French Polynesia doesn’t have much of a public transport system; Tahiti is the only island where public transport is even an option.
Most islands in the Society group have one road that hugs the coast all the way around. Tahiti (where there is even a stretch of freeway), Mo’orea, Bora Bora, Ra’iatea, Taha’a and Huahine have paved and reasonably well-maintained roads. On all of these islands, tracks leading inland are often rough and ready, and almost always require a 4WD.
There are far more boats than land vehicles in the Tuamotus, although there is a sealed road running the length of Rangiroa’s major island – all 10km of it – as well as a superb sealed road on Fakarava and Makemo.
Outside the towns there are hardly any sealed roads in the Marquesas. Tracks, suitable for 4WDs only, connect the villages, although bits and pieces are slowly being paved.
Sealed roads encircle both Tubuai and Raivavae in the Australs, and there are reasonable stretches of sealed road on Rurutu. Otherwise, roads in the Australs are fairly limited and little transport is available.
If you want to explore the larger islands of the Society group at your own pace, your best bet is to hire a car or a scooter, particularly given the price of taxis and the dismal state of public transport outside Pape’ete.
Hitching (auto-stop in French) is a widely accepted – and generally safe – way of getting around the islands in French Polynesia. Of course, hitching is never entirely safe and we don't recommend it, but if you’re going to hitch, French Polynesia is an easy place to start. Usually, you’ll never have to wait more than 15 or 20 minutes for a ride, plus you’ll meet some interesting folks. Always take the necessary precautions and use your judgement before jumping into a car; drunk drivers are likely to be your biggest problem. It’s not recommended for women to hitch alone.
If you buy your ticket (online or at an Air Tahiti office) within French Polynesia, the baggage weight allowance is 10kg per passenger. Divers get an extra 5kg but must show their equipment and certification card at the check-in desk.
If you buy your ticket outside French Polynesia, whether online or via a travel agent, the baggage weight allowance is 23kg per passenger but the cost of your ticket is about 15% higher than the same ticket bought within French Polynesia.