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Local Transport

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.


  • The colourful, old le trucks (trucks with bench seats in the back for passengers) have now been replaced by a more modern fleet of air-con buses. Buses (often still called le trucks) stop at designated spots (which are marked with a blue sign) and supposedly run on a schedule – although times are hardly regular.
  • Although there are official le truck stops, complete with blue signs, they are rather difficult to spot, and le trucks will generally stop anywhere sensible for anybody who hails them. Note that you pay at the end of your trip and that for many routes there is a set fare, irrespective of distance.

Car & Scooter

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.

Driving Licence

  • Car-hire agencies in French Polynesia only ask to see your national driving licence, so an international driving licence is unnecessary.


  • There are many different car-hire agencies on the more touristy islands, but the prices really don’t vary much. Compared with rental costs in the rest of the world, prices are high. For a small car expect to pay from 8000 CFP a day including unlimited kilometres and basic insurance – and that’s not even including petrol. On some islands (Taha’a comes to mind) rentals start at 12,000 CFP. Rates drop slightly from the third day onwards. Fortunately, the cars available are pretty economical and you won’t cover too many kilometres, no matter how hard you try. Off-road excursions into the interior are usually off limits to anything other than a 4WD.
  • Most places offer four-, eight- and 24-hour rates, as well as two- and three-day rentals. At certain times of the year (July, August and New Year’s Eve) it’s wise to book vehicles a few days in advance; though at any time of year reserving in advance helps ensure that you get one in the price bracket you are hoping for.
  • You’ll need a credit card, of course.
  • On Tahiti you will find the major international car-hire agencies such as Avis, Europcar and Hertz. On other islands such as Mo’orea, Huahine and Bora Bora, as well as on Rangiroa in the Tuamotus, the market is divided up between Avis and Europcar. Smaller local agencies exist on some islands, but the rates are almost as high.
  • You can hire a car on Rurutu in the Australs, but in the Marquesas rental vehicles are mainly 4WDs with a driver (15,000 CFP to 20,000 CFP per day). Rental without a driver is possible only on Atuona (Hiva Oa) and Taiohae (Nuku Hiva).
  • Avis and Europcar rent scooters on a number of islands. It’s a good way of getting around the small islands, but bear in mind you won’t be wearing protective gear, so this is probably not the place to learn to ride a scooter. You’ll pay around 6000 CFP a day.

Road Rules

  • Driving is on the right-hand side in French Polynesia.
  • Although the accident statistics are pretty grim, driving here is not difficult, and the traffic is light almost everywhere apart from the busy coastal strip around Pape’ete on Tahiti. However, the overtaking habits of locals can sometimes get the heart rate up.
  • Beware of drunk drivers at night, and of pedestrians and children who may not be used to traffic, particularly in more remote locations. Sometimes dodging sauntering dogs and chickens makes driving in Tahiti feel like a video game – take it slow.


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.

Baggage Allowance

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.