Bora Bora 101: Where to Stay and What to Do in the Tahiti Islets

Updated 01/14/14

Courtesy of La Méridien

If you love the idea of sleeping in a five-star thatched bungalow over a Tiffany-box blue lagoon, Bora Bora is the place for your honeymoon. Situated between California and Australia, this almost 16-square-mile isle, surrounded by a fringe of islets, is part of French Polynesia, aka Tahiti. Yes, you'll pay a pretty penny to stay in this overwater paradise, but when you consider the unreal setting and epic French food and wine (croissants, Bordeaux, etc.), it's well worth the splurge.

Where to stay:

For a Euro-chic vibe, check into one of the 82 pontoon cottages at Le Méridien, where wild turtles cruise beneath the glass-paneled floors.

Both Carrie Underwood and Nicole Kidman honeymooned at the St. Regis—76 one-bedroom overwater villas the size of houses (1,550 square feet and up), with a seaside Jean Georges restaurant. Watch reef sharks circling beneath your feet as you dine on caramelized foie gras with fresh lychee.

You'll have incredible lagoon views from your bungalow's floor-to-ceiling glass walls at the InterContinental Resort and Thalasso Spa—and serious pampering at the spa, famous for its chilled deep-seawater bath and overwater massage suites.

Savvy savers check into Maitai Polynesia, which has 28 lovely garden suites and a kick-back beach bar where you can order every tropical drink under the sun.

What to do:

Besides sunbathe and sip champagne? Swim the open seas with stingrays and harmless lemon sharks, then break for lunch on a deserted motu (islet) with shopping for black pearls in the city of Vaitape and snacking on local poisson cru—raw tuna marinated in coconut milk—at the legendary Bloody Mary's Restaurant & Bar. Yes, it's touristy, but even Kim Kardashian and Salma Hayek rave about it.

—Sarah Rose

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