After 5 months of quarantine at home, we were super excited & grateful to be heading on a bucket list adventure to French Polynesia, specifically to Tahiti and Bora Bora.
French Polynesia opened up to international tourism on July 15th and is one of the few countries that is open to the US right now, albeit with strict entry & stay requirements. We considered many factors while making this travel decision, and these strict entry requirements certainly put our minds at ease. While I was comforted by the fact that we were going to a destination where there are no active COVID cases (at the time that we went), since we were coming from the US we took extra precautions to ensure that we were responsible and safe. If you are planning travel to French Polynesia during the pandemic, here are all the things you need to know. From the US there are currently 2 direct flights operating – United from SFO to PPT and Air Tahiti Nui from LAX to PPT.
And as an FYI- things can always change so for the latest updates please check out Tahiti Tourism. Also you might need a Visa to travel to French Polynesia if you dont have an American passport so do check the French consulate for that.
All travelers are subject to the following mandatory conditions for entry and stay into French Polynesia.
Prior to Boarding :
1 ) Proof of a negative RT-PCR test (list of approved and non approved tests) carried out within three days prior to your international air departure. The test has to be a SARS COV 2 COVID 19 RT PCR test and cannot be a rapid, antigen or antibody test. The results of this test must be negative and will need to be presented to airline staff upon check-in prior to boarding the flight to French Polynesia. No boarding will be allowed if the test is positive.
Tips : This was the biggest hurdle to get a test that compliant with a quick turnaround. You want to make sure its guaranteed results preferably between 24-48 hrs. Make sure your test also says your name, details of when you took the test, time results were reported, test center details as well as the name of the test. We flew Air Tahiti Nui and they were specifically looking for the “Sars Cov 2 Covid 19 RT PCR” wording Here are my suggestions for testing in SF and LA :
- SF : My doctor SF (paid), Arc Point labs (paid), Stanford drive up (free and usually 24-48 but Stanford dosent always guarantee quick results)
- LA : My concierge MD (we tested here; the website says Rapid but dont worry the swab test is NOT rapid), Good life medical, reliant urgent care, Genx labs (these are all paid tests but you can ask for a superbill to submit to your insurance claims, since most insurances cover COVID 19 tests)
Its also wise to book refundable flight tickets in the rare case you are asymptomatic and test positive! Air Tahiti Nui honors this (if you test positive you can reschedule for free). Tahiti Tourism already has an agreement with hotels that if you are unable to travel due to the reason of testing positive for covid you wont be charged any cancellation fees.
2 ) Present the receipt of the health registration on the Etis.pf platform (Electronic Travel Information System). Each adult must fill out a digital Sanitary entry form online on the dedicated platform (Etis.pf) mainly agreeing to a bunch of travel rules and requirements while you are in French Polynesia. A printout of this receipt must be presented upon check-in together with the test results in order to be able to board the flight to French Polynesia and both documents will need to be presented upon arrival at Tahiti’s Faa’a international airport.
** We saw multiple people getting turned away for taking the wrong test, testing on the wrong date or getting a hard time not having a physical copy of the printouts, so definitely be well prepped prior to going to the airport.
During the Flight :
Adhering to all the rules at the airport and on the flight + wearing a mask at all times.
During the Stay :
1 ) Wearing a mask (from the age of 11 years old) is recommended in enclosed public places and establishments and mandatory in outdoor public spaces subject to large number of people, including: shops, water taxis/ferry transportation, airplanes, public ground transport, airports and ferry terminals.
2 ) Respecting prevention measures at all times and in all places. Social distancing in FP in 1 meter (3ft).
3 ) In case of a change of itinerary, travelers should update the “itinerary” part of their file on the Etis.pf website.
4 ) Self Test 4 days upon arrival : In addition to the test required prior to departure, a self-test provided by French Polynesia, will need to be carried out on the fourth day after arrival in the destination. An envelope will be given to each traveler upon their arrival at the airport. This test consists of an oral and nasal swab, to be self-performed at the date indicated on the envelope containing a self-test kit with instructions and an information note. If you test positive from this you will be quarantined in a dedicated hospital in Tahiti. For this reason, travel insurance is highly recommended. If not, you would need to assume all expenses on your own.
Post Travel :
This isnt required and something we did as an additional step after returning back home. The US and state of California don’t have any entry requirements but we isolated at home immediately after our stay and got tested on the 3rd day after arrival. We were negative and still isolated at home and monitored for symptoms till 14 days.
As a disclaimer, I understand that the decision to travel might not make sense to everyone right now, and that is totally fine. I’m not one to tell you whether to travel or not – that is something you have to decide for yourself, based on your circumstances. However, I DO want to be a helpful resource for travel related openings, show you how it is possible to travel safely + responsibly if you choose to travel during the pandemic and of course I want to inspire you to travel after the pandemic is over. Stay tuned for all my hotel guides and travel guides to Bora Bora and Tahiti on the blog.
Thanks for stopping by! xoxo