French Polynesia, here we come!!! But first…the flight to get there. We flew from Kauai 9:19 am flight but once again was asked to take an earlier flight due to overbooking to Honolulu. But the good thing was we told the agent that we are having a connecting flight to Tahiti, she checked our baggage all the way to Tahiti so we don’t need to take out our baggage and re-check at Honolulu!
The flight from Kauai to Honolulu, we saw a double rainbow, hopefully that’ll bring us good luck!
We landed around 9 am, the flight to Papeete (Tahiti airport) is 3:30 pm, that’s 6 hours to kill at the airport. I planned for the long layover with my United Club day passes (I got two free from opening the Chase United credit card)! The United Club was pretty tucked away from the main concourse where the shops and restaurants are and it is located up on the 2nd floor too.
Although it’s is big inside, it was filled with people! Luckily, we got a table with two chairs, those chairs were way more comfortable than the ones in the terminals! There is a bar area with some breakfast items such as bagels, donuts, muffins, milk, cereal, and juices! Our breakfast:
At around lunch time, they switched the breakfast items to just snacks like cheese and crackers.
We browsed the web and watched videos so our long layover wasn’t that bad! But if I had to pay $50 for each day pass, I don’t think it’s worth it! At around 1:30 pm, we left the club and went to the fast food restaurant in the airport for lunch. I ordered stir-fried noodle with beef and vegetables – the portion was so small and not tasty at all. Why can’t airport fast food taste good?
We boarded the plane on time but there was a luggage belt issue at the airport that delayed the loading of the luggage….delayed by more than 1.5 hours yikes! I was fall asleep in the plane before it took off! We finally up in the air and when I woke up, I saw the colorful sunset I was waiting for all these days!
Soon, the flight attendants start passing out our dinner:
The 5.5 hours flight to Tahiti – nearly 2,700 miles from the north Pacific to the south Pacific!
There is a monitor on each seat but nothing free to watch except for some Hawaiian promotion videos 😦
Once we all finished our dinner, light dimmed to sleep, the cabin LED lights were very favorite purple and pink (it’s different color down the aisle)!
We did took some naps in between but it wasn’t too bad since 5.5 hours wasn’t that bad. Lucky for those who live in Hawaii and gets to travel to French Polynesia for vacation!
When we were about to land, I took out the insect repellent wipes and wiping ourselves to protect again mosquito bite (French Polynesia at that time was having an outbreak of Chikungunya)! We don’t want to risk our expensive vacation ending up being sick so we were very diligent on applying insect repellent (at least 25% DEET)!
Just to show you how the wipes look like, they are individually packed so very convenient to carry-on. I bought those from Rite Aids.
Walking out from the plane into the airport, there were musicians and dancers welcoming tourists:
Instead of landing at 9:30 pm, we landed at 10:00 pm and once we got through customs, immigration, picked up our luggage, it was at least 10:30 pm!!! I booked the Tahiti Airport Motel which is just up the hill across the street. Orbitz was having a $100 off hotel promotion the day after Thanksgiving and I snapped the deal fast enough to book the airport motel, I ended up paying around $40 including tax! Before the promotion, I was debating on rather to stay at a nicer place but I heard taxi to a near by hotel cost at least $30 one way!
First thing after luggage claim: ATM!!!! We turned left after we got out of the gate and next to the luggage storage, there are two machines. On the left side is the currency exchange machine where you put in cash (USD) and it dispense XPF (Pacific Franc) but I heard the exchange rate from that machine is poor! On the right is the Bank of French Polynesia ATM. I have notified Bank of America of my travel plan and have set my pin to a 4-digit code. I was afraid that the machine will run out of cash in the weekend after reading reviews so it was my first thing to do. Luckily, it still has cash, I took out 40,000 xpf (around $400 because that time $1 USD was over 100 xpf), Bank of America or Bank of French Polynesia or both charged a $16 USD fee. I guess still better than the currency exchange machine or the hotel! I calculated before hand that I’ll need 3,800 xpf each for the 4×4 tour in Moorea and 12,000 xpf each for the snorkeling tour in Bora Bora so total I need 31,600 xpf to cover those tours. The extra 8,400 xpf will be for small items (most of the restaurants and shops accept credit cards and credit cards has the best exchange rate plus our Chase United credit card has $0 foreign exchange fee).
The Tahiti Airport Motel….getting there wasn’t as bad as I prepared it would be from reading reviews. You can see the neon green Tahiti Airport Motel sign as soon as you walk out from the hotel. It was at night so I didn’t take any photos and instead I took the photos during the day from the motel to the airport…so reverse logistic:
Walk across the parking lot, to the stairs on the left side look like this:
Walk up the stairs and cross the street, there’s a path to go up on the right:
It was steep but I was able to push my luggage up:
All the way up then on the left is the entrance to the motel. Last flight of stairs to the motel:
We made it, good job hubby with those stairs!
Check in, I had to sign all those waivers hum…..I guess to protect them from liability? I read an review in Tripadvisor that a couple left the room for dinner and when they return all their luggage were stolen! We were very cautious and making sure no one was following up to our room. We were prepared and bought cup noodles with us for our dinner so we don’t need to leave the room! The room was actually clean for a motel:
I confirmed it has a water boiler for our cup noodles!
The hard bed without any blankets….I guess Tahiti warm all year so no need for blankets? The room does have working AC!
There’s free wifi, very slow, but enough for me to double check for our flight tomorrow! I had downloaded some dramas from previous nights so while we were having our delicious instant noodles, we enjoyed with drama. Don’t forget to bring your own forks and spoons! After the noodle, I spent some time repacking our bags – reason is Air Tahiti that flies between island has weight limit of 11 lbs per person carry-on! You can refer to my earlier post on how I managed to pack my camera equips into two carry-on of 11 lb each: https://missvacation.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/spending-christmas-and-new-year-in-hawaii-and-french-polynesia/
For the three inter-island flight, Air Tahiti never weighed any of our carry-ons, I guess they raised their limit to 11 lbs that average travelers will not exceed that in their backpack or purse!
After arranging all the bags, I was so tired! I slept with my hoodie because the sheet was not enough, I was so used to sleeping with the heavy blanket! We made it to Tahiti! Can’t wait for Moorea and praying for good weather!!!