If you look up "paradise" in the dictionary, you'll probably see a photo of one of these South Pacific paradises. Both are tranquil archipelagos with blue lagoons and reputations for attracting privacy-seeking celebrities (Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban honeymooned at the St. Regis Bora Bora in French Polynesia; Bill Gates and his wife spent their honeymoon at the Wakaya Club in Fiji). But that's where the similarities end.
French Polynesia, a string of French-influenced isles that are home to legendary honeymoon hot spots like Tahiti and Bora Bora, is the birthplace of the overwater bungalow. Otherworldly Fiji is best known for the friendliness of its people, a thriving Melanesian culture, and a string of secluded private-island resorts. Go to either place and you will find your flight will be packed with newlyweds just like you. Ready to find your fantasy island? Check out this list of the top 10 resorts in Fiji and French Polynesia and get ready to fall in love.
How did we choose the Brides Best Honeymoons? A survey was conducted in conjunction with Virtuoso, a network of nearly 9,000 top luxury travel advisors. For more information, contact 855-570-3829.
Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, French Polynesia
As if the overwater bungalows weren't sexy enough, the retreat also has a romance menu (order the floating love seat) and a spa suite that hovers above the sea on stilts, so you can spend your massage gawking at fish through windows in the floor below; Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora.
St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, French Polynesia
This escape is honeymoon central for Hollywood types (among the newlyweds who've done their first post-wedding trip here: Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban; Nikki Sixx and Courtney Bingham; Alyssa Milano and David Bugliari.) No wonder they're drawn here—the thatched-roof overwater villas are house-sized (the smallest is 1,550 square feet) with outdoor showers on a terrace that hovers above a turquoise lagoon. Bonus: the resort also has a bridal boutique stocked with wedding dresses you can rent, making it the perfect place for a vow renewal—or elopement; St. Regis Bora Bora Resort.
Le Taha'a Island Resort & Spa, French Polynesia
For a honeymoon less-traveled, head to this quiet Motu (islet) off the isle of Le Taha'a (aka the Vanilla Island). Luxe enough for an A-lister (Carrie Underwood and Mike Fisher honeymooned here), this property still feels authentically Polynesian: every thatched-roof overwater villa is constructed out of indigenous materials and decorated with local handiwork (tapa cloths, coconut nape ropes). Don't leave without arranging a dinner for two on your terrace—or better yet, on a tiny Motu, where fire dancers will be on hand to give you a private show; Le Taha'a Island Resort & Spa.
Laucala Island, Fiji
Oprah's just one of the A-list fans who have reveled in this private isle's over-the-top luxury and ultra-seclusion (each of the 25 villas has a private pool—and the overwater villa has a dock where you can park your yacht). Since the resort takes up just a third of the lush isle, it's also a great place to get a taste of Fiji as it once was. Tip: make time for a village visit for weaving lessons and a chance to partake in an authentic kava ceremony; Laucala Island.
Intercontinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa, French Polynesia
Everything at this resort revolves around the turquoise waters outside. The air-conditioned air in your overwater bungalow? That's created using cool water extracted from deep under the sea. The products at Deep Ocean Spa? All are infused with mineral-rich water from the depths of the South Pacific. And your days? From breakfasts on your overwater terrace to dips into the turquoise lagoon, you'll never lose sight of the briny blue below; Intercontinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa.
Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort
This chic property specializes in dramatic views. There's Bora Bora's iconic Mount Otemanu, across the lagoon, and then there's the one below your overwater bungalow, which you can peek at through your glass coffee table (it sits above a window in your villa's floor). Feel like making friends? Take the table's top off and feed the Crayola-colored fish teeming below; Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort.
Turtle Island, Fiji
Everyone from Britney Spears to Jessica Simpson has honeymooned on this private island, but you won't find a hint of Hollywood haughtiness here. Dedicated to preserving the environment and local culture, the resort has just 14 bures (villas) and is entirely solar-powered. It's also entirely gorgeous (this is where The Blue Lagoon was filmed, after all). Picnic on one of 14 private beaches or ride horses on the sand. You'll leave with a multitude of memories—and a personalized photo book chronicling them all; Turtle Island.
The Royal Huahine, French Polynesia
Formerly known as Te Tiare Beach Resort, this is the only property on sleepy Huahine with overwater bungalows. Reachable only by boat, the hotel has a Robinson-Crusoe-in-Polynesia feel, with lush grounds and thatched-roof villas everywhere you look. Renovations are in progress and room rates are lower, which means you may just score a sweet deal on your week in paradise.
Wakaya Club & Spa, Fiji
A private island with a rep for serious service, this resort has just 14 thatched-roof bures (bungalows) with outdoor lava-rock showers and double hammocks. Want to get away from your getaway? Ask and the staff will arrange for a champagne-lobster picnic on a hidden white-sand cove; Wakaya Club & Spa.
Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa
Craving white sand? The beach here is almost a kilometer long, which means you can soak up the sun on a chaise lounge by the sea or above it on the terrace of your overwater bungalow. And if you're still looking for a place to lay your towel, there's always the lagoon-view infinity pool; Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa.