French Polynesia

Tahiti has one of the lowest crime rates within France and its territories. However, petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching occurs.

As an overseas territory of France, defence and law enforcement are provided by the French Forces Army, Navy, Air Force and Gendarmerie.

No vaccines are required.

Be sure to bring jelly-type sandals for walking amidst coral in the water and along the beaches or either old sneakers so you don't cut your feet on the coral or don't step on a stonefish.

Encounters with sharks in the lagoon will be most likely when scuba diving or even snorkeling but they are harmless. So are stingrays. However, be aware of moray eels which hide deep in the corals and are generally curious. Be sure to keep your fingers to yourself or risk a painful bite.

Medical treatment is generally good. Two major hospitals as well as several private clinics provide 24-hour medical service.

No vaccines are required.

archipelagoes

Marquesas Islands - northeastern archipelago, a group of high islands near the equator, whose steep mountains are inhabited by wild horses, goats and pigs. Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa are outstanding.

Tuamotu Islands - vast central archipelago of coral reefs. It is a collection of low islands or atolls. Rangiroa is outstanding.

Society Islands - most-inhabited western island group, a group of high tropical islands encircled by coral reefs and lagoons divided administratively into Windward Islands and Leeward Islands. Among the Leeward Islands Bora Bora is outstanding, Huahine, Maupiti and Raiatea are especially remarkable, in the Windward Islands Moorea is outstanding and Tahiti with the capital Papeete is especially remarkable

Austral Islands - small southern archipelagos includes Tubuai Islands and Bass Islands. Last inhabited islands of the South Pacific, these ancient volcanoes with soft relief are far off the beaten track

Gambier Islands - to the south-east, rarely visited, consisting of the high island of Mangareva and its fringe of islands which are the eroded remains of its former gigantic crater, is situated in the far eastern corner of French Polynesia.

respect

Tahitians are proud of their islands and happy to share their way of life with their guests in many ways. They are really relaxed people who live according to the aita pea pea philosophy meaning "no worries". Their culture should be respected as well as their way of life. Don't make them feel that you're superior to them but just be natural. They are a very welcoming and warm people.

Please also respect the land and its diversity. Activities which include approaching whales and other marine mammals are regulated and authorizations from the environmental authorities are mandatory.

contact

Internet access in Polynesia is provided by MANA, a subsidiary of the Post and Telecommunications Office, either by modem or by ADSL. For a short stay, a subscription-free connection is best. You can make the connection with the following information:Telephone # of the server: 36-88-88 - Log-in: anonymous - Password: anonymous. This type of modem connection is available in all archipelagos.

There are cyber-spaces on Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine, Bora Bora, Raiatea and Rangiroa about 250 Fcfp for a 15 minute connection. Most of the hotels and some small hotels and pensions provide Internet access to their guests. On some islands, access is possible from post offices.

Wifitiki (http://www.wifitiki.com/h...) has a useful page listing wifi hotspots in French Polynesia.

Iaoranet (http://www.iaoranet.com) also provides wifi in the Society Islands Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine, Bora Bora, Raiatea as well as some of the Tuamotus Fakarava, Manihi, Rangiroa, Gambiers Mangareva, and Marquesas Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa. One hour costs ~$5US, but blocks of time can be purchased online for as little as $2US/hour. The service is slow but fairly reliable.

talk

The official languages are French and Tahitian with French being the most widely spoken language by far. English is also widely spoken particularly in tourist areas.

Here are the main Tahitian words that you may pick up from a conversation:

Aita = no

E = yes

Fare = house

Ia ora na = Good Morning

Ma'a = food

Maeva = welcome

Maita'i? = How are you?

Mauruuru = Thank you

Nana = Goodbye

Pape = water

Tama'a = Let's eat

Tahitians have a tendency to mix up French and Tahitian words in their conversation, so don't be surprised.