In the South Pacific, Bora Bora – the most famous of French Polynesia’s Leeward Islands and recently awarded the title of “the best island in the world” by U.S. News – invites you to immerse yourself in a tropical paradise. Four Seasons Resort makes for the perfect base for your Bora Bora vacation.
This wonderful place is unique among the Polynesian resorts, and since its opening in 2008, it has consistently impressed. Indeed, this is one of the few resorts that manages to get everything so right with such little fuss: a combination of splendid overwater bungalows, fantastic setting, wonderful food and superb staff.
Each bungalow comes with its own sizeable pool on an enclosed deck overlooking the sea, with direct access to the lagoon. The international clientele is made up mainly of celebs, honeymooners and couples who spend the day by the pool and being treated at the sumptuous spa, but it’s also welcoming to families (young children and teenagers have their own entertainment program).
Overlooking the magnificent turquoise waters of a private beach, Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora boasts luxurious over-water bungalows and beachfront villas with views of Mount Otemanu. After an invigorating workout in the open-air fitness centre, you can enjoy an afternoon of pampering at the waterfront day spa.
The resort boasts an infinity pool, a tennis court and free guided snorkelling tours of the lagoon sanctuary, which is home to many exotic marine animals. Guests can also enjoy kayaking, catamaran cruises, windsurfing and shark feeding.
The spacious bungalows and villas each feature traditional wooden furnishings, high ceilings and thatched roofs. All accommodation features fluffy down pillows and iPod docking station.
You can sample a variety of cuisines at the 4 on-site restaurants, offering Polynesian, French and Asian specialities. Watching the sun set over the lagoon at Sunset Bar & Lounge offers the perfect ending to your day.
Bora Bora, French Polynesia ??
Ah, Bora Bora. The stuff of dreams. As you arrive by plane, the view says it all. How not to be mesmerised by this stunning palette of sapphire, indigo and turquoise, all mixed together in modern-art abstractions? And these sand-edged motu (islets) and soaring rainforest-covered basaltic peaks? With such a dreamlike setting, Bora Bora is, unsurprisingly, a honeymooners’ choice. But there’s much more to do than clink glasses with your loved one in a luxurious hotel. The good thing is that you can mix slow-paced sun-and-sand holidays with action-packed adventures. Diving, snorkelling, lagoon tours, hiking and parasailing are readily available. What you shouldn’t expect, though, is a thriving nightlife. Bora Bora is a quiet island. And this dream destination is much more accessible than you think. As well as five-star resorts, a handful of low-key midrange hotels beckon.
French Polynesia ??
Sculpted by sky-piercing, moss-green peaks and lined with vivid turquoise lagoons, sultry French Polynesia is a place to take it slow and experience warm, laid-back island culture.
The slim stretches of white-, pink- and black-sand beaches in French Polynesia are really just pretty springboards into the real draw: the lagoons. Most high islands are surrounded by fringing reef that creates a protected swimming pool of the most intense aqua imaginable. Coral atolls have this same calibre of lagoon minus the big island in the middle. Fish, dolphins, rays, sharks, turtles and more inhabit these clear-water coral gardens that are as excellent for snorkelling as they are for diving and swimming. Surfers ride glassy wave faces at reef passes while kitesurfers fly across the water with the trade winds.
Tahiti: just the word conjures up centuries’ worth of images: hibiscus flowers; bronzed dancers in grass skirts; a humid breeze over turquoise sea. The islands of French Polynesia became legends the minute the first European explorers reached their home shores with tales of a heaven on earth where the soil was fertile, life was simple and lust was guilt-free. While the lingering hype is outdated, French Polynesia is still about as dreamy as reality gets. The lagoons are just as blue but there are freeways, more conservative values and nine-to-five jobs. It’s not the untainted paradise of explorer lore, but at least there’s an internet connection.
To Luxe or Not to Luxe
Over-the-top indulgence has become French Polynesia’s – or more specifically Bora Bora’s – signature, and often overshadows what the rest of the country has to offer. Resorts on the ‘Pearl of the Pacific’ are a honeymooner’s dream, with private overwater bungalows and spectacular views of the island’s iconic, square-topped peak. But if this isn’t your cup of coconut water, or not in your budget, don’t let that dissuade you from visiting French Polynesia. Small, family-run lodgings offer a closer-to-the-culture experience for considerably less financial output.