Intro: French Polynesia Off Peak
To say 2013 has been a great travel year would be an understatement. From North Korea to Myanmar to a private island in the Maldives, its been eye opening, fascinating, fun, and without a doubt rewarding in every way. To top it off, , I’ve been lucky enough to experience many top notch first class flight products and luxury resort stays. It’s truly been a magical year and a trip to French Polynesia seemed like the perfect way to close it out.
I had been to Tahiti and Moorea before as part of a trip to the Marquesas Islands on the Aranui 3 (highly recommended…) but always regretted not working Bora Bora into the itin. So when the IHG Points Breaks was released for winter and the Intercontinental property in Tahiti was on the list, it seemed like a great opportunity to build a spectacular year end getaway big on luxury, low on cost.
I had banked plenty of IHG points thanks to the Big Win promo, so speculatively booked ten single night reservations, all in a row, allowing me the flexibility to cancel those that didn’t work once I had a more firm itinerary and flights in place. I also secured two nights at the Intercontinental in Moorea using two annual Chase free nights. Next, two weekend nights at the Hilton Bora Bora were easily booked using the free signup bonus nights from the Citi HHonors card, plus an additional night costing 95k HHonors points (yikes!) for a total of three nights. Given the high cost of taxis in FP and limited public transport, I also reserved a rental car at PPT for the six days I’d be on Tahiti and Moorea.
I located plentiful award space on Air Tahiti Nui, flying direct out of LAX. I reserved a coach seat using AA miles (37.5k each way,) because with a half full plane, and business class seats that were really no better than recliners, I knew that there was a pretty good chance of having some space to spread out. It was a red eye, just under 8 hours, so seemed silly to pay the 50k premium for J class in this case.
The most expensive part of the trip was getting to Bora Bora. Short of taking an 8 hour ferry ride, the only way to get there is on Air Tahiti, a small intra-island airline not a member of any airline alliance. I tapped into my healthy stash of Thank You points to purchase the $479 round trip flight. I was set!