As of May 1, 2021 French Polynesia is re-opening to travelers. For updated information check out Tahiti Tourism’s Coronavirus COVID-19 – Travel Information.
Safe & Responsible Travel
Since the summer of 2020 travel to Tahiti has been open. Escaping to any of the 118 Islands of Tahiti during COVID-19 sounds like a dream come true because it is. I know traveling during the pandemic may cause anxiety, but I want to reassure you it can be done safely. Working in the travel industry, I have actually spent over 10 weeks traveling since March 2020. This has included flying on 24 flights and staying in 27 hotels. It’s actually been my busiest year of travel to date and with the proper precautions, I’m still COVID-free.
I share this because travel doesn’t need to stop, but the way we travel needs to change. By no means am I trying to minimize COVID-19. It is real and very serious, but travel is still possible if we take the necessary precautions and additional responsibilities of being smart, respectful, global citizens.
These measures include: wearing a mask properly, maintaining social distance as much as possible, washing hands frequently and getting tested. Yes, there’s a chance that you can get COVID traveling, but there’s also a chance you can get it at your local grocery store. If you choose to travel, be a safe and responsible traveler.
Traveling to the Islands of Tahiti during COVID-19
I teamed up with Tahiti Tourism and Air Tahiti Nui to highlight how to travel to Tahiti during COVID-19. The government of French Polynesia has done an incredible job setting up thorough protocols before you set foot in the country. Starting May 1, 2021 these are the vaccination requirements for entering French Polynesia:
- You must be vaccinated, which means you need to present your CDC card and be 8 days past your final vaccine; or, you have to do a 10-day quarantine on Tahiti.
- (Entering from US) You must have been in the US for 30 days prior to departure (not related to citizenship and as we currently understand it, if you’re a US citizen but have traveled outside the country in the last 30 days, you would need to quarantine)
- There are no age exemptions for vaccination, so given that the minimum age for vaccination in the US is currently 16, this means, in effect, no children under 16, unless they’re willing to quarantine on Tahiti with one legal guardian.
In addition to vaccination regulations, here are the other rules:
- Take a RT-PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 within 3 days of your departure date. Self-quarantine after testing and receive a negative result before your flight.
- Fill out an Etis.pf (Electronic Travel Information System) health document within 3 days of your departure date. Obtain a receipt and authorization to travel to Tahiti. The form includes:
- Traveler status
- Personal information
- Health registration
- Itinerary information
- Data verification
- Compliance to sanitary rules
- Once successfully completed, you will receive a barcode that you must present upon entering the country.
- Travel insurance or signing a declaration assuming all associated medical, confinement, or repatriation costs, should you fall ill during your stay is required. I purchased a standard insurance plan from Travelex Insurance for $47.00). For more info, check out Tahiti Tourism’s resources on travel insurance.
- Print and present copies of your negative RT-PCR test and E.T.I.S. barcode at check-in. Also remember to bring your standard check-in documents.
- When you land in the Islands of Tahiti you will again show your E.T.I.S. barcode. You will receive a free kit with 2 self-administered tests for SARS-CoV-2 (1 nasal and 1 oral). Take the tests 4 days after your arrival date and to turn into your place of lodging.
- Take an antigen test at the Tahiti airport if returning to the United States.
- NOTE: There are no vaccinations or visas requirement for US travelers.
Flying on Air Tahiti Nui
For my trip, I flew Air Tahiti Nui which is the leading carrier to the Islands of Tahiti. Shockingly it’s only an 8 hour direct flight from Los Angeles to Papeete, Tahiti. Upon boarding, a welcoming crew handed me a hygiene kit including face masks, disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer. Walking down the aisles transports passengers to island life through tropical vibes of turquoise chairs with brightly colored pillows.
I also felt safe throughout the flight knowing Air Tahiti Nui planes are cleaned with the highest standards available. The planes also use high efficiency HEPA air filters. All passengers older than 11 and crew are also required to wear face masks. During my flight I enjoyed inflight entertainment and the best airplane food I’ve ever eaten, I even asked for seconds! Coming home, I upgraded to business and loved turning my seat into a completely flat bed! After dinner and a movie I comfortably slept the rest of the flight. I highly recommend flying with Air Tahiti Nui when you travel to Tahiti.
Pro Tip: An inter-island flight to Bora Bora can cost up to $500 roundtrip. See more islands at the same cost (or less) by booking at Air Tahiti Pass. For under $600 the Bora Bora-Tuamotu Pass includes flights to Bora Bora, Moorea, Tikehau, Rangiroa, Raiatea, Huahine, and Maupiti. Such a steal!
Even better, the inter-island flights are an adventure delivering stunning views! When flying from Tahiti to Bora Bora, sit on the left side of the plane.
Now that you’re ready to travel to Tahiti check out my guides:
Traveling back to the United States
As of January 26, 2021 the the United States is requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 for all air passengers arriving from a foreign country to the US. For more detailed information and up to date info learn more at the CDC.
Antigen tests are available at the Tahiti airport before all international flights at a current rate of 5,700 XPF per test (approximately $53 USD), performed by medical staff. Testing can be done upon arrival at the airport before flights. It is recommended passengers arrive to the airport 3 hours early for international departure to allow for plenty of time to test, receive results, check in, etc. Some international countries and the state of Hawaii/Alaska require an RT-PCR test to return to their countries. Those tests are also offered on the islands of Tahiti and Moorea and can be taken three days prior to departure.