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IMPORTANT TAHITI INFORMATION

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Tahiti is only 7-1/2 hours from Los Angeles
(about half way between California and Australia).

While one hotel in Hawaii has as many as 2,000 rooms,
French Polynesia combined has approximately 4,300 rooms.

Hawaii has more visitors in 10 days than Tahiti has in one year.

Tahiti vacations, cruises, honeymoons, packages
Time and Temperature in
Papeete, Tahiti


Entry Requirements
U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport. If your passport is other than U.S. or Canadian, check with the French Consulate. No immunization certificates are required.

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Climate
French Polynesia enjoys warm, tropical weather year-round. The climate is divided into two seasons: a "summer" that spans from November through March, when the daily temperature is about 86 degrees Fahrenheit, and most of the rain falls; and a drier "winter" that spans from April through October, when the daily temperature is about 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The year-round low is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The average water temperature is in the low 80s.

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Time Difference
Tahiti is in the same time zone as Hawaii, making it two hours behind the West Coast during Pacific Standard Time, and three hours behind during Pacific Daylight Time.

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Language
Tahitian and French are the main languages spoken throughout French Polynesia. English is spoken at all major hotels and most shops and restaurants.

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Currency and Exchange
The Pacific French franc (CFP) is the currency used in French Polynesia. It is different from the French franc. Banks are located at Tahiti's International Airport and on each island. Generally a higher exchange rate is given for travelers' cheques than for cash. Hotels also exchange money but give a less favorable rate than banks. U.S. currency may be accepted in most hotels, restaurants and other large establishments.

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No Tipping!
Tipping is contrary to Tahitian custom and may actually offend. Consider this savings when comparing Tahiti with other destinations.

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Health Tips
While tap water is generally safe, we suggest using bottled water sold by all hotels. A good sun screen is essential (sun block is suggested for the first few days) to prevent burning. As in all tropical locales, French Polynesia has its share of mosquitoes; the hotels do their part to keep this problem to a minimum, but it is still wise to pack an insect repellent. Hospitals or medical clinics are available for emergencies on most islands. Medications, even aspirin, should be brought from home, as pharmacies are not always convenient to the hotels.

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Electrical Equipment
Most hotels have 110v outlets for electric shavers. For other appliances such as hair dryers, a converter/adapter kit will usually be needed. Hotels may have either 110v or 220v systems. It's wise to always inquire at the hotel desk about the compatibility of your appliances before you attempt to use them.

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Churches
The Polynesians are a very religious people. The church, whether Protestant or Roman Catholic, is the center of activity in all villages. No matter what your religion, you will find the Polynesians' unaccompanied singing beautiful and moving. Guests are certainly welcome in places of worship as long as they adhere to the usual decorum; men should wear long pants and shirts, and women should wear subdued dresses.

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Clothing
Tahiti is very informal. Lightweight, washable cottons will serve well. Men will be comfortable in shorts, slacks for dinner, sport shirts and sandals, while ladies may wear shorts, skirts and sun dresses. We recommend at least two swimsuits per person, comfortable rubber-soled shoes for walking on coral (a necessity on the shark feeding excursion), a hat or visor, sunglasses and a waterproof bag to protect your camera equipment from salt and spray.

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Sports Activities
Snorkeling, diving, tennis, sailing, water skiing, windsurfing, outrigger canoeing, para-sailing, horseback riding, biking, hiking and climbing are activities available on most islands in French Polynesia. Game fishing is also widely available, though true aficionados recommend December through July as the best months for this sport. Golfers will find a spectacular course on the island of Tahiti; there are no other courses in French Polynesia at this time. Many hotels offer snorkeling equipment free, but it is advisable to pack your own snorkel, fins and mask (and regulator if you are a serious scuba diver).

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Shopping
Hand-blocked pareos (the traditional wraparound garment of Tahiti), original gold jewelry, local shell craft, baskets, wood carvings and vanilla beans can all be purchased in the markets and shops of Tahiti. French imports, such as perfumes, are available in duty free shops, while specialty shops within Papeete offer French fashions. Stores are normally closed daily for a long lunch, on Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday.

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Black Pearls
French Polynesia is one of the few places in the world where cultured black pearls are grown, and they can make a unique and exquisite souvenir. The Pinctada margaritifera, the oyster species common in Polynesia, produces a dark pearl which varies from pale (least expensive) to dark gray with touches of green or pink (rarest and most expensive). The two islands with the best selection of pearl stores are Moorea and Tahiti. Good quality pearls range from $500 to $10,000 or more, though slightly flawed mementos can be had for much less. On Moorea, we recommend the Black Pearl Gem Company.

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Knowing which Islands to Choose
When people refer to Tahiti, they're usually referring to a group of islands known as the Society Islands in French Polynesia . . . Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Huahine and Raiatea; and the Tuamotu Archipelago atolls of Rangiroa, Manihi and Tikehau. Each island is strikingly different, and all are miraculously beautiful. Our island descriptions on the following pages will help you choose the island combinations that bring to life the Tahitian vacation you've always dreamed about.

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Selecting the Resort That's Perfect for You
How you experience French Polynesia will depend to a great degree on the hotels you select. This is especially true on the outer islands, where your hotel is most likely to be the center of your activities. To assist you in choosing the hotels that best suit your personal tastes and desires, we have provided detailed descriptions of each hotel. We encourage you to read these thoroughly.

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The Unique Charm of Tahiti's Hotels
Rarely do we use such standard descriptions as "deluxe" or "first class." The reason is that French Polynesia is not a standard place: on these islands, you may elect to stay in a village on an otherwise deserted atoll; in an overwater bungalow, cooled naturally by the tropical trade winds; or in an air-conditioned high rise near cosmopolitan Papeete. Even a modest hotel may offer a setting of such incomparable beauty, the experience of staying there may exceed that of staying in a deluxe hotel elsewhere in the world. What strikes you as "deluxe" will depend entirely on your own picture of paradise. The goal we set for ourselves is to make that picture as clear as possible for you, so that you can choose with confidence.

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A Thatched-Roof Bungalow and a Beautiful Blue Lagoon . . .
Much of the fun of coming to the islands of French Polynesia is being able to stay in thatched roof bungalows located in a tropical garden setting, on a beautiful palm-fringed beach or over a crystal clear lagoon. For the ultimate "escape," choose a vacation that features these traditional Tahitian accommodations.

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Romantic Treats
Add your own romance to our "Tried & True" or "Inclusive" packages. Picture yourself on a secluded motu with a private picnic lunch, on a sunset cruise sipping champagne, or enjoying a romantic dinner on the beach. Ask for details.

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Early Flight Arrivals and Pre-registration
With many international flights arriving in Tahiti in the very early morning hours and inter-island flights arriving early, it is suggested that you pre-register your hotel room for immediate occupancy where appropriate. If it is already included, this will be indicated in the "Included Features" as "includes pre-registration." In most hotels in French Polynesia, check-in time is 1 p.m. or later.

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Diving French Polynesia
Diving in French Polynesia is colorful, varied, and among the best anywhere. You'll encounter a myriad of colorful reef fish, moray eels, turtles, even manta rays and sharks. The translucent waters are warm (generally 80 degrees and above year 'round) and clear (visibility to over 150 feet) and full of colorful, exciting marine life . . . no matter which island you choose to explore.

Moorea specializes in hand-feeding sharks and dives with rays and dolphins, along with a myriad of reef fish and low-growing corals. Bora Bora generally offers beautiful, graceful manta rays in its plankton-rich multi-hued lagoon. Huahine and Raiatea offer more brilliant displays of coral ledges and cliffs, along with varieties of colorful reef fish. However, it's the Tuamotu atolls - Rangiroa, Manihi and Tikehau - where more experienced divers will enjoy the fullest diversity of marine life, with dives starting along the outer reefs, drifting through the passes, and into the lagoons. It's high-excitement diving with black-tip and white-tip sharks everywhere-and occasionally silver-tip or hammerhead.

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