Area : 1609.0 km2
Population : 265000 inhabitants
French is the official language but Tahitian and other Polynesian languages are also spoken.
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 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.
The Tuamotu islands stretch over 7,720 sq mi, and the closest islands are more than 215 mi from Tahiti (1 hr 30 min flight). Tahiti is 9,559 mi from London: a flight of approximately 25 hours, taking the shortest route, (with a connection in Paris and the United States).
The Austral Islands are one of the farthest French territories from mainland France. It takes at least 20 hours to fly to Tahiti (via Los Angeles) and about a further 4 hours from Tahiti to the archipelago. Air Tahiti operates 5 to 6 flights a week to the Austral Islands.
You can also travel to the islands by boat. Passenger ship operators Tuhaapae II and Tahiti Nui/Meherio II offer connections from Tahiti to the Austral Islands several times a month. The frequency of the journeys depends on local service providers.
The Polynesian archipelago is the farthest French territory from mainland France. It takes at least 20 hours to fly to Tahiti (via Los Angeles) and around a further 4 hours from Tahiti to the archipelago.
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.
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