Beyond Chic: Private Island Romantic Bliss
Featuring stunning views of Mount Otemanu and Matira Bay from its own private motu just a few minutes' boat ride across Bora Bora's truly stunning fifty shades of blue (one minute it is turquoise, the next emerald or aquamarine) from sister resort Sofitel Marara, the Private Island property is the perfect pick for romantic getaways (it's geared toward couples, and children are not allowed). Privacy and intimacy are emphasized here with only 30 bungalows (20 are overwater, the other 10 located on a jungly garden hill with stunning views) and one luxury villa that while not overwater, features direct lagoon and sandy beach access and a private jacuzzi (the only one on the property). There is no swimming pool, but guests can use the pool and all amenities at the Marara resort via free water shuttle. Should you not wish to leave your little slice of paradise, however, the onsite Manu Tuki restaurant does excellent French Tahitian fare; order lobster anything. There is also a bar. Whether staying overwater or on the hill, the layout is the same, and all rooms feature contemporary Polynesian decor, gorgeous wood floors, and luxury toiletries in oversize bathrooms. Overwater bungalows also boast glass floor viewing panels and direct access into the lagoon. Make sure to book the “Romantic Soiree” for one night. It combines sunset champagne on top of the hill, followed by a romantic dinner set up on the beach under the stars. The breakfast delivered by canoe also is a must!
By Becca Blond, AFAR Local Expert
Two Paradises for Two
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.
By Greg Oates
Girl's Week Away: Overwater Bungalows in Bora Bora
Bora Bora easily has the most beautiful lagoon in French Polynesia (and in this writer's opinion the entire world), and there is no better way to experience it, at least for two nights, than with a stay in the overwater bungalow, a lodging style invented on this island! And when it comes to value for money, it's hard to beat the 4-star Sofitel Marara on beautiful Matira Point for overwater bungalow rates. Originally built by filmmaker Dino de Laurentis in 1977 to house Mia Farrow and his crew while shooting Hurricane, it was designed to reflect the curves and forms of nature and is dotted with lily ponds, hibiscus, and other exotic flowers. Today it is home to 55 bungalows crafted from wood and woven pandanus that all feature the same spacious layouts and contemporary Polynesian decor; only the location is varied: some are sprinkled throughout the gardens, others are directly on the beach, and some sit on stilts over the lagoon. The overwater bungalows feature a glass viewing platform cut into the floor and direct lagoon access (think snorkeling amid live coral and plenty of colorful fish) from the private porch. The superior beach bungalows are another excellent option, and set directly on the pearly white beach. Regardless of what style of room, expect the Sofitel's excellent personalized service. The resort also boasts a white sandy beach, infinity pool, spa, and a few different dining and drinking options as well as Polynesian dance performances a few times a week. The resort can arrange different activities, but snorkeling with manta rays and sharks is one that should not be missed.
By Becca Blond, AFAR Local Expert
Nunue, Bora Bora, Vaitape 98730, French Polynesia
+689 40 60 55 00