Planning A Tahiti Honeymoon
Thinking about your honeymoon in Tahiti / French Polynesia ?
Before shopping for your package, You would first need to set some requirements to fit this special trip to your expectations.
Dates, Budget, Specific resort, Island and activities. ( The Forum of trip Advisor is a great source of very fresh information and reviews about most of the hotels and services in FP.) I Suggest to read the various Tahiti forums about each potential island or resort or to acquire the excellent : Tahiti and French Polynesia Guide by Jan Prince (published at open roads publishing ) The Best seller book about Tahiti.
First decision is where to catch your flight?
Los Angeles and New York are the most commonly used gateways. A lesser known route within Hawaiian Airlines via Honolulu from their west coast gateways (San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, SFO, Portland and Seattle). The last option offers a free stopover in Honolulu (great for a Legal wedding on US Soil) before your honeymoon in French Polynesia. FYI, Tahitian Weddings are non binding. (Unless you stay more than 30 Days in FP and prepare a score of documentation that would discourage Romeo and Juliet to get married there hence my first suggestion). The Schedules are such that a stop on the island of Tahiti is a must a the beginning or the end of your trip.
The choice for the island is important to match especially the more careful budget. During the high season, a ticket to Bora Bora from Tahiti cost around $ 400 per person. A ferry ride to Moorea cost $ 20. The same goes for an Air Pass with or without Bora Bora where the cost varies by $150 per person.
Moorea offers the best range of accommodations, restaurants, shopping and activities.
A Budget minded young couple might want to consider a 5 nights stay in a smaller property by the beach in a bungalow with cooking facility ( great way to save on your food cost ) at the Linareva (www.linareva.com ) in a Beach Studio and finish the trip for 2 nights in a Premium Horizon Over water Bungalow at the Sheraton Moorea Lagoon resort.
Another option is to consider a stay at the Pearl resort on Moorea. Located near the village of Maharepa, this property offers the easiest access to shops, restaurants, a great little bakery with a terrace to enjoy your fresh croissant and coffee among the local population. For Lunch, a stop at the Rotisserie chicken Van would provide the best picnic on the beach and all at a great value for your money.
The question of the meal plan often comes during the preparation of a trip. I personally do not encourage my guests to purchase it since you are not getting value for the money, just convenience. On the days where the sea food buffet appears, so does the Maitre D' with the check for the supplement for that dinner. In the other hand, let say that you are not too hungry ,the hotel will not refund the said prepaid meal.... So Pay As you go. Sandwich one day, Lobster the second and voila you already have saved some money. Check the a la carte items carefully. a recent visit to a resort proved the point: we purchased 2 cappuccini and a basket of croissant for $ 18. The 2 American Breakfast buffet would have cost $ 60. Last for Moorea, what if you could afford 2 weeks in Paradise in your own villa instead of 1 week in a resort? Try www.farehamara.com.
Fly to the sister island of Raiatea, then take a 20 minutes boat ride to Taha'a. The 2 resorts mentioned below offer the best full panorama view of Mount Otemanu (the volcano of Bora Bora) Located towards the west ( did you say incredible sunset photos? )
For the properties, 2 main choices come to mind:
Vahine island. the best kept secret there. only 9 bungalows on a smaller island. the hotel is located on the outer coral reef that surrounds the island of Taha'a. 6 Beach Bungalows and suites and 3 over water bungalow. The hotel offers the best long stay discount (especially off season). The cure for the "Anti-resorts" guests. Great cuisine and plenty of places to walk to and forget about the rest of the world. This is the home of the civilized Robinson Crusoe.
Le Taha'a private Island and Spa. This property has single handedly put Taha'a on the international map. This is a larger property spread around a great Lagoon. they offer 2 categories of rooms, Beach Suites with a private mini plunge pool and Over water suites that comes in 4 different categories of prices according to the view offered. For the Food lovers, the hotel has one of my 2 favorite restaurants in FP the Ohiri. The signature Foie gras with Vanilla is a must. You would find me there before sunset walking past the bungalow 49 towards the end of the property to a closed off beach that has the million dollar view of the sunset behind Bora Bora. Great water activities ( especially snorkeling in the coral garden. The activity desk is also very creative there.
You would find there a more pristine French Polynesia. mountains with pine trees and cows with turquoise bays and lagoons.
The Te Tiare Resort awaits. The trip there is a bit of an adventure set in the most incredible decor. Transfer from the airport by minibus to the pier, boat to the resort. Until the arrival of the newest properties on Bora Bora, The Te Tiare boasted among the largest Over water bungalows in French Polynesia. Great gardens with Banana trees, traveler trees and tropical flowers. Incredible views at sunset of Raiatea and Taha'a. This property is also among the most generous for their Long stay policy.
Huahine offers a score of more budget minded properties like the Relais Mahana and Pension Mauarii both located on the best beach of Huahine.
The Tuamotu's Archipelago: ( Rangiroa, Tikehau, Manihi, Fakarava,...)
Located about an hour due North east of Tahiti, these atolls offer a different scenery than the rest of FP. Among the most incredible clear turquoise waters on earth, 100 yards visibility under water, great marine life ( Dolphins, Sharks, Manta Rays and in Season Humpback whales). The lack of mountains also allows for the weather if any to pass quickly. You will find also there among the most varied and colorful palette of colors of sands ( White, yellow, pink).
Rangiroa: The Kia Ora and Kia Ora Sauvage awaits.
Kia Ora is the " main-Land" property, resort like with a great variety of categories of rooms, bungalows and villas. Great access to the best dive clubs..
The Kia Ora Sauvage. located across the Lagoon, you will find there 5 bungalows on a small Motu . The closest to be stranded on the proverbial island in the South pacific. No electricity... just a Million of stars above your head. Great service offered by the Tahitian couple there.
The Haumana Cruises. this is a recent entry in the Rangiroa scene. only 18 cabins are available on this Catamaran Yacht. Best Local Welcome and most creative activities and sorties for the 3-4 or seven day cruise (a great add on to a land package). Wonderful cuisine aboard and so sailing on the turquoise crystal waters.
The Pearl resorts of Tikehau and Manihi.
Lesser known islands, great value for these 2 smaller properties. True Tahitian flavor in the architecture and cuisine. a Must see away from the larger resorts. Better value comparing over water bungalows at the Pearl Tikehau where the suites are huge and at the fraction of the cost of the similar properties on Bora Bora.
Fakarava, the Pension Raimiti ( www.raimiti.com ).
A recent visit to the sister property of the Linareva of Moorea offered the true escape from the modern world. an hour and a half away by boat from the airport, located between the ocean, the lagoon and the bluest sky. Simple yet comfortable, Great cuisine, superb locations for the excursions : pink sand beach walks, drift snorkeling with visits to Jojo, the 3 ft long Napoleon fish. Fishing, Kayaking and walks under the canopy of stars. Pure Island Bliss. I have taken my absolute best photos there.
Bora Bora, the crown jewel of French Polynesia.
I have placed it at the bottom of the list to let you contemplate the other options first.
Bora Bora offer the largest selection of Hotels (14+ and still building) . Most of the hotels are located on the outer coral reef that offer incredible views of the volcano. The down side is the commute time by boat to go to the mainland to dine out or shop by example. Each property offers one thing that would make it your choice (Size, Spa, Dive center, restaurant, Lagoonarium, Beach, Butler service, Entertainment system in the room, cappuccino machine, Pool on the deck of your over water bungalow or the fifteen thousand Dollar per night Villa)
Many guests choose to return to the classic Hotel Bora Bora for the smaller size, incredible beach on 3 sides of the property with hammocks waiting for you. The hotel offers some wonderful old growth plants and trees on the grounds. Make sure to say Hi to the Manta rays at the pontoon at night feeding on the plankton attracted by the underwater lights.
The hotel is a few minutes away for my other absolute favorite restaurant in French Polynesia "The Villa Mahana. booked up 4 month in advance, this 1 man show / 5 tables villa is the absolute must top at property. Try also the coffee shop by the road for your Cappuccino with Tahitian Vanilla fix while riding your bicycle.
The Bora Bora Cruises. Another Yachting ( better than cruising ) experience on these twin 30 cabin yachts. Full 5 * service, sailing between Bora Bora, Taha'a, Raiatea and Huahine . This Cruise also offers some great activities like dining in the Lagoon ( tables and chairs are set in the 84 degree waters, watch the movie 'Tabu" under the stars on a private island etc,.... The initial cost should not deter you once you consider that all the meals and activities are included ( should you compare with a land only package in an over water Bungalow, the transfers and all the meals.
The Marquesas Archipelago:
Located 3 hours from Tahiti by air, or better yet best enjoyed aboard the mix freighter /cruise liner ARANUI cruises ( www.aranui.com ) these Islands will offer a wilder scenery there. This option offers a 14 day cruise with 2 stops in the Tuamotu's island on the way and return + to participate to the life of the island at each of the stops. I recommend this destination more for the adventurous traveller who wants to follow the steps of Paul Gauguin or Jacques Brel.
Cruising around French Polynesia.
Princess, Regent lines and soon Star clipper lines offer packages with all the meals included and a guaranteed daily change of scenery. a quick choice option for a first time visitor. A little bit out of touch though to the island life per say.
You know what you would like now, where to book?
I would first try to locate your local Tahiti specialist ( visit the Tahiti Tourism Board website to find the complete listing ) Any agent own experience is worth a lot in the preparation of any trip compared with just opening any brochure for the cheapest package. Value for your money is what you are looking for. The Local service for your convenience