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French Polynesia

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We often only remember the name of Tahiti to evoke this distant France of the Pacific, that of the flower necklaces, that of the crystal clear waters and the vertiginous cliffs, that where we would dream of escaping for even a moment. Polynesia is however much more than an island, it is a total of 118 islands scattered over an area equivalent to that of Europe that form what is known as "French Polynesia". Each of its five archipelagos has its own universe: undoubtedly the most visited, the Society's islands are home to the famous Tahiti and its capital Papeete but also the idyllic Bora Bora, treasure of divers and the photogenic Moorea, prized by the wedding guests. Directly to the east, the Tuamotu archipelago has traded the mountains for sand and coral. Most of its atolls do not exceed two meters of altitude, idleness and disconnection guaranteed. A little further south this time, the Gambier Archipelago is actually the memory of a once very powerful volcano. Even more isolated but no less famous, the Marquesas archipelago is already 1,500 km from Tahiti and is the first archipelago to have been populated by the Polynesians. Finally, in the far south, the Southern Archipelago is undoubtedly the most authentic. All of them have in common the warmth in the hearts of their inhabitants, a gentle way of life and an almost fusional relationship with the ocean around them. It is not surprising that several of our illustrious artists have decided to settle here

What to see, what to do French Polynesia?

When to go French Polynesia ?

The high season runs from May to October, and for the Christmas and New Year holidays. The best time to travel to French Polynesia is during the southern winter, between May and October, and especially in August and September (it is also the whale season in the Southern Ocean and the Society's islands), when the temperatures are a little cooler (especially at night)

The low season runs from November to April. December and January are traditionally very low! January and February are the wettest months, especially on the upper islands; they also potentially correspond to the hurricane season (although they are much less frequent than in the Caribbean).

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Covid-19 : current situation French Polynesia

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, entry and travel restrictions may apply French Polynesia. Remember to visit the site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before you leave for the latest information
Practical information for travel French Polynesia

In order to organize your stay in Polynesia in the best conditions, it is imperative to have in mind the sea and air links. All the information is in this guide, but ask the companies you use for the days, prices and schedules, which can change at any time. Air Tahiti offers "Passes" which are interesting to visit several islands. Some people consider that it is better to visit Bora Bora at the end of the trip in order to reserve "the best for last". We do not necessarily agree. First of all, because Bora is not "better" than another island: on the contrary, Huahine and Maupiti are often favored by travelers. Secondly, because an early stay in Bora allows you to better prepare your budget. Finally, Bora remains the most touristic island, and a sudden passage from Papeete to the mineral and vegetal world of Tahaa for example, may surprise some.

How to go French Polynesia

How to go alone

It is of course possible to build your own itinerary to discover this destination. Ten days is the minimum to hope to see the immense Polynesia and not enough to be able to enjoy its sweetness of life. This is barely enough to discover two or three of the most touristy islands, and there are five archipelagos to visit! It will be necessary to plan your travel between the islands and your accommodation well in advance.

How to go on a tour

A large number of tour operators offer French Polynesia: combined islands, cruises (catamarans or ocean liners) and diving holidays are in the spotlight, but there are also offers of cultural tours or hikes. Finally, proposals for boarding houses are also very frequent. However, the destination is very popular with lovers who want to celebrate their idyll at the end of the world in postcard settings.

How to get around

With 118 islands and as many ways to get there, travel will represent a large part of your budget. The plane is undoubtedly the easiest way to travel between the islands. Maritime transport is as varied and different as the islands it connects: there are car ferries and passenger transport, cruise ships, supply schooners, cargo and mixed cargo ships

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Discover French Polynesia

Land of dreams and fantasies, Eldorado praised and coveted since the dawn of time, Polynesia abounds in myths and clichés. The one of the vahine in the head, lascivious and exotic, dancing the tamure in front of an amazed audience... But what is it really about? Before setting foot in the country, this chapter gives you an overview of the history that has shaped it, its darkest moments, its cultural mix resulting from different waves of immigration, its economic and social issues, its lush nature and emerging ecological problems, its climate, mild all year round or almost, its ever-present struggle to gain more and more autonomy... In short, a portrait of this overseas country with its legendary hospitality and strong identity.

Pictures and images French Polynesia

Fragrance de Tiaré Author's Image
En toutes circonstances la vahiné arbore allure et fierté. Sylvain GRANDADAM
Phare face au lagon Author's Image
Les motus sont balayés par les vent du large. Author's Image

The 12 keywords French Polynesia

1. #Coprah

Cultivated on many islands, especially in the Societies and the Tuamotu, copra is the dried albumen of the coconut, or white water. When the coconuts fall, their flesh is recovered, dried in the sun, and transformed into copra. Sent to Tahiti, the copra is used to produce a crude oil used by the manufacturers of monoi.

2. #Fetii

It is a member of the extended family. Everyone is more or less a brother-in-law or cousin by marriage, and Polynesians always have one or more fetii in each of the Polynesian islands, like a huge family. In Papeete, there are whole fetii neighbourhoods that reconstitute family neighbourhoods in urban areas

3. #Mahi mahi

103 Mahi Mahi © FtLaudGirl -  iStockphoto.com.jpg

It's the Polynesian name for the dorado. In the Tuamotu, it is fished with a spear, with a poti marara (motor boat), during an eventful chase. The mahi mahi is the king of fish in the local diet: grilled or raw with coconut milk, you will find it on all the menus of snack bars and restaurants.

4. #Marae

Erected in a rectangular shape, the marae are ancient outdoor stone-paved places of worship where religious ceremonies were held. During the Heiva in July-August, these sacred sites are revived to the rhythm of traditional song and dance. Note that the Marquisians use a different terminology and call these buildings "meae".

5. #Motu

105 Motu © urosr - iStockphoto.com.jpg

Especially in the lower islands, the reef crown is adorned in places with coral surfaces that are still emerged: this is called a motu, an island in short. The latter can take on various shapes and proportions - in the Tuamotu archipelago for example, the main motu of Fakarava stretches over some forty kilometres!

6. #Poti marara

Originally specially designed for fishing for marara, small flying fish with delicate flesh, the poti marara is now also used for fishing for bonito, tuna with a harpoon and mahi mahi. Made locally, it has powerful engines, a hull capable of splitting the wave at high speed, and of course nets.

7. #Rae rae

The rae rae (pronounced "rairai"), or mahu, are transvestites. According to a legend, regardless of gender, the third child in the family was raised as a girl. According to the accounts of the first explorers, rae rae have always existed in Polynesian customs. Today, they are still well accepted, integrated and respected.

8. #Tamure

Danse tahitienne © sarayuth3390 - shutterstock.com.jpg

The sensual and even sexual dance of the Tahitian women has amazed many an explorer. Banned by the missionaries, the tamure remained in the shadows until the beginning of the century and began to revive at the end of the war. Practised by both men and women, it is undeniably part of French Polynesia's rich cultural heritage.

9. #Tane and Vahine

Respectively "man" and "woman". Beyond the signs on the doors of public toilets, these terms will be useful to you because they are fully part of the Franco-Taitian vocabulary. By extension, they are also used to translate "husband" and "wife"; you will now be able to answer the question "What is the name of your tane?"

10. #Tabu

It refers to a prohibition related to the sacred. Quite simply, in the Maori tradition, a tabu thing is inviolable because it is sacred. Whether you think it's out of place or not, it is de rigueur to respect a tabu, or else, according to Polynesian religious beliefs, you will receive a punishment of the supernatural order..

11. #Vaa'a

Va'a © sainthorant daniel - shutterstock.com.jpg

This is the Polynesian name for the traditional pendulum pirogue, the king sport in all the islands of Polynesia. While surfing, also an ancestral sport, is also popular with young people, the racing dugout canoe is still the competitive sport par excellence. It is notably publicised in Fenua during the famous Hawaiki Nui race.

12. #Vini

The vini - literally "little chirping bird" - is a very popular bird in Polynesia and is a pretty grey headed bird. So popular that it gave its name to the territory's first mobile phone operator in 1998, and everyone has been calling a mobile phone a vini ever since! If someone asks you for your vini, it's your number..

You are from here, if...

At lunch and dinner you will enjoy raw coconut fish, the emblematic dish of Fenua! Although the Polynesians themselves are tending more and more towards fast food junk food..

You call Polynesia "Fenua". This is how the media and Polynesians call their archipelago: it is their "land", their "country".

You feel the mana, foundation of Polynesian beliefs and emanation of spiritual power..

You can taste the fafaru, a fish macerated in sea water, and resist its unique aroma..

You don't take monoi for a self-tanner! This prodigious oil with multiple benefits is anything but a tanning product.

You adopt the inevitable Hinano, the local beer!

You become a ukulele pro and take part in the countless improvised jam sessions at airports, in the streets or quietly in the evening.

You follow Miss Tahiti's elections body and soul and support your candidate until the prestigious election of Miss France.

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