Tahiti/ French Polynesia Driving Advice and Car Hire Info
Driving in Tahiti
The French Polynesian islands drive on the right. Information on driving licences for foreigners is somewhat contradictory unfortunately. Officially, from what I could understand from the French Language website of the local police department, a temporary local licence is required to drive here. The UK Foreign office advise that your own photo ID licence plus a 1968 convention International Driving Permit are required. However, anecdotal evidence from travel forums suggests that most people have rented a vehicle using only their own photo ID licence. I would advise to check with the car rental company you plan to use. Also, if your licence isn’t written in Roman alphabet, it makes sense to also bring an IDP. Speed limits range from 40kmh in built up areas to 80kmh in rural areas.The permitted blood alcohol level is 0.05%.
French Polynesia comprises of 130 islands divided into five groups of islands: the Society Islands archipelago, which includes Tahiti, where 70% of the population live and the islands of Moorea and Bora Bora; the Tuamotu Archipelago; the Gambier Islands; the Marquesas Islands; and the Austral Islands. The road network of French Polynesia differs in length and quality between island. Most islands in the Society group have a coastal road running around the island. On Tahiti, Mo’orea, Bora Bora, Ra’iatea, Taha’a and Huahine the coats road is paved and in fairly good condition. In Papeete on Tahiti, there is even a section of expressway that starts close to the town center at Pomare Boulevard and runs to Punaauia.
In the Tuamotu archpelago, there are good paved roads on Rangiroa,Fakarava and Makemo. In the Marquesa islands, paved roads only exist in larger villages.In the Australs there are paved coast roads on Tubuai and Raivavae. Smaller roads heading inland on all islands will be in variable condition and will deteriorate after rain. Tell the rental company where you plan to travel and they can advise whether a 4X4 is necessary.
Papeete tends to be congested with all sorts of vehicles and motorbikes jockeying for position, but traffic is light once you get out of town. You should drive cautiously, especially at night when you may encounter animals, unlit motorbikes and pedestrians in poorly lit roads. Most of the road circumnavigating Tahiti has streetlights, but smaller roads and streets don’t. In general, apart from traffic in towns you shouldn’t find driving in French Polynesia too challenging.
There is a daily car ferry operating between Tahiti and Moorea and carrying up to 146 vehicles. More details can be found here.
Although I try and keep the information in the site updated as much as possible, in a rapidly moving world, situations can change daily. Therefore please use the site as an approximate guide, and in conjunction with other resources in order to form your view on driving conditions, roads, safety etc.
Tahiti Car Rental –
The major international car-rental firms such as Hertz , Europcar, Alamo, National, Avis, Budget, are on Tahiti; Europcar, Alamo, National ,and Avis are on Moorea;Alamo , National and Avis cover Huahine;Avis also have branches on Raiatea, Bora Bora, and Rangiroa.
We currently have no local car rental partners in French Polynesia If you are a local car rental company who would like to feature on DriverAbroad.com please check details on our Partnering page or contact us on ADriverAbroad@Outlook.com
Tahiti Self Drive Rules
You can drive using your home countries licence in French Polynesia.The big companies usually allow cars to be transported between Islands though you may have to pay for maritime insurance. Hertz quote between 2300 and 3100 XPF depending on the type of car. Many companies don’t allow vehicles to be driven to the Papeno’o Valley due to the difficulty of steep dirt roads in the area.