Page update: 06/12/2021
I admit that this page should have been created as soon as March 2020, when this global Covid19 pandemic began. We did not think about it with Melanie. However, we now feel that it is time to do so. I am not going to trace the history of how the Covid19 epidemic arrived in French Polynesia , with the first cases, the lockdown, the end of lockdown, etc. It would be of little interest honestly.
So you will surely ask yourself why do we create this page now? As you must know if you have been following us for some time, our blog is 3 years old this year and we have written many articles about French Polynesia. As a result, we receive dozens of emails a day (or even more) asking for advice, tips, recommendations, etc… Since the reopening of the French Polynesian borders on July 15, 2020, tourists from France mainly (and also Europe and US) have come back to visit our beautiful French Polynesia.
Nevertheless, there are still many of you who ask us every day about the current situation of Covid19 in French Polynesia, the flights possibilities, the real risk here, about the feeling towards locals, etc. In short, we do answer quite a lot of questions which finally come back very often. So, we thought it would be simpler to answer all of them here on this page, especially through two Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): a general one to organize your trip, and a more personal one, both at the bottom of the article.
Please remember we’re French and this article was first written in French, for French people. We’ve adapted it for foreigners now, mainly Americans, Canadians and other English-speaking people.
Also, since 02/03/2021, only people with a compelling reason will be accepted on the Polynesian territory. These are mainly:
- an overriding personal or family reason,
- an emergency health reason,
- a professional reason that cannot be postponed.
Tourist travel is forbidden at the time of writing this page. It will re-open for US tourist from May 1th.
We do not pretend to know everything about it, but living here for 5 years now and being currently in the middle of the Covid19 epidemic on the Polynesian territory make us largely able to summarize everything you need to know if you want to come on vacation here. Also, you will find on this page :
- Everything you need to come to French Polynesia
- How is it going when arriving here?
- The existing measures in French Polynesia during Covid19
- A list of useful links to learn more
- A practical FAQ to help you prepare for your trip
- A more personal FAQ
- News about Covid19 in French Polynesia
If you wish to discuss, react or bring useful additional elements, you can do it directly via the comments and we will add them to the page if it is relevant.
We will update the page daily as soon as we have precise and confirmed information that could be useful for someone planning to travel to French Polynesia. We will not share the number of cases, hospitalization, deaths. We will provide the useful links if you want to know about it.
In any case, if you are preparing for your trip, I invite you to read and discover all the articles of the blog about French Polynesia, our 5-years’ experience here on the territory.
Since July 15, 2020, day of the reopening of the French Polynesian borders, here are the entry requirements and things to think about when travelling to French Polynesia:
- Before boarding:
- Get an RT-PCR test 3 days before your departure and present it to the airline company when boarding,
- Register free of charge on the ETIS platform (health commitment form) once the PCR test result is obtained,
- Apply for an ETA or ESTA for stopovers in Canada or the United States (for Europeans – If you live in the US/Canada, you don’t need to do it of course)
- Download and fill in the declaration on honor (only for the French Bee airline)
- During the stay :
- Do a salivary and oral self-test 4 days after arrival, to be given in an approved center (depending on where you are).
These conditions apply to anyone over 11 years old, whether you are a resident or a tourist. For all questions related to these entry conditions, you can look at the FAQ below.
A few quick words without doing much literature. We came back from France in August 2020, so we can already tell you that:
- While boarding, you will be asked for all these documents: photocopy of a negative PCR test, receipt of registration on the ETIS platform, proof of application for AVE (for Canada) or ETIS (for the USA) – if needed – and the declaration on honor (only for French Bee),
- They will most likely take your temperature (they did it for us) before checking-in your luggage.
- Wearing a surgical mask is mandatory in the airport and during the entire flight to Papeete (except when eating and for children under 11 years old). Usually, they ask to change it every 4 hours (but no verification of how many masks you have).
- Your transit will be either in Vancouver, Canada (this is the case for everyone on 02/07/2021) or through the USA.
At the time of writing this article, here is what you should remember if you plan to stay in French Polynesia (non-exhaustive list):
- Curfew in force since Saturday 10/24/2020 at 9pm on the islands of Tahiti and Moorea, from 9pm to 4am
- Strict respect of barrier gestures,
- Nightclubs are closed,
- Organized gatherings of more than 6 people (public or private) are subject to prior authorization,
- Obligation to wear a mask in public open-air spaces, some streets of Papeete, in all shops, public institutions, and around all schools in Polynesia.
- 6 people maximum per table at the restaurant!
We’ll be updating you on things to know for travellers bit by bit! If you want more info, you have news about the Covid19 in French Polynesia at the bottom of the article
- Derogatory travel certificate (for France) dated 10/29/2020
- To find a testing site (test to be done 3 days before) – For Americans
- Testing sites in Southern California
- About the self-test 4 days after arrival: explanatory note and video
In case of symptoms during your stay, you must contact the 40.455.000
As you must know, there are no direct flights to French Polynesia. From France or Europe, the main stopovers are usually in the United States, either in Los Angeles (with Air Tahiti Nui and Air France) or in San Francisco (French Bee). With the Covid crisis, airlines can no longer fly through the USA for now. As I’m writing this page, all flights from Europe pass through Vancouver, Canada. Here are the two official links for AVE (Canada) and ESTA (USA) applications.
Even if this blog is initially in French, there are more and more people contacting me to ask me about Covid19 conditions and they do not necessarily live in France. I am thinking of Swiss, Belgian, Canadian and French expatriates in the United States. I could not guarantee 100% to always be up to date, but I will try to anyway. From what I recently checked, here’s what I can say:
- For Belgians and Swiss, conditions did not changed,
- For Canadians, things have changed since January 7, 2020 as Canada now requires a negative PCR test upon entry into Canada which must be performed 72 hours prior to return (for all passengers over 5 years old). In addition, a 14-day isolation period is now required upon your return to Canada. What does this imply for you, Canadian friends, Quebecers? Quite simply that, if you want to come to French Polynesia to enjoy the sun, you will now have to think of doing 3 PCR tests (the first 72h before your departure – imposed to enter in French Polynesia, the second is the self-test 4 days after your arrival and finally the last 72h before departure to come back to Canada). You can get information from the Institut Louis Malardé (in Papeete) for the last test. From the information I got, it costs 17000xpf. This means that you will have to be either on the island of Tahiti or Moorea in order to do your PCR test for the return trip. I’m not sure at the moment if you can do a PCR test and get the results quickly if you are in the Leeward Islands, the Marquesas and other more remote islands,
- For French residents in the United States (and generally for all Americans and other nationalities), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an executive order on January 12, 2021 requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test to enter the United States. The Executive Order will be effective on Friday, January 26, 2021. Please note that this new requirement will also apply to passengers in transit in the USA. For the moment, this has little influence on French from mainland France because at the time I write these lines (January 14, 2021), no more flights from France to French Polynesia pass through the USA, but only through Canada. However, for everyone living in the USA and wishing to visit French Polynesia, you will have to:
- Be tested 3 times to come to French Polynesia (the same conditions as for the Canadians in fact, with a PCR test 72h before your return),
- Fill out a certificate and show it at boarding, to be downloaded on the following link.
I resume here all the questions I am asked daily, especially by email. This is our personal opinion of the current situation of Covid19 in French Polynesia, not an ultimate truth. Our opinion of certain questions will perhaps evolve, but for the moment here it is! Everybody may not agree with our analysis, but that’s also why we are here: to exchange, it’s a blog, right?
It could be a question that make you smile, but we do receive it frequently, at least several times a week. There is no right or wrong answer, but here is our personal opinion. I would say that, in spite of this world pandemic situation, we are “lucky” enough that Polynesia is French, allowing metropolitan French to access to superb vacations in a paradisiacal setting, obviously under certain conditions mentioned above. It is currently impossible, or very complicated, for French people to travel to distant destinations on the other side of the world. Therefore, in our opinion, it is still a beautiful journey worth considering.
About travel condition, yes French Polynesia has seen its number of cases grow since the borders opening on July 15, 2020. But don’t put words in my mouth: it’s not because of the tourists who came on that date, but more because of people who did not respect anything, leading to the creation of local clusters. But that’s not the point. Since then, the situation has obviously worsened, it’s a sure thing, and as I’m writing this page, the number of cases is growing exponentially.
In spite of everything, the situation is not worse than in France according to us, and I don’t really see why French Polynesia would not be worth it during this period. Landscapes, kindness of the Polynesians, atmosphere of the islands, climate, tropical fruits, etc.: everything is still there! Polynesia also needs tourism and there are so many reasons to come! As long as you are aware of what you are getting into, what you will have to do to come here (test, lab, 72 hours testing condition, mask, etc.), what it implies when you arrive (self-test, total respect of barrier gestures, etc.), then, you can clearly plan an amazing trip. As a little bonus, many people have cancelled their trip for various reasons, and you’ll be one of a few tourists here…
I add a few lines as of today February 7, 2021. Despite the fact that we are cut off from the rest of world for now (in terms of tourism), the number of cases has literally dropped (20/30 cases/day) and to be honest, we don’t feel like we’re in danger here… To be continued, as soon as the borders will reopen.
I’m not 100% convinced, but I would say that, globally, yes. Airline ticket prices have been dropping for some time and you can find Paris – Papeete plane tickets at about 850€ if you are a bit flexible on dates. You can look on this site we recommend to compare and book your flights to French Polynesia. We always use this flight comparator.
For hotels and guesthouses, there have been a lot of promotions posted lately. So yes, globally, it looks like it’d also the moment to take advantage of French Polynesia at a lower cost. Of course, it remains an expensive trip on the whole, but it is also possible to travel to French Polynesia on a budget (dedicated article).
This is also a question that comes up a lot. To wait or not for a 2021 trip? I would say that’s a very personal choice. Clearly, we can see that people are much more reluctant to book their plane tickets, even if we still receive dozens of emails a day asking for advice for a trip to French Polynesia in 2021. So, it seems that people do plan anyway, and it’s so much the better in my opinion. Well, it is definitely a personal choice. If you organize your trip by yourself (without an agency), I think you can wait until the end of the year or the beginning of 2021 for a summer vacation, but still taking the risk, if the Covid situation calms down, that flights and accommodations could be crowded and that you will have to make concessions/choices for your vacations.
Personally, we need to plan, to project ourselves into something and this is also what makes us feel alive. Also know that, depending on the way you organize your trip (agency or not), things can be more or less simple. Which brings me to a crucial question that we receive a lot too: is it better to go through a local agency or not to organize your trip to French Polynesia with the Covid19?
It is a great debate we already entirely treated in an article about the interest or not to go through an agency for vacations in French Polynesia! Nevertheless, we gave our opinion in a situation that we could consider as normal! Today, we cannot really say that’s still a normal situation, neither a simple one, because of the Covid.
We still receive dozens of mails per month about it. This is what comes back very often:
- People organized their trip to French Polynesia alone, implied they bought their plane tickets by themselves, booked their Air Tahiti inter-island passes, then their accommodation and activities. Because of the Covid, since March, airlines have had to adjust the dates of flights several times and change things quite a bit. I know what I’m talking about because my flight back to France in July 2020 has been changed at least 3 times. On my side, it wasn’t such a big deal because I was only going back on vacation to see my family in France, so I didn’t have much to adjust. But for people who contacted us by email and for whom the flights have been postponed, it’s a real pain. People who had their flights rescheduled for a few days had to change everything: their Air Tahiti inter-island passes, the itinerary between the islands, their accommodations, activities. In short, it’s a headache – especially since, as you can imagine, some flights/accommodations/activities are no longer available on the “new forced dates”. Honestly, I know people who have gone crazy trying to reschedule everything. Not to mention that the company can reschedule several times and, in the meantime, you’ve already changed your reservations!
- People who went through a local travel agency. We daily recommend some local travel agencies to people if they want to. And I must admit that we had overall a lot of positive feedback from people who travelled this way during Covid. Why? The reason is pretty simple. As soon as the airline company is going to change your reservation (which happens frequently in the current situation, take our word for it), the agency will take care of adjusting your trip and everything you had planned. For me, this is a huge time saving and you won’t have to worry about this “detail”.
So, to answer in a simple way to the question: is it better to go through a local travel agency to go at this time (and even for 2021) to French Polynesia? Our answer is clearly: YES.
In a general way, I would say yes. You can already realize that there are far fewer flights available on the Air Tahiti site than before the Covid crisis. Stopovers are no longer the same, and it is now hard to find seats on certain sections. For example, many tourists used to book a Moorea – Bora Bora flight before, but Air Tahiti has now really reduced their number of flights. So, it is an important thing to know.
From what I know anyway, as soon as tourists started to come back, the majority of the service providers (boat rental, kayak, jet ski, etc.) were there to welcome them. Some had to shut down during the lockdown months, but today, I’m pretty sure you don’t have to worry too much about activities.
I also receive requests from this kind of people who are a little anxious about booking their activities before leaving, especially if they have to pay a deposit for example. On the whole, I would say that you don’t necessarily have to book in advance, especially for classic activities such as boat trips on the lagoon, kayaking, jet-skiing, etc.
If you rather book before you leave, the best thing to do is to directly contact the provider to make sure that you can postpone or get your deposit refunded if you finally can’t come. Overall, I don’t see why providers wouldn’t accept postponement or cancellation, knowing that most of them have signed an agreement with Tahiti Tourism going in this direction.
You’re going to tell me that I can’t speak for them! Even if we have been living here for 5 years now, we are obviously not Polynesians. Depending on where you look at, you will always find unhappy people who will grumble about tourists, saying that everything is their fault, etc. But reality is far from that, when you see the small number positive self-tests results in French Polynesia. Of course, many people agree that the test is not that much worthy because we are unable to do it the way we should…
Still, from all the lowdown I had while living here, it seems like tourists are truly welcome. Tourism, and everything it involves from more or less far away (providers, sale of food/alcohol, beers, cabs, markets, stores, etc.), represents an important part of the income in French Polynesia. In my opinion, you have nothing to fear on this side and, as long as you respect the Polynesians and where they live, it will be alright!
Here it is, it’s official: the curfew will be in force here on the islands of Tahiti and Moorea from Saturday October 24th at 9pm, until November 16th (and, little update: it is still here on February 7, 2021). So, we wanted to give you our opinion on if it will change something for your upcoming trip or not. As we said at the beginning of the article, this is a very personal opinion. The curfew will only concern the two islands of Tahiti and Moorea. Of course, as a tourist, you will necessarily stay on these two islands, even if only a few will stay several days in Tahiti.
Anyway, here in French Polynesia, we get up early – like, very early – often with the sun, from 5:30/6 am (yes, mainly when we work and we are not on vacation). What I mean is that you will very likely be up early to visit and do activities, and you will surely go to bed early as well. Most of people stay on half board on the French Polynesia islands, and either you will eat at your guesthouse or your hotel. Meals are served early, most of the time around 6:30/7pm. So, in theory, it won’t really be useful to go out after 9pm during your trip.
We do think the curfew is not going to have any impact on your trip and you shouldn’t change your plans, if you plan to go here in the coming months. For now, the entry protocol described above has not changed, so no worries!
The goal here is not to tell you the official numbers of Covid19 in French Polynesia, which are completely distorted anyway by the fact that only symptomatic people are tested. If you don’t have any symptoms, you don’t have to be tested, then the real numbers must be much higher, but it doesn’t matter… The only “real number” counting here in French Polynesia is the number of people in intensive care and the number of deaths.
Here, we give you the latest confirmed information we have here locally, and which we think are interesting to know for those planning to travel to French Polynesia. We will update this news section with the latest info! So, don’t hesitate to come back and have a look around here!
Finally some good news for people coming soon on a trip to French Polynesia! Here is a summary of what you should know, valid from 09/06/2021:
- People over 11 years old fully vaccinated no longer need a compelling reason,
- Minor children accompanying a vaccinated adult are also exempted (measure that applies from France, United States, United Kingdom or a country in the green zone) to French Polynesia.
Concerning the new protocols
- Apply on the ETIS website (unchanged)
- All persons over 11 years old must do a PCR test 72 hours before (or an antigenic test proving traces of covid at least 48 hours before)
Once on site, all travelers 6 years and older must:
- Do an antigenic test on arrival at D-0
- For those who have not been vaccinated -> quarantine for ten days on arrival, in a place of choice with tests at D+4 and D+8
- Minors accompanying a vaccinated adult are exempted from quarantine, but will be tested on D+4 and D+8 (self-test)
- As I understand the texts, no tests at D+4 and D+8 for vaccinated adults (confirmed)
- The ETIS website has been updated today to make the request
- The curfew has been changed from 11pm to 4am (only Tahiti and Moorea)
Beware, as of 16/06:
- A minimum of 14 days must be respected between your second injection (for two-dose vaccines) and the day of departure,
- 28 days between the injection and departure for people vaccinated with Janssen.
As you may have heard, the High Commissioner and the President of the country spoke this morning at 11am here. The news is sad: for the moment, no possibility for French people from metropolitan France to visit French Polynesia for tourism until further notice.
Here are the sanitary measures announced this 04/15/21 and surely applicable on May 1st, 2021:
Summary of the announcements:
- Country accessible only by air,
- Progressive reopening of the borders
- As a first step to travelers from the United States who have stayed more than one month in the country,
- For European tourists (including French, of course), the modalities remain unchanged and only those who have a compelling reason will be able to travel to French Polynesia (Professional, Family and Health).
Identical measures for all:
- RT-PCR test 3 days before take-off (this does not change)
- Declaration of the itinerary on the ETIS platform and declaration of the contact person,
- Antigenic test on arrival D-0 (sample taken when leaving the plane and result when collecting luggage) – NEW
- Justification required for any compelling reason (nothing changes for this actually) – Only from people outside US
In detail, this means:
- For vaccinated people
- Free movement without quarantine
- Complete vaccination scheme
- PCR self-test at D+4
- For people who already have had Covid-19
- Serological test done within the last 15 days to 1 month before arrival (proving the presence of antibodies)
- PCR self-test at D+4
- No quarantine
- For non-vaccinated travelers
- Mandatory quarantine: 10 days in Tahiti, either at home and subject to controls or in a dedicated facility at their own expense
- PCR self-test at D+4
- PCR test at D+8 (D-2 before leaving isolation)
For all, the sanitary measures currently in place remain in effect, especially the respect of barrier gestures (mask, hand washing, distancing).
Here we are, the news is not very good and we will have to wait a little longer, unfortunately.
Good luck to all the French people who had planned to come here in French Polynesia. Don’t cancel your trip for all that. In our opinion, as long as the vaccine will not be accessible to everyone in France/where you live (or a majority of the population vaccinated here?), it may be complicated. Personally, we recommend postponing your trip, probably after July. That’s just our personal opinion.
For children, here’s the news:
Children under 6 years of age are not subject to quarantine.
Children over the age of 6 who are not vaccinated, not immunized or who test positive for COVID-19 will be subject to a quarantine imposed on the entire family.
The whole thing is summarized in pictures here.
I’m updating this article a little. Here’s what you need to remember for now:
- Nothing changes for travelers, who still can’t visit French Polynesia until further notice (at least until 03/31/2021),
- People wishing to enter French Polynesia must have a compelling reason. All travelers are subject to a quarantine, to be done only on the island of Tahiti. Regarding the conditions:
- It can be realized either on a dedicated place at your own expense, about 6000xpf (50€)/day/person, including accommodation, three daily meals, health surveillance and transportation from the airport,
- Either at home, by making a request 72 hours before your flight departure to Tahiti. The home quarantine request form can be downloaded here. It must be sent by email to [email protected]
- Of course, the self-test on the 4th day is always maintained,
- A second test is added on the 12th day of your arrival. This will be done at the Institut Louis Malardé (ILM) on your own, if you have been quarantined at home. If you have been quarantined in a dedicated facility, someone from the ILM will come directly to you. If your test is negative, you can leave after 15 days.
- Please note that from 03/03/2021, the High Commission will control the compelling reasons for all travelers wishing to enter French Polynesia. A request must be submitted 6 days before departure via the following link.
Several things to point out:
- An extraordinary council of ministers adopted on February 5, 2021 the establishment of a 14-day quarantine for any entrance on the Polynesian territory. Obviously, as specified on January 31, 2021, only passengers with a compelling reason will be accepted on the territory. This system should be in place as of February 9. The exact modalities will be specified (see the website of the presidency),
- Here is the link for the derogatory travel certificate for travelers to or from French Polynesia,
- Here is the link for the declaration on honor of the certificate of compliance with the rules of the territory
For those wondering, the number of cases has literally dropped (20/30 per day max) and everything is going pretty well for now. I think they decided to close our borders in order to protect us from the new Covid19 variants. We have to wait now.
That’s it, this article recapitulating all you need to know to travel in French Polynesia during this Covid19 situation comes to an end. I think all the essential is here, but it is possible that some information are missing. If you have any information you think is interesting, do not hesitate to leave a comment here.
If you like our work and find this page useful, feel free to leave us a little comment and share the page around you!
See you soon,
Sylvain & Melanie