Traveling to Tahiti from San Francisco is “easy as one, two, three” with Frenchbee. Simply take the direct overnight flight that lands you in Papeete in the early morning, perfect timing to catch a ferry or a plane to another island. In one week we explored 2 islands of the Society Islands archipelago: Bora Bora and Huahine. We ended with a day on the island of Tahiti to explore Teahupo’o, the mythical wave (and Olympic this year).

We share our adventure here.

Arrival in Papeete:

After a comfortable flight on one of the recent A350s of the French bee fleet, arriving in Papeete at 4:30 AM will allow you to:

  • stop at the ATM to get some Pacific francs (handy for buying fruits by the roadside)
  • rent an internet router if you need a reliable connection (the connection on the islands is not always ideal)

Bora Bora

In Bora Bora, it is said that staying on the main island rather than in one of the overwater hotels on the annexed motus is a more authentic experience (and much cheaper). This will allow you to fully enjoy the island and its hidden treasures and diversify your activities.

Hotels: We tested 2 hotels: the Mai Tai (in October 2020) and the Royal Bora (in April 2024): both are comparable and very close to each other. The Mai Tai has beach and overwater bungalows, while the Royal Bora has a small pool, and its restaurant is on the beach, with the rooms located across the road. Note that for the Royal Bora booking on platforms has been a better deal than extending directly at the front desk (yes we stayed one more night).

Lagoon Activities: The magic of Bora Bora is obviously its lagoon. Your hotel will directly offer you excursions with various providers… and many other clients too.

We booked our activities directly with LA PLAGE to explore the lagoon. LA PLAGE’s office is located opposite the Maitai, just a 5-minute walk from the Royal Bora. The welcome is warm. There are several options: you can either rent a small boat to explore part of the lagoon on your own (but with some restrictions). You can also have a personalized experience by renting a private boat with a Tahitian guide for a full day or half day, just for you (up to 10 people).

The Tahitian guide will show you the most privileged spots in the lagoon, at your own pace and according to your desires. We recommend Manu, a well-known local guide of the island: he knows the lagoon like the back of his hand, took us swimming with the Manta rays, exploring quieter spots… If you opt for the full-day excursion, you can enjoy a traditional Polynesian lunch with raw fish and coconut milk and spend time on a private motu. It’s the best option to stay with family or friends for a tailor-made exploration! Find all their services here

The boat picks you up directly from your hotel pontoon, our little tip: try to leave as early as possible to visit the sites before the bigger tour operators.

“Land” Activities: You can also rent a car for a day; the island tour takes 45 minutes without stops. An essential stop is the sublime Matira beach, especially at sunset! But stopping there for lunch is also a must: either at the family snack bar Moihere or at the trendier and very popular Snack Matira among the locals.

Also plan to stop at the viewpoint for a short hike that will lead you to the cannons, visit the stand of handmade pareos (the car rental agency will provide a map), and even book a workshop to make your own pareo. Don’t hesitate to meet the locals who will be happy to show you the must-see spots.

Our tip: rent a car from the Matira agency the day before your departure, then return it to Vaitape just before taking the boat back to the airport.

Huahine

25 minutes by plane from Bora Bora, Huahine surprises with the lushness of its vegetation. It is said that Bora Bora is known for all the shades of blue in its lagoon, and Huahine for all the shades of green on its island. To book a taxi, contact Taxiteora for top-notch service with the adorable Maire!

Our highlight: Le Mahana Hotel

photo ©Sabrina Bot – April 2024

In Huahine, we recommend staying at the family-run hotel Le Mahana, located in Parea on the southern part of the island (Huahine Iti), on the beach. This hotel is the perfect place to spend a few days relaxing. Beachfront bungalows on several rows (with air conditioning), impeccable service, a seaside restaurant, kayaks, and paddleboards available invite you to relax and enjoy pleasant moments with family or friends at an island pace.  The mandatory half-board will save you from worrying about dinner, and the snack Chez Tara, located right next door, is the perfect spot for lunch. The hotel reception can also recommend day trips.

We tested the full-day expedition to explore the southern part of the island by traditional boat, with stops at the coral garden for snorkeling, a visit to the famous eels of Faie, a brief visit to a pearl farm, and a stop on Murimahora motu for lunch with a magnificent Polynesian buffet and a Tahitian dance demonstration.

Huahine – photo ©Sabrina Bot

Huahine is a less frequented island than Bora Bora, but it has just as many hidden treasures to discover and deserves more than 2 days to fully appreciate it. For more activities, inquire at Tahiti Tourisme.

Return to Tahiti

The return flight with French bee to San Francisco leaves early in the morning, so you must plan to return to the island of Tahiti the day before.

photo Tim McKenna

We recommend returning two days before to spend a day exploring Teahupo’o, the mythical wave that will host the surfing events for the 2024 Olympic Games in July.

Teahupo’o, located on the Tahiti peninsula known as Tahiti-iti, is a 1.5-hour drive from Papeete. The village that gives its name to the wave is at the end of the road, and you will need to book a boat trip to get to the wave, an unforgettable experience, all the details here.

On your return from Teahupo’o, take the opportunity to do some shopping at the famous Papeete market, such as local products like artisanal monoï, pearls, fabrics, and vanilla.

In a nutshell, a trip to French Polynesia is a dream experience, with paradisiacal islands, turquoise lagoons, and a rich and authentic Polynesian culture and cuisine. A week is a bit short but it’s a good introduction that will undoubtedly make you want to return. How lucky we are to have this direct flight with French bee from San Francisco (and also from Los Angeles) ! More info on the low fare calendar with French bee here.

So, don’t hesitate to explore the other Society Islands … and then the other archipelagos. The Tuamotus offer a totally different experience!!

Follow us on Instagram for visual stories of the various mentioned places.

Mauruuru (Thank you in Polynesian)

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