Tahiti Travel Tips
Keep in Mind...
- The languages The inhabitants of this tropical island speak French and Tahitian, but English is also widely spoken.
- The food trucks The food truck craze has hit Tahiti. Catch the roulettes or food trucks—with everything from Chinese fare to French crêpes—lined up along Pape'ete's waterfront on Friday nights.
- The sharp sand Sandals or water shoes are a must at the beaches, since they are speckled with jagged shells, and waves hide barbed coral.
Miles of shoreline, dozens of resorts, French cuisine to die for—Tahiti has all the making of a honeymoon destination. But beach bums often pass over Tahiti's dark sands in favor of Bora Bora's ivory shores. Despite its idyllic reputation and accessibility, Tahiti is more of an off-the-beaten-path stop than a romantic getaway. However, that doesn't mean Tahiti deserves to be ignored.
Leafy forests sit beside sandy shores, French crêpes are served alongside Tahitian poisson cru (raw fish)… If there ever was a place that embodies the beautiful duality of the French Polynesian archipelago, it's Tahiti. Here, the quirky, often chaotic atmosphere of the island's capital, Pape'ete, rubs elbows with uncorrupted natural beauty. In fact, Tahiti—the largest of French Polynesia's 118 islands—is often referred to as two separate islands despite them being joined by a tiny land bridge. Tahiti Nui is the larger, northern section where Pape'ete can be found. Tahiti Iti (the smaller half) is less accessible, although many visitors make the trek here for a taste of seclusion. Just note that spending a week on either part of Tahiti will cost you beaucoup bucks. But travelers agree that the warm waters, the lush jungles, and the luxurious resorts are worth the splurge.
How To Save Money in Tahiti
- Head to the supermarket Restaurants are très cher, so save cash by purchasing breakfast and lunch items at the supermarket. Then, you can splurge on dinners.
- Take a pit stop If Sydney or Auckland are your final destination, make Tahiti a layover. Air Tahiti Nui frequently runs stopover deals in Tahiti, so you can experience the tropical paradise without breaking the bank.
- Go for a cruise Taking a cruise that stops at Tahiti is much more affordable than flying in and purchasing accommodations on the island.
Tahiti Culture & Customs
French is the official language of French Polynesia, though you'll find that many locals (especially those who work in tourism) speak English. However, it never hurts to brush up on a few common phrases—like "bonjour" ("hello") and "merci" ("thank you")—or bring along a French-to-English dictionary. Also, bear in mind that for most Tahitians, English is a second language; be patient and courteous when conversing with locals. You may also hear dribs and drabs of Tahitian, the local island dialect, but most residents will promptly switch to French or English when communicating with you.
The currency is the French Polynesia Franc (XPF). Although you may be fooled at first by the exchange rate (1 XPF is equivalent to about one cent in USD), Tahiti will not be kind to your bank account, especially if you're hanging your hat at one of the island's fashionable resorts.
While your budget may be in danger, you won't be: Tahiti is a safe place for tourists. Generally speaking, there are only a couple of dangers to watch out for: pickpockets in Pape'ete and moray eels in the coral reefs on scuba dives. Most visitors soon discover that Tahiti is warm and welcoming to foreigners. In fact, locals have a philosophy called "aita pea pea" (not to worry), which translates into a very laid-back and affable culture. Don't be surprised if you hear absolute strangers greet you on the street.