Where is French Polynesia?

Far, far away, … distance is relative, but anyway everything is far away. French Polynesia is located in the middle (literally) of the Pacific Ocean. On average 8h of flight from almost anywhere. Travel to French Polynesia means, therefore, having patience, to face many hours of flight, but all this time travel will pay, and you will know an extraordinary place, which is surely so by its remoteness.

French Polynesia map mundi

Do I need a visa for a trip to French Polynesia?

If you need a visa for traveling to France you will need a visa for French Polynesia.
Be careful with your flight connections; most of them, are in the US and you will need a visa or ESTA. At this moment because of Covid, the connections are done in Vancouver (Canada); you will need an ETA.

Some Important Facts about French Polynesia

French Polynesia is an insular territory of France under a particular regime (Collectivité Outre Mer).

It is made up of 118 islands distributed in 5 archipelagos. The best-known islands are found in the Société archipelago, it is where the international airport is located. There are atoll islands (non-raised rings), mountainous islands with a barrier reef, and mountainous islands without a barrier reef (such as the Marquisas).

LANGUAGE: being a territory of France, the official language is French, but Tahitian, Marquis, Paumotu, and Mangarevian are also spoken.

CURRENCY: it is paid in the currency used by the French Pacific collectivities, that is, in CPF (Communauté Financière du Pacifique)
The change is fixed 1 CPF: 119.32 EUR

ELECTRICITY: Standard Voltage 110 / 220V; with the plug that is used in France. Type C and E plug, many hotels have adapters or additional type A plugs. But not always, so you have to provide an adapter and a converter according to the voltage accepted by your appliance..

How to organize the trip?

It is possible to organize a trip to French Polynesia on your own, you can search for all accommodations and excursions without any problem. But honestly it seems to me that it is much more profitable and relaxed to organize everything through an agency. Better is you contact a local agency.

You can work in conjunction with the agency to combine the types of hotels we want, the islands, the type of excursions. In the end, you can reach the islands of Polynesia with great peace of mind, without stress, knowing that everything is ready. The agency even takes care of transfers between airports and accommodation, and for excursions.

bande color deco beige blog traveling
polinesia francesa mapa - where is french polynesia

Before the trip :

  • It is difficult to find flights to French Polynesia that cost little, little change with the time, or taking it long before. In other words, it’s not with the plane ticket that you can save money. Traveling to French Polynesia is globally expensive. That’s why it’s best to choose first the dates when hotels cost less during the year (some offers or packs come up during the year) and then buy the plane tickets.
  • If you are traveling from Europe, you can find some opportunity on plane tickets currently with the more or less recent French bee airline. It is a lowcost line with all that this implies, it is necessary to calculate if the accompanying expenses do not exceed or equal the ticket with a traditional line.
  • Choosing the islands of French Polynesia that you want to know is the first step in organizing this trip. This will vary the price of the trip. You can leave the islands which include an air Tahiti plane pass (the interisland airline). Different passes include a group of islands and depending on this vary the fare.
  • How to choose hotels? In my posts, I give quite a few details of how we chose the hotels. In my last Bora Bora Post, you will find a detailed explanation regarding luxury hotels in Bora Bora. Anyway, there are for all tastes and budgets.
  • Equip: Waterproof bags to protect cell phones and delicate objects, snorkeling t-shirts, super indispensable snorkeling shoes (reef shoes)
  • Limit the amount of luggage, in French Polynesia, are constantly packing to change the island. You don’t have to wear a lot of clothes. It is possible to buy pareos once there, and dress half the time with these. The girls wear beach dresses, which serve both for the day and to go to the restaurants at night. Unless you’re staying in a luxury hotel, heels are totally useless, and will significantly limit mobility. If you really want to wear some heels, opt for compensated sandals.
  • Carrying everything you need to protect yourself from the sun, in French Polynesia is inclement, even when it is cloudy you burn, and the reverberation is strong: hats, protective creams +50, cream for after-sun, sunglasses.
  • Pack things for chopping: chips (the pringles or pringles are excellent because it protects them the packaging), peanuts and anything that looks like it, pates or spreading creams that do not need refrigeration, crackers (attention to packaging because they can get made flour), chocolates if they are lovers of it. And bring the alcohol of your choice (wine, strong alcohol…). In French Polynesia alcohol is very expensive, except for local beer. Read my article How to save money on a travel to Bora Bora.
  • If you are a snorkeling enthusiast, please bring your own masks. All the hotels give them to you but are the entry range of Decatlón.
  • Book excursions: it is preferable to book the activities in advance, but you run the risk of not finding a place in some of them that limit the number of people.
  • Don’t forget insect repellents. Also, buy the ones who put on the clothes. Make sure they serve for the tropical areas. In French Polynesia you will be able to buy monoi oil with citronella, this is practically the only one that serves against the nonos (tiny mosquitoes that bite very hard and leave you a mark that lasts weeks).

Some tips for the Flight to French Polynesia:

On a trip to French Polynesia, you need to make your flight as comfortable as possible. The Flight lasts a lot of hours for many of us, and if you want to enjoy when you arrive, and not arriving totally destroyed, you need to take some measures. Here the ideas than have worked for me:

  • Try to rest very well the day before the trip, preferably take a flight that leaves in the afternoon. You’ll see that you will arrive more rested at the destination.
  • If you have trouble sleeping, you can buy some natural sleeping pills. There are melatonin and verbena, and they work very well without having to get high to sleep.
  • Wear containment stockings. The journey is considerably long and with these stockings, you arrive rested. They are fabulous (not very sexy!) but you’ll be great at your arrival.
  • Bring some comfy clothes to change on the plane. Use them during the flight; you can change them before landing. Consider that on the plane it always gets cold, so take a pull.
  • If you have dry eye problems, wear an eye lubricant. They will avoid arriving with tired, burning red eyes.
  • Drink plenty of water on the plane, walk to the back if possible according to your seat.
  • Take a hydrating cream for your face and hands; and use it several times during the flight.

Once the trip has started:

  • First at all, don’t forget to take into account that, it is impossible to compare French Polynesian prices with others. You’d go the bitter trip. Prepare a budget before the trip and set an amount per day. We set ourselves 100 euros per day, so we had seen in restaurant prices, and in the end, we spent much less.  There are things for everyone and pockets. It all depends on what you want to do.
  • French Polynesia is not a particularly festive destination. If you want partying and moving during the night, it’s really not the place for you. That’s why they choose her for honeymoon. Calm is the keyword of this place. The pace of the islands goes with the day, everything starts very early, around 6 in the morning and everything ends very early too, at 10 o’clock at night everything is already closing. Take advantage of this calm that is difficult to find today.
  • Visit Papeete Market to buy handicrafts, pareos and handmade beach dresses. The monoi oils I recommend buying them in the supermarket, cost half and are exactly the same.
  • In the area where luggage is recovered at Tahiti airport, there is a small duty-free, it is cheaper than outside, but it will always be more expensive than taking things. But it’s all about the weight available in the luggage.
  • If you want to control expenses, always opt for restaurants whose cuisine is rather local. There will be those who will have a more French trend and will be much more expensive since their ingredients will be imported. Among the alcohols forget about European wines if you do not want to spend too much, there is an optimal local white wine and the beers Hinano or Tabu are very good and much cheaper than all the rest of the alcohols. Also take advantage of eating fish in all its forms.