Best Resorts for a Romantic Vacation in French Polynesia

Over-water bungalows and turquoise water, floral-scented air, and succulent seafood—when it comes to a honeymoon or romantic vacation, the islands of French Polynesia are beyond dreamy. From over-water bungalows in Bora Bora, Taha’a, and Moorea to staying on a private island, French Polynesia and its resorts live up to their reputation for idyllic romance. Here we present our favorite resorts for a romantic vacation in paradise.

French Polynesia
Epic might be an understated description for this collection of thatched-roof bungalows built on stilts over the crystalline waters of the Bora Bora lagoon. This luxury resort is nestled in the dreamiest of settings—wooden walkways link palm-dotted islets fringed with white sand, while the craggy green peaks of Mount Otemanu loom in the distance. Guests can alternate between the beach and the infinity pool, lined with oversized cabanas, or sample activities like stand-up-paddleboard yoga, shark feeding, and snorkeling with the resident marine biologist. Also on offer is a luxurious spa, offering an extensive menu of treatments based on native ingredients like monoï and vanilla. As for the bungalows, Polynesian touches pepper the chic, honey-hued interiors, while indulgent soaking tubs sit beneath shuttered picture windows that open onto the sea. Large decks with swoon-worthy views have stepladders down to the water—a good way to test out the provided snorkeling gear. Airy beachfront villas are also available for those who prefer to stay on land.
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.
Motu Piti Aau Bora Bora French Polynesia, Bora-Bora 98730, French Polynesia
Visiting the InterContinental Bora Bora Thalasso Resort on assignment, I feel like the only single person from here to Guam. Every year, Bora is voted among the world’s top honeymoon destinations, and right away you realize everything is designed to propagate the human species. The grounds are thick with palm trees and fat ferns leading up to some of the most beautiful water on the planet resembling a translucent creamy liquid light. Every day at 2 p.m., a school of stingrays shows up in knee deep water to be fed by guests. This is highly popular for the dozens of young honeymooners because their Facebook photos come out amazing in the clear water. The star attractions are the 80 overwater villas stretching into the lagoon along four curved wooden piers. Prepare to be blown away. The villas are over 1,000 sf with cathedral beam ceilings, handsome wood furnishings and a huge living room opening out to a large wooden deck. A ladder extends to a second deck perched a couple feet above the water, where you’ll spend a lot of time while other guests kayak by and wave hello. In the center of the villa, my bed faces a floor-to-ceiling window framing the volcano. These particular units were voted “World’s Best View from the Bedroom” on TripAdvisor a few years ago. The hotel can also set you up with a catered romantic dinner for two on the lower deck. Candles, pillows, frangipani flowers, French champagne and lobster soup—who can resist the romance?
French Polynesia
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
Taha'a, French Polynesia
Set against a backdrop of lush jungle, this secluded luxury resort offers a mix of accommodations, from gorgeous villas with their own private plunge pools located right on the resort’s powdery white sands to overwater bungalows with traditional thatched roofs, large lagoon-facing decks, and deep soaking tubs. The resort sits on the mountainous, verdant island of Taha’a, off the coast of Raiatea, and is accessible only by speedboat or helicopter. Taha’a is also known as the vanilla island, renowned for producing some of the finest Tahitian vanilla in the world, and the hotel offers excursions out to local vanilla plantations as well as to pearl farms, where guests can learn how famous black Tahitian pearls are harvested. Marine conservation tours are also available, and the hotel can even arrange yacht rentals for guests on request. Cultural activities include weekly Polynesian-themed evenings, complete with a Tahitian buffet and local performers, such as traditional fire dancers.
Maharepa 98728, French Polynesia
You can swim to your overwater bungalow through a magical turquoise lagoon filled with colorful tropical fish when staying at the Sofitel Kia Ora Moorea Beach Resort. The lagoon here is clearer and more turquoise than anywhere else on the island, and free of jet skis and other watercraft, allowing underwater life to flourish untouched.

This is also one of the Islands of Tahiti‘s most affordable overwater bungalow options, made even more accessible by the fact that Moorea is easily reached via high-speed catamaran from Papeete in Tahiti, where international flights land. Moorea’s natural beauty is emphasized at this understated resort where the traditional thatched-roof bungalows have a Polynesia style with modern decor, like extremely comfortable beds and stone tile rain showers in the bathrooms.

Although a decently large resort, with more than 100 bungalows, the best are the overwater digs, which have glass panels for viewing fish and direct access into the lagoon from a ladder into the crystal-clear water off the private terrace (if you’ve seen the Real Housewives of Orange County, this is the resort the women stayed at on their trip to Tahiti and Moorea). The resort has three distinct restaurants and bars that convey the spice of Tahitian life.

Taking center stage is internationally themed “Pure”, which focuses on fresh seasonable produce. Tailor-made for romance, “K” is an intimate gourmet restaurant option, showcasing the freshest local produce in elegant and refined settings. While the “Vue” cocktail bar offers an idyllic venue to relax and enjoy a leisurely drink with a ‘view’ of the lagoon. There’s also a branded Bollinger champagne bar on the pier, and an infinity swimming pool and spa with wonderfully blissful treatment options.
Encompassing 35 private villas on the Motu Onetahi coast of Marlon Brando’s very own French Polynesian island, Tetiaroa, The Brando is arguably the most luxurious place to stay in the entire South Pacific country. All of the villas at this all-inclusive resort have their own private pools along with direct beach access, and there’s a gorgeous spa offering a range of healing modalities, including traditional Polynesian taurumi massage. For those who want to add a bit of activity to their stay, there’s plenty to do on the island and in its surrounding waters, from snorkeling and scuba diving to discovering the flora and fauna of the surrounding landscape under the tutelage of a research scientist. Travelers with an interest in Polynesian culture may also want to try their hand at the traditional outrigger canoe, perhaps taking a trip out to one of the surrounding private islets that share an atoll with the Brando.
Holy Steak House is run by Thierry and Bénédicte Sauvage, who also own the popular Restaurant Le Coco in Punaauia on Tahiti. Located in Haapiti, this Moorea restaurant boasts unique, contemporary decor indoors—we love the mix of floor-to-ceiling windows and wood-beamed ceiling with modern chandeliers. The varied menu changes monthly, though you can, of course, expect excellent steaks. An elegant outdoor wine bar, with comfortable chairs and water views, has a strong wine (and cocktail) list, with vintages from around the world. Free shuttle service runs to and from a number of resorts, including the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa and the Hôtel Hibiscus. Reservations suggested.
Motu Piti Aau Bora Bora French Polynesia, 98730, French Polynesia
For an elegant island dining experience, opt for an evening at Le Corail at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa. The formal and contemporary dining room, right beside the lagoon, seats only 28 at a time, so the mood is intimate and romantic. Tables by the windows, with a view of the resort’s overwater wedding chapel, are the most coveted. The French-accented seven-course tasting menu rotates with the seasons and is plated artfully, in keeping with the modern surroundings. With advance notice, the kitchen can accommodate those with allergies and dietary restrictions. Open six nights a week for dinner, from April to November.
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