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One of Bora Bora’s most popular activities is a lagoon excursion, a day-long event which usually includes a picnic, snorkeling, ray and shark feeding, and plenty of beach time. If you’re lucky, your guide will bring along a ukulele for some live music and a festive vibe. The food can vary but generally includes poisson cru (a raw fish salad), grilled fish, rice, chicken, and a pasta or rice salad. With a good guide and a good group, you’ll feel like a mobile beach party on the most beautiful waters in the world. There are plenty of companies offering this excursion; try Pure Snorkeling By Reef Discovery or Lagoon Service. Photo by Marty Bower/Flickr.
Lesser known (and less expensive) than its sister island Bora Bora, Moorea is just as beautiful with as many (or as little) activities as you can jam into a day. Although the best thing to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the gentle breezes, beautiful sunsets and island hospitality!
The InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa is without a doubt one of the most amazing resorts I've ever seen. The word "paradise" doesn't do it justice. The staff is top notch and they truly cater to all your needs. The only thing you need to worry about is which hand to use while laying in a hammock and holding your freshly cut coconut with a pink straw.
Also known as the Papenoo Valley, the Maroto Valley is a magical place once inhabited by ancient Polynesians. If you go with a guide -- I recommend Marama Tours -- you'll be able to learn about the history of the area as well as learn to forage like they did in the past. The above photo is of a local fruit called noni, whose juice gets rid of mosquito bite itch. A few other natural remedies the group learned include lime can be a deodorant, coconut juice aids digestion and taro is good for strong bones and teeth.
Up high above the sea on Bora Bora we had a beautiful view. It had rained just prior and the sun had suddenly cleared. I loved being up in the jungle, while being able to take in this gorgeous expanse of blue.
The Tuamotu archipelago – 78 coral reef atolls spread north and east of Tahiti – are just remote enough they’ve not been spoiled by excessive tourism. There are a few high-end hotels, but just a few. Instead of tourism, the local economy is still focused on businesses that go back centuries: Fishing. Coconuts. And black pearls. Lots of black pearls.
After you’ve canoed, sailed, scuba dived, and visited the resort’s sanctuary for the critically endangered hawksbill turtle, you’ll be ready to recline on your patio for a view of the extinct 2,300-foot Mount Otemanu volcano. —Brendan Brady Le Méridien Bora Bora, French Polynesia. (800) 543-4300, starwoodhotels.com/lemeridien, from $605. Photo courtesy of Le Méridien Bora Bora. This appeared in the September/October 2010 issue. See more overwater bungalows.
On a recent trip to research resorts, I had the opportunity to visit Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora and the island of Taha'a. All were fabulous places to explore, but my favorite stay was at the Five Star Taha'a Island Resort and Spa on the island of Taha'a. Part of the allure of the resort is the remoteness of Taha'a. To get there I had to take a 35-minute boat taxi from the airport in Raiatea. What a spectacular boat ride it was, however. The lush setting on a sparkling lagoon is everything I imagined the resort would be. It was my first time ever to stay in an overwater bungalow, and a luxurious bungalow at that. I especially enjoyed the sunset over the lagoon, and an early morning swim right outside my door. The resort has a few restaurants, a swimming pool, fitness center, spa and gift shop, so you are not totally isolated. If you want to just relax in one of the prettiest spots in the world, you can do that too. If you visit this special place in French Polynesia, you may discover as I did, that it is hard to get any better than this!
The Bora Bora St Regis is located on the reef that surrounds the central island, which is in the background of the picture. All of the rooms are over-water bungalows, and jumping off of the deck into the warm waters of the lagoon was an incredible way to start or end the day.
Technically part of Tahaa in French Polynesia, Vahine Private Island Resort is an escape from reality. The hotel features three beach bungalows, three self-contained beach suites and three overwater bungalows, all with beach views and designed using only natural materials in such a way as to make you feel like you're in a traditional Polynesian home. Moreover, the resort is set on a 23-acre private island lush with coconut trees and white sand beach. Snorkel in their vibrant coral gardens, kayak to nearby motus or to natural sting-ray pools, take in a coconut show, learn how to tie a pareo or weave palm leaves, paddle a traditional Polynesian outrigger canoe or take an excursion to the nearby mainland of Tahaa (the "Vanilla Island") or a private motu. Guests love their food and beverage program, with French dishes crafted using local cuisine and cocktails infused with local fruits and juices. Tip: Don't leave without having a traditional massage with scented Monoi oil on your deck, where you'll hear nothing but the billowing palms and gentle crashing of waves.
My first encounter with a black sand beach was in Tahiti and talk about a gem, having it all to myself.
For a truly relaxing, get away from the world vacation, visit the beautiful island of Moorea, and stay in an overwater bungalow. Spend a day in awe at the beauty that lays in front of you. Sitting on your private balcony over the rich ocean colors is like no other experience in the world. The beauty of watching the water change colors as the sun changes positions throughout the day is remarkable. You will never want to leave this heaven.
Full-body immersion in some of the most pristine water in the world. Rangiroa doesn't have the dramatic peaks of islands like Bora Bora, but it does have a much better underwater scene in my opinion. After traveling by boat for two hours from our resort we came to this very remote part of the atoll where the snorkeling was fantastic!
Although the name "Tahiti" is commonly used to describe the entire destination, it is actually one of the many islands in French Polynesia. Often referred to as "Tahiti and her Islands", French Polynesia is a collection of 118 islands and atolls scattered across 1.5 million square miles of the South Pacific. Amazingly enough, these tiny islands, many of which remain uninhabited, make up a total landmass of only 1,500 square miles. See more of the South Pacific with the Air New Zealand Explorer Pass.
As you walk out onto the tarmac at Tahiti's Faa’a Airport, the craggy volcanic outline of Moorea lies on the horizon portending unknown French Polynesian pleasures. After the 10-minute flight, you drive along the one road circling the island to the lush, 104-bungalow Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort. Then a gracious lady named Francine drapes a delicate handmade string of shells around your neck. Couples are mingling in the lobby at the tour desks planning their day. From there, you walk over a wooden bridge above a koi pond surrounded by thick ferns, tall palms and fragrant "tiare" gardenia. It is then when you come face to face with the otherworldly talcum-soft white beach and overwater bungalows suspended above the transparent sea. It is quiet. People speak in hushed tones close to each other, hypnotized by the scenery. Everyone is touching, moving together slowly between the sand and freakishly beautiful water. “It seems like time has stopped, doesn’t it?” asks GM Olivier Larcher, during our tour. “In Moorea, you wake up with the sun and go to bed early. You’re very in tune with the natural rhythms and connected to the environment.” In 2010, the resort completed a $15 million renovation and it was ranked the #1 romantic hotel in the world by TripAdvisor readers. “It’s very much isolated here,” says Larcher. “There’s not a lot of activities; it’s really a place to kill a book in a couple days and share some undisturbed time with people important to you.”
When travelling I always try to go to the local markets to see what new edible items I can find. After a few magical days in Bora Bora and Moorea my last day in French Polynesia was Tahiti. I had encountered the "Marche Papeete' which is Papeete's local market. My new find were these impressive turquoise colored fish. On a side note you can find vanilla bean sticks, fresh tuna and a great variety of exotic fruit and vegetables.
Just one of the many stunning views on our spectacular honeymoon that is forever etched into our minds. We swam with sharks in open water, snorkled off our OWB daily, had a private island BBQ and did a jeep tour of the main island. There was plenty to do and we were never without adventure. We felt very very far away and loved every second of this paradise!
From Raiatea -- I launched my kayak from the edge of Raiatea Lodge Hotel, who rents the boats free to guests -- you can have the unique experience of kayaking to a motu. Motus are small islands made up of coral and its derivatives. From Raiatea one of these islands you can paddle to is Motu Miri Miri, which allows you to float over vibrant gardens of coral and see tropical fish while getting a workout. Exploring the motu is also nice, as it allows you complete peace of a deserted island as well as take in views of Raiatea from afar. The kayaking journey takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
Half of the overwater villas at Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach Resort are on the main island. The other half stretch out from a private island inside Bora Bora’s ephemeral lagoon. Because of the secluded nature of the latter and staggering vantage of the central volcano, Mt. Otemanu, honeymooners spend a lot of time in and around their room here. Originally built in 1977 by Italian director Dino De Laurentis, this was one of the first branded hotels in Bora so it had first dibs on location. Which is interesting since most American travelers prefer the “Honeymoon Row” hotels on the ring of atolls rimming the east side of the lagoon. Because the Sofitel consists of two resorts, you have more variety here. The beaches on both the main and private islands tend to be quiet and uncrowded. There's also a larger European crowd because of the Paris-based Sofitel brand. They like to show up every evening for a midnight swim in the infinity lagoon pool, which adds some good energy around here late at night when many of the other hotels are dark. I took the photo above on Sofitel’s private island after breakfast in the 2nd story dining room treehouse, which feels like a French Robinson Crusoe fantasy for the Robb Report crowd. This was my favorite breakfast ever because of the setting and incomparable view. Grab a table on the semi-private wooden verandah outside the main restaurant surrounded by tall palms trees and dewy ferns thriving with Tahiti’s native white tiare gardenia.
Get half off your stay when you book three nights or longer, just because you're a friend of AFAR! Unlock the URL here. Boasting to-die-for lagoon and ocean views, lofty Legends Resort boutique hotel in Moorea is all about pampering privacy, with spacious two- or three-bedroom villas spread over a verdant 17-acre estate, ideal for families or friends. Soak up the scenes from the Jacuzzi on your secluded deck or from the wow-worthy infinity pool, then hit the spa, breezy café or fine-dining restaurant. A nearby mini island is reserved for guests who want quality beach or snorkelling time.Ah, if only we all had our own tropical island... Well, at Legends Resort you can work the lifestyle, with jaunts by boat for intimate groups to a nearby motu private isle for secluded beach time or snorkelling sessions offshore.
While pensions in French Polynesia are often touted as overpriced accommodations with no amenities, Fare Pea Iti proves this is not always true. In fact, this family home pension is downright luxurious, with an in-ground pool, well-manicured grounds and a mix of beach and garden bungalows featuring sumptuous amenities and whimsical touches. The beach bungalow is particularly opulent. While in the bathroom you'll find Monoi oil body products and an over-sized walk-in tiled shower, the enclosed porch features beautiful views, self-catering kitchen with barbecue and mini-bar. In the room, the bed is adorned with tropical flowers and canopied with delicate baldaquin. Moreover, the garden bungalows offer comfortable beds, televisions, Monoi oil tiki soaps, a walk-in shower, mini bar and table and chairs in the garden for scenic relaxing. Don't miss the fantastic homecooked meals in their open-air restaurant and bar. In the morning there's an artisanal breakfast of hot beverages, fresh juices, fresh tropical fruit, homemade vanilla yogurt, fluffy bread and housemade jams with large chunks of fruit. Moreover, at night guests can enjoy a 3-course candlelit dinner featuring fresh local ingredients.
Le Meridien Tahiti is one of Tahiti's most luxurious accommodations. The hotel features 150 units total, including a mix of overwater bungalows, garden view rooms, lagoon view rooms and suites. On the grounds guests can enjoy a stroll through their beautiful botanical gardens and Japanese koi pond and walking bridge. Set on the beach, guests can also enjoy the free use of kayaking, canoes and snorkeling equipment for exploring the vibrant underwater world Tahiti is known for. The property also offers two bars and two restaurants, although make sure to add some culture to your stay with one of their Tahitian feasts and dance shows.
Came upon this casual vendor of island bounty. I hope and pray that heaven is just like Bora Bora.
Fakarava's lagoon is majestic, white translucent blue waters filled with vibrant coral and tropical fish. In fact, Fakara is touted as the "mecca of diving" thanks for its waters rich with flora and big fauna. Enjoy a walk along its perimeter along a white sand beach littered with lush vegetation and billowing palm trees.
Ninamu resort is the newest resort in Tikehau. The resort is the only establishment on the island and consists of just 6 bungalows, a common area, bar, restaurant,kitchen, boutique, and equipment room. Ninamu is the place to go if you really want to disconnect from everything. There are no roads, cars...other people- just the staff who are WONDERFUL! Ninamu will be your home away from home.
There is no denying the beauty of Moorea and the magic of the island. If you stay in an overwater bungalow, each and every morning, afternoon, and night, you should jump from your private deck into the clear waters of the South Pacific. Grab your snorkel gear, or borrow some from the resort, and snorkel off your deck. The sea life you will see may both startle you and leave you in awe. You will undoubtedly never get enough of these wonders.
What Tahiti’s capitol city lacks in style it makes up for at its sprawling town center market, open every day. Fresh flowers, exotic fruits, anything you can imagine made from coconut oil, plenty of tropical shirts and skirts and jewelry made from palm leaves and pearls, all under one giant, steel roof. To eat, there's the fish-of-the-day like fresh Mahi Mahi on ice, and coconut milk sucked straight out of the nut with straws. And, a tip: insiders know the best prices on black pearls.
Tahaa is where more than 80% of French Polynesia's famous vanilla comes from, so visiting a plantation is a worthwhile experience. Vallee de la Vanille is an organic vanilla plantation (one of the few) on Tahaa that offers free tours so visitors can learn about the cultivation, drying and production of the vanilla -- as well as sample of the fresh fruits from the grounds (Tahaa is extremely lush and great for growing tropical fruits). Don't leave without purchasing something from their shop, which has an array of vanilla-infused products like coffee beans, shampoo, lotion, volcano rocks, sea salt, cooking oil, rum and more.
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