5 Helpful Tips to Planning Your Tahiti Vacation

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The French Polynesian island of Tahiti dazzles the unsuspecting traveler with pristine beauty and surprising culture. But getting there affordably and enjoying it can be a bit tricky. We're offering five helpful tips to planning your Tahiti vacation, so you can make the most of your island vacation.

1. When to go on your Tahiti vacation

Peak travel rates (when things are most expensive) are roughly during the warm but dry winter months, especially during July and August. Many December rates can also be expensive due to the Christmas holiday. And while the summers between November and May are a bit wetter, there are still plenty of sunny days to be found on the island, making it a great time for planning your Tahiti vacation.

2. Planning your flight to Tahiti

While you may be able to get lucky and find an affordable airfare/cruise package to Tahiti, you're going to have to fly there in almost all cases. When you begin your search, you're probably going to notice just how expensive flying to Tahiti can be. The best advice to use when searching for flights to Tahiti is to take advantage of the 30-day flexible date search on sites like Hotwire.com and Orbitz.com.

Set your search for the maximum 30-day flexibility and see what there is to see from month to month. You'll notice that most flights to Tahiti are managed by Air Tahiti Nui. At the time of this writing I found a February round-trip flight from St. Louis to Tahiti for a little over $1,260 with taxes. When compared to the numerous $3,000+ flights out there, this is a veritable bargain. Of course maximum flexibility in planning your Tahiti vacation is key to taking advantage of the lowest fares when you find them.

3. What to pack for your Tahiti vacation

Tahiti's climate is typically warm year round. As the island is located south of the equator, the seasons are reversed: summer temperatures peaking around 85°F occur between November and May while winter temperatures peaking around 82°F occur between June and October. You may not notice such a slight temperature difference, but summers tend to be wetter than winters. You'll rarely need warm clothing, but there are exceptions. You may need a pullover for the long flight you take to get to Tahiti as well as the slightly cooler winter nights. The only other time you may want warmer clothing is if you plan on hiking up Mont Orohena; temperatures peak around 52-57°F at the summit.

Bring comfortable, cool clothes for daily living. If you plan on trekking out and seeing any of the pristine natural beauty to be found, loose-fitting, moisture wicking clothing is practical. And of course swimsuits and suncream are obligatory when planning your Tahiti vacation.

4. What to do on your Tahiti vacation

Tahiti has plenty to offer the traveler, including beautiful mainstream beaches, pleasant Tahiti resorts, and excellent snorkeling. But there's plenty more to see and do that lies off the beaten path. There's a lot of natural beauty on the island, with some areas remaining relatively untouched by man. These oases of natural wonder are able to be witnessed with or without a guide. Climbing the 2,200+ meter Mount Orohena may be a challenge fit for doing with a guide, but there are plenty of locales that you can discover on your own.

If you want to travel across the island, you can rent a car, though it can be expensive. Consider renting scooters; they're considerably cheaper. If you're looking to trek of to some of the other magnificent islands in French Polynesia, there are some ferries that set out to them, though flights are a bit more common.

5. Other tips for planning your Tahiti vacation

Here are some miscellaneous tips for planning your Tahiti vacation:

• Tahiti is in the same time zone as Hawaii meaning that it's two hours ahead of U.S. Pacific Standard Time (PST) and five hours ahead of the U.S. Eastern Standard Time (EST) outside of Daylight Savings Time (DST). When DST is in effect in the U.S., Tahiti is three and six hours ahead respectively.
• The official language on Tahiti is French, though many citizens use Tahitian. While many of the more touristy locations will have English-speaking folk, know that many folks who are not confident with English will not speak it much. It won't hurt to learn a few basic French and Tahitian phrases before you go.
• U.S. and Canadian citizens only need a passport that is valid 180 days beyond the return date. Citizens from other countries will need to apply for a visa. Plan ahead as it may take a few weeks to procure.
• In French Polynesia the currency used is the Pacific French Franc (CFP). You'll likely get your best conversion rates by using your credit card. Traveler checks typically offer the next best conversion, then cash.

Photo by aafes49 on Flickr
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