Tahiti is the land of cracked vanilla pods and scented hibiscus strewn paths leading to soft lit lagoons. It’s amazing that one place can brim with so many breezy promises – of honeymoon hideaways, coconut clad spas, beautiful bungalow resorts built on stilts, and kayaking with a pod of playful dolphins. For centuries this sandy spot in French Polynesia has been a calling card for the rich, the whimsical, and the famous. Celebrated as a designer yacht charter stop, coveted by those looking to carve out luxury homes in the depths of the jungle, and spellbinding for those seeking a fully-fledged five-star escape – here are our perfect picks for those visiting the island of black pearls…
The big name brand carved out their own spot on Tahiti almost half a century ago. Etched onto the shore and strung across the cliffs facing the magic of Moorea, the Intercontinental Tahiti Resort and Spa has all the right ingredients for an exotic stay. Stroll the blissful botanical gardens, linger horizontally around one of the two pools, practice your serve at the tennis courts, and enroll in a number of endless watersports. With whale-watching days and evenings filled with Polynesian dance and fire flair -the Intercontinental captures that blend of international comfort and local flavor.
Swap out the mainstay rooms for a suite or overwater bungalow. Woven leaves and private jetties invite paradise hideaway vibes, especially when plunging into the lagoon from your own private deck. Little ones will also love the hotel’s lagoonarium for spotting Tahiti’s favorite fish. Suppers at Le Lotus are an elegant affair with a twist of French finesse and flickering candlelight right on the water.
Laid back tropical charm is Le Meridien’s signature sketch – a casual choice for those who want to perfect the art of sipping Polynesian cocktails beside a sandy bottomed pool. The pool is one of the main drawing cards for Le Meridien – celebrated as being one of the largest on the island and with a soft sand bed, you never grow tired of splashing. Open air dining and lounging spaces invite sweet sea breezes to roll through. Everything about Le Meridien is expertly honed to showcase paradise style – from the soaring ceilings to the swaying palms and bursts of tropical flora. The private beach is another highlight, especially as you can snorkel right out the front of the hotel.
The Presidential Suite is the Polynesian king here; a decadent white canopy bed, a private terrace, and large picture windows for sea-views and scattered sunshine. High end evenings can be celebrated at Le Carre or for barefoot fun – sushi and live music can be found at La Plantation.
Marlon Brando’s private island is no longer a secret of Tahitian royalty. The story goes that Brando was passing over French Polynesia in a private plane to film Mutiny on the Bounty, when glancing out the window he saw the breath-taking smudge of Tetiaroa below and declared it would be his. Comfort and class comes of the highest level, blending the seductive art of paradise with a hint of Hollywood flair. Expect top level concierge services, a super glam spa, and endless idyllic pastimes that make the most of such a dreamy and decadent setting.
The beachfront villas are pure perfection –lashings of natural materials, expansive private decks, flowing infinity pools, a media room for midnight viewings, and your own bicycles for peddling off into the jungle. Double Michelin starred chef Guy Martin takes up the helm in the kitchen of Le Mutines so you can be sure the menu is expertly crafted.
If you are going to make one exception to the Tahitian rule and pick a neighbor, leave the honeymoon heart throbs to Bora Bora and instead look to the magic of Moorea. A generous five-star resort with stunning views onto the sculpted mountain slopes, perfectly curated tropical gardens, and overwater bungalows tied together by Instagram worthy wooden walkways. A beach, golf course, spa and dive center add to the endless array of land and sea activities.
Bungalows are beatific with glass floor panels, so you can watch the tropical fish flit by. Views from the private deck are also sublime and the plunge pools add a welcome touch. Marble bathrooms, king beds, and the option to dine beneath the flurry of stars on your private deck make Moorea a magical place to be.