Given Susan’s belief in checking in for flights REALLY early, we went to SFO about 3 hours ahead of time to avoid any lines. Flight left on time and was very empty. When we landed in Papeete,Tahiti, we had to show our vaccination cards, passports, Electronic forms, and COVID tests before we were allowed into the country. We had no way to print the COVID tests in SF but did download them to our phones to show Mr. Immigration. He was good to go with this.
We also had to do a COVID test at the airport – covered by the $50 fee. Cough 5 times, blow your nose into a Kleenex, swab each nostril, swab top of mouth, under tongue, each cheek. We only get notified if we test positive. Thank heavens we never heard from the public health people in FP.
Our next COVID test adventure will be getting a test within 24 hours of leaving but the airport has them. Otherwise, I guess we’ll be in Tahiti longer!
Geography lesson – French Polynesia is HUGE, south of the equator, and just about directly south of Hawaii (same time zone). It’s made up of a number of archipelago’s and hundreds of islands. We went to 3 – Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora – but there are lots more to explore. The islands are connected by a few ferries and lots of planes.
First stop was Papeete, Tahiti, the capital and largest city.
Our next stop for a week was Moorea which is the island you can see in the background of the black sand beach picture above. We took a taxi to the ferry terminal, bought a $15 ticket for each of us, waited 15 minutes and took the 25 minute ferry ride to Moorea. Then we took a taxi to our hotel, Hotel Manava. It’s actually near a town (about 10 minute walk to the grocery store), has a food truck next to it and a restaurant grill across the street. This gave us more choices of where to eat instead of eating at the hotel all the time.
The town also has a laundry run by a French lady who moved to French Polynesia with her surfing husband 20 years ago and has been in the laundry business ever since. Drop it off one day and pick it up the next – about $20 for 10 kg., washed, dried, folded and probably ironed!
We took a 4 hour excellent tour with lots of info about the history and myths of the islands plus the plants. Stopped at Cook’s Bay, the Belvedere where we can see both bays, archeology sites, Agricultural school for a bathroom break and ice cream. The vanilla and the coconut ones were yummy! The students were on break. Stopped to get info about many plants – wild pineapple, wild hibiscus, yellow magic flower. The tour guide gave us cold clothes that were soaked in water and plumeria flowers. One of the plants smells like Chanel #5 when crushed. Last stop was at the juice factory for samples of the alcoholic drinks and juices. It’s too expensive to export locally grown fruit so the plant makes it into juice. Pineapple is grown locally along with bananas, avocados, green beans, papaya, mangoes, oranges, grapefruits.
Bora Bora was the next stop for a week. We expected things to get busier since this was now Christmas week and it did.
We were #1 and #2 people to check in for our Air Tahiti flight after the boxes of green mussels got checked in! No security, take water on board. A prop plane picked us up on Moorea on the way from Papeete after dropping off about 6 people.
Left 10 minutes early and took about 50 minutes to fly to Bora Bora. BOB airport is on an island and the only transport from the airport is a boat either from Air Tahiti or from each resort. We stayed at Le Bora Bora Hotel and the guys were at the desk in the arrival area and gave us leis and crowns; took our luggage to the boat for the 10 minute boat ride across the channel to Le Bora Bora Resort, a Relais and Chateaux property.
We splurged and stayed in an overwater bungalow. The A/C worked after we got instructions to not change the temperature! Glass in the coffee table to watch fish along with glass behind the sinks and the bathtub. We had a lovely deck and ladder down into the lagoon.
One hint – Liquor is very expensive in FP but each person can bring 2 liters into the country. Do it! We brought 3 liters of gin and only had to find tonic which was way cheaper! Lots of people did this. French wine was reasonable and beer was OK priced for local beer – about $5-6 each. The resort gave us 2 cans of beer, coke, juice and water each day in our room included in the price.
After 7 days in Bora Bora, it was time to go back to Papeete for Christmas and to get COVID tests in order to fly back to the U.S. Let’s just say, Air Tahiti was not having a good travel day but we made it and were not among the passengers worrying about missing their flights home!
We flew home on the 28th at 10:40 PM but took the shuttle into town to get a COVID test at the local pharmacy on the 27th. Really easy and got the results in about 30 minutes although the pharmacist really wasn’t sure we didn’t need to wait until within 24 hours. The US says the test cannot be dated before 12/27 and mentions NOTHING about how many hours. We both passed, thank heavens!
The end! French Polynesia was excellent; we want to go back and check out Taha Island and a few others. The United flight is only about 10 hours from SF. We learned that Costco has some great packages at the moment with Air Tahiti Nui out of Los Angeles.