French Polynesia

Go explore the wonderful territory of French Polynesia. You will discover with pleasure and passion remote paradisiacal islands, amazing white sandy beaches, lagoons each more beautiful than the other, and a Polynesian culture still very present. This is the third French Overseas Territory in which I have lived including New Caledonia and the island of Mayotte (Indian Ocean)! You could almost say that the tropical oceanic climate and the southern winters are a good fit for me, don’t you think?

Are you hesitating on whether to book through a local travel agency or plan your trip to Tahiti on your own? I tell you everything!

Current article : Travelling with the Covid19 in French Polynesia

La Polynésie française
  • Keywords : paradise, culture, Tahitian pearl, Bora Bora, luxury, boarding house, scuba diving, corals
  • Food : raw fish with coconut milk, vanilla, breadfruit
  • Currency : Pacific franc – xpf (1€ = about 120 xpf)
  • Best time : May/June and September/October (dry season -> excluding heavy rains and cyclones)
  • Time difference : -12h in summer, -11h in winter
  • Official languages : Tahitian and French
  • Annual Tourism Report : 200,000 in 2018
  • Visa : None and free for European Union / U.S. and Canadian citizens (stay of less than 3 months)
  • Vaccines : None required but Hepatitis A/B + D.T. Polio recommended
  • Animals: whales, sharks, dolphins, tropical fish, mosquitoes (haha!),
  • International Airport : Tahiti Faa’a
  • Airline companies : Air France, Air Tahiti Nui, French bee, United
  • Average cost to French Polynesia from USA : from 550 to 700$
  • The cheapest flights from US are from San Francisco or Hawaii
  • Find the cheapest flight from your home
  • Flight duration : 8h (from the USA) and many more from elsewhere
  • Domestic flights : Air Tahiti (local airline) and Tahiti Air Charter (Private seaplane company)
  • Ships : not very common on the territory (they exist between Tahiti/Moorea – Raiatea/Tahaa – South Marquesas – Raiatea/Bora Bora)

Then, why are you coming to this paradise place? Looking for a change of scenery? In bulk:

  • Nautical activities: excursions on the lagoon, snorkeling, diving, kayaking on the lagoon, discovery of coral garden, surfing, canoeing,
  • Lazing: it works as an activity, doesn’t it, soaking in turquoise water while sipping a good fresh Hinano?
  • Discovery of archaeological sites (Marae / Pae Pae)
  • Attend a dance show
  • Visit a pearl farm
  • Swimming in waterfalls (especially on the high islands: Tahiti, Moorea, Marquesas) and rivers

Small personal opinion, even if the majority of tourists focus on the Windward Islands / Leewards Islands and the Tuamotu (for divers) for a first trip to French Polynesia, I really advise you to discover the remote islands (Marquesas, Australes, Gambiers). Of course, there will be less activity strictly speaking, but the authenticity and the feeling of what I call “real Polynesia” will be better!

Looking for an unforgettable stay in an idyllic setting? Many choose a package vacation in order to visit the territory. You will find many travel agencies everywhere, and some locally, to help you plan your trip. I advise you to choose a local agency, which knows this overseas territory inside and out. If you are planning a honeymoon trip, if you’re used to larger hotel groups (Meridian/Intercontinental/Sofitel, etc.), or simply prefer to have everything organized before you set off, I advise you to consider using a travel agency. If you are interested, I can recommend a very good local travel agency, just let me know.

Before contacting a travel agency, if you would like some help with planning your itinerary, or would like me to guide you on the choice of islands and archipelagos, don’t hesitate to contact me, I’m happy to help!

Summary
  • Keywords : paradise, culture, Tahitian pearl, Bora Bora, luxury, boarding house, scuba diving, corals
  • Food : raw fish with coconut milk, vanilla, breadfruit
  • Currency : Pacific franc – xpf (1€ = about 120 xpf)
  • Best time : May/June and September/October (dry season -> excluding heavy rains and cyclones)
  • Time difference : -12h in summer, -11h in winter
  • Official languages : Tahitian and French
  • Annual Tourism Report : 200,000 in 2018
  • Visa : None and free for European Union / U.S. and Canadian citizens (stay of less than 3 months)
  • Vaccines : None required but Hepatitis A/B + D.T. Polio recommended
  • Animals: whales, sharks, dolphins, tropical fish, mosquitoes (haha!),
Travel
  • International Airport : Tahiti Faa’a
  • Airline companies : Air France, Air Tahiti Nui, French bee, United
  • Average cost to French Polynesia from USA : from 550 to 700$
  • The cheapest flights from US are from San Francisco or Hawaii
  • Find the cheapest flight from your home
  • Flight duration : 8h (from the USA) and many more from elsewhere
  • Domestic flights : Air Tahiti (local airline) and Tahiti Air Charter (Private seaplane company)
  • Ships : not very common on the territory (they exist between Tahiti/Moorea – Raiatea/Tahaa – South Marquesas – Raiatea/Bora Bora)
Accommodations
Activites

Then, why are you coming to this paradise place? Looking for a change of scenery? In bulk:

  • Nautical activities: excursions on the lagoon, snorkeling, diving, kayaking on the lagoon, discovery of coral garden, surfing, canoeing,
  • Lazing: it works as an activity, doesn’t it, soaking in turquoise water while sipping a good fresh Hinano?
  • Discovery of archaeological sites (Marae / Pae Pae)
  • Attend a dance show
  • Visit a pearl farm
  • Swimming in waterfalls (especially on the high islands: Tahiti, Moorea, Marquesas) and rivers

Small personal opinion, even if the majority of tourists focus on the Windward Islands / Leewards Islands and the Tuamotu (for divers) for a first trip to French Polynesia, I really advise you to discover the remote islands (Marquesas, Australes, Gambiers). Of course, there will be less activity strictly speaking, but the authenticity and the feeling of what I call “real Polynesia” will be better!

Travel guides
Travel agency

Looking for an unforgettable stay in an idyllic setting? Many choose a package vacation in order to visit the territory. You will find many travel agencies everywhere, and some locally, to help you plan your trip. I advise you to choose a local agency, which knows this overseas territory inside and out. If you are planning a honeymoon trip, if you’re used to larger hotel groups (Meridian/Intercontinental/Sofitel, etc.), or simply prefer to have everything organized before you set off, I advise you to consider using a travel agency. If you are interested, I can recommend a very good local travel agency, just let me know.

Before contacting a travel agency, if you would like some help with planning your itinerary, or would like me to guide you on the choice of islands and archipelagos, don’t hesitate to contact me, I’m happy to help!

Sylvain – Les Deux Pieds Dehors

Hi, it’s Sylvain! I’ve been living in French Polynesia for a few years! Do you want my opinion on your itinerary, advice on choosing a local travel agency for booking your trip, general information about the area? Feel free to contact me, I can surely help. See you soon!

Personal advice

I expressly wanted to add a few lines on this dream destination, this little paradise lost in the middle of the ocean, still rightly considered to be off the beaten track. It must be said that with barely 200,000 tourists per year, French Polynesia does not attract large crowds of tourists. For many people, French Polynesia remains a dream location, a mostly unattainable luxury destination. French Polynesia is far away and undoubtedly very expensive to get to. That’s a fact. Besides, most tourists in French Polynesia are the ones on luxury cruises, on the cruise ships I always see on the waterfront.

I came here for my job at the end of 2015. I was already dreaming (living in Mayotte Island) of discovering this small earthly paradise. Like many, I had heard a lot about it and seen a lot of pictures of these islands and heavenly beaches. I am now very used to the tropics and the sweetness of life you find there, that’s for sure.

The difficulty for me in writing this travel blog is to find a balance between talking to you about the wonderful things to see here while on a family trip, a world tour or a diving trip, and telling you about my daily life. For now, I prefer not to talk about my private life too much, even though I wrote a complete guide on living here. If you are reading this article you are probably looking for information for your next vacation in Tahiti.

Most of you usually have a somewhat distorted view of French Polynesia before coming here. On almost everyone’s minds are the fine sandy beaches, the Tahitian women in sarongs and a blue lagoon as far as the eye can see! There is of course all of that, but only when you’re visiting. Daily life in Tahiti is very different and I will try to describe my feelings about life here very soon.

La Polynésie française
La Polynésie française

Seascapes of French Polynesia…

In the meantime, what do I like about French Polynesia, what do I recommend? In a few words; take the time to visit Tahiti and its lush vegetation for at least a couple of days. Most people don’t take the time to do this and that, in my opinion, is a real shame. Then take a boat trip from Tahiti to Moorea to taste the sea air and spend a few days on this majestic island, which is very much like the postcard you had imagined. Then, you will have to make some decisions. My heart really lies with the distant archipelagos, especially the Gambier or Marquesas. It is there that I personally feel you will discover the “true French Polynesia” and where life is still authentic, something we would like to see everywhere. For lovers of white sandy beaches and underwater worlds, I recommend a day trip to the atoll of ‘Tetiaroa’ and perhaps a week in the Tuamotu archipelago. The Leeward Islands are a good mix of land and sea. A catamaran cruise is often recommended from the island of Raiatea. Many of you will also want to spend a few days in Bora Bora, in one of the many small overwater bungalows at the Sofitel, Intercontinental or St Regis. Forget the “cheap stay” and enjoy this splendid timeless setting. For the bravest and those with time on their hands, I would really recommend you visit French Polynesia by cargo ship, going to the atolls far from the Tuamotus or the island of Rapa in the Austral Islands. I really want to try this experience for myself. For example, there is a cargo ship that serves the eastern Tuamotu for 30 days, stopping for a few hours at some ‘forgotten’ atolls delivering supplies. The experience must be magical in terms of encounters and authenticity.

On my blog you will in fact find a large number of articles on the islands I’ve visited which I hope will help make your choice on places to visit. And actually, that’s the hardest part about planning a trip to French Polynesia: deciding what you want to see and do. You can’t “see everything and do everything”, because trying to do so will stop you from really experiencing French Polynesia, and I think you’ll end up skimming over everything. I usually recommend spending at least 3 to 4 days per island, which is a good way to soak up the local life, the scenery and simply take the time to enjoy your surroundings!

I wish you an excellent trip

Sylvain

Map of French Polynesia
french polynesia map
French Polynesia map - 5 archipelago and 120 islands ! (Source of the image : Air Tahiti)

I would like to add a few words about the Polynesian archipelagos in a synthetic way to help with planning your trip. French Polynesia is composed of 5 archipelagos:

  • Society Archipelago: the most visited and the most well-known thanks to the famous islands of Bora Bora and Tahiti. The majority of tourists remain on this archipelago for a first stay in French Polynesia with a combined program of the islands of Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Maupiti, Tahaa, Bora Bora and the atoll of Tetiaroa. You will be amazed by the breathtaking scenery among all these must-sees! Hiking in the valleys of Tahiti/Moorea + the black sandy beaches of Tahiti + discovery of Polynesian culture and legends in the other islands + bungalows on stilts in the pearl of the Pacific! Your budget will be rather limited by staying in this archipelago, but the essentials are there for a first trip,
  • Tuamotu Archipelago: second most visited Polynesian archipelago, it is known for scuba diving. The majority of tourists stop on the 3 most developed exotic islands of the archipelago: Rangiroa, Fakarava, and Tikehau, mainly for the experience of the lagoon and scuba diving. On the program: white sand, coconuts on the beach (haha), pearl farms, swimming in the lagoon to discover the underwater world and the marine fauna.
  • Marquesas Archipelago: few tourists travel here on their first trip. It’s further away, more expensive, but so beautiful and authentic. This is the archipelago I prefer with the Gambier. The two most visited main islands: Hiva Oa and Nuku Hiva,
  • Gambier Archipelago: I don’t think I’ve had a single tourist ask for any information about it. Mangareva is the only island that can be reached by plane in the archipelago. I found it magical and really charming. Indeed, it’s real testimony of time stopping in the middle of the Pacific. On the program: a bath of culture, discovery of the arrival of the first missionaries back then, breathtaking deserted beaches, not one tourist, to sum up, I love it.
  • Australes Archipelago: it is an archipelago also very little visited overall. It is also very authentic, less « postcardy » in the way that people are generally looking for. It is also known for its basketry, its whales (Rurutu) and its beaches. (Raivavae).
Table of contents

Organize your trip to French Polynesia / Living in Polynesia

Posts by Archipelago

Organize your trip to French Polynesia / Living in Polynesia
Organize your vacation
Budget, itinerary, climate, transportation...
Going to live in French Polynesia
Posts by Archipelago
Society Archipelago
Tahiti, Moorea, Tetiaroa, Bora Bora, Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa, Maupiti
Tuamotu Archipelago
Rangiroa, Tikehau, Ahé, Mataiva...
Marquesas Archipelago
Hiva Oa, Nuku Hiva, Ua Pou, Ua Huka, Tahuata, Fatu Hiva
Australes Archipelago
Rurutu, Raivavae, Rimatara, Tubuai, Rapa
Gambier Archipelago