Getting Around French Polynesia

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  • Ferry
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Most Viewed Transportation in French Polynesia

  • Family Flight Passes

    by cheaptickets Updated Apr 4, 2011

    When travelling with children in French Polynesia make sure to get a Family ID Card. Bring a passport size photo the the Air Tahiti office in Papeete, fill out their form, show your passports and you can receive up to 75% off on flights for Children (2-11yrs) and 50% off on flights for Adults. It saved us a bundle as we were travelling with 5 children for 2 months.

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    Travel between the Islands

    by Kakapo2 Updated Jan 25, 2011

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    Air Tahiti flies to 27 islands – which includes all biggies of the Society Islands, and also Rarotonga (but this only during very limited periods), the main island of the Cook Islands. Travel starts at Faa’a Airport in Papeete.

    They have airfares which either include 20kg or 50kg free luggage.

    Just an example: In the high season a one way flight with 20 kg allowance from Papeete to Bora Bora costs between 164 and 181 Euro, return from 294 to 324 Euro.

    From Bora Bora you can fly to nine different islands.

    Also check out Air Passes if you plan island hopping.

    http://www.airtahiti.aero/home.php

    Additionally, Air Moorea operates between Tahiti and Moorea.

    http://www.airmoorea.com/home.php?cat=1

    A cheaper option to travel between the islands is by boat. And between the Society Islands this is no real problem, in most cases there are at least two trips per week. Between Tahiti and Moorea you have daily service, and it takes only have an hour. Between Tahiti and Bora Bora three trips per week (on the Vaeanu Mon/Wed/Fri and on the Hawaiki Nui, Ono Ono, Aremiti). Those sailings go via Huahine, Raiatea, and Tahaa. From Bora Bora again you can take the boat to Maupiti (Maupiti Express).

    Cost from Papeete to the Leeward Islands (Bora Bora, Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa) on the Vaeanu is from about 2000 CPF (17 Euro) on deck to 6000 CPF (51 Euro) in a double cabin with bath. The Wednesday trips are in cabins only.

    An example of a trip from Papeete to Bora Bora:
    Departure 5pm, arrival next morning at 6.30am

    More info here:
    http://www.boraboraisland.com/gethere.html#papeete

    http://www.tahiti-tourisme.com/utilities/Boats_ISLV_06%2003.pdf

    http://www.tahiti.com/english-version/about-tahiti/gen-resources/boat%20transportation.html

    (The latter website has info about all boats, including cargo)

    The problem starts with the more remote islands in the other archipelagos. There are no passenger ships, so best you fly to the nearest of the islands you want to visit. The ships between the remote islands do not travel very frequently.

    You should also check out the cargo ships. However, travelling is very basic. You would stay on deck and have to bring your own bedding. Surely a way of getting around you will not forget.



    Update 26 January 2011

    The above info for ferries is not entirely correct anymore. I have been just working on a tip - for Moorea -, so here is some new information:

    How to get to Moorea – by ferry

    The high-speed ferry needs 20 resp. 45 minutes.

    I was told the latter can be very entertaining, with dolphins having fun at the bow.

    The Aremiti Ferry and the Aremiti 5 connect Tahiti and Moorea at least six times per day. One-way fare as Jan. 2011: 1365 CPX (car from 3800 CPX, on the ferry 2900 CPX). No discounts for return trip.

    http://www.aremiti.net/aremiti-5/tarifs-aremiti-5/

    More information on the Aremiti website:

    http://www.aremiti.net/

    (The information on this quite good website: http://www.mooreaisland.com/gethere.html#charter is not up to date anymore.)

    Timetables:
    http://www.aremiti.net/aremiti-5/horaires-aremiti-5/

    Contact - phones:
    Tahiti +689 50 57 57 / + 689 50 57 92
    Moorea +689 56 31 10

    The Moorea Express, another ferry service provider, has stopped operating in September 2010 until further notice.

    http://www.mooreaferry.pf/

    Technical details of the Aremiti Ferry:
    272 foot steel - passenger and car FERRY Catamaran. Snack bar and bathrooms onboard. Maximum capacity: 502 passengers and 100 cars.
    Length of voyage to Moorea - (quay to quay): 45 minutes.

    Aremiti 5:
    161' double hulled aluminum catamaran with sun deck.
    FAST! -Length of voyage to Moorea - (quay to quay): 20 minutes. Snack bar and bathrooms onboard., Max. capacity: 697 passengers and 30 cars.

    Despite the exact departure times, schedules, hours, and prices are prone to change, so always check the details again and again.

    A cargo ship getting into the port of Papeete.
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    Getting around on the Islands

    by Kakapo2 Written Aug 9, 2009

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    There are generally five possibilities: Le Truck which is the public bus, rental car or scooter, or bicycle, or a guided tour.

    The problem with Le Truck is that it only has a kind of real schedule on Tahiti but you will struggle during the weekend. During the week you can get around the island without the chance of not getting back to where you started.

    On the smaller islands service is very limited. On Bora Bora, although the circle island road is only 32 km to circumnavigate, there is no round the island service.

    So you rely on rental vehicles, and those are extremely expensive.

    On Tahiti I got information about a rental company named Robert which has cars with daily hire rates of about 5000 CFP (42 Euro) but with most other companies you pay twice this and more for the smallest vehicle.

    We tried to hire a scooter in Moorea but the big companies like Europcar and Avis have no scooters – which are not cheap either on the other islands. On Raiatea you can only make the small circle island tour on a scooter, for the big tour on a partly unsealed road you need a car.

    Bora Bora is perfect for being explored by bicycle, Moorea and Raiatea have quite some hills and are rather big, so you would struggle to get around in a day – as most bicycles have one gear only ;-)

    If you have accommodation on Bora Bora and do not, as we did, travel by cruise ship you might be lucky and get a bike for free from your hosts or for a small fee only. The bicycle is the ideal means of local transport on all islands, just not always to tour the entire island.

    The buses named Le Truck are not always reliable.
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    Getting to French Polynesia

    by Kakapo2 Written Aug 9, 2009

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    Distances and flight times from international destinations to Tahiti:

    Paris 17,100 km/20 hours
    Los Angeles 6,200 km/8 hours
    New York 10,100 km/12.5 hours
    Auckland (New Zealand) 3,900 km/5.5 hours
    Sydney 5700 km/6.5 hours
    Santiago de Chile (via Easter Island) 7,500 km/8 hours
    Tokyo 8,800 km/11 hours

    Airlines that service Papeete (Tahiti; Faa’a Airport):

    Air France
    Air Calin
    Air New Zealand
    Hawaiian Airlines
    Japan Airlines
    Lan Airlines
    Qantas
    Air Tahiti Nui

    Always check out if a round the world ticket could be the best deal for you. For example, if you live in Europe it could be hugely interesting to fly with Lan Chile and have a stop-over on the Easter Islands on the way to Tahiti or back home.

    Direct links to the above listed airlines on this website:

    http://www.boraboraisland.com/gethere.html#papeete

    Flying into Papeete. Moorea in the background.
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    Air Tahiti Nui

    by Muya Written Jan 10, 2008

    Eleven hours + 8 more after the unpleasant stop in L.A.; a 22 hours-journey on the whole. Long flight but very comfortable plane. Each seat is provided with a private TV screen allowing you to choose your own programme during the flight. You can choose from a selection of 8 movies, various games, Tiare TV (Polynesian TV) or the Air Show indicating your exact position on a detailed map. The different meals we got were quite good and gave us a first taste of Polynesian dishes.
    And I can't forget to mention of course the traditional gardenia flower offered to each passenger boarding the plane in Paris !! A really thoughtful little attention that will be repeated all along your trip in French Polynesia !

    Air Tahiti Nui

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    Air Tahiti

    by cgf Written Jun 25, 2006

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    Using AIr Tahiti (not Air Tahiti Nui which is an other airline) is the quickest way to visit the atolls of French Polynesia.
    Very clean and confortable ATR, no meaningful delay, the staff is very kind and helpful. In the case you want to visit more islands, I suggest to buy a pass.
    http://www.airtahiti.aero/articles.php?id=69
    The Air Pass could be bought sending a request by email with an itinerary which has to be confermed.
    debit on my credtit card was made one month before first flight with them even I booked 4 monthes in advance.

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    Le Truck - a bus service around the Island

    by easyoar Written Apr 22, 2005

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    By far the cheapest way to get around any particular island in French Polynesia is to use Le Truck. Le Truck is a bus that basically drives around the island you are on (e.g. Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora etc), and you flag it down at a stop, and let the driver know when you need to get off - it can be flexible sometimes although it is supposed to use proper stops.

    I can'tremember the exact cost, but it was the only thing I remember in French Polynesia that felt good value. However be aware that Le Truck does run on Tahiti time (i.e. it can be pretty late). If you are doing something to a budget then Le Truck is great. If you are in a hurry, get a car!

    However Le Truck can be good for getting to and from the Ferry, as it stops right outside the ferry terminal, and seems to try and coincide its stops with the ferry arriving/departing.

    I haven't got picture of Le-Truck myself, so this photo is courtesy of Tahiti Tourisme

    Le Truck - a bus service around the Island
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    Rent a car and drive around the Island you are on

    by easyoar Written Apr 22, 2005

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    Whilst it is not especially cheap to rent a car in French Polynesia, it can work out quite cost effective compared to paying someone else to take you to places (hotels are so expensive you don't tend to be staying long, so everything is done in a hurry, so Le Truck is not always feasible!).

    You can rent cars by the day with unlimited mileage, or you can pay less if you are going to do less mileage, with a surcharge for every extra kilometre you drive. If you have a good idea that you are not going to drive too far, this can be a good idea.

    This picture shows the car we rented in the grounds of the Tahiti Museum.

    Rent a car and drive around the Island you are on
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    Just around in the sea

    by easyoar Written Apr 22, 2005

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    This is a slightly flippant transport tip, but if you just fancy a padle about in the sea or viiting a Motu under your own steam, it is well worth rentng or borrowing a boat of some description and paddling about.

    A good number of the islands have coral reefs around them, which protect the islands from strong currents and make swimming and boating much safer than it would otherwise be.

    Of course if you rent one in the evening, you can have a romantic moment and watch the sun set. Just be careful not to capsize the boat ;-) A sudden dose of seawater is not the most romantic thing I can think of.

    Paddle about in the sea
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    Boats between Moorea and Tahiti

    by easyoar Written Apr 22, 2005

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    There are several boats that leave to/from Moorea to Papeete (Papeete is the capital of Tahiti) a few times a day.

    Unfortunately they all seem to depart at virtually the same time, so if you miss a boat, you can have several hours wait for the next one, so make sure you know what times the boats leave in advance and get there early as they depart promptly - they don't work on Tahitian time (i.e. late!).

    From memory, the boat is around £5 (less than $10 US) for a single to Tahiti (returns are double), which actually maks it quite good value by Polynesian standards!

    Boats between Moorea and Tahiti
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    International Flights

    by easyoar Written Apr 22, 2005

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    What the Faaa is that?

    If you have never been to Tahiti, you will probably look at the title and think "What on earth is that word - Faaa". Faaa is the name of the airport (it is also the name of the closest town). It's an incredibly simple word, but leaves you wondering whether you have actually pronounced it properly or not!

    It's quite a pleasant airport, but the duty free prices are criminal, as are all prices in Tahiti, but I think the airport wins, so don't wait to buy anything at the airport.

    Also when you leave, you can get some very long queues and waits to get on to your flight. Delayed flights seemed common. If you are heading to the U.S., you will get searched a lot more than if you fly anywhere else (fortuntely I wasn't headed that way...), but the Americans on the checking queue next to me were getting very annoyed at the hoops they had to jump through.

    Destinations I can remember are Auckland NZ, Easter Island, the USA and of course France!

    Tahiti Faaa Airport
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    Sail around the Islands

    by ATXtraveler Written Apr 7, 2005

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    If you are interested in seeing a little more of each island, instead of spending a whole vacation on one island, I would recommend taking the Seven Seas' Paul Gaugin.

    I did not go on this cruise, so I can not vouch for it, however we did see them in all the ports that we visited, so my itinerary must be great!

    Paul Gaugin

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    Air Tahiti Nui

    by ATXtraveler Written Apr 6, 2005

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    There are a few carriers that service French Polynesia's Papeete Airport, but few provide the service and smile of Air Tahiti Nui. This is the official airline of the islands, and their crew is a mixture of Tahitians and French flight attendants. On both our trip there and way home, the crew was extremely friendly!

    Also, because it was our honeymoon (or as Sarah believes it to be my schmoozing ability), we did receive an upgrade of sorts. We were able to obtain the exit row on both occassions which made it very comfortable since I am 6'3.

    Make sure you are ready to pay if you are looking for an upgrade. Since everyone is on their honeymoon on that flight to Papeete, they charge 600 USD each way for an upgrade... and are pretty stiff on this. Book into business class or better if you want to be eating fresh pineapple on this flight!

    Sarah and our flight attendant

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    Moorea Express Ferry

    by ATXtraveler Written Apr 5, 2005

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    If you are headed to Tahiti or Moorea, please take heed of this tip. It will save you at least $100 US dollars, and you will enjoy saving the money!

    Air Tahiti charges an arm and a leg for a 15 minute flight from Papeete to Moorea, which in my opinion is not worth it!

    Since you will have to pick up your international baggage anyway, have to re-check in at PPT and board another plane to Moorea, why not see more of the island!

    Take the Moorea Express Ferry instead (its a cab ride or Le Truck ride from the airport), where you will get 30 minutes of relaxing breath-taking views of Tahiti and Moorea by high speed catamaran.

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    Faaa International Airport (PPT)

    by ATXtraveler Written Apr 5, 2005

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    If you are flying into French Polynesia, it is safe to assume that you will be starting your trip in Faaa, pronounced Fah-ah-ah, which is the only site in French Polynesia with an international airport. It also acts as the hub for most inter-island flights. Do not confuse this with a major hub airport however, as there are not nearly as many amenities as a normal large Airport. Not all of the facility has air conditioning, and the security measures are clearly inconvienent at best now. Expect to take at least an hour out of your trip to clear customs, sort out your visa and get your baggage while here!

    Papeete Airport

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