Since the early 1990s, Venture Destinations Advisors, Consultants and Specialists (both past and present) have logged over 200 trips to the Islands of Tahiti and the South Pacific. Below is a list of the items our team members pack when traveling to our favorite part of the world. Our clients have always found it useful and we hope you will too!
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We recommend bringing more sunscreen than you think you will need, and we recommend that you bring a higher SPF than you would normally use. The sun is quite strong in French Polynesia due to its location near the equator. Spray cans are quick and easy to use. But, you might find lotion easier to pack in travel size containers (see below). Importantly, please help us protect the beautiful coral reefs by using reef friendly sunscreens.
Even though the hotels treat for pests like mosquitos, you may encounter them on excursions or explorations of the jungle-like interior of the island(s), especially on the more remote islands. A spray on repellant is easy and quick. Lotions or wipes are also great to travel with. We also like to bring a few citronella candles for your bungalow terrace if you are staying on the beach or in the garden (the salty sea air repels mosquitos from the overwater bungalows). The CDC provides guidelines on which repellants are the best deterrent.
Hotels and Resorts will offer sanitized snorkeling gear for guest use including mask, snorkel and fins. However, even before COVID-19, we preferred to bring our own masks to be sure we have a good fit – nothing can ruin a snorkeling adventure like a leaky mask! With concerns surrounding COVID-19, you may want to consider bringing your own mask and snorkel. For the best views of the coral, the full face masks work very well – no fogging, 180 degree views, and a mount for your GoPro.
Perhaps you’ll need more battery for your tablet in the airport or on the plane. You also might need to recharge your phone while you’re on an excursion. These definitely come in handy. We don’t travel without one.
These just make life easier when you’re island hopping and trying to stay organized. They also help you save space. We have been using them for years.
Most hotels in the islands have 220v systems. So, you will need an electrical plug adapter. Most electronics will not require a voltage converter. We recommend getting one with USB ports, so you can leave your plug at home. French Plugs are used and have two round prongs, so you want to make sure buy one that says it will work in Europe. You should be able to find adapters that are flexible and can be used for all international destinations like the ones shown below.
For appliances such as hair dryers and curling irons, a combination voltage converter and plug adapter will usually be needed. It’s wise to always inquire at the hotel desk about the compatibility of your appliances before you attempt to use them. We’d recommend a useful charging station with your converter/adapter.
Some of the newer villas come equipped with a sound system you can hook up to your smartphone, tablet or laptop. However, most bungalows do not have a docking station, or speakers on the terrace. We recommend bringing your own portable speaker so that you can enjoy music wherever you are.
The lagoon is incredibly clear with over a 120 feet of visibility. An underwater camera is a great way to capture your amazing snorkeling and diving adventures. GoPro cameras are very popular and reliable, and the snorkel mask we recommended above usually comes with a GoPro clip for hands free video. While smartphones have wonderful cameras, you will not want to risk dropping your phone in the lagoon. Trust us…
If space allows, these offer a very fun way to relax in the lagoon or at the pool. It is virtually impossible to find one for sale at a shop on the island. If you are going take on with you, we’d recommend bringing a hand pump for large floats – you won’t find easy access to an air pump anywhere at the hotels, either.
Quick bursts of tropical showers in the early afternoon are common on many of the mountainous Society Islands. Also, an excursion or boat ride in choppy waters or light rain can make for a wet experience. It’s a good idea to have a lightweight poncho or rain jacket on hand (especially if you are dressed for a dinner reservation). Besides, umbrellas don’t always work well if it’s windy.
Of course, most hotels offer laundry service for a fee. But the turnaround time is 24+ hours. It’s handy to be able to wash a few items right in your bungalow and put them out to line dry. The Bungalows usually come equipped with a line either in the bathroom or on the terrace.
On the way to French Polynesia, it is very handy to stop at the duty free shop at the Tom Bradley International Terminal in LAX and grab a few duty free bottles of liquor or wine. Customs will allow arriving passengers to have up to 2 liters of wine AND up to 2 liters of hard alcohol per person. Enjoying a drink on your deck in your room will save you a lot of money compared to the in-room mini-bar or hotel bar. On the way home, we normally stop at the duty free shop at the Papeete airport and bring back some local liqueurs or wines. A few of these will come in handy so you can check your luggage with glass inside (if needed) or securely store in your carry-on.
In some of the shallow lagoon water, you may be able to stand up while you explore or snorkel. However, the coral can be quite sharp so we always recommend underwater or reef shoes. Flip flops or sandals will do the trick on many excursions, getting on and off of boats in shallow water while island hopping, or around the resort.
Some of our team members swear by these and never leave home without one. These handy packs contain helpful items like earing backs, lip balm, safety pins, a sewing kit, and other emergency toiletries.
With long flights on both ends of your trip, you’ll appreciate a good travel pillow to rest on the plane. A great travel pillow can make all the difference on how you feel when you arrive in paradise.
Moving through the security line at the airport is a necessary, but often hectic, experience. If you take the time to pack your gels, lotions and liquids in TSA approved containers, it will make the experience go much more quickly and smoothly.
Even before COVID-19, hand sanitizer or cleansing wipes were a mainstay in our pockets, carry-ons and travel bags. Now, they are a necessity. We really like the individually wrapped wipes as they can fill in all the empty space in your suitcase and always come in handy for countertops, tray tables, etc.
Good sun protection is essential in the tropics. A good hat will allow you to stay out on the lagoon or on the deck of your overwater bungalow for hours on end. Your face will thank you.
Protect your smartphone, valuables and anything else you might need to keep dry on those beautiful lagoon excursions or while island hopping, jetskiing, or just during a downpour. A good dry bag will help you relax and not worry about protecting your gear. It also comes in handy when packing your wet swimsuit for the flight home.
Melt your cares away on the long flight or on the deck of your overwater bungalow while enjoying your favorite music, podcast or audiobook. A good pair of earbuds or headphones are a must for the modern traveler. Go for the Active Noise Reduction models to help you feel refreshed after your flight. Eliminating the drone of the jet engines goes a long way in protecting you from jet-lag.
On some of our trips, we have encountered exceptional service from private tour guides or on occasion from service staff at a hotel. While tips are always welcome, we have found that a small token or gift is much more appreciated and suited to the warm and friendly Polynesian spirit. Something like a book about your hometown or perhaps some local candy/delicacy. Coloring books or children’s books for the local schools are also a well received gift.