Tahiti reopens – here’s what you should know

While most of the world remains closed for nonessential travel to U.S. passport holders, there are a few exceptions.

In French Polynesia, marketed as the Islands of Tahiti, quarantine measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 were exceptional, including a ban on all international and domestic passenger flights, with the exception of some special territorial continuity flights maintaining links between Tahiti and Paris.

After a small number of cases in the spring months, the territory is now COVID-free, and eager to safely reopen its largest industry — tourism — upon which many resident livelihoods are dependent.

The Islands of Tahiti are now open to non-resident visitors, and a quarantine period is not required. U.S. citizens wishing to escape to popular destinations such as Tahiti, Moorea or Bora Bora can visit with a few modifications to the territory’s entry requirements.

Outlined below are the new procedures for travelers to French Polynesia:

Step 1: Schedule a COVID-19 test

French Polynesia requires travelers to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, taken within 72 hours of their international departure. A PCR test is required; other forms of tests are not accepted.

Travelers should verify availability of a PCR test in their area prior to booking.

Step 2: Book a flight

As of this writing, most airlines previously serving Tahiti from North America had plans to resume service in July or August. Check your preferred airline’s website for fares and schedules.

Step 3: Purchase travel insurance

Travelers arriving in French Polynesia who are not part of the local (French) health care system must provide proof of insurance to cover their medical expenses or attest responsibility and ability to self-pay expenses should they test positive for COVID-19 during their stay. Such expenses can include hospitalization, quarantine or costs of repatriation.

Step 4: Arrange accommodations

Nonresident arrivals must have prearranged accommodations and provide contact information for themselves and their accommodations. Nonresidents must also provide dates and itinerary details outlining their travel plans while in the country.

Step 5: Get PCR test and complete ETIS

Once a negative test has been obtained, travelers must complete French Polynesia’s Electronic Travel Information System. The system collects passenger data including accommodations, travel insurance, a negative test result and an emergency contact. Once forms are complete, travelers will receive a receipt to show to airline personnel at check-in. Travelers must also retain the receipt and a copy of the health form throughout their stay in French Polynesia.

Step 6: Travel to French Polynesia, observing safety protocols

Similar to U.S. domestic travel, airlines serving Tahiti require passengers to wear face coverings while transiting airports and throughout their flights. Distancing and face coverings protocols are also in effect in French Polynesia, and travelers are encouraged to wear face coverings while in the presence of others.

If travelers change their itinerary after arriving in French Polynesia, they should update their ETIS itinerary online.

Beautiful above and underwater coral landscape of a resort in Tahiti. Getty Images

Step 7: Test again upon arrival

Upon arrival at Tahiti’s Faa’a International Airport, travelers will be given a self-test kit with instructions for taking the test on the fourth day following arrival. Tahiti Tourisme has produced a video explaining this process.

Upon taking and sealing the self-test, travelers can return it directly to the nearest health center (a list is provided) or at the front desk of their hotel or resort.

Should travelers test positive during their stay in French Polynesia, they will be immediately conveyed to Tahiti for treatment and observation by local health authorities.

Step 8: Enjoy the Islands of Tahiti

French Polynesia comprises five distinct island groups spread across an area of ocean the size of continental Europe, and even prepandemic received only a fraction of the number of visitors that many other tropical destination spots see. With top-notch resorts, secluded less-visited islands perfect for social distancing and some of the most welcoming people anywhere in the world, the Islands of Tahiti are ready for visitors.

More: Tahiti reopens – here’s what you should know