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Luxury Retreats – the French Polynesia vacation experts
A vacation to one of the islands in French Polynesia has to be one for the bucket list. These remote islands in the South Pacific are bathed in almost perpetual sunshine, lined with white sandy beaches and azure blue waters. The lush tropical forests and mountainous interiors, with verdant valleys filled with hibiscus flowers, make this locale a very popular destination for honeymooners and special family celebrations. It’s a vacation where relaxation and exploration are high on the list of priorities. Hikers, water sports fans, and sun worshippers will all enjoy spending time in this magical part of the world. The only thing you need to decide first is which island to call your home. Will it be Tahiti, the largest in French Polynesia or Bora Bora, the secluded isle loved by A-listers and the jet-set? The decision is all yours.
Once you’ve arrived in your island paradise, it is easy to stay firmly horizontal on a sun lounger, but this part of the world has much to offer if you’re prepared to explore. Bora Bora’s iconic Mount Otemanu and Mount Pahia, the fractured remains of the island’s extinct volcano, can be explored on foot or by jeep. The lagoon between can be explored in many different ways – from skydiving over it, to paddle-boarding through it, to outrigger canoe rides, the options are almost endless.
Over on Tahiti, take a jeep safari on Moorea, a small island that’s a 30-minute ferry ride away from the mainland. Zoom up through Magic Mountain, while taking in the views of Opunohu Bay and Cooks Bay.
A taste of paradise
Both Tahiti and Bora Bora have a tantalizing array of eateries, both fine dining and low-key, to tempt you away from the state-of-the-art kitchen in your Luxury Retreats villa. In Bora Bora, Bloody Mary’s, a beachside restaurant, has been serving charbroiled seafood, caught fresh that day by local fishermen, since 1979. La Villa Mahana, crowned the island’s most romantic restaurant, serves Polynesian-French cuisine, such as curried Mahi-Mahi. In Tahiti, many head to the Lotus Restaurant, in the Intercontinental Tahiti Resort, for its amazing ocean views and classic Polynesian dishes.
There are many ways to bring a little bit of French Polynesia home with you. Golden sand in your sandals is one of them, but a chicer way is to head to one of the island’s local stores to pick up a little reminder of your stay. Tahiti’s buzzing capital Papeete has many boutiques specializing in the island’s iconic black pearls. Head to Tahiti Pearl Market and choose from a vast array of colors and styles. Papeete Municipal Market is the place to go to pick up a tivaivai, a traditional colorful applique quilt, or a block print pareu, a unisex sarong worn all over the islands. The Manua Exquisite Tahitian Art boutique sells intricately carved wooden objects, made by local craftsman using traditional methods.
Island pit stops
The 118 islands which make up French Polynesia are ripe for exploration and close enough to each other to make visiting some them during your stay an absolute must-do. The most common ones to visit are the Society Islands, named by Captain Cook in 1769. They are made up by Tahiti, Bora Bora, Mehetia, Tetiaroa, Moorea, and Maiao, but other island constellations are well worth a visit, too. Tahaa, an island lying 25 miles south of Bora Bora, is part of the Leeward Islands and sought after for its amazing snorkeling opportunities and thriving vanilla plantations. Another island in the Leeward group is Huahine, which is famous for its reef shark feeding experiences and tours of the Maeva Marae archaeological site. If humpback whale watching is a passion, make sure to visit Moorea, Tahiti’s closest neighbor.
Where to stay - villas in French Polynesia
Whatever the occasion or reason to holiday in French Polynesia, there is a villa tailored perfectly to your needs.
Luxury Retreats’ selection of Tahiti villas is second to none. Set within The Brando Resort, on the private island of Tetiaroa, just a 20-minute flight from Tahiti; the island was the former vacation home of Tahitian royalty and then owned and developed by Hollywood legend Marlon Brando in the ‘70s. Each villa has its own plunge pool, private terraces with views of the South Pacific Ocean and is minutes away from a private beach. The floor-to-ceiling glass windows, rich wooden interiors, and hay roofs evoke the classic Polynesian architectural designs of old, albeit with ultra-luxe finishing touches, like media rooms, alfresco bathtubs, and kitchens fully-equipped to professional chefs’ standards. All villas offer a villa-and-breakfast option as standard but an all-inclusive option is available ensuring each guest enjoys complimentary meals and beverages, two daily spa treatments and one daily excursion. Private chef services are also available on request. If you can bear to tear yourself away from the sun lounger, the Varua Polynesian Spa is a short walk away, as is the shared fitness center and tennis court. Free bicycles, kayaks, and snorkeling gear are available to use and if you’d like to go on a guided hiking tour to explore the nearby reefs and forests, excursions leave every day.
Bora Bora villas
Lying northwest of Tahiti, Bora Bora is one of the most celebrated islands in the South Pacific and also one of the smallest. Its diminutive size lends it an air of exclusivity, which might be the reason celebrities flock here to vacation in true style and privacy. It also served as the romantic backdrop to Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux’s 2015 honeymoon. So, if you are looking for Bora Bora villas for a memorable family vacation or destination wedding, Luxury Retreats has the ultimate villa for you. Step forward Bora Bora One, a ten person, 30,000 m sq villa with five king-sized bedroom and ensuite bathrooms. With a large private terrace facing the lagoon and mainland mountains, and views of the Pacific Ocean and islands of Tahaa and Raiatea on the other side of the villa; outstanding vistas come as standard. As does a full team of staff, including a French chef who prepares fine French cuisine for every meal and a sea captain, who will charter a private boat wherever you want to take it. Guided nature tours are available every day, as is the loan of water sports equipment. A world-class spa is only a few minutes’ walk away from the front door.v