Ultimate French Polynesia
Where to unpack and unwind in style
French Polynesia is the stuff of dreams, a stunning slice of the world known for its turquoise waters, lush scenery and high-end hotels. From the moment your plane begins to circle the landing strip and you catch sight of those rugged green mountains and brilliant blue lagoon, you know you’re heading as close to paradise as you may ever get. Seven hotels on private islands offer seclusion and luxury.
Four Seasons Bora Bora
- Four Seasons fans will love the excellent service, food and views at this beautifully designed 54-acre resort, which opened in 2008 on a private motu, or reef islet. Choose from 100 spacious overwater bungalows or 15 beachfront Polynesian-style villas. You’ll be picked up at the Bora Bora airport and transported by boat to the island, which has grand views of iconic Mount Otemanu.
:: $1,160 per night, 800.819.5053, fourseasons.com/borabora
InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa Hotel - This hotel is as close as French Polynesia gets to an urban look, a style is particularly attractive to European visitors. Set on a coral island on Bora Bora’s outer reef, the hotel has 80 suites; most are large and modern overwater bungalows with excellent views, including from the baths. The hotel, which opened in 2006, promotes its eco-friendly atmosphere; among the innovations is pumping cool seawater to power the air conditioning, a method also used at the Brando Resort.
:: $827 per night, double occupancy, 689.406.07600, tahiti.intercontinental.com
St. Regis Bora Bora - Looking for a private butler to help you unpack? Or a bridal boutique, complete with romance concierge, to plan your special day? Or a 13,000-square-foot villa for a family reunion? Try the St. Regis. Situated on four private motus, the resort offers 44 acres of luxury and is so spread out that you’ll need a golf cart to get around. The overwater bungalows are large – the smallest has a 1,550-square-foot floor plan – and bathrooms are uber-luxurious.
:: Rates start at $1,768; 011-689-406-07805, starwood.com
Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa - Robinson Crusoe fans can get away from it all at this secluded resort on Motu Tautau islet, which faces the lush island of Taha’a on one side and the jagged silhouette of Bora Bora on the other. The 57-suite hotel is part of the Relais & Chateaux Collection and has garnered kudos and prestigious awards, including mention on the Conde Nast Gold List. Villas and suites are situated on a white sand beach or over water.
:: $1,045, 011-689-406-08400, letahaa.com
Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa -
If your time in French Polynesia is limited, take a 30-minute ferry ride from Tahiti to Moorea and settle into an overwater suite at the Hilton. This newly remodeled hotel is not as large as some of Bora’s luxury digs, but that gives it a more intimate feel and it won’t take you 20 minutes to find your way to the lobby, a bonus in the steamy tropical heat. Moorea is beautiful on its own, with sacred marae, or carved meeting houses, mountaintop viewpoints and a lagoon.
:: $548 for a garden room, $692 for an overwater bungalow, 011-689-405-51111, hilton.com
Hotel Kia Ora Resort & Spa - Divers and other sports lovers will love this hotel on Rangiroa, one of the largest atolls in the world. Considered a fantastic dive location, Rangiroa is a 75-minute flight from Tahiti and is one of 240 coral islands and motus encircling a clear, turquoise lagoon. Renovated in 2011, Hotel Kia Ora includes 60 villas and bungalows. The hotel also has a hideaway that’s a one-hour boat ride with five primitive bungalows.
:: $532, 011-689-409-31111, hotelkiaora.com
InterContinental Resort Tahiti - If you need to spend a night in Tahiti to make connections, the InterContinental Tahiti is your best bet; it’s near the airport in Faaa. This well-developed resort, which has newly renovated rooms, offers a great location with excellent views of nearby Moorea from private balconies. Overwater bungalows are available. The luxury factor isn’t the same as in some of the hotels on the outer islands, but it’s still very comfortable.
:: $303 per night, double occupancy, 800.496.7621, intercontinental.com