After laying fiber optic cable on the seafloor to Hawaii, French Polynesia is now connected to the world with high speed internet. If the nature of your work requires you to have high upload speeds (e.g., for Zoom calls), you will be best equipped if you obtain internet via fiber optic. Use this map to know where it is available. Look for areas marked in green, which are eligible for ‘Fiber To The Home’ ("FTTH").
Even in areas where fiber optic is available, many property owners still get internet via the Digital Subscriber Line (DSL). If your work is not dependent upon fast, reliable upload speeds, DSL might suffice. Otherwise confirm with the owner/manager that the accommodations have fiber. Don’t hesitate to ask them to perform an internet speed test for you, using these instructions.
Tahiti Wifi provides a portable router that creates a Wifi network from the 2G / 3G / 4G cellular network. No installation is required. You just connect your computer, smartphone or tablet wherever there is sufficient cell signal for the router to work.
When my wife and I tried Tahiti Wifi in the part of Puna'auia where we live, the portable router did not create a strong enough Wifi signal for us to do Zoom calls. On the other hand, there is an American couple from Beverly Hills, California living on the north coast of Mo'orea who is having a positive experience with Tahiti Wifi. Their teenage kids have been able to dial into calls for school without any glitches.
Another option is the portable 4G Wifi hotspot offered by Ora. For what it’s worth, there is a Canadian doctor living on a yacht in Pape'ete who uses this device to do video consultations with patients all day long. According to her, it more than suffices. But, unlike Tahiti Wifi, you must sign up for 12 months.
To use your cell phone while in Tahiti (without incurring roaming charges), one option is to sign up for an international plan with your existing provider. Doing so allows you to continue using your existing cell number. However, this approach is expensive and hinders you from receiving the resident rate for flights, ferries, hotels, and recreational activities (which often require a local cell number).
If you wish to get a Tahitian cell number for your phone, verify that it is GSM, since CDMA is not supported in French Polynesia. Also make sure it is unlocked, so you can use a SIM card from one of the three local cell providers: Vini, Vodafone, or Ora.
As a side note, it is common for residents of French Polynesia to talk via WhatsApp. Likewise, many businesses use Facebook as a primary means of communicating with customers. Rather than calling, you can often quickly get in touch by sending a message via Facebook.
From the U.S.
- During the second half of 2020 and first quarter of 2021, it took 3 to 4 months for mail to arrive to Tahiti from the U.S. So, use PostScanMail or Traveling Mailbox to get your mail collected, scanned, and handled as you wish.
To the U.S.
- Mail to the U.S. has been slowed due to the pandemic. So, if you must send a package, you may need to use Fedex or DHL, both of which have offices in Pape'ete.
Overlooking the ocean on the main strip in Pape'ete, there is a hip new coworking space called Work'In Tahiti, where you can print and scan documents when needed. The staff is friendly and welcoming, and there are plenty of attractive spots to work, including beautifully-designed booths, comfy couches, a conference room, and a long bar with leather stools.
Tahiti CoWorking is another option in Pape’ete. Although lacking the oceanview of Work’In Tahiti, it is more centrally located, and offers both shared and private offices.
If you need a place to work while in Mo'orea, there is a coworking space called CyberMo'orea on the main street in the small town of Maharepa. Although it lacks windows and air conditioning, the internet speed is superb.
Located in Pape'ete, the French Polynesia Hospital Center is a state-of-the-art hospital with emergency rooms, operating rooms, scanners (MRI), and ventilation equipment (for treating severe cases of COVID-19).
Another reputable medical facility in Pape'ete is the Cardella Clinic, the mission of which is to provide quality care for Polynesians and travelers passing through the territory. In October 2020, my wife and I took our 5-year old daughter to the Cardella Clinic after she fell and cut her forehead. Following a brief wait, an amiable French doctor glued the cut back together. Without insurance, the bill was US$36 - a fraction of what it would cost in America.
Tahiti is one of the safest places in the world in terms of its low crime rate. But there is occasional theft, so lock up when you leave the house or vehicle.
There are no poisonous land animals, including snakes, anywhere in French Polynesia. Besides bees and wasps, centipedes are the only poisonous insect. Although they can cause swelling and discomfort, they only attack when threatened, and you are unlikely to encounter them because they tend to get eaten by the ubiquitous roosters. (Did you know roosters are for centipedes, what cats are for mice?)
Mosquitos are the most dangerous creature because they can carry Dengue fever and Zika. Fortunately, though mosquitos can be plentiful on other islands (including Mo'orea), they are relatively scarce in Tahiti. My wife and I have stayed in several different places in the northwestern part of Tahiti and have generally been able to leave windows and doors open in the evening during the dry season, with mosquitos rarely coming in. When considering where to stay, check reviews to see if previous guests have mentioned mosquito problems, and ask the landlord or property manager if any mitigation measures are undertaken.
Some people in Tahiti have told us the island’s public schools are just as good as its private schools. That said, we reviewed the rigorous requirements that must be met to enroll a child in the public school system. And since we wanted our kids to start school as soon as possible upon arrival (i.e., before we achieved residency status), we opted for a private school, called the Tahiti International School (TIS).
TIS is located right on the lagoon in Puna’auia. Our daughter is in the equivalent of kindergarten (“grande maternelle”) and our son is in 2nd grade (“CM2”). They love it. And my wife and I are quite happy with the staff, pedagogy and facilities. Fortunately, the school is willing to admit children whose families plan to live in Tahiti for only a few months. Tuition is approximately $600/month. Click here for details.
Another well-regarded private school in Puna-auia is the Bilingual School of Polynesia, which recently opened a new campus providing preschool through 5th grade, regardless of whether children come from a French-speaking or English-speaking family. Tuition is approximately $700/month.
Do not underestimate the importance of living close to school. Rush hour into Pape’ete occurs from roughly 6-8am, and rush hour out of Pape’ete occurs from roughly 4-6pm. You will want to avoid getting stuck in traffic when dropping off or picking up the kids.
There are numerous high-quality camps available for kids during school vacations. Here are a few examples:
In terms of ongoing classes, our kids do swim class in the lagoon with Fenua Sauvetage Natation. We have also heard positive things about the Tahitian dance classes offered at the Heiragi Dance School, and ukulele classes offered at the Tahiti Ukulele School.