In what could be good news for American’s looking to get away to a tropical paradise this summer, Tahiti, Bora Bora, and the other islands that comprise French Polynesia have opened their borders to tourists arriving from the United States. Famous for its overwater-built bungalows and intense aqua blue colored coral lagoons, French Polynesia is a honeymooner’s dream location.
From May 1, 2021, American’s and people who have been in the United States for at least 30 days before departure are allowed to visit the tropical French overseas territory. While Tahiti and Bora Bora might sound like the ideal place to shake off the COVID-19 blues, please don’t assume that life in the islands is like it was before the pandemic.
No quarantine if you have been vaccinated
All travelers to French Polynesia must fill out a health declaration form on the government of French Polynesias’ Electronic Travel Information System (ETIS) before boarding their flight. The forms will then be collected by a gate agent at the departure airport. One form per adult is required, but children can be included on a parent or guardian’s form.
If you have already received a COVID-19 vaccination, you will be required to produce an official vaccination certificate. Being vaccinated against the coronavirus is great, but you do not need to be vaccinated to visit French Polynesia. However, if not vaccinated and don’t have proof of immunity documented by a serology test, you will need to quarantine for ten days. Vaccinated visitors and those with immunity are not required to quarantine.
Regardless of vaccination or immunity status, all people arriving in French Polynesia will need to produce a negative PCR test result taken no more than three days before arriving in the islands. When arriving at Faa’a International Airport (PPT), passengers will be required to have a nasal COVID-19 antigen test and then take another PCR test on their fourth day in the country.
There is a clinic in the airport for passengers returning to the United States that need to have a COVID-19 PCR test done.
While most things are open, rules apply
Shops, restaurants, and bars are open, but you must respect social distancing and wear a face mask; children under 11 do not need to wear a mask. Outdoor markets and nightclubs are still closed, and the islands of Tahiti and Moorea have a curfew in place between 22:00 and 04:00.
While in French Polynesia, you should:
- Social distance
- Wear a face mask (not required if under 11 years old)
- Respect local curfews
How to get to Tahiti from the United States
Nearly all people visiting French Polynesia arrive at Faa’a International Airport (PPT), located five kilometers west of Papeete. PPT is the only international airport in French Polynesia and is close to Tahiti’s major resorts. Connecting flights to the other islands are available on Air Tahiti from the domestic terminal.
From the mainland United States, there are direct flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles with United Airlines, Air Tahiti Nui, and Air France.
- United Airlines offers three flights per week on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday from San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
- Air Tahiti Nui flies to Tahiti six days per week from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
- Air France offers direct flights to Tahiti four times per week
LAX is the closest departure point to Tahiti, with a flight time of just over eight hours.
Getting to Tahiti from Hawaii
Hawaiian Airlines flies to Tahiti once a week on a Friday from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) in Honolulu. The flight time from HNL to PPT is five hours and 55 minutes.
With French Polynesia not requiring vaccinated visitors to quarantine, a trip to the South Pacific might be what the doctor ordered. A word of warning, though, as French Polynesia is one of the most expensive travel destinations in the world.
What do you think about French Polynesia opening up to tourists? Please tell us what you think in the comments.