The basics of travel, weather & diving conditions
To help you plan your trip, we've prepared a list of basic information you'll want to know before you book. Once your trip has been reserved, you'll receive pre-departure information with all the details you need for your adventure.
Getting to French Polynesia
Your international flights will be into and out of Faa’ā International Airport (Papetee) in Tahiti.
Aqua Tiki II & III
The Aqua Tiki II operates out of Fakarava. Guests will take a connecting flight to Fakarava from Tahiti and back to Tahiti at the end of their cruise.
Itemata operates out of either Raroia, Fakarava or Rangiroa depending on her itinerary. Guests will need to connect via a domestic flight to these airports from Papeete in Tahiti. Itemata offers many ‘one way’ trips on her schedule so outward and return domestic airports may differ for any specific trip. This vessel also cruises the Marquesas Islands where guests join and depart from the island of Nuku Hiva, accesible by domestic flight from Papeete, Bora Bora or Rurutu.
Passport holders of the European Union, Andorra, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Monaco and Norway only need a valid passport for entry. Passport holders of most Western and Asian countries are exempt from visa requirements for stays of up to 90 days, however, we would advise that you check https://french-polynesia.visahq.com for updates and changes before travelling. Please make sure that your passport has validity of at least 3-6 months, depending on nationality, beyond the period you intend to stay in French Polynesia. If you are travelling with medication please ensure to bring your physician’s prescription with you.
We strongly recommend arriving in French Polynesia one day before cruise departure to avoid disappointments from travel delays.
Disembarkation at the end of the cruise will be in the morning. Times vary between the different liveaboards. If you are not remaining in French Polynesia for additional nights after your cruise, please allow plenty of time for the transfer to the airport and for check-in.
What´s the weather like in French Polynesia ?
The climate in French Polynesia is tropical but moderate ... although it can be very humid. The average ambient temperature is 27°C (80°F). Summer is from November through April, with a warmer and more humid climate. Winter is from May through October, when the climate is slightly cooler and drier.
What about Water Temperatures ?
Water temperatures throughout the year range from 24-28°C (60-82°F), with January-March being the warmest months and July-November the coolest. There is no thermocline and the visibility is excellent all year round.
In Fakarava and Rangiroa more advanced diving skills are required, dive sites are typically channel or “pass” dives requiring drift diving in strong currents. The route planning for each trip is highly dependent upon the incoming and out-going tides for each island. Liveaboards aim to dive the optimum tide for each site to bring you the ultimate in pelagic fish action. Dropping in at the outer edge of a pass, divers can hook in to a reef wall and watch amazing shark displays.
Strong currents are to be expected and it is therefore recommended divers have experience beyond beginner level to ensure maximum enjoyment. Dive sites also include vertical drop offs, outer reefs, plateaus and coral gardens found within the lagoons.
Currents are less intense in the shallow lagoons and many smaller creatures can be found there making these areas ideal for novice divers or those preferring ‘easy’ diving.
Experience Required for French Polynesia Diving
As far as drift dives through the passes at Fakarava and Rangiroa are concerned, as the currents are strong and we recommend that divers have logged at least 50 dives. Advanced diver level is preferred.
For groups of divers, most liveaboards are happy to offer dives for every experience level, as long as the dive level within the group is homogenous (for example, lagoon and shallow reef dives would be offered for a group of novice divers).
Best Time to Go
In Rangiroa, November - February is hammerhead season and September is the best time to see mantas. In Fakarava, June - July is the best time to see huge schools of groupers. At Tikehau, July -December is the best time for mantas.
All French Polynesia liveaboards offer Aqualung (or equivalent) BCD, regulator, wetsuit, mask/snorkel and fins for rental on board. Computers and Torches (flashlights) may also be rented. Reef hooks are useful for the pass diving and most liveaboards will supply them. As the water is tropical a 3mm shorty wetsuit should be sufficient but for those who feel the cold easily a 3mm long wetsuit is preferable. Please request equipment in advance.
No specific vaccinations are required to visit French Polynesia but it is recommended that travelers are up to date with vaccinations against hepatitis A and B. When traveling to any new part of the world, it is advised to drink bottled water. The sun is also a factor to consider, take sun screen and long sleeved shirts.
In French Polynesia, medical care is generally very satisfactory and medical infrastructure is comparable to what you would find in most developed countries. The most modern facilities are located in Tahiti and mostly concentrated in Papeete.
Flying after Diving
Current studies show that you should wait at least 24 hours after multiple days with repetitive diving before flying. Please keep this in mind before you book your onward international or domestic flights.
The local currency in French Polynesia is the French Pacific Franc (CFP). Some liveaboards accept all legal bank notes, international credit cards and traveller’s checks although some will only accept the French Pacific Franc. Please check before you travel.
On Fakarava and other atolls there are no banks or foreign exchange kiosks, however at Papeete airport the foreign exchange kiosk is open for each international arrival and departure. Please ensure you have cash in local currency to pay small bills, pensions etc.
Taxes & Fees
National Park Fees are applicable, some liveaboards include these in the cost of the cruise. We will let you know at time of booking.
Do I need insurance ?
We strongly recommend comprehensive travel insurance to cover against unforeseeable events including personal & business impediments, illness, travel delays and missed flight connections. We hate seeing any of our clients fall into the category of unfortunate travelers who are without coverage for unexpected circumstances
Diving insurance: the liveaboards now require diving insurance. You must not confuse regular travel medical and/or travel insurance with diving-specific insurance such as DAN (Divers Alert Network) or Dive Assure. This type of insurance will cover all of your scuba diving and snorkeling activities, including the costs for recompression chamber treatment and emergency air evacuation. These are not covered by the average travel insurance.
We recommend Dive Assure as they are one of the few companies who offer insurance which includes general travel insurance, including trip cancellation .... plus full dive coverage.
Click here or on the button in the side panel to access Dive Assure directly.
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