IN THE KNOW
French Polynesia – exotic landscapes, sparkling seas and bright blue skies. Beyond its natural beauty, our cluster of islands is home to the warm, open-hearted people of Polynesia and their rich tapestry of culture and traditions. Our modern Pacific nation boasts a cosmopolitan blend of Polynesian heritage and French élan. Most Tahitians are multilingual, speaking English as their third or even fourth language, with Tahitian or an island dialect such as Tuamotu first and French second. While a strong French cultural influence remains, you’ll still find plenty of traditional Polynesia in Tahiti. You’ll also find some East Asian culture, brought by Chinese immigrants in the 19th century. The Lunar New Year is celebrated every year, and Asian flavours permeate our cuisine.
It is customary to shake hands at least once a day with people you know. If you are meeting a group, you should shake hands with everybody, even if you don't know them. When asking a question to a native Tahitian, a movement of the eyebrow can mean 'yes'.
Ia orana (pron: yo-RAH-nah) = hello
mauru'uru (pron: mah-ROO-roo) = thank you
Many exciting festivals take place in Moorea, giving you the opportunity for a fun cultural exchange. Celebrating Polynesian culture with song, dance and traditional sports, the Heiva in July is one festival not to be missed.
Monoi and tamanu oils are local beauty secrets. Tamanu is applied to sunburn and mosquito bites, and monoi is an excellent skin moisturiser.
Tattoos are part of ancient Polynesian tradition and the different styles and symbols have different meanings. They were originally made with sharks' teeth, but these days sterilised needles are used.
Public transportation on Moorea is provided by buses, which run between the Vaiare dock and Le Petit Village. They operate to coincide with the ferry boat schedule and service the north and south coasts. The buses stop in front of the resort – just tell the driver your destination. Before setting out, ask the concierge for a timetable, or – better still – have the concierge book a taxi or coach transfer.