It is impossible to fly a pet (dog or cat) from the USA to Tahiti or French Polynesia.

It is impossible to fly your dog or cat into French Polynesia from the USA. I worked every angle and looked into every scenario to get my 4-pound, toy poodle to rejoin the boat this summer. He flew off the boat in Ecuador, which was an ordeal in itself. I could not have him aboard for the Marquesas passage because we were hauling out the boat in Hiva Oa and leaving for five to six months. The only place you can offload a pet from your boat in French Polynesia is Tahiti, and that process takes over a month. (Check out our bonus episode 29

of the Slow Boat Sailing Podcast with Tasha Hacker to learn how to do that.)

You cannot fly a dog or cat to French Polynesia from the USA unless you charter a jet. Period. The key reasons are:

  1. There are only two airports in the USA that fly into French Polynesia. LAX and HNL. They both only fly into Tahiti (PPT).
  2. Tahiti agriculture requires that you fly in on a weekday when customs is open. The only flight out of HNL flies out on a Saturday. That means HNL is not possible. (Hawaii is a “rabies free state” and flying a pet there is a nightmare.)
  3. All the airlines flying out of LAX (Air France and Air Tahiti Nui) do not allow pets on board going from LAX to PPT. This is no doubt a response to French Polynesian regulations. Make sure your Tahiti leg with another carrier (American for example) is not a code share with Air Tahiti Nui for example.

There you are! It is impossible. The only hope is to fly to one of the handful of countries which pets can fly in from first. I suspect there are impossible road blocks to doing that including waiting periods, but I was not willing to fly to Aukland to get to Tahiti. Moreover, that small list of countries with an import treaty no doubt have a slew of regulations making it very hard for a dog or cat from the USA to land in their county.

I got bogged down in the minutia of the vet visits and test needed before I realized there was no plane willing to carry my dog. He’s going to stay home and will probably never get to join the boat while it is in French Polynesia. I hope Tonga is less restrictive for pets.

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