 23 hours via the US. You can take a British Airways flight to Los Angeles then connect to an Air Tahiti Nui flight to Papeete, with a stopover time of around three and a half hours. Transfers in the US require you to pass through American customs and border controls.
Tahiti-Faaa International Airport is located 3 miles out of Papeete, which you can travel to and from by taxi for a fixed fare of about £12 (always ask the price before getting in), or by bus for about £2. On Moorea, the airport is located at Temae, in the northeast of the island. You can get to the main hotels in town by bus (for about £2) or taxi (for about £8.5). On Bora Bora, the airport is on the islet of Motu Mute (to the north), and is in fact on a coral ring between the lagoon and the ocean. A free speedboat will take you to Vaitape wharf, Bora Bora's administrative centre. The island of Raiatea also has a domestic airport.
Be careful when swimming, as the corals have sharp edges that can cut like glass. If you do get cut, it is imperative to disinfect the wound (with alcohol or lime juice), otherwise the coral cells spread to the tissues. Watch out for the formidable stonefish (a type of redfish) and red scorpionfish, with their plumes of fins, as both are highly venomous. If you are stung by one, seek medical attention immediately. Avoid shellfish of the cone family as well. Lastly, don't get too close to the barrier reefs in the passes and exterior slopes that are teeming with sharks. Do not dive at night, and if you enjoy underwater fishing, do not keep any wounded fish. Remember, however, that within the lagoon sharks are not a threat to swimmers. You can observe them with a snorkel and mask without any 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 + the 6 digit number you are trying to reach.
To call the UK from French Polynesia, dial: 00 + 44 + the number without 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