The Best Hotels in Bora Bora

Welcome to the tropical island that made overwater bungalows—those thatched-roof wonders suspended over the bluest water—the honeymoon hideaways of choice. When you factor in elegant resort dining rooms serving local produce and seafood artfully prepared by French-trained chefs, private excursions to snorkel in the lagoon, hikes into the verdant hills, or just lazy afternoons spent gazing over the water, you’ll agree that it’s no wonder Bora Bora is associated with love.

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.
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.
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
Vaitape, French Polynesia
Situated on the eastern coast of Motu Tevairoa, with magnificent views of Mount Otemanu in the distance, this private beach resort features 80 rooms and villas, ranging from garden villas with thatched roofs and their own private gardens with plunge pools to gorgeous overwater bungalows with private decks and direct access to the lagoon below. The property’s out-of-the-way location attracts a lot of people who want to escape the more active, touristy parts of mainland Bora Bora, with lots of relaxation options right on the property, including a garden spa specializing in Polynesian treatments and massages. For those who do want to get out and about, the resort offers a large range of activities both inside and out of the lagoon, from helicopter tours to helmet dives (in which travelers don weighted helmets pumped full of oxygen and descend into the waters below) to encounters with sharks and rays.
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?
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