9 Luxurious Stays in French Polynesia That Won’t Break the Bank

Although French Polynesia is often billed as a luxury destination, there are actually a number of affordable resorts and private home vacation rentals on the islands that won’t break the bank. Yes, you’ll find overwater bungalows galore on French Polynesia’s islands, but if you know where to look, you’ll also find family-run pensions and resort options that offer affordable luxury, allowing travelers on budgets to experience the awesome beauty of French Polynesia.

Patio, Tahaa 98733, French Polynesia
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.
Tumaraa, French Polynesia
The Raiatea Lodge Hotel located on the island of Raiatea is one of French Polynesia‘s only 3-star hotels (most are budget pensions or luxury resorts). Guests can enjoy comfortable and stylish accommodations in an intimate boutique hotel that features 15 rooms. Room amenities include balcony views overlooking the garden and pool, rain showers, air conditioning, sumptuous bedding, a television and free WiFi. Make sure to wake up early to see the sunrise over the lagoon from your balcony and hear the birds singing early in the morning. Moreover, they offer a range of free activities, like snorkeling in the lagoon, kayaking to the nearby Motu Miri Miri and cycling around the island, as well as guided tours for a fee. Don’t leave without having an artisanal breakfast or piece of fresh fish from the lagoon in their restaurant, or a cocktail enhanced with fresh local fruits and flowers from their bar.
Nunue, Bora Bora, Vaitape 98730, French Polynesia
This private island features stunning views of Mount Otemanu and Matira Bay from its own 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 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 31 bungalows (20 are overwater, another 10 are located on a lush garden setting on a 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, the Mako. 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 viewing panels in the floors 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 on the beach under the stars. The breakfast delivered by canoe also is a must.
Comprised of African themed luxury safari tents right on the beach on Huahine Nui, this is a very unique boutique option that is still affordable. The tents are fabulous, featuring high ceilings, wooden floors, creative artwork and large beds with fluffy duvets. There is a funky, gnarled wood self-catering kitchen, and free snorkel gear -- you’ll find excellent snorkeling in the lagoon in front of the white sandy beach that the tents are situation on -- as well as kayaks and bicycles.
Located on the beautiful white sand beach motu, this is Maupiti’s swankiest pension with spacious bungalows decked out with modern conveniences like air-con and televisions (rare for Maupiti still). The location, on a small strip of beach, offers blue-green lagoon vistas amid rows of swaying palms -- the water is very shallow here so swimming isn’t so great, but hop in a house kayak and take yourself to deeper waters. Airport transfers, kayaks and snorkels are free. Also opt for the full-board option as the owner is an excellent cook, specializing in French meets island dishes including excellent fresh seafood.
If you’re visiting Tahiti with a large family or group of friends and hoping to surf the island’s most powerful wave, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better, more affordable place to stay than Green Room Villa. The 1,500-square-foot, four-bedroom property—the only vacation rental in the sleepy surfing village of Teahupo’o—practically opens up to the water and offers a unique place to rest your head. The main house is shaped like an octagon, with a huge mangosteen tree growing out of the open center, plus a large covered deck, teak flooring, and brightly painted walls that show off the owner’s creativity. The property even works well for a small destination wedding, as there’s a “honeymoon bungalow” near the fruit tree garden. Built on stilts, it sits over a purple-hued, lily-filled pond. It’s also the only room with air conditioning, although breezes keep the main house relatively cool. On a very local part of the island, Green Room Villa is extremely private, providing a relaxed place for your group getaway. Note: the owners require a credit card damage deposit and a three-night minimum stay.
Unnamed Road
Right off the beach at Matira Point, Lucky House Fare Manuia Restaurant & Bar is a refreshingly casual dining spot. It serves a varied menu including seafood, pasta, meat, traditional Tahitian specialties, and some standout pizza. Cooked in a wood-fire oven right by the front door, it’s a popular choice and you’ll find locals on scooters pulling up to get a box to go. Strangely, there are also some quite tasty Chinese selections as well. Choose from tables inside or out, and after you’re done dining grab a couple of drinks and head out to terrace, where you grab a lounge chair and even take a dip in the onsite swimming pool. For budget travelers this can be a serious plus!
Avatoru, French Polynesia
Call ahead and owners Patrick and Sophie will pick you up and bring you to their relaxed island restaurant and only non-hotel bar in Rangiroa. The small plates menu is limited, but what is offered tastes delicious and is quite impressive (think charcuterie from Spain and France or more simple crepes) considering the middle of nowhere location. What the menu lacks in variety, the booze concoctions more than make up for. The cocktail menu is extensive and there are even beer choices from around the globe, another impressive feat considering the locale. There is also a good dessert selection. Te Mao is also very popular with locals, who come for socializing, free wifi, and maybe some karaoke after dark.
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