When packing for a trip to Tahiti, focus on casual, comfortable, warm weather clothing. In even the best restaurants, the dress code is island casual. Sandals are acceptable everywhere, and men can leave their neckties home.
For women, sundresses or shorts are always suitable. Local residents really do wear pareos (sarongs) as everyday dress. Men wear shorts and patterned short-sleeved shirts.
Because so much of a Tahiti trip will center around water activities, pack at least two bathing suits, along with water shoes or flip flops, since some parts of the ocean floor are covered in coral.
Beware of the Tropical Sun
On a trip to Tahiti, never underestimate the power of the tropical sun. Everywhere visitors will spot tourists who failed to appreciate the dangers of being in the tropics, as proven by their bright crimson cheeks and shoulders.
To keep from becoming one of the red-skinned tourists youll see everywhere, bring plenty of sun block, a sun hat, and a sun-proof shirt that will shield you from the merciless rays.
While luminescent pearls and colorful pareos are available at every turn, finding necessities on Tahiti and the other islands of French Polynesia can be a challenge. Since nearly everything on the islands is imported, even the most common items are expensive and hard to find.
When packing for Tahiti, visitors should therefore bring everything they need with them, from extra film to personal items. Hotels are often located in remote areas, and while they generally have a shop on-site, their inventory tends to be minimal mainly handicrafts, T-shirts, postcards, and a few sundries.
Villages tend to consist of just a few buildings, which include pearl shops, souvenir shops, and services for local residents like banks and, occasionally, small grocery stores. They may be too far from hotels to make shopping for necessities practical, and taking a taxi will increase the cost.
Dining at restaurants on Tahiti and the other islands is also expensive, especially in hotel restaurants. Breakfast buffets may run $28 per person, a hamburger or baguette can cost over $20, and scrambled eggs (without toast) can cost almost $10.
Visitors might therefore consider packing snacks, such as cookies, crackers, cereal, or nuts. They can also stock up on baguettes, cheese, locally grown pineapples or mangos, and a good bottle of French wine at a small market, creating a romantic picnic.
A decent-sized Champion Supermarket is on the edge of Papeete, within walking distance from the Marché Municipale. Vacationers with a rented car might check out the large Carrefours, a branch of the French supermarket chain, on the outskirts of Papeete.
On the other islands, small grocery stores stock basics. Prices are high but not unreasonable, and picking up the makings for breakfast or lunch to eat on the deck of your hotel room can ease a budget. To leave this option open, when packing for Tahiti, include a bottle opener and plastic cutlery.
Laptop Computers: To Bring or Not To Bring?
While most hotels claim to have Internet access, the reality is that being on-line can be torturous, with long waits to load each page.
Some hotels, like Le Meridien Bora Bora, have a computer in a public space for checking email, but they are often occupied by other hotel guests.
Because using the Internet may prove extremely frustrating, think about leaving your email addiction behind on a Tahiti trip and plan to catch up once you get home.