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If you are planning a trip to Tahiti this 2020, we will share with you the helpful facts that we used in planning our honeymoon in Tahiti. As a first-timer, we thought that Tahiti refers to the whole region of French Polynesia. And we think most people think the same way.
To clear this misconception, Tahiti is the largest island in French Polynesia, a group of more than 100 islands in the South Pacific. From above, Tahiti is shaped like a turtle or an 8-figure due to two extinct volcanoes connected by land. Tahiti Nui is the larger volcano located in the west while Tahiti Iti is in the east.
Papeete, located in Tahiti, is the capital city of French Polynesia. As per our guide, Papeete is pronounced as “Pa-pee-eh-teh” and not as “Pa-pee-tee”.
Faaa International Airport or Tahiti International Airport is the only international airport in French Polynesia and located in Papeete. So if you will go to French Polynesia, international flights arrived in Tahiti and this might have caused the misconception.
What do you need to know when planning a trip to Tahiti?
1. A trip to Tahiti is not cheap
Depending on factors like where you will stay, tours you will book and other islands that you will visit, a trip for 2 persons staying in Tahiti for 5 days may cost at least $8,000. And this price is if your flight to Tahiti is from Los Angeles (LAX). Mike and I got married in Manila. If our flight to Tahiti is from Manila, the airfare costs roughly around $1600 to $2200 each, even for multiple routes with long layovers.
2. Tahiti is the best place to stay in an overwater bungalow
Staying in an overwater bungalow is one of a kind experience. A night in an overwater bungalow in Tahiti is at least $600 for 2 persons. Mike and I usually travel on a budget but during our honeymoon, we decided to spoil ourselves. And you can never go wrong choosing to book a luxurious accommodation in Tahiti.
3. Your trip to Tahiti is worth it
Like what they say, you get what you pay for. Tahiti became a popular honeymoon destination around the world because of its fine beaches, turquoise lagoons, lush waterfalls, and luxurious overwater bungalows. It is a paradise of warm vibrant water and friendly people.
4. Tahiti is the best of both worlds
Since French Polynesia is an overseas region of the French Republic, you get to enjoy both Tahitian and French culture and cuisine. It’s experiencing France in a laid back South Pacific way.
5. You will never be the same after your trip to Tahiti
A trip to Tahiti is almost in everyone’s bucket list to visit at least once in their lifetime. Visiting Tahiti is achieving a dream and you will carry the experience for the rest of your life.
Tahiti visa requirements
French Polynesia visa or Tahiti visa is not required for US citizens like Mike for up to 90 days of stay. To check if you need a visa for Tahiti, take the 3-minute test. Required documents and visa fees will also be provided if the result of your test is you need a visa.
If you are a Filipino travelling to Tahiti, read our guide on how Philippine passport holders get approved for a French Polynesia visa.
French Polynesia or Tahiti Time (TAHT) is UTC -10. Time in Tahiti is the same time as Hawaii. It is 3 hours behind California or 18 hours behind Manila.
The official language of Tahiti is Tahitian and French. Are you wondering if English is spoken in Tahiti? You’ll be glad to know that Tahitian tour guides are fluent in English, as well as Japanese and Chinese.
Words to know when planning a trip to Tahiti are
- Maururu meaning thank you
- Ia Orana or Bonjour meaning hello
While there were some Tahitians who cannot speak in English, it is easy to find someone who speaks English.
The main religion in Tahiti is Protestant where the majority of the population belongs to the Maohi Protestant Church. Below are some other churches in Tahiti.
Papeete Tahiti Temple – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Address: Route de Fautaua-Titioro, Pape’ete 98714, French Polynesia
Phone: +689 40 50 39 39
Seventh-day Adventist Church
Address: Polynésie Française, Tahiti BP 51 540 98716, Arue 98716
Phone: +689 40 45 10 10
St. Therese Catholic Church
Address: Av. du Chef Vairaatoa, Papeete 98714, French Polynesia
Currency and exchange
If you are planning a trip to Tahiti, it is important to know where to exchange for local currency. The money in Tahiti is French Pacific Franc (XFP) which is approximately $1 to XFP 104.
You may exchange it at the Tahiti Airport or at a bank. Hotels in Tahiti will exchange money but with a commission so this is not your best option.
Take note that banks in Tahiti are closed on weekends. Some tour companies in Papeete will offer to exchange your US Dollars at $1 to XFP 100. If you are arriving in Tahiti airport on a weekend, use this figure to compare the exchange rates at the airport then decide where you will exchange your money.
You can exchange your remaining XPF at the Tahiti International Airport before flying back home. Make sure to do this after buying food and other stuff at the airport while waiting for your flight.
Also, not all restaurants and shops in Tahiti accept credit cards, and sometimes if they do, there is a minimum amount requirement. For example, your total bill should at least be XPF 2,500 for them to accept payments using a credit card.
The climate in Tahiti is tropical all year round. It is warm even during wintertime but Tahiti will experience rain. So what is the best time of year to go to Tahiti? It is during the dry season from May to October. Even if we visited during the dry season, it rained a little during our last day of stay in July.
Tahiti operates at the standard voltage and frequency of 110 / 220 V and 60 / 50 H. Types A, B, and E are the electrical plugs used in Tahiti. If you think this may conflict with your electronics, it is recommended to contact your accommodation before your arrival and bring a universal adapter to be ready.
What to pack on your trip to Tahiti
Comfortable summer clothes and swimwear, sunblock, sunglasses, mosquito repellent, universal adapter, reusable water bottle, beach towels, water shoes, and a waterproof camera. Snorkelling or freediving gears are usually provided by hotels and tour companies.
If you are sensitive about biting someone else’s snorkel like me, you should bring your own snorkeling set.
Pros: Hygienic, fits you well
Cons: Bulky to carry, adds weight to your luggage
Wear water shoes whenever you will go to the beach to protect your feet when you accidentally step on sharp objects or poisonous marine life.
How to go around Tahiti
The best way to see Tahiti is to book a Circle Island Tour or drive around Tahiti by renting a car. To skip renting a car, you can book a 4-hour circle island tour in the morning or an 8-hour circle island tour.
If you prefer to rent a car, click below to book your car rental for pick up in Tahiti airport.
What to eat in Tahiti?
The Poisson Cru Tahitienne or the Tahitian Fish Ceviche should be on top of your list! Mike and I also tried the McDonald’s at the Tahiti International Airport. I noticed in their menu that meals are less XPF 50 if your drink of choice is Coke Zero.
McDonald’s Tahiti also has a KitKat McFlurry so we got excited to try it since it’s not on the usual menu of McDonald’s. I will tell you it’s not as good as the Oreo McFlurry!
What to do during your trip to Tahiti?
The best thing to do in Tahiti is to enjoy water activities. What else would you want to do on an island right? Below are the top Tahiti tours.
chase the waterfalls of Faarumai through a forest
visit the archaeological sites, grottoes, and a lighthouse
meet the Polynesians as they live their daily lives
relax at the lovely black sand beach of Tahiti after touring the island
explore the underwater of Tahiti waters with the aid of a tank and enjoy its rich tropical marine life
swim with species like the lemon shark, nurse shark, grey reef shark, white tip reef shark, and the blacktip reef shark, depending on the season, you may spot a tiger shark from August to November
appreciate the lush landscape and waterfalls when you fly to the heart of Tahiti
learn to prepare Tahitian dishes while tasting a fresh fruit juice on the side
It is recommended to book your tours online prior to your arrival to save a few bucks. Doing it in advance allows you to compare prices and options. It will also prevent you from booking last-minute tours from agents who put a commission on top of the tour price.
Book the cheapest flight to Tahiti below
Click to read our guide to find the cheapest flights to Tahiti.
Where to stay in Tahiti?
Resort: InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa – enjoy a stay in an overwater bungalow to make the most of your trip to Tahiti. InterContinental Tahiti is 5 minutes drive from Tahiti International Airport with a turquoise lagoon
Guesthouse: Fare Suisse Tahiti – a property in Papeete with a lush garden that is also near local shops and bars
Bed and breakfast: Deck Backpackers Tahiti – a budget stay in Faaa that has a garden with a terrace
Tahiti vacation package
Costco Travel sells the best value vacation and honeymoon package to Tahiti exclusively to its members who reside in the United States. Planning your trip to Tahiti will be hassle-free if you will book a travel package.
Which cruise lines go to Tahiti?
Several cruise ships visit Tahiti and other islands of French Polynesia. Some of the famous cruise lines that sail to Tahiti are The Royal Caribbean, Paul Gauguin Cruises, Princess Cruises, and Windstar Cruises.
Depending on the season, your origin, and other factors, a 7-day cruise ship package can go as low as $250. Booking a cruise to Tahiti is an affordable way to experience the islands of French Polynesia.
Unlike my other international trips, I did not meet any Filipinos during our trip to Tahiti.
COVID-19 Travel Update
Before planning a trip to Tahiti, read updates on travel restrictions related to coronavirus pandemic first.
French Polynesia reopened its borders to international tourists from all countries starting last 15 July 2020. Quarantine measures have been lifted and all travellers will be subjected to the following mandatory requirements:
- You should show the proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days before your international air departure
- You should also present the receipt of the health registration on Etis.pf (Electronic Travel Information System)
During your stay
- You should self-test after 4 days of arrival in Tahiti
And there you go! I hope you’ll have a great time on your trip to Tahiti. Read our travel resources below for booking your trip to Tahiti!
Tips when planning your trip
Accommodation: Hotellook will help you book hostels to luxury resorts at the best price between Booking.com, Zen, Agoda, Expedia, Hotels.com, Trip.com, and others. You may also check Hostelworld for hostels only.
Car Rental: Book the best prices and services with Rentalcars.com
And don’t forget travel insurance with World Nomads!
What to pack
Reusable Water Bottle: Nalgene
Immune Support: Airborne Chewables
Comfortable Walking Shoes: ON Sneakers
Waterproof Action Camera: GoPro Hero 7 White