Rangiroa is the largest atoll in French Polynesia and is just an hour from Tahiti by plane. Known as a mecca for scuba divers, this deep sea diving paradise features some incredible opportunities to explore this underwater world. The Tiputa pass is a must see, as well as offering an incredibly array of marine life, it is particularly famous for the shark wall, a group of up to 300 sharks of various species.
The main villages of Avatoru and Tiputa offer visitors a unique look at the South Pacific. The limited roads offer coral churches, craft centers, local restaurants and small shops providing an opportunity to mix with the locals and experience island life.
The Tahitians of the modern era maintain their heritage and traditions of their Maohi ancestors. Oral history recounts the adventures of gods and warriors in colorful legends where javelin throwing was the sport of the gods, surf riding was favored by the kings, and Aito strongmen competed in outrigger canoe races and stone lifting as a show of pure strength. The Tahitian culture is rich in the islands, welcoming visitors from all over the world.
French and Tahitian are the official languages, but English is spoken and understood in tourist areas. Brushing up on a few basic French phrases and learning Tahitian greetings are appreciated.
Polynesians are thought to have migrated to Tahiti from south east Asia between 2000 and 1000AD.
Around 4000 BC, a great migration began from Southeast Asia across open ocean to settle the Pacific Islands. Many researchers conclude that Tonga and Samoa were settled around 1300 BC and from here colonization voyages were launched to the Marquesas Islands in about 200 BC. Over the next several centuries, great migrations to colonize all the Tahitian islands and virtually the entire South Pacific took place.
French Polynesia extends over such a large area that it took several explorers and many years to discover and chart all the islands. The Spanish and the Dutch were first, making daring voyages through certain archipelagoes during the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1521, Magellan spotted the atoll of Pukapuka in what is now the Tuamotu Atolls and, in 1595, the Spanish explorer Mendaña visited Fatu Hiva Island in the Marquesas.
In 1767, English Captain Samuel Wallis was the first European to discover Tahiti. Wallis named the island of Tahiti “King George III Island” and claimed it for England. In 1768 and unaware of Wallis’ arrival, French navigator Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, landed on the opposite side of Tahiti and claimed it for the King of France.
In the 1800s, the arrival of whalers, British missionaries, and French military expeditions forever changed the way of life on Tahiti and created a French-British rivalry for control of the islands. The Pomare Dynasty ruled Tahiti until 1847 when Queen Pomare finally accepted French protection of the islands of Tahiti and Moorea. In 1880, following the queen’s death, King Pomare V was persuaded to cede Tahiti and most of its dependencies to France. In 1957, all the islands of Tahiti were reconstituted as the overseas French territory called French Polynesia.
Since 1984, a statue of autonomy was implemented and, in 1998, French Polynesia became an overseas country with greater self-governing powers through their own Assembly and President. With these powers, the country is now negotiating international agreements with foreign states in matters of commerce and investment.
The official currency is the French Pacific Franc (CFP)
The year round temperature of Tahiti’s air and water is around 80° F. Travelers can expect to enjoy calm ocean breezes and sunny days. Summers (November through April) are known for being warmer and humid while Winters (May through October) are cooler and dryer.
Shots are only required if traveler is coming from an affected area of the world as defined by the World Health Organizations.
Visas are not required for stays of up to one month. A passport valid for six months beyond duration of stay is required.
Tipping & Porterage
Tipping is not customary or expected in Tahitian culture. However, tipping is always welcome for exemplary service.
MasterCard and Visa are accepted at most hotels, restaurants, and boutiques while American Express is accepted in some on the major islands. Credit cards may not be accepted at some less traveled islands..
The French Pacific Franc is divided by 100 centimes
Coins: 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, 100c
Notes: 500F, 1000F, 5000F, 10,000F
Voltage is 220 AC/50 cycle. If you are traveling from a part of the world where your appliances are 110v you will need a voltage transformer.
The water is safe to drink in urban areas nevertheless it is suggested that travelers treat water before use or drink bottled water to avoid health problems.
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