Bora Bora has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember… I mean, who hasn’t dreamed of those overwater huts and clear-blue waters?! So when I started thinking about our impending 25th wedding anniversary, and a trip fitting of such a celebration, it popped in my head as an option.
But still I was wary… was it truly worth the cost and travel time?!? I polled y’all on my Instagram Story, and of those of you who’ve been (a surprising number, actually!) the response was an overwhelming YEEEESSSSSS!!
So I dug a little further, and surprise-surprise, discovered Tahiti is only 7.5 hours from Los Angeles! And while Bora Bora is the most popular (and expensive) island in French Polynesia, there are actually over 100 inhabited islands totaling 1600 square miles, with its five archipelagos totaling basically the size of Europe! And the more I dug, the more of those islands I wanted to visit!
We decided it was too far for just 4-5 nights, but there was just too much to see to stay in one place for any longer… so we split the trip up into two islands, each with their own personality, but fairly accessible to each other. Our first stop, Le Taha’a Resort, was a secluded paradise surrounded by turquoise waters and lush landscapes, just off the coast of the sleepy island of Taha’a.
Getting to Le Taha’a Resort, French Polynesia //
Papeete, Tahiti (PPT) is the only international airport in French Polynesia, so all flights first arrive there. We flew American Airlines from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Los Angeles (LAX), then Air Tahiti Nui from LAX to PPT (allow ample connection time, as the walk to LAX International terminal is 30-45 minutes).
Many of the flights from the US arrive too late to catch the smaller connecting flights to neighboring islands, so an overnight in Papeete is required. We arrived around 10pm, grabbed a 5-minute taxi to the Hilton Hotel Tahiti, a beautiful, beachside spot with comfortable beds, a huge breakfast buffet, and easy proximity to the airport. It actually allowed us to get a great night’s sleep, and we woke up feeling rested and ready for our anniversary adventure!
The next morning, we took the first flight on Air Tahiti from Papeete to Raiatea (about 45 minutes), and were greeted with warm smiles and gorgeous flower crowns and leis. From there, it’s a 30-minute boat transfer to Le Taha’a Resort (arranged by the hotel).
Sugarplum Travel Tip: You could spend a few days in Papeete, but from what we saw, the other islands are more worthy of your time, so our preference was to use it as a quick stopover either on your way in or out of the country (depending on the flight schedules).
the boat transfer from Raiatea Airport to Le Taha’a Resort
Taha’a is a tiny island with a population of only 5200, and is more of an untouched Polynesian experience compared to neighboring Bora Bora, with fewer visitors, less commercialization, and only a handful of resorts. It’s known as ‘The Vanilla Island,’ as they produce 80% off all Tahitian vanilla, and you’ll find the fragrant spice used everywhere from the cooking to bath products… the scent is more subtle than the vanilla we’re used to, and absolutely heavenly!
Boating up to the shores of Le Taha’a Resort was like entering a postcard-perfect paradise, leaving both of us speechless for most of the arrival and check-in process! We were immediately charmed by the rustic island vibes and authentic Polynesian flair.
Le Taha’a Resort // The Property
Le Taha’a Resort is fully-Polynesian owned, and located on a private islet and lagoon, with the lush shores of Taha’a on one side and the majestic silhouette of Bora Bora on the other. The waters that surround the property are crystal clear and calm, and never more than chest-deep.
The intimate resort offers 58 beachside suites and overwater villas, inspired by traditional Polynesian architecture and style. There is also a beach-side pool and bar, several outdoor restaurants, and a lovely spa. Kayaks, paddle boards, and snorkel gear are all available for guests, as well as a fitness center and tennis court.
Our favorite was the on-site coral garden, with some of the best snorkeling we’ve ever experienced! Simply walk across the lagoon, pop on your mask, and prepare to be amazed!
Sugarplum Travel Tip: The hotel had a range of specials when we booked, including free breakfast and free nights! We booked through my friend Elevate Travel for the most perks.
Le Taha’a Resort // The Rooms
We stayed in one of the overwater bungalows, with a spacious bedroom and bathroom and incredible views of Taha’a. It also had a private deck with direct access to the lagoon, where we spent hours floating and staring down at the fish, stingrays, and occasional sharks that swam by. It’s also an incredible spot to watch the cotton-candy sunrises and spot afternoon rainbows. Truly magical!
Room amenities include a Nespresso machine, daily-stocked mini-fridge, heavenly vanilla bath products, beach tote and refillable water bottles. Filtered water and ice stations are scattered throughout the property, and the resort is extremely committed to sustainability and preserving the beauty of French Polynesia.
The rooms are more rustic than the sleek resorts on Bora Bora, but we thought that added to the authentic charm. Le Taha’a Resort is also fully-Polynesian owned, and it’s evident in the staff they are proud of their property and island. I’ve never experienced happier people!
Sugarplum Travel Tip: We loved the privacy of the ‘end of pontoon’ bungalow, but the ‘sunset bungalows’ had longer hours of sunshine and incredible views of the sunset. The beachside villas with pools were amazing, too… if we were to return, I’d split my nights between an overwater bungalow and beachside villa.
Le Taha’a Resort // The Activities
The views and setting of the resort are so insanely picturesque, we honestly spent much of our time simply staring out over the lagoon! There’s also a beach-side pool, a lovely spa, fitness center, hiking trail, tennis court, as well as kayaks, paddle boards, and snorkel gear all available for guests! Not to mention, a beautiful coral garden with a soft, natural current for incredible on-site snorkeling.
There’s also an activities and concierge desk for booking a range of off-site activities and adventures… we opted for the Lagoon Snorkel Tour, and it was definitely a highlight of our time in Taha’a! The sweet family took us to snorkel with 12-foot mantarays, stingrays, and black-tip reef sharks (not scary at all!). Then we boated to a large reef on the edge of the lagoon, where we snorkeled through narrow, and sometimes shallow, canals of the brightest, most colorful coral and schools of fish. It was equal parts amazing and nerve-wracking (I get a little claustrophobic though).
The hotel also offers hourly free shuttles to and from the main island of Taha’a.
Le Taha’a Resort // The Food
The hotel has three on-site restaurants, and a pool/beach side bar, all covered but open-air, as well as room service. Everything we ate was incredibly good, and the best food we had in French Polynesia.
Hawaiki Nui is the main restaurant, open for breakfast and dinner, and set high among the trees with amazing views of the lagoon and lush gardens. The daily breakfast buffet has just about everything you can think of, from fresh juices and local delicacies, to French pastries and all the breakfast classics. We also had a delicious dinner here, and loved the live Polynesian show with music, authentic dancing, and a fire show.
The Tipairua Restaurant is the resort’s gourmet dining option, with creative French-Polynesian fusion cuisine in a cozy, romantic setting. Worth noting, the fixed menu is a lot of food!
Titiraina is a toes-in-the-sand spot, directly on the beach, that’s a great option for a hearty lunch or afternoon snack. The nearby beach bar has afternoon snacks you can enjoy on the beach or by the pool.
Sugarplum Travel Tip: We booked through Elevate Travel and received a complimentary upgrade, along with free daily breakfast!
Le Taha’a Resort // The Rest
Le Taha’a Resort is a member of Relais & Chateaux, a group of unique hotels around the world, owned and operated by independent entrepreneurs, most often families, who are passionate about culinary and hospitality traditions, and deeply committed to forging warm, lasting relationships with their guests. It’s a difference you’ll notice and feel!
Taha’a is definitely lesser known, so it’s incredibly quiet with very few tourists… most of which are Europeans. (Unlike Bora Bora which was mostly Americans.)
French Polynesia is a collectivity of France, so while most people speak English, everyone speaks French (and Polynesian). Their currency is also the CFP, and all prices are quoted in Francs (which is shocking at first, given the amount of zeros!). Everything at the resort is charged to the room, and paid with a credit card, so no cash or converting was necessary.
It’s located in the South Pacific, so the weather is similar to Hawaii… with cooler temps and constant trade winds. The sun is warm and intense, but we never felt hot! The water is also surprisingly refreshing considering how shallow it is!
We traveled in June, and were surprised the sun set by 5-5:3pm, and it was pitch dark by 6pm, which made the days feel fairly short! But with literally nothing for miles around, the stargazing is unmatched. Thanks to the 5-hour time change, we were often asleep by 9pm, and up by 6am for the glorious sunrises.
We absolutely loved our stay at Le Taha’a Resort, and would highly recommend it! The proximity to both Papeete and Bora Bora makes it perfect for combining with other islands as well. It’s luxurious without pretension, and has a special spirit that’s hard to leave… even for Bora Bora, which was our next stop on our 25th anniversary trip. I’ll share all the scoop on that soon!
I hope this Trip Report has been helpful and inspired your own travels! Let me know if you have additional questions in the comments!