Short and Sweet Travel Tips for the Islands of Tahiti
Do you want quick answers to all those pesky questions clients ask you about Tahiti and Her Islands?
Without too much mumbo jumbo, let’s keep it short and sweet as we reveal Insider Tips for traveling better!
MONEY: You will find the best exchange rate for withdrawing local French Pacific Francs (XPF) by simply using the ATM at our Faa’a International Airport upon arrival. If not, there are also several ATMs around the island of Tahiti, on the islands of Moorea, Bora Bora, etc. Make sure your ATM card is a Visa. Some ATMs don’t accept Mastercard or Diners. Dollars are often accepted however the exchange rate used by restaurants, the arts & crafts market, and hotels is usually 5 points less than what you’ll get at the ATM. And change may not be rendered in $ and cents but in XPF.
Insider Tip: Between 1st September 2020 to 31 May 2022, there is a dual circulation of old and new XPF coins. Both are valid, so don’t worry if you receive XPF change with the old coins! Starting 1st June 2022, only the new coins will be in circulation. They look like the ones in this photo.
Alcohol: How much alcohol can you bring into Tahiti? You can bring a total of 4 liters of alcohol per person (maximum 2 bottles of spirits such as whiskey, gin, vodka, cognac and the remaining 2 bottles can be champagne and wine). You can either buy 2 liters of alcohol at your supermarket and pack it in your suitcase (use a scuba dive dry bag or similar). Or buy 2 liters of alcohol at the Airport Duty Free upon your departure. Then upon arrival at Faa’a International Airport you can buy 2 more liters at Tahiti Duty Free located after going through Passport Control and in the luggage area. If stopped by Customs when exiting, you are safe to declare all 4 bottles.
Insider Tip: Don’t use mixers for drinks and cocktails taken from your hotel mini-bar (unless already included at some hotels and depending on room category). If the hotel has a souvenir/sundry store, buy them there. If not, try and go to your closest supermarket or corner store. Ask concierge for directions. Also bring packable snacks in your suitcase. You may also want to pack a Yeti Rambler wine tumbler for cocktails, wine and champagne.
Consortia amenities: Whether you are part of Ensemble, Signature, Virtuoso, Travel Leaders, Amex, etc when booking through Tahiti Travel Services, your clients will benefit from your Consortia amenities. All major resorts in French Polynesia will simply ask for your IATA number which identifies you as part of a Consortia. As we are simply an intermediary, resorts respect the final origin of the reservation which is you, the travel agent.
Tipping: is not mandatory but always appreciated. If you are staying in the higher class resorts with butler service, you can either tip everyday (if it isn’t the same butler) or at the end of your stay, you can hand the butler an envelope with your tip. Also many places such as restaurants, activities and hotels give monthly bonuses to their employees when you mention the employee’s name on Tripadvisor, Facebook or Google for their good service. Think also about filling out the hotel’s satisfaction questionnaire and mention the employees as they also get bonuses at the end of the month
Insider Tip: In hotels and restaurants, there is a 5% service charge added on to the bill (on top of VAT). This service charge is distributed evenly to all employees at the end of the year who were always present on the job (sickness leave is of course permitted). If on a boat tour or ATV for example and the tour guide goes above and beyond, you can always give your baseball cap or T-shirt that you are wearing. Or you can even trade! Some men will trade t-shirts with the employees… Many tourists come with goodies to give to the locals.
Insider Tip: You can test almost last minute at the Los Angeles Airport. Click here for more information. No time for testing before returning to the US? Then buy this self-administered test before leaving for Tahiti: click here. The AbbotNow is the only test accepted by the Center for Disease Control.
Air Tahiti: Luggage limits. Careful, they do pay attention to the weight! The domestic airline accepts one suitcase weighing 23kg or 50lbs (55 x 35 x 25 cm) and one carry-on case of 5kgs or 11lbs plus a purse or backpack per person.
There is one class you can book which is the “Z” class allowing for 2 suitcases x 23kgs each per person. This class is generally, automatically booked for people traveling internationally in Business Class.
Insider Tip: So if you do buy 4 liters of alcohol or have other heavy items, make sure you can bring them without going over weight or having too many carry on bags. For example when boarding the plane, they will NOT accept: the duty free bag + a carry on + a purse/backpack. If you are a scuba diver and you have your PADI or other dive card or proof of purchase for dives in the islands, you may go over the limit by 5kgs or 11lbs.
What to pack: A word from the wise… don’t overpack! (But we know you will!) The following is for women only. Men seem to always know what to bring. However, further down there will be other info for them apart from clothes.
Clothes: Light, flowy dresses. 2 or 3 swimsuits and a couple of pareos (sarongs) as we say in Tahiti. They’ll double as a wrap when it is cool in the plane or evening. If you don’t have any, you can buy them as soon as you arrive at the resorts. Wear them all the time as the locals do! A rashguard to protect against the sun when snorkeling. Shorts, cute tops (but not too many). Gym clothes (if you must work out). Socks.
Shoes: It’s not the Kardashians, baby! Try to bring one pair of high heels that will go with everything. Think dressy wedges for night, they’re easier to walk around in! And I’ll bet that you will never wear them even at the best resorts. Do bring dressy flat sandals as well as casual, flat, daytime sandals. Flip flops. Tennis shoes for the ATVS, Jeep Safaris and any hiking.
Accessories: Sunhat/visor. Extra pair of sunglasses and prescription reading glasses. Water shoes. Dry bag. Bring international adaptors and chargers. Underwater camera pouch for cell phone or GoPro. Yeti Rambler Wine Tumbler. Foldable water bottle. Mask and snorkel. Don’t worry about fins which are available at all resorts. DON’T bring a blow dryer. All the resorts have good ones.
Creams, lotions, medication: Bring lots of Reef safe SPF sunscreen. After Sun Care Lotion. Ibuprofen. Aspirin. Mosquito repellant. Bandaids. Small disinfectant spray or wipes. Antibiotic or Antibacterial cream for cuts and scrapes. Any normal medication and also bring your prescriptions if need to refill.
Floaties: Try this one which everyone is loving, click here. Don’t forget string to tie it off from your overwater bungalow.
Insider Tip: Many resorts such as St Régis, 4 Seasons, Conrad, Le Bora Bora and Intercontinental Thalasso provide for their guests many amenities direct in their rooms such as: bug spray, beach totes, life jackets, umbrellas, beach towels, sunscreen, power adapters…… So ask your travel agent to find out what is already in the room so that you can bring less!
And… coming up soon,
our “Must do” activities in Tahiti and Her Islands!