Tahiti in a Glimpse
Tahiti lies in the South Pacific. It is the largest of the 118 islands and atolls that comprise French Polynesia. Tahiti is in the Society Islands, an archipelago which includes the islands of Bora Bora, Raiatea, Taha'a, Huahine and Moorea, and has a population of 127,000 people, about 83% of whom are of Polynesian ancestry. The legendary name 'Tahiti' not only identifies this island but also the group of islands that make up French Polynesia.
Tahiti and her islands are some of the most beautiful in all the south Pacific. Tahitians are very respectful and generous and kind. To hear random people say 'hello' on the street to strangers or even passersby is not uncommon. Many of the Tahitian kids are well into rap and hiphop, performing or practicing in the streets or in public squares.
The philosophy of the people, 'aita pea pea' (not to worry), truly is the Tahitian way of life. Be patient and polite to them and you will get anything you ask for, including a large smile. They are very warm and welcoming people.
Be aware that your trip to Tahiti may be a one-time but unique experience due to its high price. Though not legally binding, more and more couples are renewing their marriage vows and will be bedecked in pareus, flowers, shells and feathers. The groom approaches the beach in an outrigger canoe. His bride, carried on a rattan throne, awaits him on the white-sand beach. A spectacular sunset, Tahitian music and dancers add to the ambiance. A Tahitian priest "marries" the couple and gives them their Tahitian name and the Tahitian name of their first-born.
The weather is ideal! The climate is tropical. The average ambient temperature is 80°F (27°C) and the waters of the lagoons average 79°F (26°C) in the winter and 84°F (29°C) in the summer. But do not worry, most resorts and hotel rooms are air conditioned or cooled by ceiling fans.
Summer is from November through April, with a warmer and more humid climate and winter is from May to October, when the climate is slightly cooler and drier. When you step out of the airplane, you'll immediately notice that the air is warm and humid. Consequently, besides your camera and your extra memory cards, do not forget to pack lightweight cotton clothes, sunscreen lotion and a baseball cap or a wide brimmed hat. Synthetic fabrics can get hot and sticky in the tropics.
French and Tahitian are the most spoken languages, but English is widely understood in the tourist areas, but not in less frequently visited areas (such as the remote islands of the Tuamotus). Most signs are in French, very few of them in Tahitian.
Brush up on your Tahitian and French:
Many of the shops around the centre of town near "Notre Dame" have great buys.
If you are dreaming of a tattoo, do make sure that you get it in Tahiti since the patterns are so special and reflect the spirit of the island. There are lots of places to get tattooed around Papeete including the market. You may also want to buy a black pearl to take it back with you. You will get some at very affordable prices on the market too.
The local currency is the Pacific Franc (XPF).
Currency rates As of 14/06/2012:
GETTING AROUND TAHITI
Travel to the neighboring islands is short, convenient, and easily arranged.
The domestic airlines, Air Tahiti and Air Moorea, are located at Tahiti Faa’a Airport.
As the major inter-island airline, Air Tahiti serves 40 islands with newer, twin-engine, jet-prop aircraft.
Flights to the neighbouring islands depart from Tahiti Faa’a Airport with frequent daily service between the most visited islands.
Air Tahiti Air Passes give you the opportunity to visit several islands for a special flat price. There are a few rules which have to be respected, like beginning and ending your island-hop trip in Tahiti, and making your circuit in no more than 28 days.
There are 4 Passes available to you that encompass various island groups. Please go directly to the Air Tahiti information page for Passes, www.airtahiti.aero
Air Moorea is the quickest way to Moorea. These shuttle flights of less than 10 minutes are considered to be one of the shortest commercial flights in the world.
Air Moorea departs every 30- to 60-minutes from Tahiti Faa’a International Airport and also serves the island of Tetiaroa. The airline operates both scheduled flights with reservations and shuttle flights for walk ups.
Between Tahiti and Moorea, Aremiti operates the high-speed Aremiti Catamaran 5 which seats 700 passengers for a 30-minute one-way crossing. For transport of autos and passengers, the Aremiti Ferry crosses in 1 hour. Both have frequent daily schedules from the waterfront in Papeete to Vaiare, Moorea.
Moorea Express, Tahiti-Moorea-Tahiti
Between Tahiti and Vaiare, Moorea, the Moorea Express catamaran seats 306 passengers for frequent 30-minute crossings and the Moorea Ferry seats 300 passengers plus autos for 1 hour crossings.
Other Ferry Transportation
Other infrequent inter-island ferries are available but are not recommended as a transportation option for visitors.