French Polynesia Favorites
Underwater Life Bora-Bora
So just about everyone goes snorkeling in Bora Bora and enjoys seeing the amazing underwater life. But here's a tip to enhance the experience. While snorkeling near overwater bungalows, have your...
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PEOPLE ARE VERY NICE BUT THE ISLAND ITSELF IS NOT WHAT I EXPECTED. IF YOU GO I WOULD SUGGEST NOT LEAVING YOUR RESORT. IT WAS SOMEWHAT DISSAPOINTING. I'VE BEEN TO 5 OTHER SURROUNDING ISLANDS AND THIS...
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The main citrus tree in the French Polynesian islands is “pamplemousse” – and you see it on this photo in the container in the foreground.
Although closely related, grapefruit and pamplemousse – in...
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Reviews from VirtualTourist Members
Tiare and Monoi
/I could also list this as a Local Customs tip - but by placing it here I save you an additional click... ;-)Tiare is the national flower of French Polynesia. It is a white flower with a strong scent, like Jasmine. Its scientific name is Gardenia tahitensis. This gardenia is endemic to French Polynesia and grows on shrubs.Monoi is the product obtained by macerating Tiare blossoms in refined coconut (copra) oil which is famous for its silky and light feel. The flowers have to be gathered in the morning and macerated within 24 hours. This process of extracting the essential compounds of the flower then takes about 10 days. The active oil then is filtered. Finally it is used in many cosmetic products and massage oils. In ancient Polynesia it was a sacred oil and used in many rituals.You see the Tiare flower worn by women in their hair, in flower necklaces (lei; hei), floral crowns, and...
Noni - a Fruit to Argue about
/You might have read about or heard of the miraculous qualities of the Noni fruit. In Germany there are people who claim it might heal cancer. This is just over the top for me, and I also doubt other claims. It might have some health benefits, for example it helps to boost your immune system, better digest food. Perhaps you even get better skin and age more slowly. Anyway. You can get Noni Juice everywhere in the South Pacific islands, there is a trademark registered for Noni Juice from the Cook Islands, and I have seen people sell it – filled in Coca Cola bottles – on the produce and handicraft market in Vava’u (Tonga). In the USA and Germany the Tahitian Noni – sweetened in Provo (Utah) – is big and costs an awful lot of money. All claims, however, are more pseudo-scientific than scientific. The distribution system is network-like, so the early Noni juice sellers earn an awful lot of...
Vanilla and the Story about the Bees
/Tahaa is the vanilla island. And you can buy vanilla products everywhere in French Polynesia – and also visit vanilla plantations in Tahaa and see how labour-intensive it is to produce this wonderful spice harvested from the pods of a climbing orchid.Originally from Mexico, today there are three major cultivars of vanilla grown globally, all derived from a species originally found in Latinamerica, including Mexico.The majority of the world’s vanilla is the Vanilla planifolia or fragrans, grown on Madagascar, Réunion and other tropical areas along the Indian Ocean – which is my favourite one and also known as Bourbon-Vanilla. The Vanilla pompona is found in the West Indies, Central and South America. And on Tahaa you find, as you can guess, Vanilla tahitensis. What makes vanilla so expensive is the fact that it has to be hand-pollinated. Originally a bee named Melipone bee (mountain bee)...
Black Pearls - Quality and Beauty
-They are the most advertised, and probably also most loved souvenirs you can buy on the islands, and also an important factor of French Polynesia’s economy.Some black pearls are even black. Let’s say, more anthracite than black. The better term for the pearls you get in (French) Polynesia would be Tahitian Pearl (Perle de Tahiti) or South Sea Pearl. The name Black Pearl derives from the black lips of the Cumingi oyster variety in which those unique pearls grow. (They have black-lipped oysters, as we have green-lipped mussels in New Zealand.) Those oysters’ name is Pinctada Margaritifera. The Black Pearls have been registered as a trademark by the World Jewelery Federation CIBJO in 1986. The shapes and colours vary dramatically. The colours vary from deep lagoon green to bright sunset red, but also from pale grey to anthracite black. Some rare pearls have up to four different colours....
Be Prepared for Mosquito Attacks
-After having read about fierce mosquito attacks on all islands you can be sure that we had insect repellent in our luggage and took it on all our trips on land, as have those annoying sandflies in New Zealand. But believe it or not, we did not need the repellent a single time, be it in French Polynesia or any other island during our South Pacific cruise. My husband was bitten by some few mosquitoes in Samoa, I think, and treated his bites with Tiger Balm, I did not suffer a single bite. Well, hubby is the best insect repellent you can imagine ;-)Anyway. It hugely depends on the season and the weather if you need repellent or not. When it is hot and humid, especially during the rain season, the mosquitoes become active and can make life hell. But we travelled in June, the weather was good and not too humid, so we were fine.The locals protect themselves by lighting fires in the gardens –...
The Language: French and Tahitian
-The official language in the islands is French but most people speak Tahitian, also called Reo Ma’ohi (similar to Te Reo Maori in New Zealand).Although English is widely spoken in the tourism industry, so in resorts and on organised tours/activities, it helps a lot to speak French if you want to get a bit into local culture and get in touch with the locals. The more you get away from the main centres, the more it is essential to speak French, especially when you venture out on Le Truck in Tahiti, or search a special place. Certainly you will get around without French, with notes, pointing on maps and guide books, and sign language. Having lived in New Zealand for several years, with very little possibilities of speaking French, I thoroughly enjoyed to hear and speak French again.I found it quite nice that I know some Maori words from daily use and a bit of learning in New Zealand. As...
Climate: It is always hot
-The islands enjoy a tropical climate. This means, it is hot year-round. The main difference is between the dry season (with still quite humid air…) and rain season.The rain season is from December to April, with an average annual rainfall of 2268 millimetres. This is also the hottest season, so rather gluey ;-)The dry season is from July to October. During this time you can encounter cooler evenings. They call this “austral winter”. It is the season of festivals and celebrations.The seasons in-between the rain and dry season normally are nice and pleasant.
Currency: Carry Thousands of CPF or XPF
/Currency in French Polynesia is the CPF, also XPF = Cour de Franc Pacifique.The exchange rate with the Euro is fixed.1000 CFP = 8.38 EuroThe exchange rate with foreign currencies is flexible and can vary.With the US$ in June 2009 was:90 CFP = 1 US$But as said, this can vary, so sometimes you might get 100 CFP for 1 US$, sometimes less.
Remoteness means: Distances
-As you have to travel via Tahiti if you arrive on an international flight, let me give you some distances in French Polynesia from Tahiti:Moorea 15 kmHuahine 175 kmRaiatea/Tahaa 195/200 kmBora Bora 268 kmRangiroa 300 kmNuku Hiva (Marquesas) 1500 km
PK and milestones
Distances in French Polynesia are calculated with PK (Point Kilométrique). Milestones are placed all along the coastal road as a reference, usually starting with "0" in the main town of the island.Mile posts in Moorea are quite particular…they are heart-shaped like the island :-)
Top 3 Hotels in French Polynesia
Reviews and photos of French Polynesia favorites posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for French Polynesia sightseeing.