Reasons to Visit
Tahitian culture is more in evidence now that ever before and not just in the sophisticated dances and performance art but in the revival of symbolic tattoo art through which Polynesians use the dark strong colours to assert their ma'ohi identity.
Rangiroa was described by Jacques Cousteau as the richest aquarium on the planet matched only by the other great Tuamotu lagoons on Tikehau, Manihi and Fakarava; now one of UNESCO's most valued biospheres.
The islands of French Polynesia have long been a melting pot of migrant peoples who have made the most of the ecology and geology of this region of the South Pacific to create sophisticated cultures.
For most people an overwater bungalow set in a turquoise lagoon is the essence of French Polynesia and the reason to travel thousands of kilomtres round the world for the ultimate romantic holiday.
One of the most successful uses of light is visible in the pearl industry in which French Polynesia has become a world leader. The most sought after pearls are from the farms on Taha'a an in the Tuamotus and you may even get a chance to see the incredibly rare black pearls.
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New Zealand & the South Pacific
Our French Polynesia specialists are experienced and passionate about the region - between them they have spent many weeks a year researching new experiences and ensuring everything is of the highest standard. They know these islands inside out.
ChristopherFrench Polynesia Specialist01993 838 807
KatieFrench Polynesia Specialist01993 838 826
French Polynesia is the kind of place to throw caution to the wind - you are in paradise so you might as well push the boat out and stay in one of the world’s most stunning resorts.
This is the ultimate place to stay in an over-water bungalow, where breakfast is brought by outrigger canoe while tropical fish swim below.
Tahiti is the main island, and where you’ll find the capital and the international airport of Pape’ete: with a selection of good resort hotels close to town this can be a good base for those on a short stopover.
To make the most of French Polynesia, however, it is best to travel further to one of the surrounding islands. Some offer world class resorts, others intimate private island retreats, and almost all provide the chance to explore little-visited cultures, remote in their ocean setting.
Island hopping allows the opportunity to mix and match experiences, and we can recommend appropriate island combinations to suit your plans. It is often necessary to overnight on Tahiti itself and then take scheduled flights the next day to smaller islands, often completing your journey by boat.
Tahitian and French are the official languages of French Polynesia. Within the islands on the main tourist route, French dominates but English is also widely spoken. The further off the beaten track you get, the more you will find that only French and the Tahitian dialects are spoken, with locals often mixing the two.
French Polynesia is the place for those who love fish and seafood as such fresh produce is in abundance, whilst colourful vegetables, exotic fruits and tender meats also feature on most menus. Pork, chicken, fish and vegetables are cooked in a traditional oven, which is dug into the ground. After several hours the oven is opened, often as part of an evening's celebrations to songs and music, and is served in a buffet style.
Tipping and bargaining are not expected in French Polynesia, although many of the restaurants in the larger resorts will leave a space on your bill for a tip if you choose to leave one. It is sometimes possible to bargain for discounts on black pearls, or on arts and crafts when buying direct from an artist.
The unit of currency in French Polynesia is the franc cours pacifique (CFP), referred to simply as the Pacific Franc, although the Euro is now widely accepted and is generally used at all the larger resorts.
The Polynesians are generally extremely laid back, and there are few situations which are likely to cause embarrassment. Dress is casual, with sarongs, shorts and T-shirts being the most common attire. The Polynesians are very religious, so dress appropriately if attending a church service, and if you visit archaeological sites, do not touch or move the sacred stones or tikis, these areas are of great spiritual importance. When visiting a Polynesian home, or if you are staying in a smaller, family-run property, you should remove your shoes at the front door.
Our country specialists can advise on any safety concerns you may have. For current information, please refer to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website.
'Blue Latitudes: Boldly going where Captain Cook has gone before'. Tony Horwitz follows the voyages of Captain Cook and sidekick Williamson
As with much of the South Pacific music is everywhere in French Polynesia. Tradional music has stong drumbeats and brings in guitar and ukeleles to create a unique sound. Sunday hymns are very important and the harmonies are enough to bring tears to your eyes. A visit to a Sunday morning church service can be well worth while.
Rather than a film or television programme it is the paintings of Paul Gaugin which are the most evocative of French Polynesia. Committing both the landscapes and the people of Tahiti to canvas he has managed to capture some of the real essence of the country inspiring many other artists to follow in his footsteps.
Poisson Cru is raw fish in coconut milk and is one of the most popular traditional dishes. Making the most of the abundance of sea food fish is a staple and is often accompanied with coconut milk, lime juice or vanilla based sauces. Much of the tradional food is cooked in a umu or underground over and going to a traditional feast whilst you are there is well worth while.
French Polynesia inspires you to gaze out to sea with a cocktail in hand. A good choice is the local favourite Maitai made with brown rum, pineapple, grenadine, lime juice and coconut liquer.
Ia ora na, nana (hello).
Overwater bungalows, beautiful lagoons, romantic honeymoons.
Black pearls, cultivated in the Tuamotu islands are a speciality of this area and make beautiful jewellery. Weaving is also a tradional craft and woven mats, baskets and bowls are readily available.
Start planning your tailor-made holiday to French Polynesia by contacting one of our specialists...
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Further reading:Tours in French PolynesiaWhen to GoItinerary IdeasPlaces to GoThings to DoAccommodationCountry Guides
Other countries in Australasia:AustraliaNew ZealandSamoaThe Cook IslandsFiji
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