The Best Restaurants in French Polynesia

The food on these islands—a marriage of French and Polynesian cuisines—is beyond delicious. Choose from casual food truck fare to romantic meals at posh overwater restaurants. Here are our seven favorite eats around French Polynesia.

Povai Bay, Bora-Bora 98730, French Polynesia
Bloody Mary’s, entertaining tourists since it opened in 1979, is one of those Bora Bora experiences that simply must be done. The ambience is beach-bar hip, with sand floors, colored lights, and coconut stools in a dining room under a thatched roof and surrounded by tropical foliage. Even if you don’t eat here, at least come for a cocktail to experience the vibe and mingle with the crowd of local pension, or guesthouse, owners, visiting celebrities, and other travelers. The food’s quite good, too: Fresh fish, seafood, and meats are grilled, American-barbecue style, with tasty results.
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.
Café Maeva serves excellent French coffee, smoothies, pastries, and proper meals up on the second floor of Papeete’s popular Le Marché shopping complex. Come for the good breakfast menu or wait for lunch, when a mix of Tahitian and French dishes are offered. The standout, a very fresh poisson cru, comes in a number of different versions. The free Wi-Fi and the warm, pleasant vibe may bring you back tomorrow.
The islands of Tahiti have given the world a lot of popular ideas: This is the birthplace of the overwater bungalow, of surfing, the tattoo, and also . . . the food truck? Yep! Well, maybe not officially, but dozens of years before food trucks became popular, Tahiti was rocking the game with their roulottes. These trucks, which serve everything from traditional island fare to cheeseburgers, pizza, and Chinese food, can be found all around Tahiti, but the greatest concentration is in Papeete, where dozens of the colorful trucks congregate at Vaiete Square. Come for dinner or dessert.
Set on a hill some 2,000 feet above Papeete, with impossible views of the sea and Moorea beyond, O Belvédère is the place locals take visitors for thrilling sunsets and good food. The restaurant and bar have the air of a tree house—the outdoor terrace is even built around the trunk of a tree. An inviting swimming pool on the hill below and occasional live music add to the already strong appeal. Arrange for a 5 p.m. pickup from your hotel to reach the restaurant in time for a celebratory sundown cocktail. The fondue is highly recommended.
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.
Taravao, French Polynesia
In Taravao, at the southern edge of Tahiti Nui, this family-run French place is known for its French-style grilled meats and fish (locals will make a pilgrimage out to the countryside for it). The menu skews to old-school Gallic with dishes like veal’s head and duck breast in pineapple or honey sauce and may be off-putting to some, but a number of items, like the catch of the day, are prepared simply. At dessert, the delicious tarte tatin is made with local papaya rather than the traditional apple. Occasional live music and dancing in the evenings can make you feel like one of the crowd.
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