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French Polynesia

Shopping in French Polynesia

If you are looking for souvenirs from French Polynesia you should read this.

If you’re looking for tropical treasures to remind you of your trip to French Polynesia, you’ll find all kinds of items and keepsakes whilst shopping in Tahiti, Moorea or Bora Bora. Known for its abundant natural beauty, craft traditions and exotic flowers, many of the best souvenirs to buy in French Polynesia are found naturally in the environment, such as pearls and monoi oil. On the other hand, the colourful textiles, worn by much of the population, also make incredible keepsakes of your vacation to French Polynesia. 

Pareos (Sarongs)

Small enough to roll up into your hand luggage yet colourful enough to turn heads back home, a pareo or sarong is the quintessential French Polynesian souvenir. A medium-sized piece of cloth usually painted or printed with colourful flower patterns, pareos can be found in the wardrobes of almost every French Polynesian. It’s said that there are hundreds of ways to wear this popular garment, and their lightweight material means they’re easily dried in the sun or packed into a beach bag. You can purchase this French Polynesian souvenir pretty much anywhere in the country, from hotel shops to airports and local markets. Hand-painted artisanal pareos can be found in upmarket boutiques and art galleries.

Pearls

If you travel to French Polynesia you’ll soon become familiar with the country’s pearl-producing industry. It’s said that French Polynesia produces some of the best quality pearls on earth, in particular the pearl farms of Tuamotu and the Gambier Islands. Most famous are the Tahitian black pearls, which, due to their rarity, are more expensive than the usual kind. Pearl shops can be found across the archipelago, and pearls can be purchased mounted as jewellery or unmounted, in their natural form. A beautiful souvenir to pass down through generations, buying pearls in French Polynesia is a great way to remember your trip. 

Monoi Oil

Want to look after your skin and hair like the French Polynesians? Be sure to pick up some Monoi Oil during your stay. Hailed as a beauty secret, Monoi Oil is made from refined coconut oil and fragrant Tahitian Tiare flowers. Sold in a variety of forms, from body lotions to shampoos, lip balms and soaps, Monoi Oil is the ideal souvenir to take home with you to remind you of the sweet aromas of Polynesia. It can be purchased in almost any supermarket and pharmacy on the islands, whilst handmade products are sold at local markets or by road or beachside vendors.

Vanilla

Foodies will relish the chance to purchase Tahitian vanilla, among the most fragrant and delicious in the world. Vanilla plantations can be found across the islands, and after dining on the finest vanilla during your stay in French Polynesia, you’ll notice the difference when you go back home! Therefore, vanilla is one of the best souvenirs to buy in French Polynesia. It can be purchased directly from the producers or at local supermarkets. Vanilla beans, powders and extract are good options and easy to pack in your suitcase.

Wooden sculptures

Polynesians have a long history of carving, in particular the expert carvers of the Marquesa Islands. Wherever you travel in French Polynesia you’ll likely come across an array of wooden sculptures in all shapes and sizes for sale in art galleries, local shops and craft markets. Intricate wooden sculptures, depicting Tiki totems are the most popular and are the ideal keepsake of your time in the islands of Tahiti. 

Tattoos

Perhaps the ultimate souvenir, the tradition of tattooing can be traced back centuries and is a very important part of Polynesian culture. It’s rare to find a local who is doesn’t have tattoos, and many of the world’s most talented tattoo artists come from the islands of French Polynesia! Polynesian tattoos follow set patterns and motifs, and if you’re thinking of indulging in some body art during your trip, be sure to find out the meaning behind the symbols in advance to ensure you’re left with a tattoo that means something to you. Furthermore, traditional Polynesian tattoo artists still use the manual tattooing tools invented by their ancestors instead of the regular electric tattoo machine, so if you opt for a traditional tattoo you will have the privilege of experiencing an ancient part of Polynesian culture!

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