Which Islands Should I Visit and Where Should I Stay?
Which Islands to Visit (and How Many)
Which islands to visit and how many islands you should visit depends a lot on how long you plan to stay in French Polynesia.
We typically advise clients to spend at least 3 nights on each island in their itinerary (except possibly the Island of Tahiti). Spending less than 3 nights tends to make travelers feel too rushed. After all, you are going there to at least try to relax.
There are so many beautiful islands to see that we generally recommend a maximum of 7 nights on one island. Over the years, we have also found that spending more than 7 or 8 nights on any one island can also make some travelers feel restless.
By visiting more than one island you get the chance to experience more than one type of island culture.
In the summary below, we will focus on our favorite islands and the hotels that we believe represent the most value.
If you desire more background on the islands in French Polynesia, we encourage you to read our article entitled, “Where is Tahiti”. In this article, we give more information on the different island groups that make up the Islands of Tahiti. You can also find more information on this subject in our Travel Guide article called, “Where to Start | FAQs”.
A Quick Overview
Bora Bora is the most famous, most romantic, and overall, the most luxurious of the islands of French Polynesia. It is also the most expensive island and visiting another might be a great way to help you stretch your vacation or honeymoon budget.
Moorea is also very popular and is the easiest island to pair with Bora Bora. Moorea is more vibrant and slightly more populated than Bora Bora. The island has a very lush interior, and there are some excellent land-based activities like ATV tours and hiking. It has great snorkeling, a wide array of excursions, and several good local restaurants for you to enjoy.
As a side note, if this is a once-in-a-lifetime splurge or you often seek out the most luxurious island resorts in the world, then Tetiaroa (and The Brando) should definitely be considered as well.
Off the Beaten Path
If you are looking for a more authentic Tahitian experience, Taha'a is a wonderful island to consider. Taha'a offers a glimpse of the traditional, tranquil life of the Tahitian people.
Taha'a is a very lush, beautiful and unspoiled island. It is more expensive than Moorea (priced about the same as Bora Bora). On Taha'a, your vacation will be more about spending time at your resort and getting away to relax. There are some great excursions. However, your stay would generally be more focused at the resort.
The Atolls – Rangiroa, Fakarava and Tikehau – offer a very relaxed and authentic Polynesian experience and have some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world. Visiting the atolls can be a bit tricky when it comes to flight schedules so we generally recommend these island for itineraries of 10 days or more.
What About The Island of Tahiti?
The Island of Tahiti is where most people live and is much busier than the islands of Moorea and Bora Bora. Downtown Papeete is an especially busy port city and has more of an urban feel to it.
Many of our clients do not spend time on the main Island of Tahiti unless their flight schedule requires it. This does not mean the main Island of Tahiti does not have plenty to see or do. There are lots of wonderful activities and excursions available.
However, most of our clients (like most travelers from North America) have limited time available. They are usually interested in maximizing their time at quieter, more laid back islands with pristine beaches and crystal clear lagoon water. This is why most of our custom itineraries begin with a connection directly to Moorea or Bora Bora.
If you decide to visit Tahiti, we would suggest a two night stay in order to have sufficient time to see the main sights.
Indeed, there are many Special Places to Stay on the various islands in Tahiti and each offers something unique.
A Quick Guide to Our Favorite Hotels and Resorts
Generally speaking, the hotels on Bora Bora and Tahaa are the most expensive. Moorea, Tahiti, Huahine, and the atoll islands also have beautiful 3 and 4-star resorts. By including one of those islands as part of your itinerary you can help to keep the overall cost down a bit.
Please note that in the list below the hotels are not listed in any particular order. It is also important to remember that in Bora Bora many hotels are located on smaller barrier islands (motu) that are just off-shore. These hotels offer gorgeous views back toward the main island.
On the islands that have several hotel options to choose from, our top picks for best overall value (good property, good location, good bungalows for the price) would be:
The Island of Tahiti
On Tahiti, we feel The InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa offers the best overall guest experience, if you plan to spend more than 1 night. If you are planning a quick 1 night stay before or after an international flight, the Manava Beach Resort is a good value.
Moorea’s hotels are not quite as extravagant as some of the five star resorts found on Bora Bora. Naturally, the hotels on Moorea are priced less than the hotels on Bora Bora. This helps make Moorea a great choice for a second island to visit on your itinerary.
On Moorea, both the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa and the Sofitel Kia Ora Moorea Beach Resort are excellent resorts and we honestly don’t think you can make a mistake when deciding between the two. The Hilton is more centrally located on the island and has a more North American feel. The Sofitel has a more European feel and offers the best beach and snorkeling on the island – their lagoon is a protected marine environment free from motorized boats.
The Manava Beach Resort is pleasant as well. They have some of the best values for Moorea. However, we do feel the Hilton and the Sofitel offer a better overall guest experience. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Intercontinental Moorea permanently closed in the spring of 2020. They do not have plans to reopen the resort at this time.
Bora Bora has some of the most luxurious five star hotels in the world featuring incredible Garden, Beachfront, and especially Overwater Bungalows and Villas. You will also find beautiful four star and smaller Polynesian hotels there. Our website focuses on our favorite and recommended hotels.
On Bora Bora the top two resorts are The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort and the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora. Both are world class 5-Star resorts and are easily the two most luxurious and exclusive properties on Bora Bora. They both offer extremely high level of service, luxurious accommodations and provide excellent resort amenities.
Le Bora Bora by Pearl Resorts is one of the best values on the island! This 4-4.5 Star resort recently completed a major renovation of the entire property and it is looking great. They rebuilt all of their bungalows and updated their pool, restaurants and public spaces. We are very glad that they were able to preserve the authentic Polynesian feel of the resort.
The InterContinental Le Moana Resort is a great choice if you prefer to stay on the main island of Bora Bora. It has a truly authentic Polynesian design surrounded by some of the most beautiful lagoon waters in Bora Bora. It is also located next to the world famous Matira Beach.
Two of our long-time favorites, Le Meridien Bora Bora, the Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island (as well as the Sofitel Marara Beach Resort) are all currently closed for extensive renovations. Le Meridien expects to reopen in the middle of 2022. Both of the Sofitel resorts do not have a firm date for reopening at this time.
If you are interested in visiting Bora Bora, our article on the Top 5 Overwater Bungalows in Bora Bora for 2021 is a great place to find additional information (and beautiful pictures). We not only describe the resorts, but also list the specific rooms that we recommend.
On Huahine, we recommend Maitai Lapita Village, a fun spot that is a convenient base for exploring the rest of the island. Tikehau has another wonderful Pearl Resort, Le Tikehau. There is also Ninamu Resort nearby. The Hotel Kia Ora Resort & Spa is our top choice on Rangiroa. It is especially popular with divers.
Want More Detail on the Best Hotels in Bora Bora and The Islands of Tahiti?
For additional information check out our dedicated Hotel & Resort Overviews, we cover:
Hotel and Resort Highlights & a Resort Video
Bungalow & Villa Descriptions and Images
A full 25 Image Photo Gallery
An Overview of Dining at the Hotel
A Guide to the Activities & Spa
A List of Hotel Amenities
A Resort Map
Recent News Articles
Health and Safety Information
Current Vacation and Honeymoon Packages or Special Offers Featuring the Resort; and
Other Related Travel Tips
You can view a listing of all of the hotels we can book for you through the link below.
We are often asked about the cost of food in Bora Bora and Tahiti. Food tends to be a bit expensive in French Polynesia. It is on par with dining out in New York, Los Angeles or Honolulu. If you are trying to stick to a preferred travel budget, regardless of how much you plan to spend, the cost of dining in French Polynesia should be considered in your travel and vacation planning.
When you think of Bora Bora and The Islands of Tahiti, you think of crystal clear water, serene beaches, overwater bungalows, and gorgeous sunsets. You can easily picture yourself in ultimate relaxation mode, getting away from your day-to-day stresses and worries. Although this image is attainable, the fact is that 60% of Americans admit to not being able to unplug while on vacation; now with all of the new capabilities of remote work, this task may be even harder. To truly enjoy all that Tahiti has to offer, here are some tips to get everything in order at home before your trip, so you can relax and unwind for your entire vacation.
The spa is beautiful, we had a great couples massage! ...the excursions are amazing & the best snorkeling channel around! Its worth every penny you spend and an experience of a life time! The sunsets are the best you will ever see! We used VENTURE TAHITI in Boca Raton, Florida to book our trip and it went off without a hitch. They did an excellent job and I highly recommend them!
The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort is absolutely incredible. There are no words to describe the beauty of Tahiti and the staff there was wonderful. I cannot thank Venture Tahiti enough for helping us book the most incredible experience of our lives!! We plan on bringing our children there very soon!
Resorts were great, service was excellent! Would go back to both hotels in a minute. John did an outstanding job with us, answered all of our questions and the itinerary went off without a hitch. Would highly recommend you and already have to our friends.