How to travel with a baby in French Polynesia?
Many people who do not know the territory of French Polynesia ask themselves this question: how to travel to French Polynesia with a baby? Living here, at the end of the world, for two years now with a baby (who was born here, yes, a Tahitian), I will try to give you an overview of things to know if you are traveling with a baby here. It may not all be there and I will update the article as I go along. I’ve been traveling with my baby for over 2 years since he was 2 months old, when he first got on a plane. Since then, the little one has visited the 5 archipelagos of the territory (lucky kid…). His first trip was to the beautiful island of Rurutu, which I invite you to visit if you have the opportunity!
A trip to French Polynesia with a baby
Overall, I am proof by A + B that traveling with a baby in French Polynesia is easily possible! Nothing really difficult in itself. So I encourage all those who have questions about traveling here with a baby, to not hesitate to come.
Tell yourself that if there are couples who go to India or into the depths of Indonesia with a baby, French Polynesia is a piece of cake in comparison!
However, here are a few things to consider regarding the specificities of traveling to French Polynesia with a baby. Some of these recommendations work for traveling in the tropics with a baby in general.
Taking the plane during a stay in French Polynesia
Some things to know about flying with a baby.
On the plane, for babies under 2 years old (and about 15Kg), you will have the right to a bassinet (special baby bed on the plane). Ideally, arrive several hours before takeoff and ask for it during check-in.
If you are arriving from an international flight, you are generally entitled to 23 kg of checked baggage. For your visit to the islands of Tahiti, the luggage weight authorized remains the same. However, for carry-on luggage you are only allowed 5 kg;
The stroller for babies is not free and will be deducted from your kilos;
You have the right to a diaper bag (which is usually never weighed for internal flights -> so put the heavy things in it!);
Flights here can sometimes shake a bit depending on wind conditions in particular. Remember to bring water/milk to make the baby swallow, especially during landing;
Bring something to cover the baby, because planes are often (too) air-conditioned and the little one can catch cold;
Remember to take the necessary to change and clean the baby (there is nothing on board…);
Always remember to take his health record + possible medication;
Finally, for those who buy flights here on the territory, remember to buy the Air Tahiti family card which allows you to benefit from promotional fares (birth certificate and identity card are generally required: bring your family booklet).
Traveling in the islands
When it comes to traveling to the islands with a baby, here are a few things to consider:
On some islands, you will have the possibility to rent a car. Sometimes it will be possible to rent a car seat with it, but this is not always the case. In Tahiti or other developed islands, this will not be a problem,
For islands that do not have a car rental or without a car seat, you can often ask the guesthouse if they know of anyone who could lend you one during your stay;
For the small islands and atolls of the Tuamotu, I strongly recommend the purchase of either:
For the little ones: A baby wrap that will allow you to be free of your movements and be able to go on foot to discover the island. It is ideal and I used it for a few months at the very beginning;
When the little one grows up: A front-facing baby carrier (this one was extra) which will also give you the possibility of being free of your movements to take pictures or do other things. It is more practical when the little one starts to put on weight.
Finally, when they get bigger, more than 10 Kg for example, a baby carrier for the back. Very practical, in particular for hikes and walks on the islands.
French Polynesia is a very safe territory in general. However, here are some recommendations to take into account when traveling with a baby here:
Beware of stray dogs which can be aggressive, especially in the islands. So be careful with strollers in particular!
Another very important point in French Polynesia (and in general in the tropics) is dengue fever. It is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes that can be very dangerous for a baby. I therefore strongly recommend:
A mosquito net for the baby’s bed to avoid any risk of bites at night;
A mosquito net for the stroller can also be useful when the little one sleeps on the move;
A special mosquito repellent for babies;
Cover the baby at nightfall, when mosquitoes come out.
Beware of the sun which is very strong in the tropics. I will therefore recommend:
A lycra swimsuit to bathe the little one (sea or swimming pool),
A cap or bucket hat is a must especially in the middle of the day,
There is no mandatory vaccination for French Polynesia, but it is recommended to be up to date in the little one’s vaccines. Always bring your health record with you.
Particular attention (for babies and young children) should also be paid to centipedes, especially when small ones are crawling on the ground, to jellyfish and sea urchins at the seaside which can sting, and to venomous stone fish.
Weather in French Polynesia
For the weather, nothing bad to fear, we are in the tropics. Be careful however during the cold season (ok, the term “cool” may be better), from June to September, make sure to pack warmer clothes for the babies. I’m especially thinking of:
- 1 or 2 pullovers/sweets for the evening/night and for boat trips for example,
- A windbreaker also for sea outings,
- Towel and bathing suits for swimming,
- A small hat (if… depending on the islands it can get cool, even cold).
The article when to go to Tahiti explains everything you need to know about the Climate in French Polynesia and the best period to travel.
During the cold period, the temperature can drop to 22/23° in the evening in Tahiti. In the Austral archipelago (600 km south of Tahiti), it can get cold in the evening and at night (10/15°). Often, guesthouses will provide you with blankets, even for babies.
As for food, here are some recommendations and things to know:
I recommend buying small industrial baby food jars in Tahiti if you are going to the islands. They will cost you less and you will have a lot more choice;
If you have a kitchen available in the guesthouse/house where you’re staying, you can go to the market to buy your vegetables and make your own food!
In Tahiti, there are big supermarkets to shop at, so no worries. In the islands, you will have “stores” that sell baby food (beware of out of stock);
For milk, in Tahiti there will generally be no problem, even if you surely won’t find the same brands as in France. In the islands, the choice will be very limited, but you will always find some. Little anecdote, I had forgotten the baby formula one evening when I arrived on the island of Rurutu. I went to the corner store, no worries, it was well available!
You can always ask the guesthouse to cook food for your baby. Usually, this is relatively well accepted. You may be asked to pay extra sometimes, but it’s a good way to avoid industrial baby food and eat local. Another anecdote, in our superb guesthouse in Les Gambier, Marie, the boss, cooked food for the baby with local vegetables and fish caught the day before. Perfect.
For snacks in the islands, it will be very simple because you will always find bananas, papayas, even pineapple/passion fruit and others (depending on the season). Eating local is always better!
Things to bring
Here’s what I recommend:
- Bring all of your baby’s essentials with you (bottles, wipes, diapers, etc.);
- I don’t think it’s necessary to bring your baby’s crib from the city. You will often find a guesthouse or hotel that will lend you one. If you wish to take it, I recommend a lightweight folding travel crib or portable bed;
- I insist but a baby carrier is a very good one to take;
- In stores in the islands, you will generally find things for babies (don’t count on a large choice).
Hospitals, dispensaries and medication
There are several hospitals and clinics in Tahiti. So generally, apart from very serious problems, you can have your little one treated here in case of sores;
For babies needing special care (related to certain diseases for example), be careful in the islands, as the vast majority do not have hospitals or clinics. There will very often be dispensaries that can do the bare minimum;
Also be careful with medication. I recommend bringing your own (from where you live or to buy locally in Tahiti). In the islands, you may not always have the necessary medication. Take at least: Paracetamol, Tiorfan, sunscreen and medication for dehydration.
Daddy's advice to finish
Make sure to properly rinse your little one after each swim in the sea (because of the salt) and to cover him quickly to prevent him from catching cold!
You will also need to think about bringing drinking water (for drinking and feeding bottles) during boat trips on the lagoon for example (available in stores or in the guesthouses at water fountains for example). Generally, I always take water to drink and a big bottle of water to rinse the little one at the end of the day (sand and salt),
Beware of the sun that literally burns here so sunscreen is mandatory for babies and avoid going out at a time when the sun is strongest!
Here, I hope to have covered all the points for traveling with a baby in French Polynesia in a peaceful way. If you have the slightest question about traveling to French Polynesia with a baby, do not hesitate to leave a comment.
Finally, if you are in the middle of preparing your trip, you might like to know the travel budget for French Polynesia, right?
See you soon for a new article.