There’s no getting around it, Bora Bora is for honeymooners.
Oh sure you’re you’ll find couples here for anniversaries or special birthdays but predominantly, your first-time visitor to this stunning atoll in Tahiti are loved-up newlyweds, shiny rings glistening on their left hands and diamonds that haven’t seen any dishes or housework yet.
I am on a whistle-stop 3-night 5-hotel inspection to check out five options for said couples – or families if you’re loaded and want a 2-bedroom villa with your own private infinity pool.
This hotel is the priciest, but you get what you pay for. These bungalows have bedroom on one side and a living room on the other with a huge stone bathtub in between. Open the wooden shutters and you’re bathing with a view of that iconic mountain.
Signature: It’s hard to choose, but I had a 2-hour spa treatment using locally produced manoi oils and of course I chose the Polynesian style massage – long stokes using elbows and forearms. My treatment room had an outdoor bath and I sat on the veranda in my robe having a foot massage first before a scrub with tiare-infused oils before my massage.
BUT, the food here is exquisite and in this brief blog must be mentioned. Three restaurants, including a sushi chef who must be in his element with the fresh seafood that arrives from this very lagoon. However the dessert of the day was a highlight: poached green apple balls with champagne mousse in an espresso-sized muscovado tuile cup, topped with popping sugar and sorbet. Yes please!
I spent only lunch here with the new GM who had been in the job just 11 days so it was as new for him as it was for me to have lunch on a tiny motu (island) just 5 minutes by boat from the hotel. But first a site inspection of bungalows with four-poster beds draped in net curtains and little glass coffee table hatches that can opened so you can drop fish food or bread to the colourful critters below.
The presidential suite has two bedrooms and more space for extras with a steam room and massage table upstairs with the jacuzzi and day bed – once you climb through the round Hobbit door. It’s on the very end of the overwater bungalows so offers complete privacy of the lagoon.
Signature: that lunch on the motu. This is a must-do. Vaea was our driver and with a unique tattoo from her neck, around her left side and all the way to her ankle, she is descended from royalty. Today she manages this little motu and drives the boat to get us there. I walk around the sandy island past huts for hosting events, proper flushing loos and barbecues and in the distance there is a table set up in the sea with an umbrella. It’s for us! Champagne is popped, glasses clink and Vaea arrives with an enormous seafood platter EACH that I feel terrible about not finishing. One other couple is enjoying some sunbathing and snorkelling time (and put their clothes as we arrived).
I took a water taxi from the Four Seasons just five minutes around the lagoon to Le Meridien to have lunch and a look around. Plus I was excited to be able to see the turtle sanctuary – and to swim with them!
All the overwater bungalows have an instant wow with HUGE glass floors. It’s a little freaky at first, but walk on it you must as it’s at the end of your bed draped in curtains – and sprinkled in petals when you arrive. It has the best overwater viewing from any bunaglow I saw and of course, you can don your snorkel and mask and swim with them from your veranda.
Signature: the Turtle Sanctuary and ecological center. It’s not operated by the hotel but by a private company and staffed by marine biologists. Sadly hunting turtles for dinner is still done in Tahiti and this center is all about caring for sick and injured turtles to hopefully release them back into the lagoon, but also to educate locals and visitors alike. I jumped in with a mask and swam with them in their part of the lagoon that is actually between the ocean and the inner lagoon of Bora Bora. The current is quite swift, and you’re not allowed to touch them, but they are so amazing just floating through the water. I am now the godmother of Heivanui, a turtle who came 2 years ago with a fin missing and was swimming in circles. Now she’s the fastest of the 18 that are in here!
Guests from other hotels and can visit and swim for a fee, guests of Le Meridien visit for free.
This is where I am now, sitting up in my super-king bed with the doors open onto the veranda and I can hear the gentle lapping of the waves on the rocks below. But I’m doing this for you, you understand, so you can choose where to spend your next romantic holiday.
Only 31 bungalows are dotted on this little motu a 5-minute water taxi ride from the “mainland” of Bora Bora. It’s much more rustic here than the other resorts with steps made from the volcanic of this island taking you up to the top for exceptional sunset views. There is a swimming pool (yet) but just around the side of this tiny motu is an amazing coral garden which is easily accessible for snorkellers.
There is one restaurant and that does all three meals, but three nights a week you can book the “romantic night” package which includes a space up the hill on comfy seats with canapes and champagne, then 10 couples can add dinner on the little beach in front and be entertained by a group of 5 dancers who punctuate the courses.
Signature: the romantic sunset. Even if you don’t do the dinner, book a spot up here with the champagne – and prepare your love speech. Or proposal. I was whispered that one guy was about to do that and I sneakily watched them all evening to see when. Alas not by the time dinner was over – but little did he know the staff had put petals and champagne in their room. I hope she said yes!
This resort has a beautiful pool that is shaped around the reception area and restaurants. I’ve just had my favourite dish for lunch – poisson cru (raw tuna with coconut and lemon) at a table with the famous Bora Bora peak behind a string of overwater bungalows.
But this place is known for its spa, so this afternoon I’m off for sneaky treatment…