Island Hopping in French Polynesia
French Polynesia is the stuff of dreams, and I mean that literally. Few places on Earth share the absolute natural beauty, resplendent scenery, and warmth of the local people that you find when visiting the Islands of Tahiti. From the moment you land at Paapeete Airport, you are bound to feel the Mana (the spiritual life force energy) of this beautiful island nation. Getting here will be easy, it’s the leaving that will prove the most challenging.
Air Tahiti Nui provides direct flights to Tahiti from Los Angeles on their new 787-9 Dreamliner, a 3-cabin aircraft that includes Moana Economy, Moana Premium, and Poerava Business class. On board, you will find new high-tech comfort features that allow for more comfortable air pressure, cleaner air and better lighting, which translates to decreased jetlag and a healthier overall flying experience. Once you arrive, you have 118 islands to choose from according to your travel style. Most visitors vacation in what are called the Society Islands that include the more commonly recognized islands of Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora, and some lesser-known ones like Taha’a and Raiatea. Here are three islands and hotel properties that should be high on your radar when creating your Tahitian itinerary:
The Brando in Tetiaroa
For the ultimate in luxury, seclusion, and sheer wow factor, look no further than The Brando Resort on the private island of Tetiaroa. Located about 30 miles from the main island of Tahiti, a private plane will whisk you away to this tropical paradise, where the welcoming staff awaits your arrival with every comfort imagineable. The Brando is home to only 35 jaw-dropping villas, each nestled in lush surroundings with a private beachfront stretch of powdery-white sand.
A combination of seawater air conditioning, solar power and biofuels for electricity, make this all-inclusive eco-resort as impressive behind the scenes as it is in the forefront. It is profoundly committed to preserving the environment and biodiversity of the island. The organic garden on-site grows many of the ingredients used at the three delectable restaurants. Choose from a variety of Polynesian-inspired cuisine, French cuisine, or the authentic Japanese teppanyaki experience.
The Brando is ideal for guests of all ages. They offer a myriad of enriching activities for exploration on and off the island, and the lagoon school for children hosts exciting adventures with hands-on learning and games. Make sure to look for the red-footed booby during your stay!
Le Taha’a in Taha’a
On the peaceful Motu Tautau just off the coast of the island of Taha’a and with incredible views of Bora Bora, you will find the five-star Le Taha’a by Pearl Resorts. Fly into the neighboring island of Raiatea and transfer to Le Taha’a via speedboat.
This authentically Polynesian property is home to 57 suites and villas that are true to their local roots- impressive overwater suites and beach villa that opens up to white-sand beaches and azure waters.
The dining at Le Taha’a is impressive! Three restaurants onsite serve a range of fresh seafood dishes, host Polynesian themed buffets, and even offer a gourmet degustation experience. Activities abound at this Polynesian gem, from tours of the famous vanilla plantations on Taha’a to the incredible coral gardens with some of the best snorkeling in French Polynesia and more.
However, while Le Taha’a makes for an unbelievable vacation, it’s also incredibly romantic and a wonderful location for a micro wedding or vow renewal. My husband and I visited French Polynesia and Le Taha’a with our children, but we also renewed our vows on their extraordinary heart-shaped island. The staff was nothing short of amazing, as they coordinated the entire ceremony with a single phone call. They even organized childcare for our ceremony, which allowed my children to partake in the ceremony and gave me peace of mind. Led by a Polynesian master of ceremony and featuring traditional music and dancers, our vow renewal was intimate and wonderfully unique!
The InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa
No French Polynesian itinerary is quite complete without a stop in Bora Bora, and the Intercontinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa is a perfect home base from which to explore this visually stunning island. Their luxurious overwater villas are simply breathtaking, especially their Brando Suites. With floor to ceiling windows and direct views of Mt Otemanu, these 2-bedroom villas are perfect for families. Relax by your private pool or step off your terrace directly into the turquoise waters of the lagoon. The resort grounds offer a tropical escape that is true to the island’s natural environment.
Activities abound at this beautiful resort. Try one of the many tours in the lagoon, where you can swim with reef sharks and stingrays, or take to the sky with a parasailing adventure. Included in their long list of experiences are daily cultural events, such as coconut and pareo shows that are fun for the entire family. Yet if laying low is more your style, there’s plenty to do without ever stepping foot out of the resort, including a visit to the award-winning Deep Ocean Spa, where they even have treatments carefully crafted for the littler members of your group (ages 6 to 12). Guests will enjoy a choice of three restaurants and 2 bars during their stay. Visit Le Corail restaurant for fine dining and the largest wine cellar in French Polynesia. Another highlight of staying at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort is that guests have access to the facilities and restaurants of their sister property across the lagoon, the InterContinental Bora Bora Le Moana, so it’s like getting two resorts in one!
The Islands of Tahiti are as versatile as they are beautiful, and each one packs its own type of experiences. Whether you are looking for a luxurious experience, a romantic getaway, or a family adventure, you are sure to find it in French Polynesia.
There really is no perfect destination and it’s rare to find one that completely lives up to all of your expectations. Yet I can honestly say that Tahiti and her islands come pretty darn close!
To read a more in-depth review of The Brando, click here.