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French Polynesia Hotels

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Dream Island
Motu Fareone , Moorea
French Polynesia
Tel: 689 778 470
information@dream-island.com
www.dream-island.com

These three self-contained, thatch-roofed cottages set under a canopy of ironwood trees and palms on a private motu are a simple but comfortable place to go native. Each is decorated with locally made tapa cloth in bold designs, framed artwork and photographs, and carved masks from Papua New Guinea. Each also has a kitchen equipped with French silverware, a small library of books in English, French, and Japanese, and a veranda for enjoying the spectacular Pacific sunsets. If you really like getting back to nature, ask for one of the cottages with an outdoor shower set among coral bricks and cascading plants.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa
Motu Toopua , Bora Bora
French Polynesia
Tel: 689 603 300
Fax: 689 603 301
www1.hilton.com/en_US/hi/hotel/PPTBNHI-Hilton-Bora-Bora-Nui-Resort-Spa/index.do

A 20-minute boat ride from the Bora airport deposits you directly at the Nui's unique floating lobby, where grandiose pearl-and-shell chandeliers hover overhead, somehow evoking both traditional Polynesia and Louis XIV. Such Tahitian handicrafts are a passion for Mrs. Wan, the former Papeete shopgirl who now owns the hotel (which became a Hilton franchise in January 2009), with her husband. The Wan family also owns the St. Regis Bora Bora and the Robert Wan Pearl Museum. Accordingly, the interiors of the 120 units here—72 of which are overwater bungalows—all feature tapa cloth, bamboo and shell detailing, and original Tahitian landscape paintings. The South Pacific elements are combined with modern luxuries such as Italian-marble baths, flat-screen TVs, and custom-lit glass floor panels that let you view nature's aquarium swimming below. Two restaurants, a hilltop spa, and a private motu (islet) for picnics mean you'll likely be able to stay on the property without getting bored—but when you need it, there's also water shuttle service to Bora's main town of Vaitape.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa
Pihaena , Moorea
French Polynesia
Tel: 689 551 111
Fax: 689 551 011
www1.hilton.com/en_US/hi/hotel/PPTMLHI-Hilton-Moorea-Lagoon-Resort-and-Spa/index.do

People often make comparisons between Tahiti and Hawaii; by that model, if Bora Bora has the upscale gloss of Maui and Tahiti the bustling energy of Oahu, Moorea has the verdant, rootsy soul of Kauai. The feeling is maintained by this hotel's small scale—a Hilton since January 2009, it includes 54 overwater bungalows and 52 garden and beach bungalows. Then there's the simple but luscious food: You'll never get tired of the fresh fish and vegetables in vanilla sauce at the beachside restaurant. Even the spa, where you can get a vigorous pounding by a Tahitian masseuse, feels refreshingly down to earth. Overall, the vibe here is more authentic than at other Moorea resorts; and there are quirky details, like the fat and friendly giant eel that lives under the floating bar and gets fed a regular diet of merguez sausage.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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Hotel Kia Ora
Rangiroa
French Polynesia
Tel: 689 931 111
Tel: 689 931 117
Fax: 689 960 220 or 689 960 493
hotelkiaora.com/

Set on a remote atoll, this property has ten thatched overwater bungalows linked by an arched walkway and perched above a jade-green lagoon. Twenty-five more cottages occupy the spotless beach, and yet another 28 are nestled in a coconut grove. Though the property feels eons away from the modern world, each tranquil, palm-and-bamboo-walled room has air-conditioning and a telephone. Pleasures here are simple and satisfying: During the day, you can sunbathe, snorkel, and take diving or fishing excursions; at night, you can enjoy fresh fish prepared by a French chef from the open-air restaurant. On Wednesday and Sunday nights, Polynesian dancers perform.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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InterContinental Resort and Thalasso Spa
Motu Piti Aau , Bora Bora
French Polynesia
Tel: 689 607 600
gsc.boraboraspa@interconti.pf
www.boraboraspa.intercontinental.com

Whimsical bright colors and modular 60s-style designs meld with Polynesian décor at this sexy, adult beach resort. It's the youngest—in both years and sensibility—of the InterContinental resorts in French Polynesia, with a casual approach to five-star luxury. It's not the St. Regis, but then thoughtful amenities like day rooms for tired travelers who arrive before check-in are often of more use than Italian marble. The first Thalasso Spa in the southern hemisphere draws guests for the day from other resorts and includes a wide selection of Algotherm treatments, including the Bora Bora Deep Blue Massage with desalinated, purified ocean water pumped in from offshore for the various pools. Scoring some eco points, this same icy-cold deep sea water is used to cool the two wishbone-shaped wings of the 80 overwater bungalows ("overwater apartments" would be a more apt description). The largest space is the living room, with access to your swim-out balcony. Through one set of doors is the bedroom with the bed facing a large window with a terrific view of the lagoon, and through another set of doors is the modest but sexy bathroom. The toilet is actually in the walk-in closet off the bedroom, which sounds odd, but it provides a nice bit of privacy. Another first in French Polynesia is the overwater chapel with a clear glass aisle to see the water below.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
InterContinental Resort Tahiti
PK 7.5
Faa'a , Tahiti
French Polynesia
Tel: 689 865 110
tahiti@interconti.com
www.ichotelsgroup.com/h/d/ic/1/en/hd/pptpf

Sprawling and opulent, the InterCon is also surprisingly, unabashedly sexy—just check out the bare-chested bellmen bound tightly in their traditional pareos, or the highly suggestive (and once-forbidden) dances performed by Les Grands Ballets de Tahiti in the resort's Tiare restaurant. There are 32 overwater bungalows here on the northwest coast at Tata'a Point, more than at any other resort on Tahiti, and they're price-justifyingly spacious and well-appointed. Even if you are spending just a single night in Tahiti on the way to the outer islands, why not wake up in a fabulous OWB your very first day? That said, the other 200-plus standard rooms are just that: standard. Housed in a cement building, they feel more businesslike than romantic, apart from the ocean views. High-speed Internet access in all the rooms is a rarity in French Polynesia—and a mixed blessing if you're hoping to drop off the grid.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Kia Ora Sauvage
Rangiroa
French Polynesia
Tel: 689 931 111
Tel: 689 931 117
Fax: 689 960 220 or 689 960 493
hotelkiaora.com/

Set on the remote Avea Rahi motu on the south coast of Rangiroa, this property has just five thatched beach bungalows made with precious woods, woven palms, and bamboo. The word "sauvage" is something of an exaggeration; while there's no electricity or phone service here, the bungalows have luxurious king-size beds and spacious coral-tile bathrooms with plenty of hot water. Meals are occasionally prepared and served at outdoor tables, with 360-degree views of the lagoon by day and stars arching overhead at night. Swimming, snorkeling, and soaking up the sun are the main pastimes—and if you're a night owl, this definitely isn't the place for you. Evening activities here are limited to cuddling up with someone you love or a really good novel.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Le Maitai Polynesia
Matira Beach , Bora Bora
French Polynesia
Tel: 689 603 000
info@bora.hotelmaitai.com

If the sky's not the limit and you prefer to patronize a local business, this moderately priced option—for Bora Bora, that is—fits the bill. Built in 1998 on the site of a former backpackers' camp, the 74-unit resort is Bora Boran owner Pauline Youssef's glitziest property (her mini empire also includes the budget option Village Pauline). The decor here is colorful and a bit kitschy, but most rooms also have TVs, mini fridges, and AC—although if the latter is important to you, be sure to request it. The beach is pristine, with a little wooden dock for an after-dinner stroll, the beach restaurant/bar is bustling with friendly, chatty people, and you're close enough to the Hotel Bora Bora to hop over for a meal.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Le Méridien Bora Bora
Motu Tape
Bora Bora
French Polynesia
Tel: 689 605 151
rez@lemeridien-tahiti.pf
www.starwoodhotels.com/lemeridien/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=1905

"To this day, we smile when we think of the water and the views of nirvana on earth," including those of Mount Otemanu. Beach villas have direct access to the interior lagoon for snorkeling and swimming in the resort's turtle sanctuary. Overwater bungalows have thatched roofs, louvered windows, and Polynesian accents. Duck liver and crispy crab rolls are served at Le Tipanié.

(99 rooms)

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
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Les Relais de Joséphine
Rangiroa
French Polynesia
Tel: 689 960 200
relaisjosephine@mail.pf
relaisjosephine.free.fr

What's special about these six fan-cooled, traditional bungalows is their location at the opening of Tiputa Pass—the spot where Rangiroa's lagoon opens into the ocean. This is a favorite feeding and playing ground for dolphins, and you can often see them leaping around in the waves here. (Be sure to ask for one of the three bungalows with verandas looking right over the pass.) The cottages have modern tiled bathrooms and an eclectic mix of French, Balinese, and Polynesian furniture. Breakfast and dinner—included in room rates—are served at the lagoon-side restaurant, Le Dauphin Gourmand; the menu includes local specialties such as grilled and curried fish, as well as French dishes.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Le Tahaa Private Island and Spa
Motu Tautau , Tahaa
French Polynesia
Tel: 689 508 454
infos@letahaa.com
www.spmhotels.com/resort/taha-a

The self-declared "most exclusive resort in all of French Polynesia," Le Tahaa's main selling point is its location on the small, stunning islet of Motu Tautau, off the coast of Tahaa. (Tahaa itself is just 34 square miles.) You can walk 100 yards into the water here and still be only knee-deep—and the sea's so calm that tables and chairs are sometimes set up in it for lunch. The 60 rooms are immaculate, with stark white linens and dark hardwood furnishings, and at 300 square feet apiece, they're spacious, too. There are three restaurants (important, since there's nowhere else to eat), tennis courts, and a huge, somewhat superfluous swimming pool. It may seem that there's no reason to leave the resort, but a visit to Tahaa may be your one chance to see what French Polynesia was like before it got so popular; locals say this island is what Bora Bora was 20 years ago.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach & Private Island
Ponte Matira
Bora Bora
French Polynesia
Tel: 689 605 500
H0564@accor.com
www.sofitel.com/gb/hotel-0564-sofitel-bora-bora-marara-beach-and-private-island/index.shtml

It's not exactly budget-friendly, but this property, newly renovated in summer of 2006, has the most reasonably priced over-water bungalows on Bora Bora (high-season prices start at about $680 per night). Thirteen of the 64 units here are OWBs with all the same bells and whistles you'll find at other resorts—peek-a-boo glass floor panels, enclosed patios, outdoor showers, swim-off decks—only they cost about half what the almost-identical ones at nearby five-star resorts do. The other, landlocked units, which face either the lagoon or the tropical garden, are also very pleasant; all have mod-Indonesian decor, with cane ceilings, wood or tiled floors, and neutral-colored fabrics offset by bright-colored cushions and native flowering plants. The common areas are a bit playful, and acknowledge the hotel's rather tacky beginnings: It was built as a film set for the 1979 Dino de Laurentiis–produced film Hurricane (which was something of a box-office turkey). Black-and-white stills from the film decorate the lobby walls, and the hotel's safety orange-colored bar (also called Hurricane) serves tropical drinks with names like "Black Pearl" and "The Bounty." The fact that it was one of the first chain hotels in Bora explains the primo location, on a private beach in Matira Bay.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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St. Regis Bora Bora Resort & Spa
Motu Ome'e , Bora Bora
French Polynesia
Tel: 689 607 888
reservations@stregisborabora.com
www.starwoodhotels.com

Though Bora Bora was already home to no less than 14 luxury resorts, the St. Regis easily upped the ante when it opened in June 2006. The resort is the first in Bora with a spa that occupies its own private island, and amenities include a sushi restaurant (a first in French Polynesia) and a man-made interior lagoon, called a hoa, for snorkeling and swimming. The 100 all-suite units are decorated in trendy Bali–Thai style, with sliding wooden louvered doors opening onto views of the water. Of the 76 overwater bungalows, seven are one-bedroom options with private whirlpool decks; there are also five almost obscenely large two-bedroom OWBs with their own pools—another first in the islands. Though it's designed to thrill, the St. Regis's grand scale may put some of the natural charms of Tahiti just out of reach; bigger doesn't necessarily mean better.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Te Tiare Beach Resort
Huahine Island
French Polynesia
Tel: 888 600 8455
reservations@tetiarebeachresort.com
www.tetiarebeachresort.com

Wooden walkways connect the mainland to thatch-roofed bungalows that sit "above the clearest water you'll ever see." Casual accommodations are mostly on land, with high ceilings and open-air designs; in overwater suites, jump off the sundeck into the lagoon. French, Polynesian, and international fare at Ari'i includes mahimahi infused with lemongrass and ginger. "Staff always wear a smile."

(41 bungalows)

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
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Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort
Motu Tuherahera , Tikehau
French Polynesia
Tel: 689 962 300
welcome@tikehaupearlbeach.pf
www.spmhotels.com/resort/tikehau

If you're ready to venture to the next French Polynesian frontier, the Tuamotu group, about 180 miles northeast of Tahiti, is an easy temptation. At the Tikehau Pearl, going sauvage doesn't mean sacrificing luxury. The private, serene property has just 38 units—24 of which are overwater bungalows with glass viewing panels in the floors, and 14 of which are beach fare with all the modern amenities. There's also a small spa, an infinity pool, and a cozy bar/restaurant. If it weren't for the creature comforts, though, you might feel as if you'd dropped off the edge of the world. The water here is thick with what Jacques Cousteau once determined was the largest concentration of fish in the archipelago—but only 350 people inhabit the island (the local joke is that the fish-to-people ratio is a million to 1). And the pink sand beaches might remind you of the Bahamas—except for the fact that there's not another soul in sight.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Vanira Lodge
Teahupoo , Tahiti
French Polynesia
Tel: 689 726 962
vaniralodge@mail.pf
www.vaniralodge.com

Nestled in the hills above Teahupoo's world-famous surf breaks, these four gorgeous, wooden bungalows have a rustic "Tahitian Family Robinson" feel. Each one-bedroom hut has two extra daybeds and a kitchenette for preparing simple meals, and attracts budget-conscious surfers, especially between April and October (see Teahupoo). But staying at Vanira (that's Tahitian for "vanilla") doesn't mean roughing it. Don't want to cook? Just give 24-hour notice to owner Karine Lavalle, and she'll deliver a French or Tahitian meal to your door. You can also hire a boat and local guide to get to the best offshore surfing spots. There is one hazard you'll want to prepare for on this green, southeastern side of the island, though: hungry mosquitoes at dusk and dawn.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Villa Corallina
Motu Fareone , Moorea
French Polynesia
Tel: 689 770 590
info@villacorallina.com
www.villacorallina.com

Occupying the same motu as Dream Island, this compound is set amid tropical gardens of hibiscus, gardenia, and breadfruit trees. The 3,000-square-foot villa encompasses two guest suites, decorated in traditional Polynesian style and cooled by the breeze of ceiling fans. The terrace, which has a fireplace, is the perfect spot to catch the sunset. A fully equipped kitchen, television, and stereo make Corallina feel like home, but the full housekeeping staff cheerily reminds you that you're on vacation.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.