Moorea, getting there



Almost everyone heading for Moorea from the USA, will connect through Los Angeles. You can use the French carriers or the fairly new Tahitian carrier Air Tahiti Nui. I'll break the sections into these two half's.

French Carriers:
On the weekend (Thursday through Sunday), the LA to Tahiti flight leaves at 11:30PM (Air France). Club Med calls this 30 minute period, a 'day'. So, if you casually ask the Club Med sales rep for a week in Moorea - Saturday to Saturday, be prepared for one less day than you were thinking of. Both of the main carriers (Air France and AOM) have a SOLID REPUTATION for being late - EXPECT the departure to be one to two hours late; or more.

The Moorea transfer. The LA-Tahiti flight arrives at 4:30AM (IF it's on time) and AirMoorea doesn't start flying until 6AM (that's another 1 1/2 hours sitting on your butt after an 8 hour flight). AirMoorea is in a small separate terminal next to the main terminal. The small plane to Moorea holds 8 people. So, if there are 35 GMs transferring to Moorea, there needs to be 5 round trips (at 30 minutes each, minimum) to get them all over to Moorea. Sometimes they run more planes in rotation; sometimes not. It doesn't matter if you are on the first or the last plane load, no one is going anywhere until all of the group is assembled at the airport on Moorea (that might be another 2 hours minimum; in this case). Then there is the, rather beautiful, bus ride to the other end of the island (30 minutes - 16 miles). Expect to arrive at the village about 8-9AM.

HINT: When you board the bus for the ride to the village, sit on the right side. You will get the best view of the ocean and bays.

At the end of your visit, of course, you need to do the transit back to Tahiti. The Tahiti-LA flight leaves at 8:50AM, minus check-in time, minus AirMoorea transit flight(s), minus bus ride, equals a very early wake-up call (like 4-5AM). Club Med also calls this a 'day'. I guess it is, as you don't get into LA till 8PM.

Tahitian Carrier
Most of the Club Med charters are now using Air Tahiti Nui. They have one, count'em one, plane; an Airbus (A340-200). Unlike the French carriers Air Tahiti Nui does the red-eye on the return flight; LA to Tahiti 1PM->6:30PM and Tahiti to LA 10:45PM->10AM. This airline has a fairly good 'on-time' record.

The Moorea transfer. Air Tahiti Nui has made special arrangements with Air Tahiti (they are different airlines) to match arrival and departure times. After you leave the arrival area with your luggage, a Club Med representative will hand you a ticket for Air Tahiti. It's a quick check-in and a short wait for the departure. Note: there is a strict weight limit for your checked luggage of 70 pounds (32KG). They fly ATR's that hold 42 passengers for the 7 minute flight. It will be after dark so the bus ride to the village is a bore. Expect to arrive at the village about 9PM. Dinner will be winding down but they will have a table reserved for your party, so you can grab a quickie meal.

At the end of your visit, you'll be departing the village just before dinner time. If there is a large enough group they will prepare a light dinner in the main dining room just for you. Then another dark bus ride to the airport.

Club Med will tell you that the transfer from Tahiti to the village on Moorea will take 40 minutes - 10 minute flight and 30 minute bus ride. My personal best transfer time is 2 hours and 10 minutes. Not real close to their stated 40 minute transfer. Room keys are distributed at the Moorea airport to 'speed things up'. Both of the airports and the bus are not air-conditioned, be prepared; and relax - you're on vacation.

Depending on where in the USA you are coming from, you might think about spending a day in LA on both ends of your trip, just to mitigate the effects of the travel time. Or, better yet, lengthen your stay in Moorea as much as possible and use this to reduce the 'travel time pain'. This is one of the few villages that offers some very flexible length of stay 'air-land' packages; rather than the normal one or two week 'only' packages.

NYer's tend to implode with this kind of travel time, so you will not see many at this village.

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