Discover the Pleasures of Island LifeOnce you meet the locals, you'll understand why Fletcher Christian took over the Bounty and sailed back to Tahiti. In one of the most stunningly beautiful landscapes on the planet, a warm and welcoming people keep traditions alive and invite visitors to share in a simpler way of life. Take up a paddle and help propel an outrigger canoe to a deserted island. Walk among orchards of tropical fruit where nature's bounty is there for the picking. Draw inspiration from the harmonizing vocals of himene ru'au, get caught up in the movements and rhythms of otea, and feast on dishes cooked in the Tahitian oven. Going native certainly has its rewards.
- Best for: All travellers, watersports and spa enthusiasts and adventures ranging from soft to rugged
- Best season to visit: Year round
- Weather: North America's summer and early fall are the coolest and driest months in Tahiti, with temperatures ranging from 70 to 82 degrees. November to March is a bit warmer, with more chance of rain, but there is no bad time for a visit
Cultural Activities in Tahiti Overview
Cultural excursions in the Islands of Tahiti focus on both land and sea. Trips into the interior take in farms, archeological sites and traditional villages, and provide opportunities to learn about subjects such as native tattoo art and Polynesian dance. The lagoons that surround islands such as Bora Bora and Moorea become the setting for net fishing demonstrations, marine life encounters and outrigger canoe trips to small islands known as motus.
Cultural Activities in Tahiti Tips
Don't miss the chance to sample fresh local foods. Many land tours stop at orchards and farms, and guides sometimes pick wild fruits for sampling. On boat trips and visits to outlying islands, there are chances to try the Tahitian shellfish known as pahua, or enjoy poisson cru, a raw fish salad served with coconut milk.
Best Places for Cultural Activities in Tahiti
In a lagoon near the village of Papetoai, a gallery of carved stone tikis lies submerged in shallow water. The route to Mount Tohivea passes through the pineapple fields and vanilla plantations. Visitors to Tiki Village can learn traditional skills from basket weaving and carving to hand-dying a pareo or making traditional dishes such as poe and ipo. At Bora Bora's oyster farm you can dive for your own pearl. On a small private island near Rangiroa, guest can live in Swiss Family Robinson style.
What to Pack for Cultural Activities in Tahiti
A brimmed hat and tropical-weight clothing in light colors will provide both cooling and protection from the sun. Sandals are good for everything except hikes in the woods. Add some swim trunks to the tote bag to be ready when chances arise to swim in lagoons or plunge into waterfall stream.
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Passport and/or Visa Requirements
A valid U.S. passport is required for entry into Tahiti which must be valid for 3 months beyond your date of entry. Your passport needs to have at least 1 blank page for the Tahiti entry stamp. Proof of return or onward ticket is required. No visas are required for tourist stays of less than 90 days.
Exit Requirements: There is a departure tax of 1822 XPF approx $17 U.S. which should be included in your international ticket.
No immunizations are required for entry into Tahiti, but we would always suggest that you check with your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel to Tahiti at Traveler's Health CDC.
Culture and Customs
Tahiti and the Society Islands loom large in our collective images of tropical paradise. These are the islands that seduced the crew of the Bounty to mutiny, inspired the works of Gauguin and Melville, and now entice celebrities, newlyweds and dreamers to escape the every day for a thatch-roofed bungalow perched over an electric-blue lagoon. As a semi-autonomous territory of France, the islands combine Continental flair with the ancient traditions of Polynesia. Evidence of this blending begins at breakfast, where a bowl of cafe au lait and a buttery croissant are accompanied by fresh papaya, mango and breadfruit, served with a spray of tropical flowers. Tattoo is a Tahitian word, and body art is considered a sign of beauty. Dance has always played an important role in island life, with performances for everything from welcoming visitors to challenging an enemy or seducing a mate. Traditions are kept alive at the annual gathering of Heiva i Tahiti, when islanders from across the archipelago gather at Papeete for celebrations that include elaborate spectacles of song and dance, along with arts and crafts fairs and traditional sporting events such as canoe races and strong man contests. A year-round staple of Tahitian culture are flowers, which grow in abundance across the islands. Bright blossoms are worn in floral crowns or as single displays behind the ears, denoting either one's availability or commitment. The same long-standing traditions of hospitality that welcomed early European explorers and subsequent generations of sailors are now lavished on arriving vacationers, who will discover not only some of the friendliest people in the world, but also some of the most seductive landscapes, where sea, sky and island come together in riotous shades of blue and green.
Electricity, Phone and Internet Access
Electricity in Tahiti is 220 Volts, 60 cycles. Hotels may use 110 or 220 Volts depending on your location, so a converter/adapter is often required for appliances you bring, including computers.
Direct dialing international calling is available in most hotels. When calling from the U.S. to Tahiti, dial 011 and then the country code of 689 along with the local number. Check with your cell phone provider to see if they have an international plan that is compatible in Tahiti for voice, text and data.
Internet access is available in many hotels and resorts.
Tap water is safe to drink in Papeete and Bora Bora. Elsewhere bottled water is recommended and readily available.
Language & Currency
French and Tahitian are the official languages, but English is spoken and understood in tourist areas.
The currency of Tahiti is the French Pacific Franc (XPF). Bank notes come in denominations of 500, 1000, 5000 and 10,000, and coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100.
Credit cards are readily accepted in most tourist destinations. Most guests exchange money at the airport upon arrival or at their hotel, but the best exchange rate should be at a local bank.
There are three time zones in Tahiti. The Society Islands including Papeete and Moorea and the Leeward Islands including Bora Bora, and the Tuamotu Islands including Fakarava and Rangiroa are all 10 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-10 GMT). The Gambier Islands are 9 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-9 GMT). The Marquesas Islands are 9.5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-9.5 GMT). Tahiti does not use daylight savings time.
Location, Size and Population
Tahiti is located south of the equator halfway between California and Australia. The islands of Tahiti, known as French Polynesia, consist of 5 island groups. There are 118 islands with a total land mass of 1,544 square miles.
The population of French Polynesia is 285,699 (2016).