After you have a better idea where Bora Bora is, the next question is obvious. How do we get to some major heart-eyes paradise?! Let’s get to it!
Depending where you are traveling from, your flights may look different. A good resource may be to look at this article here as it details how to get to Tahiti from different parts of the world. However, I’m not sure when it was last updated because I think some more flights have been added by now. That post mentions that Air Tahiti Nui from LA arrives only at night in Tahiti, but this was not the case for us. We left LAX near midnight and arrived early morning (5am, Tahiti time) when we went (spring 2017). So we did not need to stay overnight in Tahiti before going to our next destination as the other site suggests.
TRAVEL PEARL: Though arriving early has benefits in that you get the whole day ahead of you (remember, you are gaining 3 hours from PST), the downside is that you may not be able to check in to your hotel until 3pm. However, some resorts offer day rooms and they can hold your luggage until you have a room–leaving you time to explore/enjoy the resort or go out for an excursion!
For the U.S., it appears everyone has to go through LAX or Honolulu, and your choice of airlines is Air Tahiti Nui, Air France, or Hawaiian Airlines from HNL. We had to get ourselves to LA first before being able to take the flight to Tahiti. It takes about 8 hours to fly from Los Angeles and 6 hours from Honolulu. There is only one international airport in French Polynesia, Faa’a International Airport, and it is located on the island of Tahiti at the capital city of Papeete (PPT).
To get to the other islands from Tahiti Island, you have to take another flight or a boat transfer. Air Tahiti is the domestic airline for inter-island flights and to get to Bora Bora, you would take a small airplane to the little airport on Bora Bora (BOB)–less than an hour plane ride, which is actually quite fun because the water and islands are gorgeous!
Once you get to BOB in Bora Bora, you will see that it is tiny and you essentially cannot get “lost.” The airport is on a tiny motu and most people will take a boat transfer to their resort. Sound complicated? Nope, not even! There’s only so many resorts (maybe 10 at most) that they each have a dedicated little booth with their names on it. You can’t miss them because it’s the first thing you’ll see once you come into the airport after claiming your luggage. Think like the car rental kiosk location you see at airports. If it was prearranged, someone from the resort will be there to greet you, lei you, and take you on a boat transfer to your hotel! I’m not sure if all hotels pick up their guests and/or if they are complimentary, but the Intercontinental did pick us up. I checked their website and shuttle boats are about $60pp! Eeps! This is where booking through travel agencies and packages can save you some money because I didn’t even know the cost of this until I looked it up!
Air Tahiti apparently also offers free shuttle boat rides to Vaitape (the main city in Bora Bora) as a part of their flights! Check out this article for more helpful information on how to save money to get to your resort if you don’t want to use the hotel shuttle or did not book with a travel agency that arranged it. The hotel shuttle is likely the most reliable and convenient way, though. When you’re out on a remote island, you can’t help but be charged an arm and a leg for things you really need.
I need to mention that we did plan our Tahiti trip through Costco Travel, which did save on some costs. Example 1 is these boat shuttle costs! And another big one was meals. I will go over costs of things in another post, but our itinerary actually consisted of going to Moorea first, then Bora Bora. So we actually traveled to Bora Bora during the day from Moorea (about 1 h 20 min with a stop in Huahine too) and it was quite nice to see the views of the islands on the short flight between islands! No helicopter tour needed! 😀 It would have been nice if the day were sunnier, but I was just happy it wasn’t raining because the forecast kept saying rain/thunderstorms!
The locals in Bora Bora are super friendly and nice and almost all know each other. If you really have no idea how to get to your resort or destination, I’m sure they’ll get you where you need to go once you arrive! 🙂 Look out for more posts about the airports (LAX, PPT, MOZ, BOB) & lounge tips in the future!
TRAVEL PEARL: Venture to Moorea first for a few days of adventuring before going to Bora Bora. You will appreciate it more! Let’s just say, I was in LOVE with Moorea…then I saw Bora Bora 😉
Also, people in Tahiti speak better French than they do English. Just be patient; they try their best to help you out!