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10 Things to Know Before Going to Tahiti, French Polynesia

10 Things to Know Before Going to Tahiti, French Polynesia

Tahiti is such a dream and once in a lifetime destination. I was so excited when we decided to check this one off our bucket list but as I started researching I realised how little I actually knew about Tahiti. So from our research and our experiences on the island we have round tip the top things you need to know before going to Tahiti!

1. Tahiti is NOT Bora Bora 

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One of the things I noticed when reading up about Tahiti is how often it is interchanged with Bora Bora. Tahiti is not Bora Bora and actually there is a plane ride between Tahiti and Bora Bora.  Tahiti is actually the name of the largest and most populated island in French Polynesia. French Polynesia is actually made up of over 100 islands and Tahiti has the capital city of French Polynesia (Papeete) so has become most well known and a synonym for both Bora Bora and French Polynesia general.  

Before you book your trip I would recommend research a few of the French Polynesian islands to help you decide do you actually want to go to Tahiti or do you want to go one of the other beautiful French Polynesia islands. 

To compare the top three islands in French Polynesia we have written this Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea comparison guide!

2.  Tahiti Isn’t the Most Beautiful of the French Polynesia Islands 

When I first thought about Tahiti I imagined a Paul Gaugin painting come to life and in truth of the three islands we visited it was my least favourite for beaches. If you are thinking about travelling to French Polynesia for beautiful white sand beaches then Tahiti is probably not the island for you. Moorea in my opinion was the most beautiful for beaches and there are plenty of things to do on Moorea while I enjoyed the waters of Bora Bora

However if you want to experience street food, Polynesia city culture then Tahiti will definitely be illuminating. 

For more tips on how to travel to Tahiti check out this post. 

3. Tahiti is great for Whale Watching 

Tahiti is a great place to go whale watching. Every year humpback whales visit Tahiti from Anatartica. There are lots of ways you can see whales both on diving excursions or on a boat excursion but this is not available all year round. Whale watching season in Tahiti is  from August – October but can run from June – December. 

4. Tahiti has Rock Fish

If you do plan on going to Tahiti be sure to pack your water shoes as the waters around Tahiti and around all of French Polynesia is full of rock fish. 

There are also lots of reef sharks int he waters of Tahiti which are normally harmless but can become aggressive. 

5. Tahiti is Expensive

This is true for all of French Polynesia – it is not a cheap destination. Flights, accommodation and food on island soon add up to make Tahiti an expensive vacation. There are many ways in which you can try and travel to Tahiti on a budget – one thing is to not stay in an overwater bungalow. It can be tempting to think about saving money by travelling in the off season but …

6. Avoid the Wet Season in Tahiti 

Things to Know Before Traveling to Tahiti

I will often try and travel to places in their off or shoulder seasons as I like to save money and avoid the crowds. We visited French Polynesia in February and I would definitely say for us I don’t think it was worth the savings. We experienced rain every day when we travelled to French Polynesia and had at least one day when it rained for the whole day. 

Peak season in Tahiti is May – October while November – April is the rainy season. If I am lucky enough to go back I would definitely return during the May – October period. 

Another way to save money on travelling to Tahiti is to consider taking a South Pacific Cruise – click here for more info! 

7. Pack Wisely 

Couple on Bora Bora - Bora Bora Vs The Maldives which is best?

Things on the islands of French Polynesia regardless of whether it is Tahiti, Bora Bora or Moorea, are expensive. One of my top tips is be sure to pack wisely – clothes, scuba gear, insect repellant and sun cream should all be on your French Polynesia packing list. 

8. Do not underestimate the strength of the sun 

Best Things to do in Moorea - Day Pass at Hilton Moorea - Where to Stay in Moorea

I am a traditional Irish girl which means I burn easily – super easily. I have never experienced sun with the same intensity as French Polynesia anywhere in the world. Although I have lived through many Middle Eastern summers the sun strength can not compare to that in French Polynesia. Even on a cloudy and overcast day during the rainy season it is easy to get sunburnt in Tahiti. 

9. French Polynesia Visas Are Easy to Understand 

French Polynesia is a French overseas territory so if you are visiting from Western or European Country the visa situation is easy as it is the same as France. 

If you require a visa for France the chances are you will need to get one for French Polynesia aswell and needs to be done in advance. 

Please note: Everyone who goes to French Polynesia will need their returns booked. 

10. What is the Money in Tahiti 

The currency in French Polynesia is CFP. Everywhere we visited also accepted Visa and Mastercard too. When in hotels and resorts we just used our credit car however when we went to the local supermarkets in Bora Bora we used cash.