It's just about a 9 hour flight from Los Angeles to the Papeete International airport. No visa or special vaccines necessary to enter.
If you plan on visiting Moorea, you can go to Porto di Papeete and catch their Aremiti ferry ($15USD one-way). The ferry operates 3-4 times per day and is about a 40 minute ride from the main island of Tahiti. If you don't plan on spending your whole time on a resort, and would like to explore the island a bit, I highly recommend getting a rent-a-car (on both islands). A taxi ride to certain points of interests, as well as to where many of the resorts are located, can cost up to $60USD one way, whereas a day rate for a rent a car could cost you just the same. Also, Lyft and Uber do not exist on French Polynesia (not that they ever should/need to, but just giving you the heads up!). We didn't even attempt to try out their public transportation as it looked way too involved and besides, we just had way too much equipment to drag around with us.
The adage, "the early bird gets the worm" is very much apparent in French Polynesia. It's not uncommon for the typical Tahitian to wake up at around 5/6am to start their day. This is all for good reasons as several small business establishments close at around 3-4pm and several do not operate at all on Sundays or holidays. So if you're planning on visiting places like their famous "Tahitian Market" just ask your concierge or better yet, a local (many speak fluent English, but French is their main language) to see if there are any national days of observance that may interfere with businesses' normal days of operation. We happened to visit Tahiti during their national elections which shut many businesses down not just for a few hours, but days...
Dining can be very expensive in Tahiti. One way you can save a bit money, is by visiting some of their roulettes (food trucks) and purchase some small food items at their local grocery stores (Carrefour or Champion). On Moorea we did come across a great pizza place Allo Pizza ($18-23USD for two) which hand tosses their pizzas and bakes them in a classic brick oven right in front of you.
Another great spot we found on Moorea was a roulette called Jules et Claudine ($22-40USD for two), if you're into seafood, order the Mahi Mahi with garlic butter and of course you have to get Poisson Cru (la Ota) any chance you get which is French Polynesia's speciality of diced fish, citrus, coconut milk and veggies, it's kinda like a Polynesian type of ceviche...It's so good, I am still craving that dish even being back home.
We stayed mostly at different Airbnbs during our time there. One spot on Moorea went as low as $40USD per night and had your basic set up, complete with mosquito nets, a dusty fan and a squeaky mattress. We also tried out a spot on Tahiti for $110 USD a night which was really nice...this one had A/C, kitchenette, and swimming pool, and an outdoor shower and toilet...I really had to double check for any lizards on the toilet seat, haha, but seriously, no joke.
Check out the view from our Airbnb below
We did splurge a few nights at one of those overwater bungalows. If you're going to ball out on one of those, we highly recommend getting one at the Hilton, we tried two others on the island (which names I won't mention) but the Hilton, may be situated on a "true lagoon," where the water is so crystal clear that you can see every fish right down to the ocean floor (even on a stormy day) . We cannot say is entirely true for 100% of all the overwater bungalows on the island but overall, you get what you pay for.
Tahiti and Moorea do not have "true" beaches, and what I mean by that, is that French Polynesia generally does not have the kind of beaches that have a long stretch of sand where you can stick an umbrella in and layout and have a picnic on or something. Although, there are several "beach" spots that have more of a rocky surface which whatever, maybe you'd want to knead out all those kinks in your back, idk. While, for surfing, you may often have to take a boat or jet ski past the reef break to catch a wave. Boating, diving and snorkeling spots on French Polynesia are unprecedented and probably have some of the best spots in the world.
Things also to keep in mind....
Best time to travel:
May through October.
We went late April and the weather was rainy but let up toward the end of our trip. Also, January-April is considered low season so hotel and other accommodations are often at their lowest.
November-April can be humid and not to mention very rainy.
Make sure to bring:
Bring plenty of bug repellant and sun block, as the sun is stronger than in, say California, and the mosquitos love fresh tourist blood. Moreover, French Polynesia has to import a lot of their products so expect to pay 3 times as much for said items.
Check out our video edit below...If you need any other recommendations or advice please feel free to ask or comment below!