What to pack for a trip to French Polynesia
When wanting a tropical holiday in the South Pacific, it's not hard to see why the islands of French Polynesia are at the top of everyone's travel bucket list. With their fascinating coral reefs, mesmerising marine life, captivating culture, and luscious jungles full of watermelon fields and coconut groves, you're guaranteed to have the holiday of your dreams. But you don't want to arrive at your destination and realise you've forgotten to pack some pretty essential items. From your very own snorkel to a collapsible cooler, we've put together a list of everything you'll need to make your trip a stress-free one.
1. Weather appropriate clothing
Regardless of whether you're travelling to French Polynesia in summer or in winter, you should pack warm weather clothing because temperatures are going to be warm. Think of clothing that's comfortable such as shorts, t-shirts, and dresses in lightweight/linen material so you don't get too hot while you're out and about. Also, you don't have to worry about packing formal clothing such as close-toed shoes or dressy outfits as most resorts and fine-dining restaurants accept casual dress. It's also a good idea to pack coverups such as sarongs or loose-fitting clothing to put on after you get out of the pool and when you're moving around the resort/your accommodation.
2. Comfortable walking shoes
It turns out that relaxing in the sun and splashing around in the water isn't the only thing you can do on the islands of French Polynesia. So, to ensure you're properly dressed to explore further inland (think fruit plantations, ancient archipelago sites, and pearl farms), make sure to pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes. These will also come in handy if you want to venture out on one of the many hikes across the islands. But when we say comfortable, we mean comfortable. No one wants to battle blisters alongside the burn in your thighs and 25°C+ heat.
While proper runners or sneakers are appropriate for leaving your accommodation to adventure through the island's jungle, you should also pack a pair of sandals/thongs/flip flops for when you're moving from poolside areas, the beach, or around your resort/accommodation. You can even wear sandals to most restaurants as the dress code is usually casual.
4. A hat
Being sun smart is super important when it comes to holidaying in tropical destinations so packing a hat is a must. But not just any hat. Make sure you pack a hat that not only fits snugly and comfortably on your head (you don't want it flying away as you're splashing around in a lagoon or speeding through the waves on a jet ski) but also one that's wide-brimmed to keep the sun off your neck.
We think this one's pretty self-explanatory considering the islands of French Polynesia are surrounded by sparkling, blue water for you to swim in but some things need to be made obvious. Pack your favourite swimsuit with you so you can snorkel the region's extraordinary marine life, explore secluded grottos, and participate in some fun, water-based activities.
This one's important considering you're jetting off to a tropical destination where one of the main drawcards is the sun. Because of its location in the Pacific Ocean, the islands of French Polynesia receive some pretty intense UV rays so you definitely don't want to be caught in the sun without sunscreen on. We say the higher the SPF rating the better. Make sure you're applying a healthy amount of sunscreen to every part of your body before you leave your accommodation every morning and after going into the ocean. After all, no one wants to come back home a shade of fluorescent red.
7. Insect repellant
As with any tropical destination, mosquitos and other flying insects are quite common, especially in the warmer months. If you don't fancy the idea of being a bug's breakfast, lunch, and dinner, make sure to pack an insect repellant with you. Just like with sunscreen, you should spray a sufficient amount of the repellant over the parts of your body that are exposed in the morning before you leave your accommodation after you get out of the water, and in the early evenings when mosquitos and other insects are out in full force.
8. A camera
This one's kind of a no-brainer. There's almost no point in going to a destination as beautiful as French Polynesia if you're not going to take photos of the weird and wonderful things you come across while you're over there. Not only is taking photos a good way to make everyone back home jealous, but it's also important when it comes to looking back on the memories made and the fun times had. We're not saying you need to rush out and buy the newest model by Canon, but even having access to your phone's camera makes remembering your holiday that much more enjoyable.
9. Reusable drink bottle
As it's a tropical destination, French Polynesia can get quite hot (especially in summer) so don't even think of coming here and not bringing a reusable drink bottle with you. Ensure you're properly hydrated when you're exploring the jungle of Huahine or simply laying by the pool by filling up your reusable drink bottle with water every day (yes, the water in French Polynesia is safe to drink), or go for something a little fancier and get some electrolytes into your system by filling it with some cordial or fruit juice.
10. A backpack/day bag
You might be thinking 'how am I going to carry all of the above around with me every day'? We're glad you asked but the answer is very simple; a day bag or backpack. Ensuring you have a bag big enough to fit all of your essentials, is in itself, an essential. Super handy to have with you, especially when you know you're going to be out and about all day, a day bag/backpack is the perfect companion and can even be shared among the rest of your travelling party when you've had enough of carrying it on your own.
11. Islands notes/visitor guides
If you're travelling on a guided group trip, like on our Tahiti, the Society and Tuamoto Islands tour, then you'll already have a leader to give you expert knowledge on your surroundings and any activities you might participate in. However, if you're travelling solo, it's always worth both reading up on your destination before you leave and packing some island notes/guides with you so you can easily navigate your way around once you arrive. Most guides have super useful information about the destination's language, currency, culture, and way of life so you can ensure you're being respectful during your trip while knowing what you need to know.
12. Mini first aid kit
Depending on how clumsy/prone to sickness you are this one may or may not be an essential item, but by packing a mini first aid kit with you, you're ensuring you're prepared for any ailment from a simple scratch to extremely sore sunburn. You can even tailor the mini first aid kit to what you think you'll need for a tropical destination like French Polynesia such as calamine lotion (to help with the itchiness of mosquito bites), aloe vera (to help cool your sunburnt skin), and band-aids (in case you scratch yourself on some coral or wayward jungle branches).
13. Your own mask and snorkel
In a post-pandemic world, it just makes sense to bring your own mask and snorkel with you. While most resorts and activity providers have them for you to borrow, the thought of putting your mouth over something that hundreds of other people have also put their mouths on just doesn't sit right. If you don't have a pair lying around the house (who does?), you can buy a cheap pair from most department stores.
14. Portable/collapsible cooler
What's better than having a picnic on the beach? Bringing a portable/collapsible cooler to said picnic. The perfect way to ensure you're properly hydrated during any outdoor activity, packing a cooler with you, while not an essential item, definitely helps turn on holiday mode. Pick up some fresh juices, alcoholic beverages, or other drinks from local supermarkets, as well as a range of refrigerated cheeses, meats, and other snacks, for an unforgettable meal on the sand.