Travel Team Agent Just Returned from Tahitian Islands
One of Travel Team's South Pacific Specialists, Camille, just returned from a trip to Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea! While she was there, she toured many of the top hotels on these islands. This is her recount of the three islands:
The island of Tahiti Very pretty! Yes there is the 'city' of Papeete or Fa'aa, but that's just one part of the island. If you are interested in the culture & history of French Polynesia, this is the place to be. There are a couple of excellent museums and the big Le Marche or shopping bazaar, if you're into shopping. I visited 4 different properties on Tahiti and personally, I loved the Radisson. But it's on a black sand beach, and that's not for everyone. The sand is so fine and beautiful and is used in a lot of spa treatments. My skin came back SO soft!! And that was just from BEING there! Not even any spa treatments. All of their rooms are ocean view and are very beautiful. You don't have the option of bungalows here, though. If you prefer a white sand beach, then I would say the Le Meridien. The Intercontinental is beautiful, but their sand bottom pools gets the sand redone during the month of February, so you wouldn't have that option. And then there is Manava Suites and they have all suite rooms. It's also a beautiful property, but smaller than the others. You can always take day tours over to Moorea from Tahiti, too!
The island of Moorea Also amazing. But different! Not as busy as Tahiti, but by the ferry it's a little more built up. There is more of a variety of both land & sea activities on Moorea, I found. We did this great 4WD tour into the mountains where at the peak of the road we could see over both bays of Moorea. It's shaped a bit like a heart, the island is, with two bays. I found the best snorkeling right off the beach at the Hilton Moorea. Now they have the option of garden bungalows with your own private plunge pool, as well as partial overwater and full overwater. Their overwater bungalows are really beautiful, but so are the garden! The private plunge pool is such a nice touch. And the snorkeling off the beach? Better than Bora Bora, I thought! There are lots of other properties in Moorea depending on how much more you want to spend. If you'd like to be more secluded, there is Legends, but it is more up a hillside and all the villas have private Jacuzzis. It's a much smaller property but very romantic & secluded. Not on the beach, though. They offer boat transfers out to a private motu for the day! There is an Intercontinental as well and they have a turtle clinic and dolphin center, both of which are for rehabilitating injured turtles & dolphins. This is a huge property, but very environmentally conscious. They have standard hotel rooms but also garden & overwater bungalows. Or rather, partial overwater, but you can still jump right off your balcony into the water and snorkel over rich coral! The Sofitel Moorea is on the east side of the island and is the only property with views of Tahiti so it's quite dramatic. I think this was my favorite. They have garden bungalows where if you request the first row, you'll have an unobstructed view of the ocean because they are staggered behind the beach bungalows. They are also on the longest stretch of white sand beach in Moorea. There are also beach and overwater that are equally as stunning, but if your budget doesn't afford the overwater, I think the gardens are beautiful. No plunge pool though, you have the entire protected lagoon! :-) The also have an extensive spa with outdoor treatment rooms unlike any I'd seen before!
The island of Bora Bora Yes, save the best for last. :-) And actually, I wouldn't say best, I would just say different. It really is just like all the pictures. But one of the major differences between Bora Bora and the other islands, is that the majority of the resorts are all on the fringing atoll encircling the island. Most people never even stay on the main island! You can do tours, I believe, and there is a town there, but the reason most people come to Bora Bora is the stunning lagoon and beaches. Here it really is the most expensive, too! But I also found my other favorite garden bungalows, at the Bora Bora Pearl. These private little residences have their own private plunge pool, and garden and outdoor shower. The whole setting is lush & tropical, but cool & soothing at the same time. And OH so romantic! They do have beautiful over the water bungalows, yes, and their beach bungalows are also amazing, but my favorite truly is the garden. You're still just steps from the beach, but it's just so much more private. And they have the biggest spa I saw with the most variety of treatments. Bora Bora is all about luxury and relaxation. Lounging on your deck or by the beach, eating fresh fish (food is VERY expensive in Bora Bora & Moorea! French Polynesia in general.) and maybe having a couples massage or private dinner on a secluded motu. Where Moorea has the 4WD tour, in Bora Bora, you swim with & feed sting rays. My second favorite property is the Le Meridien Bora Bora because they have a turtle sanctuary and are very environmentally conscious and they have the largest glass floor over water bungalows. Just stunning! We stayed at the Four Seasons and I would say the overwater bungalows at the Four Seasons are the largest I saw! The glass panes in the floor are smaller, but there were about 4 in our room, and the room plan is open & spacious. They start their check in process at the airport and finish it with a private tour of your room! Top notch service.
All properties provide all sorts of complimentary non motorized activities and most include breakfast. I'd say taking out a breakfast & dinner plan when in Bora Bora is the most economical way to dine. The breakfast buffets are HUGE! Everywhere. :-) You really could just fill up with breakfast and then be ready for dinner and not have to spend anything additional while you are there! Well, we all end up buying drinks sometimes, but know it can be between $15 - $25 for ONE cocktail depending on the bar. It's best to buy a bottle of something at duty free, grab some juice at the local shop and enjoy sunset from your deck with your sweetie! :-)