French Polynesia

Can water really be that blue? Is it really so clear that you can count the fish swimming around the coral? The answer is a resounding YES!

French Polynesia comprises more than 100 islands in the South Pacific and is famous for their coral-fringed lagoons and over-the-water bungalow hotels. Striking photos of Bora Bora’s Otemanu mountain surrounded by impossibly turquoise colored water has sent many a newlywed rushing down the church aisle to get a jump on their honeymoon.

I recently traveled to French Polynesia for 9 glorious days, explored 4 different islands, overnighted in 8 hotels, and toured 4 additional properties. Each island had its own charm and “vibe” and similarly, each resort was unique in their location, design and amenities. It would take too long to list all the ways resorts differed from one another, best to reach out and discuss the options.

Depending on ferry or inter island flight schedules, some travelers spend one night here on the way to another island. Moorea, adjacent to Tahiti, is easily accessed by ferry. What the island lacks in luxury accommodations, it makes up for in raw beauty and outdoor adventure. I took a 4×4 drive up steep ravines and into the caldera of the island. The views of the craggy mountain peaks cradling fields of Tahitian pineapple were spectacular. Wild roosters and hens, guava, mango and avocado trees dot the landscape.

Bora Bora, the Queen of the islands. There really is something captivating about Bora’s Otemanu mountain and the splendidly colored lagoon. It is the most popular island for its iconic landscape and options for luxury resorts with the ever popular over-the-water bungalows. What fascinated me was that each resort varied so much from the others in terms of resort landscape, quality of bungalow, amenities, and views of Otemanu and the lagoon. Be sure to reach out to me to discuss which one is best suited for your vacation, they really are that different. Pro tip – be sure to plan a day sailing the lagoon with one of my best captains. The swim with black tip sharks and meeting Juliet the stingray is an experience you won’t forget!

Taha’a is a little island sharing the atoll with Raiatea, like twins forever joined. It is an easy flight from Bora, or if the budget allows, take a helicopter and have your rockstar moment! After the polish of Bora, Taha’a welcomes guests with barefoot Polynesian barefoot luxury. Easy days, warm water and local lobster lunches make this stop a favorite.

The Brando….often spoke sotto voce…. reverently refers to Marlon Brando’s slice of heaven on Tetiaroa atoll. This ultra-luxury hideaway is set on one of the 12 islets comprising the atoll. Imagine being a castaway on a deserted island, miles of sandy white beach, glorious sunsets every night but with full access to gourmet food, incredible spa, impeccable service, and a spectacular enormous villa stocked with all your favorite snacks and beverages. That’s the Brando. And much more. One of the important pillars of The Brando’s mission is their focus on sustainability and conservation. I loved the guided activity to their bird sanctuary where I saw brown and red footed boobies, terns and so many nesting chicks. Their resident naturalist taught us about the flora and fauna and even found a giant coconut crab to look at. A trip to the Queens pool, a bay fronting another islet, found us lounging in 82 degree shallow water exfoliating out skin with the softest sand you have ever felt. All inclusive Brando is expensive, but if you want to disconnect, recharge, take friends to a private island, this the place to do it!

  • January 11, 2022