As of May 1, 2021 French Polynesia is re-opening to travelers. For updated information check out Tahiti Tourism’s Coronavirus COVID-19 – Travel Information.
Where to Stay in Tahiti
Booking that bucket list dream vacation to the Islands of Tahiti will be one of the best decisions of your life! Traveling throughout the 118 islands spanning five archipelagos is an escape to an idyllic tropical paradise unlike anywhere in the world. As you explore things to do in the Islands of Tahiti and stay up to date on how to travel to Tahiti during COVID-19 it’s important (and fun) to figure out the best places to stay in Tahiti. Thanks to my collaboration with Tahiti Tourism and Air Tahiti Nui here’s a list of options ranging from luxury to economy on four of the most popular islands – Bora Bora, Tikehau, Moorea and Tahiti. I personally stayed at 5 of the 17. The alternative options are recommendations from travelers and sources I trust.
When you close your eyes and think of the Islands of Tahiti, the image of overwater bungalows clustered in a half crescent formation above turquoise lagoon waters with Mount Otemanu in the background most likely comes to mind. This quintessential visual is Intercontinental Bora Bora Resort and Thalasso Spa. Located on the eastern side of Bora Bora on Motu Piti Aau, this resort delivers a paradiscal oasis of Polynesian luxury at its finest.
The moment I walked into my contemporary yet chic overwater villa, my jaw dropped to the floor. It stayed there until I had to leave! Each of the 84 villas made with local bamboo are extremely spacious. They include a 323-square-foot terrace, a glass-bottomed coffee table in the living room and a separate picture-window bedroom. With varying options on location and views, these upscale villas that feel like mini-homes easily make the list of best places to stay in Tahiti.
One of my stay highlights was swimming under a double rainbow over the lagoon directly from my villa deck. Magical memories to the max!
If I had to pick my favorite resort in the entire world over my 15+ years of travel (so far) it is Le Bora Bora by Pearl Resorts. This newly renovated resort combines the best of all worlds – A crystal clear lagoon of turquoise to royal blues. A pristine stretch of wide and white sandy beaches. Stunning views of Mount Otemanu from all over the property. A lush garden jungle of palm trees and lily-padded ponds. A pool and chic pool bar positioned as the bridge between resort dining facilities and natural beauty. What more can you ask for?! My definition of heaven on earth! For all of these reasons Le Bora Bora is on my list of best places to stay in Tahiti.
Le Bora Bora has 108 traditionally designed Polynesian rooms offering both overwater and garden villas. Both Lagoon and Otemanu overwater bungalows are 851-square-feet complete with tiki statue headboards (I’m obsessed with), a glass top coffee table at the foot of the bed and an en-suite bathroom.
By far the best feature of the bungalows is a glass door wall opposite the bed that can be opened to create a barrier-less unison between the inside and outside. From check-in to check out you’ll never want to shut it. From bed, I stared in awe of the live painting before me – a window into my tropical dreams that were actually my reality. At nighttime, the sound of the waves crashing all around lulled me to sleep.
Le Bora Bora also offers a wide variety of water excursions including kayaking, jet skiing and snorkeling. A favorite of mine is the sunset cruise on the Okeanos Pearl, a zero emission solar powered catamaran, exclusively at Le Bora Bora. During your stay, make sure to also attend a traditional Polynesian show on the beach.
Things to note about Bora Bora:
- You can do Bora Bora on more of a budget by staying ON the main island where rates will be cheaper. However, the best views are from OFF the main island which is why the overwater bungalows are so popular. If you stay on the mainland, make sure to splurge on a lagoon tour to still get those views or you might be disappointed in the Bora Bora “hype.”
- If budget is a significant concern, consider opting for more time on other islands such as Tikehau, Moorea, Tahaa or Rangiroa where you’ll get better value for your stay.
- When staying at resorts make sure to ask how much transfers will cost. Some resort transfers to Vaitape on Bora Bora are included or reasonably priced (ie: Le Bora Bora) but some may cost $150+ per transfer. Ask prior to booking unless you plan on staying at the resort the whole time. Also be prepared, food and alcohol prices are more expensive on Bora Bora.
If you’re looking for a traditional guesthouse experience, Relais Royal Tikehau is a great option on a private motu in Tike-wow-wow! Located just a 5-min boat ride from the airport, the staff of 4 greeted us upon arrival with singing, smiles, leis and fresh coconut juice. Their friendly welcome set the tone for their homey hospitality. The 4 staff members cooked all of our meals, provided nightly entertainment and attended to our logistical needs.
Relais Royal Tikehau is also one of the best places to stay in Tahiti because the property is a slice of paradise. With 11 bungalows located along the beach and lagoon, staying here often feels like an escape to your own private island. I was lucky enough to stay in bungalow number 7 (which I highly recommend) at the end of the beach. The white and pink sandy beaches outlined by palm trees along the neon turquoise waters are poster-worthy perfection.
My rustic bamboo room with a mosquito-netted bed screams of traditional Polynesian character. I loved the sound of the seashell chandelier clinking and clanking above my bed with the ocean breeze. With my doors open I relaxed to the sound of waves crashing. In the bathroom you’ll find clamshells nailed to the wall as an island-themed soap holder. No frills, no problem! Relais Royal Tikehau is also powered by solar panels and a wind turbine. The dining room and terrace next to the lagoon also offer an around-the-clock show of reef sharks and fish.
An inter-island flight to Bora Bora can cost up to $500 roundtrip. See more islands at the same cost (or less) by booking at Air Tahiti Pass. For under $600 the Bora Bora-Tuamotu Pass includes flights to Bora Bora, Moorea, Tikehau, Rangiroa, Raiatea, Huahine, and Maupiti. Such a steal!
Located on the west side of Moorea, the Moorea Beach Lodge is the perfect middle ground between a guesthouse and resort. Its 12 white-washed bungalows offer a modern yet cozy space, giving you privacy with class and style. The main lodge provides a community space for guests. Here a home-cooked breakfast is served daily in front of the lagoon and guests have access to a full-service kitchen to either cook meals themselves or hire a chef.
The lodge is located on a narrow stretch of sandy beach offering clear waters for swimming, snorkeling and (my favorite) kayaking, available free of charge. The first thing I did after checking into my bungalow was hop on a kayak and paddle to a nearby island.
The beach is also home to one of the coolest palm trees I’ve ever seen! No stay here is complete without snapping a photo of it to remember your time at one of the best places to stay in Tahiti.
Things to note about Moorea:
- You can fly (7-minute flight) or take the ferry (30 minutes dock to dock) to Moorea from main island Tahiti. I recommend the ferry because it’s cheaper and often just as fast when you factor airport travel times.
- Airbnb has a variety of homes listed on many islands that offer a unique experience at very good rates. Please note, many do not have AC and you should ask whether a mosquito net is needed or provided.
- On Moorea, Airbnbs and vacation rentals might require you to rent your own vehicle. Private transfers are an option, but more costly. Many hotels will organize a shuttle for you if you are staying nearby.
- Group Travel: Tahiti Homes is another option for best places to stay in Tahiti. The company offers good value for renting an entire house for a week or so in great locations on Moorea or Tahiti.
This family-owned property’s name means “look at the mountains, go back to your roots.” Hosts Hitinui and Aimata provide guests a welcoming escape to do just that. Staying here is an immersive cultural experience with locals that treat you as family.
The small town of Teahupoo instantly feels like home through their love. Hitinui and Aimata are beyond being gracious hosts and also talented cooks! Make sure to ask for poisson cru, the national dish of Tahiti including raw tuna, vegetables, coconut milk and lime. Experiencing Tahitian culture through the hospitality of locals is a memorable trip highlight.
A Hi’o To Mou’a is also one of the best places to stay in Tahiti because so much adventure is easily accessible from this Airbnb rental. I recommend spending an afternoon hiking in the jungle to a stunning waterfall. Make sure to hydrate with coconut water and watch out for wild horses roaming around.
The family owned property also sits in front of the famous Teahupoo reef break so it’s easy to access many water adventures. Snorkeling, boating, cliff jumping, watching surfers and epic sunsets are all great options.
The main island of Tahiti does have overwater bungalows at its finest hotels. But if money is a concern, it’s better to experience them on Moorea, Bora Bora, Tikehau or Tahaa since Tahiti doesn’t have any natural lagoons where the resorts are located. However, you can enjoy the black sand beach of Tahiti Pearl Beach Resort or the beach view villas at the InterContinental.