Treat Yourself to Tahiti: A Polynesian Paradise - United Hub
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Treat yourself to Tahiti: A Polynesian paradise

By Bob Cooper, April 10, 2018

Travelers eager to expand their island horizons should give the exotic Tahitian islands a try. The South Pacific island of Tahiti and the neighboring French Polynesian islands of Moorea, Bora Bora and Huahine are more accessible than ever, with United nonstop flights from San Francisco to Tahiti launching October 30. The snorkeling, diving, hiking and beaches are memorable, whether it's on a romantic getaway or a trip with family or friends.

Aeriel shot of overwater bungalows in French Polynesia

Tahiti

There's plenty for visitors to do on the island of Tahiti from the moment they arrive at Faa'a International Airport near the capital of Papeete. The biggest island in French Polynesia, Tahiti is split into two sections — the bigger northwestern side of Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Iti, the southeastern side. Tahiti is the cultural, economic and political capital of the French Polynesian islands with nearly 69 percent of the islands' inhabitants living there.

Waterfalls of all sizes, created by the combination of steep slopes and bounteous rainfall in the high volcanic mountains, can be seen on hiking trails in fern-filled “waterfall valleys." Head to Teahupo'o Beach, where monster waves have made the beach legendary among big-wave surfers. In fact, the beach is the site of the annual Billabong surf competition where some of the world's best surfers compete, making it a great place to watch the action from the sand. Like all Polynesian islands, the snorkeling and diving — with about two-dozen lagoons, ocean reefs, caves and shipwrecks accessible from land or on boat excursions — are amazing.

Depending on your budget, stay at one of the more luxurious resorts with overwater bungalows or opt for a lower cost and more traditional experience by staying at guesthouses and pensions (homestays).

Luxury thatched roof bungalows on Moorea

Moorea

A ferry ride lasting about 45 minutes brings you from the island of Tahiti to Moorea, 15 miles across the Sea of the Moon. Similar to Tahiti, saw-toothed volcanic mountains overlook white-sand beaches. Endless activity options include mountain hiking, snorkeling and diving. Moorea is a little quieter than its bigger neighbor, with smaller lodgings mixed in with big beach resorts. Surrounding the San Francisco-sized island are deep coral reefs visitors can explore in snorkeling or diving gear and ocean surf filled with dolphins. On the land are trails you can follow on horseback or a rented bike; surfing and kitesurfing beaches where relaxation rules; and restaurants that incorporate coconut in seemingly every dish.

Palm trees overlooking tropical resort, Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora

It's hard to argue the claim by Tales of the South Pacific author James Michener that Bora Bora is the world's most beautiful island. A ring of islets almost completely surrounds Bora Bora, protecting it from the big waves of the Pacific Ocean. This results in a huge, donut-shaped, sandy-bottomed playground of calm aquamarine waters in which to snorkel, dive, kayak and paddleboard all day. There's only one beach, but it's a beauty with powdery white sand. You can also hike up 2,159-foot Mt. Pahia. Dining ranges from elegant Polynesian restaurants to food trucks serving grilled fish. Most accommodations are on the pricier side — the island is famous for its overwater bungalows — but this favorite island of honeymooners is worth it. It's only a 50-minute plane hop from neighboring Tahiti.

Huahine

Nicknamed the Garden of Eden, Huahine is even more low-key than its neighbors. There are no colossal beach resorts, but an ample number of boutique resorts, inns and bungalows. There are also abundant activity choices, including hiking, visiting the ancient village of Maeva (where a number of centuries-old royal temples have been restored by archaeologists), snorkeling through coral gardens and diving at unique dive sites. More than its famous neighbors, it's a place to tune out the world on some of the South Pacific's finest beaches. A 40-minute plane ride delivers you from Tahiti to this serene refuge.

View of overwater bungalows in Tahiti

What to know before you go

When to go The climate of the Tahitian islands is tropical as the temperature gauge seldom leaves the 70s and 80s day or night. That's also the water temperature range, which peaks in November through April (Tahiti's “summer") in the low 80s — perfect for snorkeling without a wetsuit.

Getting there United Airlines flights to Tahiti begin October 30, with three weekly nonstop flights between San Francisco and Papeete, departing each city on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Visas aren't required for North Americans or Europeans.

Culture While French is the official language, Tahitian is widely spoken by the natives. However, most Tahitians in the tourism sector speak English. The currency is the CFP Franc, which you may want to use to purchase pearl jewelry — pearl farms are widespread on the islands. Tattoo art is also well-known on the islands as the form has been perfected for centuries in the South Seas.

Visit united.com or use the United app to plan your Tahitian adventure.

United Awards Free Flights for a Year to Winners of "Your Shot to Fly" Sweepstakes

Grand prize winners live in Bradenton, FL; Cleveland, OH; Goodyear, AZ; Oakland, CA and San Francisco, CA
By United Newsroom, July 29, 2021

CHICAGO, July 29, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- United Airlines today announced the five lucky grand prize winners of its "Your Shot to Fly" sweepstakes, who will each get to fly anywhere in the world United flies with a companion over the course of the next year. The winners of the "Your Shot to Fly" sweepstakes are:

  • Ashley Cronkhite from Bradenton, FL
  • Robert Simicak from Cleveland, OH
  • Sean Husmoe from Goodyear, AZ
  • Lauren Aldredge from Oakland CA
  • Lauren M. from San Francisco, CA

The sweepstakes was in support of the Biden administration's ongoing national effort to encourage more people to get their COVID-19 vaccination and encouraged United's MileagePlus® loyalty members to upload their vaccine records to United. In less than a month, more than one million MileagePlus members uploaded their vaccine cards to the United app and website for a shot to win one of the grand prizes. In June the airline awarded 30 first prize winners with a pair of roundtrip tickets anywhere United flies.

United First U.S. Airline to Offer Economy Customers Option to Pre-Order Snacks and Beverages

New pre-order option builds on the airline's contactless payment technology and is another example of the customer experience transformation underway at United
By United Newsroom, July 28, 2021

CHICAGO, July 28, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Starting today on select flights, all United customers – no matter what cabin of service they're flying in – can use the airline's award-winning mobile app and website to pre-order meals, snacks and beverages up to five days before they're scheduled to travel. United is the first and only U.S. airline to offer economy customers the option to pre-order snacks and beverages, a reflection of the customer experience transformation underway at the airline.



United Airlines to Operate More than 40 Weekly Flights as England Re-Opens to U.S. Travelers

In August, United is adding a second daily flight from Washington, D.C. to London
By United Newsroom, July 28, 2021

CHICAGO, July 28, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- With today's announcement of England reopening to fully vaccinated travelers from the U.S. beginning Aug 2, United Airlines is making it easier for business and leisure customers to jet across the pond with the addition of flights to London. In August, United will have six daily flights between the U.S. and London, including a second daily flight from Washington, D.C. and increasing service from Houston to daily. United looks forward to resuming additional London service in the coming months as well as launching new nonstop service between Boston and London. Customers traveling to England must be fully vaccinated in the U.S. with vaccines that have been approved by the FDA and must take a test before departure as well as a PCR test within the first two days of arrival. Passengers vaccinated in the U.S. will also need to complete a passenger locator form prior to traveling to England and provide proof of U.S. residency.

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