French Polynesia is an enchanting destination for tourists looking to experience a paradise on earth. Whether its postcard-perfect vistas of white sandy beaches, its vibrant underwater world, or the rich and vibrant local culture, this tropical paradise has something to offer every kind of traveller. Situated in the South Pacific, it comprises 118 islands with welcoming cultures and stunning landscapes. Whether you are here for a short visit or a longer stay, you can be sure of a wonderful time in French Polynesia.
The official currency of French Polynesia is the French Pacific franc (XPF).
As for banknotes, French Polynesian notes come in denominations of 500, 1,000, 5,000 and 10,000. To ensure the authenticity of the banknote and to make it more aesthetically pleasing, a series of security features have been added.
These include a see-through motif that appears when the note is held against the light; raised print that gives a tactile experience; an intricate silvery stripe with changing colours when tilted; embossed letters in oblique light; a security thread with tiny letters when seen through light; an obvious watermark when seen under light and two identical serial numbers but one in a dominating colour. These ambitious add-ons hold together to make pleasing currency experiences for both users and beholders alike.
French Polynesia introduced a new range of coins on the 1st of June 2022, with denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 Francs. Aimed at improving the daily lives of citizens, the new coins will be smaller and lighter than before. Furthermore, their composition includes fewer metals so as to reduce their environmental impact.
Additionally, they feature a modern design that has been adapted to represent the identity symbols of each of the three Pacific communities featured on the current banknote range. This visual distinction also makes it easier to identify each coin according to its face value while providing an appealing aesthetic with its themes of flora, boats, fish, birds, habitat and culture.
French Polynesia enjoys a vibrant economy centred around tourism, which is supported by additional key sectors. Notable resources used for local subsistence include fruits, fishing and planting products, as well as materials for the construction of traditional structures and canoes. While agriculture was historically one of the major industries in the country, it now contributes only a small portion to the country’s gross domestic product.
Like many other nations, livestock such as pigs, cattle, and chickens are raised for food in French Polynesia. The country also raises shrimp and oysters through aquaculture. Black cultured pearls from the Tuamotu and Gambier island groups make up 2/3 of the country’s exported earnings.
In December 1945, the CFP franc was established for French Pacific territories in tandem with the CFA franc, which was utilised in French African colonies. Due to its pegging to the US dollar, the value of the CFP franc diminished drastically compared to other French colonial currencies. This illustrates France’s reliance on US trade and was thus a consequential decision for French overseas entities.
Since 1967, the Institut d’émission d’outre-mer (Overseas Issuing Institute in Paris) has been responsible for producing CFP franc banknotes. This uniquely issued currency was further divided in 1969 when the New Hebrides franc became the Vanuatu vatu, leaving French Polynesia, New Caledonia, and Wallis and Futuna to continue using the CFP franc.
Today, this single currency is used throughout all three countries, ensuring a consistent and reliable financial system in the French Polynesian region.
If you’re travelling to Frech Polynesia, you’ll need to exchange your Australian dollars (AUD) for French Pacfici francs (XPF).
When travelling to French Polynesia from Australia, it is the more prudent decision to exchange money in Australia to French Polynesian currency before leaving. Not only will it provide you with peace of mind knowing that your financials are taken care of before embarking on your journey, it may also prove to be cost-effective depending on the current exchange rate at the time of conversion. Ultimately, having local cash prior to travelling to French Polynesia will result in greater assurance and flexibility during your stay.
Visitors to French Polynesia are allowed to bring in and out up to French Pacific francs 1,200,000 or €10,000 (around AUD $15,700) equivalent without declaring it. However, any amount over this has to be declared when entering or leaving the country. This also applies to cash, cheques issued by third parties, travellers’ cheques and bearer or negotiable debt securities. Gold bullion and gold coins are also included in this requirement.
If you’re looking for the best place to convert currency in Australia, Crown Currency Exchange is a good choice. With 50 stores located across the country, we have been in the business for more than 20 years and offer a competitive exchange rate with no hidden costs or commission. Benefit from an experience you can trust when you turn to Crown Currency Exchange.
Tipping in French Polynesia isn’t a standard practice as it’s not usually part of the culture, but it is still a nice gesture to show appreciation for good service. Let’s take a look at the tipping etiquette for different services you may encounter on your trip.
Restaurant Servers: When eating out in French Polynesia, it is important to note that many restaurants include a service charge in the final bill. This means that tipping isn’t obligatory and isn’t expected from servers. If you had particularly excellent service, you could leave more than what is included if you like, but it is up to you how much this extra tip should be
Bartenders: When enjoying drinks at a bar or pub, there is no obligation to leave a tip. However, if the bartender provided great service and was friendly during your time there, then rounding up your bill could be a nice way to show appreciation.
Tour Guides: It is not necessary to tip tour guides in French Polynesia unless their service was really outstanding and went above and beyond expectations. If this was the case, then leaving a little extra could show them how much you appreciated their efforts in making your tour fun and informative.
Taxis: A tip for taxi drivers isn’t required, but if they helped with luggage or gave great tips about local attractions, then leaving a little extra could be very much appreciated.
Doormen: Hotels often include service charges in their bills; as such, it isn’t necessary to also leave a tip for doormen unless they provided exceptional service that deserved recognition. It is up to you whether they receive an additional gratuity or not.
Bellhop: Hotels may include a service charge in the final bill, so a tip isn’t necessarily required. However, if you receive exceptional service—such as having your luggage delivered to your room—you may choose to leave an extra token of appreciation for the bellhop. A few dollars or Francs will suffice if you are happy with their work.
Housecleaning: Similarly to bellhops, hotels may include a service charge in the final bill; thus, tipping isn’t obligatory but appreciated if you are happy with their work. If housekeeping has gone above and beyond—ensuring that your stay is squeaky clean—you can show your appreciation by leaving an extra few dollars or CFP francs behind when checking out.
Salon & Spa: It isn’t obligatory to tip at salons or spas in French Polynesia; however, if you have received fantastic services from a hairstylist or massage therapist that exceeded expectations, then leaving a little extra as a token of appreciation can be appreciated- and gives them something extra for their efforts!
Bargaining and haggling over prices in French Polynesia is not everyday practice. If someone attempts to do bargaining in markets or stores, it may be seen as being rude and offensive. `For this reason, visitors should respect the culture and choose instead to purchase goods at fair prices that local merchants set. This way, tourists can respect the local custom while having a grand time exploring all the amazing sights found on these exotic islands.
ATMs can be found on the major islands, such as Tahiti and Moorea, but may not be so prevalent on smaller islands or in more remote parts of the country. Generally, major credit cards and debit cards are widely accepted at places like hotels, shops and restaurants across the main islands; however, they may not always work in smaller markets or less populated areas.
On a tight budget, travellers to French Polynesia should prepare to spend around 8,000 XPF (around AUD $104) per day. Accommodation costs can be kept down with dorm room lodging, while you can save on entertainment by opting for free activities such as hiking and snorkelling. All meals should be cooked at home or through street vendors, limiting your money spent at bars and restaurants. Additionally, it is preferable to stay on just one island rather than multiple islands/archipelagoes.
A moderately-priced budget of 16,000-17,000 XPF (AUD $210-223) per day in French Polynesia can cover a range of accommodations, meals and activities. The experience you’ll have will allow you to stay in a private Airbnb room, enjoy dining out, enjoy a few drinks, go diving or snorkelling and have a reliable scooter to get around. On top of this, you can visit an additional island too!
With a luxury budget of around 67,000 XPF (AUD $877) or more per day, you can stay comfortably in French Polynesia and make the most out of your journey. Experience high-end dining, explore other islands through flights, join guided excursions, rent a car for sightseeing and indulge in spa visits. There’s nothing that will be left off your to-do list when travelling on a luxurious budget!
Institut d’émission d’Outre-Mer (IEOM)
Centime = 1/100 of a Franc
500, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 Francs
5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 Francs
Bora Bora’s iconic Mount Otemanu stands over 727 meters tall and is worth every step of your climb up its lush slopes. The mountain provides breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and is an amazing way to experience one of French Polynesia’s most beautiful islands. Make sure to bring sunscreen and plenty of water, as the hike can be quite strenuous.
If you want to take in all that Tahiti has to offer from a unique perspective, then why not rent out a catamaran for an afternoon? With experienced sailors at your disposal, you can sail around the island’s coastline and enjoy stunning views of both land and sea. Stop off at any number of secluded beaches along the way for a relaxing dip in crystal-clear waters.
What could be more romantic than enjoying a delicious meal with your partner under the stars on a pristine beach? Many resorts across French Polynesia offer this unique experience, from fine dining restaurants overlooking coral reefs to private beach BBQs with traditional Polynesian cuisine fresh off the grill. It will be an evening that neither of you will forget!
No matter where you go in French Polynesia, don’t miss out on sampling some local delicacies. Whether it’s poisson cru (marinated raw fish), roast pork loin cooked in banana leaves, or mahi mahi served with coconut milk and vegetables – immersing yourself in local flavours is one of the best ways to truly appreciate what makes these islands so special.
Why not treat yourself and your partner (or just yourself!) to some pampering with a relaxing massage or spa treatment? Many resorts provide traditional treatments such as hot stone therapy or lomi lomi massage using locally sourced ingredients such as coconut oil or aloe vera that will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated during your stay in paradise!
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