Tahiti Travel Guide
Continued (page 3 of 4)
WHERE TO STAY
You're close (but not too close) to Tahiti's international airport—which means more time by one of the two infinity pools or at the Tiki Bar, which isn't just for tourists: Locals come for happy hour. Les Grandes Ballets de Tahiti, the islands' most famous act, perform the traditional dance show at Le Tiare. From $304.
If you must stay in an over-water bungalow on the main island, Le Méridien has the best, with huge, wood-paneled tubs and comfy beds. It's a toss-up, though: You might do better by booking a main-building room (caveat: they're mod, but not particularly Polynesian) and saving the cash for Bora. From $368.
Set between two aquamarine bays, this resort offers over-water-bungalows that rival those found on Bora (think claw-foot tubs) and garden bungalows with private plunge pools. At sunset, head to the crepe bar for a glass of wine and a show: The waiters feed tropical fish and the resort's resident eel. From $493 (with breakfast).
Here lies the islands' best spa, set in a garden with the heady scents of tiare (gardenia), vanilla, coconut, and sandalwood incorporated in the 100 percent natural oils. The local therapists, who've been there for years, are the real deal: All are trained in the art of taurumi, or traditional Tahitian massage, a ritual said to unblock bad energy. In another nod to local culture, there's a resident tattoo artist. From $715.
There will be space between you two and that other couple on the Sofitel's long, powdery beach, unlike at other Moorea resorts, where the beaches are teeny. The 39 over-water bungalows are also lovely (rain showers, glass-bottomed floor panels, a cool minibar behind the bed), and there's great snorkeling, right from your dock. Do dinner one night at open-air K, which overlooks twinkling Tahiti. From $402.
This sleepy Huahine beach resort is so remote, Sports Illustrated once chose it for one of its top-secret swimsuit shoots. The over-water bungalows are totally comfortable, with huge bathrooms, but the tropical décor is dated. Look past that. Those who get Te Tiare know that it's really about the end-of-the-earth setting. And the delicious food: The chef has been there for 20-plus years, and his poisson cru and tuna tartare are spectacular. From $455.
Carrie Underwood honeymooned at this private-island resort. Over-water bungalows come with canoe-shaped tubs; there's a flip-up panel to feed the fish at the foot of the bed; and the dinners for two, on a motu, or islet, though available on Bora, feel more remote and exclusive here—yet also more casual, thanks to the friendly stuff. The breakfast spread (French toast! fresh croissants! papaya!) goes on and on. From $780 (with breakfast).
The service is what you'd expect of a Four Seasons (attentive, intuitive), and frankly what you expect—but don't always get—at this price point. Every detail wows, from your bungalow's tub, strategically placed for prime lagoon views, to the spa suite's glass-bottomed floor panel, strategically placed for watching fish during a massage. From $812.
This resort is practically its own TV character after appearances on both The Bachelorette (the Roberto and Ali season) and Keeping Up with the Kardashians (the Kim and Kris Humphries breakup signs were there!). Though the 86 over-water bungalows have gotten the most air time, we actually preferred the 11 on the hillside, for the elevated island and ocean vistas—rare on Bora. From $720 (with breakfast).
A $12 million overhaul brought the bungalows up to honeymoon-worthiness (flat-screen TVs, sleek beds). The awesome, almost silver-white beach didn't need any changing, and neither did the turtle sanctuary, a protective lagoon where guests can interact with the green snappers. Or officially "adopt" one and take home a keepsake certificate—not the turtle, sadly. From $704.
A "regular" bungalow here is the size of our dream apartment, a whopping 1,550 square feet. (And don't even get us started on the 13,000-square-foot Royal Estate, where Nicole Kidman honeymooned.) The 44-acre resort is over-the-top jet set in every sense (butler service, a Jean-Georges restaurant), so prepare to talk fabulous-speak with Centurion members. From $1,355.
Mod, futuristic décor (white Starck chairs in the bar) meets Polynesian at this gem, which draws mainly twenty-and-thirtysomethings. The Thalasso spa, the only one in the South Pacific, uses mineral-rich ocean water drawn from the deep for the hydrotherapy pools. And the tea lounge and steam baths are so restful, it's worth it to skip out on the beach and show up early for your treatment. From $1,237.