Treat Yourself to Tahiti: A Polynesian Paradise - United Hub
New route

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.

Why we fly

By The Hub team, November 27, 2020

In October 2019, we launched a first-of-its-kind airline miles donation platform, Miles on a Mission. In the inaugural year, MileagePlus members donated over 70 million miles, with United matching over 20 million miles, to 51 organizations. These miles have allowed for these organizations to do important, life-changing, life-saving work in the communities we serve around the globe.

United cargo connects products to people all over the world this holiday season

By The Hub team, November 23, 2020

Critical medical shipments – Check.

High-tech electronics – Check.

2.7 million pounds of lobster? Check.


While this year's holiday gatherings will look a little different, millions of people around the world will still carry on the tradition of celebrating the holidays with a meal.

As the appetite for different types of food from all over the world increases, so does the need for safe and reliable transport. Fish caught in the United Kingdom can depart at breakfast and arrive in Washington D.C. in time for dinner. Thanks to United Cargo's expansive network, we are longer constrained by global distance or the seasonality of a product,

United Cargo plays a big role in transporting shipments with a limited shelf life around the world. Packed in between the latest electronics from Asia and the hottest fashion items from Europe, our aircraft carry a variety of perishable shipments like flowers, fruit, meat and vegetables, where speed and careful handling keeps them fresh. Whether it's cherries from Washington State or vegetables from Peru, our temperature-controlled shipping processes and vast global network helps move these commodities all over the world.

While the holidays are an exceptionally busy time of year for shipping perishable items, United Cargo transports these critical goods for people all over the world year-round. Earlier this year, United Cargo moved nearly 190,000 pounds of fresh produce to Guam for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program to support communities impacted by COVID-19. Additionally, with the holiday season here, we anticipate the cargo holds of our aircraft to be full of grocery store replenishments, including staples like turkey and ham, hitting shelves across the globe.

We take pride in our role to make sure perishables and produce arrive on time and at the peak of freshness. These products sustain, feed and nurture the world, and consumers around the globe depend on them every single day.

Since March 19, United has operated nearly 8,000 cargo-only flights, moving over 272 million pounds of cargo on those flights alone. United Cargo is proud of the role we play maintaining the global food supply chain and helping people access commodities from all over the globe.

Bon appetit!

10 travel tips for the holiday season

By The Hub team, November 19, 2020

Whether you haven't flown with us for a while or just need a quick refresher before your holiday travels, read this list of tips to know before your flight and arrive travel-ready:

1. Download the United app for contactless bag check, payments and more

Before your flight, download the United app to view your flight status, check in, sign up for flight notifications, locate departure gates, access our free personal device entertainment when available and more. We've also updated our app with new features that can make your trip a little safer, including contactless bag check and touch-free onboard payments.

2. Read and sign the Ready-to-Fly checklist

Before completing check-in, all United travelers will need to read our Ready-to-Fly checklist and confirm that they understand and agree to our policies. These include:

  • Acknowledging that you haven't had any symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • Agreeing that you will not fly if you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 21 days
  • Confirming that you will follow all policies regarding face coverings, social distancing and other health and safety measures we've adopted

3. Get familiar with CleanPlus

United CleanPlus℠ is our commitment to delivering industry-leading* cleanliness, plus putting health and safety at the forefront of your experience, in partnership with Clorox and Cleveland Clinic. We've implemented CleanPlus in a number of ways that you'll notice throughout your trip, as well as with some behind-the-scenes enhancements like:

  • Disinfecting high-touch areas on board and in the terminal
  • Using electrostatic spraying, Ultraviolet C lighting wands and more advanced measures to clean aircraft cabins before boarding
  • Redesigning our mobile app to allow for touchless check-in and contactless payment, along with enhanced travel assistance features

Studies show COVID-19 exposure risk is minimal when air filtration systems and masks are in use, so you can rest assured that the steps we've taken to keep you safe truly make a difference.

4. Don't forget essential documents

We've made a list of travel requirements and restrictions for every destination that you can check twice, or as often as you need before your trip. Just visit united.com/travelrequirements to get the details on COVID-19 testing, health documents and other things you may need before you fly.

5. Wear your mask

You may not notice our smile behind our face covering, but you can be sure that we're appreciative of all our travelers who arrive to the airport with their mask on, and continue to wear it over their nose and mouth at all times in the airport and on board. Make sure you review our requirements for face coverings, including what an acceptable face covering looks like. Bonus points if your mask infuses some holiday cheer!

6. A better boarding process for your safety

If you haven't flown with us in a while, you might want to get familiar with our new boarding process. To make boarding even safer, we now have travelers board their aircraft from back to front. At the gate, just listen for your row number to be called – we'll ask a few rows at a time to board, starting with the last row of the plane. This helps everyone maintain a safe distance from each other during boarding without slowing things down. As you step onto the plane, flight attendants will hand each passenger a sanitizing towelette, which you can use to wipe down your seat to ensure it's extra clean.

7. Pack smart

Before packing your bags, check to see what exactly you can carry on and what you should plan to check. You can also copy your confirmation number into our Baggage Calculator tool to learn about the bag allowance included with your reservation, as well as the cost of checking any additional bags.

8. Check your flight status, important notices and weather

Check the United app regularly for the latest updates, weather conditions, flight status, gate and seat assignments. You can also visit our Important Notices page to find essential information and updates about travel waivers, international travel, TSA and security, airports and United Club locations.

9. Arrive early; avoid the stress

Airports can be busy, especially during the holidays. The TSA advises arriving at the airport two hours before your flight for domestic travel and three hours for international travel in anticipation of long security lines. This can help ease the stress when navigating busy check-in areas, security lines and crowded boarding gates.

10. Relax and enjoy your flight

Once you're on board, it's time to sit back and enjoy your flight. Our flight attendants will be happy to help you with anything else you need.

Scroll to top