There’s something magical about Bora Bora. It has the prettiest water I’ve ever seen, shifting from vibrant turquoise to deep indigo, with strings of overwater bungalows extending out from luxury hotels. You feel removed from the rest of the world, but as it’s a French territory, the vibe is decidedly sophisticated. No wonder it’s the most popular request I get for honeymoons; it was made for romance.
Where To Stay
You know you want it: an overwater bungalow. Most bungalows are similar in size, with airy bedrooms, living rooms with glass panel in the floor (to see the fish underneath!), and wooden decks that stretch out over the lagoon; some of them have plunge pools as well, to up the decadence factor. The further out your bungalow is out on the walkway, the more privacy you have; ditto for mountain-view as opposed to lagoon-view bungalows, which face back towards the resort.
Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora is the epitome of understated elegance, with discrete service, stellar cuisine and an onsite naturalist who leads snorkeling tours of their private lagoon. St. Regis Bora Bora has the biggest standard overwater bungalows on the island, and extra perks such as Lagoon Restaurant by Jean Georges, a CLARINS spa and an onsite bridal boutique with dresses by Norwegian designer Cecilie Melli. InterContinental Bora Bora Resort and Thalasso Spa uses cutting-edge green technology to keep luxury up but carbon footprint down; their Deep Ocean Spa is the best in Tahiti, with hydrotherapy treatments and a perfectly placed outdoor spa garden set high on a hill overlooking the lagoon.
What To Do
A shark and ray snorkel trip sounds terrifying, but it’s amazing to be in the water as your guide hand-feeds stingrays and curious (and harmless) black-tip reef sharks swim the perimeter, looking for scraps. On an unforgettable jet-ski navigation of Bora Bora lagoon, you’ll circle the mainland, stopping at a few swimming spots along the way and marveling at the ever-changing hues around you. Don’t miss the chance for a champagne picnic on a motu – an uninhabited islet with nothing on it but a few hammocks and a shady pavilion. Your guide will set up your repast and then disappear, leaving you alone to enjoy the food, the view and each other.
Where To Eat
Located in the main village of Vaitape, Restaurant St. James serves up stellar seafood with a Polynesian twist. Take a seat on the patio and enjoy ahi four ways, followed by fresh fish topped with the island’s tastiest vanilla sauce. Bora Bora Yacht Club caters to boaters with plentiful offshore moorings; you never know who will come in to tuck into the casual menu of salads, pastas and burgers, best enjoyed at sunset on the outdoor deck. Villa La Mahana’s chef-owner Damien Rinadli-Dovio trained in France and worked at LA’s legendary L’Orangerie before opening this unassuming restaurant set in a residential neighborhood. Indulge in the creative tasting menu, served at a candle-topped table in the intimate courtyard.
What To Pack
Bora Bora is all about the water, so you’ll live in swimsuits by day, paired with traditional Tahitian sarongs; worn by women and men, you’ll find them for sale just about everywhere. Bring along some reef shoes for outdoor excursions, and sneakers if you plan to work out. Resort chic is the look for evenings – think a maxi dress, sandals and light wrap for her, and long pants (no jeans), deck shoes and collared shirt for him.
What to Buy
It’s almost a crime to go to Tahiti and come home without a black pearl. The best pearl farms are located on Tahiti’s outer islands; the pearls are nurtured, harvested and then sold in every configuration from loose gems to stunning multi-strand necklaces. As with diamonds, quality varies and you get what you pay for, so stick with reputable vendors such as Sibani or Tahiti Pearl Market.