French Polynesia is the perfect setting for a tropical dream. I’m talking palm trees, crazy blue waters, fresh seafood and coconuts, lush rainforests, abundant marine life, beautiful reefs, and the most amazingly warm people and culture. Need I say more?
French Polynesia is made up of over 100 islands and atolls, scattered across the South Pacific Ocean in area roughly the size of Europe. This means that each island can offer something slightly different to your travel needs, whilst still serving up the tropical wonder that you’d come to expect. The islands are located roughly halfway between Australia and South America and it’s around a 6 hour flight South of Hawaii (although most flights are from New Zealand or West Coast USA).
We were lucky enough to visit for the full month of October and honestly, we are still pinching ourselves after the amazing experiences we had! This was our second visit to French Pol and we are already looking to go again this year – it’s that good!
Part of what made our stay so memorable was having so much of it planned out by our friends at Discover Polynesia. There’s a lot to consider when visiting the region, so I hope this blog will give you the right amount of inspo and info. And if you need a travel designer for your upcoming trip, reach out to Séverine at Discover Polynesia like we did to get the most out of your travels!
Wow – just wow! This island boasts the quintessential views that feature on postcards and magazine covers around the world. Bora Bora is magical. My first time there I literally cried as we flew into the island and I got my first glimpse of the iconic volcanic mountain surrounded by its turquoise lagoon and fringing islands. Yes, it’s a well known honeymoon destination (with good reason) but it’s also a place for those seeking natural beauty and amazing sea life, like we were. And besides, a bit of romance is part of the vibe!
Conrad Bora Bora Nui
Our first time visiting Conrad Bora Bora Nui and what a first impression! From the warm, welcoming reception on arrival through to our sad goodbye, this was an amazing stay. We stayed in an overwater bungalow with views straight into some of the bluest water in the lagoon and took every spare moment to enjoy it with a coconut or coffee on our private balcony. Not that we had much free time! Some highlights during our stay were lei making with our local teacher, paddle boarding through a crystal clear lagoon with a crazy backdrop of Mount Otemanu and relaxing at the hilltop spa with views of waters that twinkle every shade of blue.
Whilst we stayed here, we also went swimming with rays and sharks onboard ‘Bora Bora Romantic’. I have to say, the first time plunging off the boat into an ocean full of reef sharks and stingrays is a bit overwhelming and needs some confidence, but once you’re in the water the experience is so incredible! The rays are like puppies! They come right up, bump into you and try to suck your hands thinking you have fish. Sharks are incredibly inquisitive creatures & these guys aren’t looking at you as a meal.
To seal the deal, Conrad has 6 restaurants and bars (the sushi bar with live music was our fav), a private island to visit and an artificial reef full of fish right under the main jetty. Like I said, we loved this resort and will definitely be back!
Four Seasons Bora Bora
We are repeat guests at Four Seasons Bora Bora – and with good reason! This place has insane overwater villas that fulfil your every Bora Bora dream. I’m talking beautiful luxury rooms with glistening turquoise waters that you can see from every room. Then sit out on the balcony and watch the sunset, catching the last rays of sun with a dip in the warm lagoon. After a huge day in the sun and salt, take the casual stroll to dinner with wet hair in the balmy night. This is heaven for me!
We love Four Seasons so much that we planned to be here for my 30th birthday and it was honestly the best way to celebrate this milestone for me! My day included coffee in bed and a morning swim, spa treatment, champagne in the room and dinner at our fav Japanese restaurant, all while wearing my own flower crown haha!
The most beautiful part of the resort for me is the private lagoon that has glassy clear water perfect for a paddle or swim, but also home to the coral gardens planted by the resort for reef regeneration! This is an amazing program that not only is amazing for our environment but also beautiful to see with its abundance of fish! You can learn more about it here.
Rangiroa is roughly an hour flight from the island of Tahiti and is one of the largest atolls in the world! This place felt so remote and untouched – it’s exactly what you’d imagine if you were dreaming of deserted castaway islands! Yet despite this it was relatively easy to access.
Rangiroa is made up of hundreds of motus (islets) that form a ring around the massive lagoon. Of all the motus, only 2 are inhabited, and this is where you fly in and out of the Rangiroa atoll. That leaves hundreds of motus left uninhabited, and for us, what makes this place so magical!
Dream Yacht Charter, Rangiroa
How do you explore one of the largest lagoons in the world? By chartered catamaran of course. We spent 5 days sailing around Rangiroa with Dream Yacht Charter ~ no reception, no sign of any other boats and no signs of civilisation! Just dreamy waters, palm laced motus and the sea life to keep you company! Amazing!
Our course we shared the beautiful and spacious catamaran with other couples searching for the same slice of paradise that we were, as well as an amazing crew. Our highlight (there was so many) was waking up at 5am one morning, untying the paddle boards and drifting away to explore the most magical lagoon we have ever seen! We floated, swam and photographed this palm lined lagoon with the rising sun until it was time to head back to have breakfast. And it was only when flying our drone the day before that we discovered this lagoon even existed!
Also worth mentioning was the food! I’m not a ‘food blogger’ but I can tell you that every single meal served up by our crew was crazy delicious. And given we felt so removed from civilisation, it was mind blowing to see the extravagant and mouth watering dishes that was prepared out on our private floating home!
Kia Ora Resort & Spa, Rangiroa
This was our stay of choice on the atoll of Rangiroa. The Kia Ora Resort & Spa has all the luxurious feels of a French Polynesian stay, but with more of an authentic and traditional experience.
Straight out the front was some of the best blue water we had seen, as we watched reef sharks and rays glide below us sitting on the jetty. The lagoon waters were also perfect for swimming and paddling around in a traditional outrigger canoe. This water almost felt neon blue!
We also loved the resort for its palm tree forest, private villa with our own pool and some of the friendliest & smiling staff ever! Rangiroa you have our heart!
Tahiti’s neighbour, Moorea is another lush green, mountainous island that’s perfect for the adventurous and only a short ferry ride from Tahiti. Moorea is an amazing option for people looking to visit more islands than just Tahiti when visiting French Polynesia, but don’t want to spend the money that comes with some of the more expensive islands. For us, we love Moorea!
Moorea has beautiful jungle drives in the mountains, roadside açai stands, pineapple plantations, stunning lagoons and amazing surf. I’d strongly suggest hiring a car to see everything and we chose Avis who even have electric cars (the e-moke) to give you that fun adventure feel whilst cruising around the island – this was such a cool experience!
Some things to do would include eating at Snack Mahana, visiting the Coco Beach Motu for an afternoon drink or a tuna poke, heading up to the Belvedere lookout or even swimming with whales – yes, that’s right! We were very privileged to be taken out by marine experts Moorea Moana Tours.
Mo’orea & the Coral Gardeners
The other very memorable mention on the island of Moorea is a visit to the Coral Gardeners. This organisation is made up of a group of young, local ocean lovers that are actively working to educate people on the importance of coral reefs and to repair the reefs around this island. They do this by growing damaged coral in underwater nurseries before replanting the corals back into the reef system – it’s an amazing initiative and the cause is one that I personally feel so strongly about.
You can actually visit the team for a day to learn about what they are doing and then head out to the lagoon like we did to plant coral! We returned this year to see some of the coral we planted a year ago and to see the coral actually growing in size and colour was so cool to see!
You can also adopt your own coral here and can find out more about the Coral Gardeners here.
Tahiti is the main island in French Polynesia where you arrive from international flights. Because of this there is plenty to do and it’s also the largest island in the country.
Expect to see volcanic mountains, waterfalls, dense green rainforest, black sand beaches and some powerful and famous surf breaks. And this is just some of the natural beauty! Because of the size of the island and abundance of activities, I’d highly recommend hiring a car as we have done both times when visiting Tahiti. We chose Avis to get us around everywhere, including our trip to the Tahiti markets (which is a do-not-miss, I LOVED this!), the scenic drive around the coastline, access to the Mo’orea island ferry and our travel to the other side of the island (literally ‘the end of the road’) to see the crazy surf spot Teahupoo.
Tahiti Pearl Beach Resort, Tahiti
We loved Tahiti Pearl Beach Resort for its black sand beach, sunset views and prime location just outside the bustling main town of Papeete. It was a relaxing place to come home to after spending the day out exploring all that Tahiti has to offer. Sitting by the pool with a cocktail or walking along the volcanic black sand beach straight out the front were vibes. It has the best views of the sun setting over the ocean on the island. The silhouette of neighbouring Moorea island and the pink sky is what Tahiti Pearl is known for, no wonder people just come to experience an extremely beautiful dining experience.
We also loved their Tavai Spa where we had a volcanic body scrub that left us feeling so clean and yet dirty at the same time – it’s a unique experience from the team here!
Hope you loved exploring French Polynesia with us & we have inspired you to visit!!
Sez & Chesh xx
Hi Salty Luxe, great Tahiti travel guide. I’m so ready for my trip in two months!