Travelling in French Polynesia Never Gets More Luxurious

- Erik Wachtmeister,

Tahiti deserves its legendary status as the ultimate honeymoon destination. The beauty of the vast variety of lush mountains rising out of the sea puts a spell on you. The fascinating atolls, with their incredible abundance of marine life and crystal clear water, make this place a dream come true. The ultimate way to enjoy this would probably be on a small private cruise ship, but we will have to leave that for next time! Instead we stayed at some of the best hotels in French Polynesia.

We just spent 15 precious days in some of the most beautiful corners of the planet. From space the earth would be nothing but blue looking down as the closest landmasses are 8+ hours away by jet (Australia, South and North America). The closest major islands are New Zealand and Hawaii, 5+ hours away. Tahiti and its surrounding atolls and islands stretch over a territory as large as Europe. The night sky is breathtakingly clear with a very detailed view of the Milky Way.

We spent our time equally between Bora Bora, Tikehau and Tahaa (4 days), each a totally unique experience. A boat ride to swim with and feed stingrays and black tip sharks by the pass of the Atoll is a “must-do” in Bora Bora. A three-meter lemon shark was in close range before I quickly got back into the boat. ASW members Sandy Ellacott and his wife, Hiti, are the people to know if you want to explore Bora Bora. They contacted me when they saw my itinerary on the Geolocator.

Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort and SpaThe Pearl Beach Resort in Tikehau was our second stop, located an hour flight to the North in the Tuamotu Archipelago. This is an outpost and gives you the feeling of what Bora Bora must have been hundreds of years ago.

The marine life surrounding our overwater bungalow was like an aquarium filled with sharks swimming beneath us at dinner time. Officially these sharks are not carnivores, but we did succeed at feeding them pieces of chicken, meat and fish!

We consequently limited our swimming to the day time. We spent the days exploring the wild beaches and pristine lagoon. Pink sand dunes with fish everywhere in the turquoise waters. A complete Robinson Crusoe experience!

Pearl Beach is wild and rustic and I warmly recommend it and its sophisticated and fresh food cooked by brilliant chef Jerome. It is also the only hotel in Tikehau.

Le Taha'a Private Island and SpaLe Taha’a was our last stop. It is the only Relais et Chateaux in all of Polynesia and has the most exquisite location on the ridge of the Atoll. We had a beach villa with a different perspective and definitely more toddler friendly than being on the water. Le Taha’a probably had the most “exclusive” feel to it, accentuated by the fact that the global economic crisis and the low/”rainy” season (although sunny every day).

We left via the capital Papeete where we spent the week-end at the Intercontinental resort conveniently located a few km from the airport. Papeete is the largest city and port in the South Pacific and evokes images of a bygone era. It is far from idyllic but an interesting place to visit for a few days. The black sand beach by the Radisson should not be missed, with its direct access to the ocean.

We capped our epic journey yesterday with an “A Small World” drink with 40 fascinating Tahiti based members, followed by a dinner for ten of the country’s key people in the travel and leisure business, including ASW members Christian Vernaudon, President of Air Tahiti Nui and Laurent Bessou, President of the Pearl Beach hotel chain. They are both true pioneers in Tahiti having spent 30+ years running the country’s tourism industry.

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