French Polynesia, a set of more than 100 islands in the Pacific Ocean, is an idyllic tropical oasis that has become a popular destination for romantic travel—think honeymoons and anniversaries—thanks to the allure of private overwater bungalows. The most traveled archipelago in the famed Pacific chain is the Society Islands, which is divided into two groups, Windward and Leeward islands, and is home to vacation hot spots like Bora Bora, Moorea and Taha’a.
While Bora Bora often steals the spotlight in French Polynesia thanks to its familiar name recognition, the following luxurious properties across the Society Islands are musts to consider for anyone planning a visit.
A short plane ride from Papeete, the airport on mainland Tahiti, followed by a 35-minute private boat escort brings guests to Le Taha’a, a tranquil paradise made for relaxation. Located on the exclusive Motu Tautau island, which faces its namesake island of Taha’a on one side and the unmistakable silhouette of Bora Bora on the other. The resort is Polynesian-inspired, both in architecture and style, and hosts only 57 suites and beach villas, giving it a boutique feel for guests.
A Relais & Chateaux property, Le Taha’a promises rejuvenation of the mind, body and spirit to anyone who visits. The best part? A secluded beach sits at the far end of the island that not many guests venture down to. It’s the perfect spot to watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand.
Just a 10-minute plane ride or hour-long ferry ride from Papeete lies Moorea, an island characterized by beautiful sandy beaches and steep mountainous terrain. On the northeast corner of the island sits the Sofitel Ia Ora Resort, a luxury property equipped with 112 bungalows, both on the beach and over the water, to host guests wishing to experience turquoise waters and marine life.
Chef Guillaume Burlion, an executive chef with 2 Michelin stars, heads the on-property dining experience for guests at K Restaurant, a beachside dining retreat available by reservation only. The best part? Guests on Moorea can book a private ocean charter with renowned marine biologist Matthieu Petit to learn about the marine habitats and the animals that live there.
Known as the resort where Hollywood’s elite comes to kick up their heels, The Brando is a 5-star luxury escape in French Polynesia, where the rooms begin at 3,300 Euros per night in high season. Located on the atoll of Tetiaroa, The Brando is situated on what was once the retreat of Tahitian royalty.
Guests have access to all privately-owned islands during their stay. The on-property spa, Varua Te Ora Polynesian Spa, offers unrivaled holistic treatments in their 2,000 square meters of tranquil suites, which are “inspired by international and ancestral Polynesian techniques,” according to the website.
Cuisine by the award-winning Chef Guy Martin, known for epicurean excellence at the two-star Michelin restaurant Le Grand Véfour in Paris, delights guests in both dining venues and with exclusive in-villa dining. Visitors who follow a vegan diet are treated to the culinary expertise of renowned Chef Kelvin Au-Ieong, responsible for the much-celebrated Invitation V, Vegan Bistro in Montreal, Quebec. ■