At the meeting point between Asia and the Americas, French Polynesia gives the impression of a distant and inaccessible destination. From Europe, you will have to cross two oceans and thousands of kilometers. Despite their isolation, Tahiti and her islands are still quite accessible. Even better: air connections are almost daily, both from Europe and North America. Finding a flight to French Polynesia is therefore no problem at all. Let’s find out what your options are for reaching the island paradise with the best airline tickets.
Tips Before Your Flight to French Polynesia
Think About the Duration of the Flight and the Time Difference
From Europe, you will not find any direct flight to French Polynesia. The distances are far too great and one or two technical stopovers on the North American continent are planned. Therefore, plan between 20 and 30 hours of flight time before reaching your destination.
The trip will be from East to West. With almost ten time zones difference, your aircraft will land in Tahiti the day after your departure. On the other hand, for the return trip, you will officially arrive two days later.
Official Requirements for French Polynesia
For citizens of the European Union and the European Economic Area, a passport or an identity card is sufficient. Citizens from the United States and Canada do not need a tourist visa if their stay is less than 90 days.
Citizens of other countries should consult the French diplomatic and consular services to obtain the necessary authorizations.
A little advice: you will plan your trip to French Polynesia months in advance, maybe even a year. Please make sure that your identity papers will be valid for at least another three months on the date of your return.
Transit in North America: Don’t Forget the ESTA!
For travelers coming from Europe, expect to make several technical stops, especially in the United States. It is mandatory to be in possession of an electronic travel authorization (ESTA).
The ESTA is a simple administrative formality that must allow you to enter the United States. Without it, you will probably not be allowed to board the plane at the departure airport. This digital authorization is not the equivalent of a visa and does not concern the immigration services in the United States. Moreover, during your transit, you will not leave the international areas of the airports, or even get off the plane.
The process is mandatory and requires a fee. An online application must be made at least two weeks before departure.
Which Airline to Choose For a Flight to French Polynesia
A flight to French Polynesia from Europe
To reach Tahiti and her islands from France and Paris, Air France and Air Tahiti Nui are the two main airlines. From Charles de Gaulle airport, your flight to French Polynesia will transit through the city of Los Angeles, on the West Coast of the United States. Each airline offers travel classes ranging from Economy to Premium.
Air France offers optimal comfort in its premium classes, with the possibility of sleeping in a reclining position. Generally, your plane lands in Tahiti in the early morning. The return to France is also very early. Hence the need to stay in a hotel near the international airport the day before your flight.
On the other hand, Air Tahiti Nui is distinguished by its Polynesian atmosphere, more exotic and less standardized. The outbound and return flights arrive and depart in the evening. So you have the possibility to rest on your arrival and to enjoy a last day in Tahiti. Just for its Polynesian charm, we recommend flying with Air Tahiti Nui.
Finally, a more affordable alternative can be found from Paris-Orly airport with French Bee. This company offers low-cost flights. The prices of the tickets are cheap but the comfort is less than with the two previous competitors.
A flight to French Polynesia from North America
From the North American continent, you will find direct flights to Tahiti from the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco. With a flight time of just under eight hours, the trip is more relaxing. Departure is in the evening so you can arrive at your destination in the early morning. The return flights will land you in the same two cities in the afternoon.
For boarding, you will board the aircraft in transit from Europe or, more conveniently, the aircraft of American companies such as United Airlines.
The Price of a Flight to French Polynesia
Depending on the time of your trip, the price of airfare can increase significantly. From Paris, France, a round trip flight costs between $850 and $2,650. For departures from Los Angeles and San Francisco, count between $530 and $1,000. To get the best prices, we recommend using a flight comparator, such as Skyscanner:
The most sought-after flights are during the tourist season, which generally covers the dry period, i.e. the southern winter. These are the months from April to October. The climatic conditions are excellent, less rain and therefore less stifling humidity. Naturally, airfares are more expensive, especially during the months of July and August, when the tourist season is in full swing and French expatriates leave or arrive in Tahiti and her islands.
If you want to save money on flights, it is necessary to choose carefully when to visit French Polynesia and perhaps avoid the months of July and August. By being flexible, sometimes changing your arrival and departure dates by only a few days, it is possible to reduce the price of a flight by almost half. In the end, you will be able to greatly reduce the cost of a trip to French Polynesia.
Choosing Your Flight to French Polynesia and the Right Multi-islands Pass
International flights arrive systematically on the island of Tahiti. However, there is a good chance that you will take advantage of your stay to visit other islands. The local airline Air Tahiti takes care of the domestic flights so you can visit the islands of your choice. Single flights are very expensive and add a lot to the price of the trip.
Fortunately, you have the Air Tahiti Pass. These combined air tickets allow you to visit several islands in a determined itinerary that cannot be modified after the first boarding. Valid for 28 days, Air Tahiti Passes can be obtained on the Air Tahiti website or at local agencies.
Air Tahiti Passes represent a considerable saving in terms of time and money. You will be able to combine your itinerary as you wish. We particularly recommend two Air Tahiti Passes: Bora Bora Pass ($470 per person) to visit the Leeward islands from Moorea to Maupiti; Bora-Tuamotu Pass ($600 per person) to reach the remote atolls of Tikehau and Rangiroa.
Small Recommendations for Travelers in Transit in Tahiti
Travelers passing through Tahiti can take advantage of the few hours they will have on the island to do their last shopping before heading further afield to the destination of their choice.
Upon arrival at the Tahiti-Faa’a International Airport, visit the exchange offices or the nearest bank to withdraw sufficient Pacific francs. The US Dollar is not used in Tahiti and her islands, and some remote islands such as Maupiti and Tikehau do not have banks or ATMs on site. On the other hand, if most hotels in French Polynesia accept credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, etc.), this is not the case for guesthouses. To travel with peace of mind, leave on the broad basis of 90,000 xpf (about $800) for two people.
Finally, you can also take advantage of this transit time to make last minute purchases. A visit to the nearest pharmacy will be the opportunity to buy sun cream and especially anti-mosquito protection. If you hadn’t thought about it, don’t hesitate to buy water sandals in your size. Indeed, the more the island you will visit later will be remote and small, the less the infrastructure will be developed.
Discover French Polynesia Without Further Delay!
Tahiti and her islands are a romantic, spectacular and absolutely unforgettable destination. Some will prefer to discover them by water. Have you thought about taking a cruise in French Polynesia? The possibilities are numerous and all promise lasting memories.
For the others, finding the right flight will have been the first step. Now you need to define an itinerary, book your nights in a hotel or guesthouse, and plan several activities, from scuba diving to mountain hiking. From authentic Huahine to the pink sands of Rangiroa, French Polynesia awaits you. Contact us now to organize your stay in the beautiful Pacific Islands.