Monday, October 2, 2023

Planning a Trip to Bora Bora on Points and Miles

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Planning a trip to Bora Bora on points and miles can be a daunting task and definitely takes lots of preparation. The better you plan, the cheaper and more enjoyable your vacation will be.  I will talk about how we used points and miles to plan our trip and how you can start planning today.

Bora Bora Bungalow Life

Bora Bora Bungalow Life

I probably started planning our trip from 12-18 months before even knowing it.  The original plan was to go on a week trip to Hawaii because I was able to use the “free one-way” trick (not available now) to book a trip coming home from our trip to Taiwan/Japan , Tokyo to LAX (stop for 4 months) and LAX to Honolulu.  However, I found out that Virgin America allows you to book Hawaiian airline flights and along with its 40% transfer bonus I talked about here, I booked a flight from HNL-PPT(Tahiti main island) for about 17,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points per person. For the return, I booked PPT-LAX on Air Tahiti Nui using AA miles in economy.  To get to Bora Bora, you need to buy a ticket on Air Tahiti, which is separate from Air Tahiti Nui.  This flight is quite expensive for a 45 minute flight each way, but I was able to use Barclaycard Arrival points to get that flight on miles.

For hotels, we spent 250,000 IHG points for 1 night at the Intercontinental Le Moana and 4 nights at the Intercontinental Thalasso Resort.  We had a beach bungalow at Le Moana, and over water bungalow at Thalasso since IHG now allows you to book over water bungalows on points.  We were able to obtain these miles from two 80K IHG credit card offers and participating in the IHG Big Win promotion. We also stayed with a relative in Hawaii and one night at the Tahiti Airport Motel.

Here is a chart of our total points and miles spent on our trip:

Description  Points Source of Points Notes
2x tickets from LAX-HNL on AA First Class                     – Free One-way (no longer works)
2x tickets from HNL-Papeete on Hawaiian Air Economy            34,000 AMEX Platinum CC AMEX MR Points transferred to Virgin America
2x tickets from PPT-Bora Bora on Air Tahiti Roundtrip            88,000 Barclaycard Arrival $440 per ticket, Barclaycard points applied
2x tickets from PPT-LAX on Air Tahiti Nui Economy            75,000 AA Citi Platinum, Executive American Airline Miles
1 night at Airport Motel Tahiti            15,000 Barclaycard Arrival $150 per night
1 night at IC Le Moana Beach Bungalow            50,000 Chase IHG 80K Offer, IHG Big Win IHG Rewards Points
4 nights at IC Thalasso Overwater Bungalows          200,000 Chase IHG, IHG Big Win IHG Rewards Points
Total          462,000

I was quite lucky to find an award ticket from HNL-PPT that worked (Hawaiian only flies HNL-PPT 1x per week on Saturday).  For the Air Tahiti Nui flight, it costs 37.5K per person in economy.  Business class seats are hard to come by, but possible if you book 330 days out.  You have to call AA to find availability. I will make another post on how to find availability.  My route will most likely not work if you are planning a trip now because some methods I used no longer exist.  Instead, read the next section.


The Journey to Paradise

How You Can Plan a Trip to Bora Bora on Points and Miles

Step 1: Obtain 75,000 AA miles per person for roundtrip from LAX-PPT-LAX(Tahiti)

Method: Easiest way to do this is by applying for the AA Citi Platinum 50K credit card and the AMEX SPG credit card (see Creditkarma banner) and transfer 20K SPG to 25K AA miles.  The alternative way for big spenders is to sign up for the AA Citi Executive credit card, 100K miles for spending $10K in 3 months.

Step 2: Obtain As Many IHG Points Possible @ 50K points per night

Method: You and a partner apply for the Chase IHG credit card 80K offer.  You can also transfer IHG points from Chase Ultimate Rewards from credit cards such as Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Bold or Plus.  You can also spend 40,000 points and $70 for a free night instead of 50K points.  You could spend 160K points and $280 for 4 nights at the IC Thalasso in an Over Water Bungalow!  I’ve talked about how in this post.

Step 3: Obtain the Barclaycard Arrival Card to buy the Air Tahiti PPT-BOB flight roundtrip

Method:  You will receive 46,000 points per person after meeting the required spending of $3k in 3 months.  When you book the flight on, you can apply the Barclaycard points to the charge.  Some instructions are in this post.

Step 4: Search for Hotel and Flight Availability.

Once you have 75,000 AA miles, desired amount of IHG points for X nights, and Barclaycard Arrival points, you are ready to book.

I would search first for Air Tahiti availability on Expertflyer, Thepointsguy has a good article on searching for availability.

Next I would search for hotel availability on  Since IHG started allowing OWB at IC Thalasso, availability has been quite scarce and you need to start booking quite far in advance.  If you can’t find availability, the next best option is IC Le Moana and pay about $200 a night for an overwater bungalow. IC Le Moana is nice, but not as nice as IC Thalasso.  However, I do enjoy the local and Polynesian feel of IC Le Moana and you can eat at many local restaurants.

Bora Bora Beach Life!

Bora Bora Beach Life!

Once you have flights and hotels booked, you can book the interisland flight PPT-BOB.  This flight ranges from $400-$500 depending on the season.  There are a few flights per day from PPT-BOB.

Other Tips

  • If you don’t live in Los Angeles, you have to either find award availability to LAX on or buy a positioning flight to LAX.  The only flight from US to Tahiti is LAX-PPT.
  • An overnight stay in Papeete is required at least once.  I stayed at the Airport Tahiti Motel and it was just fine.  It is also the cheapest and most convenient option.
  • The luggage weight limit is 44 pounds per person for the cheaper inter-island ticket on Air Tahiti.
  • If you are new to applying to credit cards, I would apply for just 1 or 2 credit cards initially and wait 2-3 months for the next cycle of credit cards.  For example, I would apply for Citi AA Platinum and AMEX SPG at the same time, then wait 3 months.  Next, apply for the Barclaycard Arrival and Chase IHG credit card.

Those are the basics of booking the dream trip to Bora Bora on points and miles.  As you can see, it takes a couple of credit cards per person and most importantly time to obtain the points via credit card sign up bonuses.  If you plan far in advance and patiently, you can plan your dream vacation to Bora Bora.  Any questions, please ask!

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