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French Polynesia



French Polynesia Travel Guide


The French Polynesia is a group of islands located between South America and Australia, which are surrounded by the South Pacific Ocean. The area is a huge 5 million square kilometres, that contain around 246,000 folk easily fitting themselves into the region, who are mainly of Polynesian, European and Asian descent and Protestant, Catholic, Mormon and Buddhist religion. The inhabitants speak English, French and Tahitian and make their living from tourism and pearling, trading mainly with the USA, France, New Zealand and Japan.

During the 19th century, the French seized many Polynesian islands and restarted nuclear testing on the island of Mururoa, after 3 years of suspension. This resuming of nuclear testing caused extensive disputes and by January 1996 was again suspended.

Today there’s lots of fun to be had on the islands of the French Polynesia, with the water-based ones on the coast, having some wonderful beaches and lagoons. The islands are a diver and snorkellers paradise, due to the vast amount of colourful sea life that can be found within the South Pacific Ocean, with the lagoons of Rangiroa in the Tuamotus being the most popular. Land lovers will get their thrills too, from the various highlands throughout the region, having some great treks, horse riding trails, mountainous areas and 4WD adventures to indulge in. For those who just want to browse, should head for the islands’ capital of Papeete, where a day of shopping is very much similar to those in other cities around the world, but with a pinch of Polynesian flavour. The streets are narrow, with stalls selling everything from brightly coloured clothing to craft ware, souvenirs and jewellery, especially black pearls. Visitors will even find brand new cars on sale next to books and cosmetics, all at quite expensive prices…so bartering is a must!

To get from one island to another, most visitors travel around by boat or plane, with flights being decently priced, except for the islands that are further a field, requiring that extra bit more fuel. The boats sail around frequently to all of the island groups and are a cheap and scenic way to travel. Getting around once on the island can be done by local bus known as le truck, which is safe as well as cheap! Taxis are another form of transport but are ridiculously expensive. Visitors wanting more flexibility to explore though should rent a car or scooter, with 4WD’s also for hire for those rougher terrains. Bicycles are another option for those who just want to take it easy and go short distances at their own pace.

Reaching the French Polynesia is possible by plane, direct to Faa Airport in Papeete, from most worldwide countries, the only exception being other areas of the South Pacific Ocean. Anyone wanting to join the fun festivals should come in July, when the 30-day Heiva i Tahiti festival is on. The event occurs at a time when the weather is cooler and drier, which is a much better time to visit to avoid the worst of the heat.

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French Polynesia Travel Guide, Attractions and Highlights
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