Best Beach Hotels in French Polynesia

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French Polynesia, a group of nearly 120 tropical islands and atolls in the South Pacific, is known for its otherworldly beauty. Paradise-like beaches are practically a given in the Oceanic region, but these seven oceanside hotels occupy especially spectacular stretches of shoreline -- and offer such features as overwater hammocks, sheltered lagoons, free paddleboarding and kayaking, daily stingray feedings, and scientist-led excursions to view marine life on surrounding islands. Discover the best beach hotels in Tahiti and Bora Bora, in French Polynesia.

  1. Once a favored retreat for Tahitian royalty, Tetiaroa Island, the private-island home of this stylish resort, was discovered by Marlon Brando while filming "Mutiny on the Bounty." The namesake actor purchased the island in 1967, with hopes of someday creating a sustainable luxury resort that also harbored a scientific research center. Opened in 2014, the Brando delivers on the actor's vision on all levels. The intimate, all-inclusive resort blends into its surroundings and operates with the highest level of sustainable practices. Villas are cooled by seawater, vegetables are grown on site, and there is a state-of-the-art research center where guests can engage in lectures or participate in excursions with scientists to view birdlife and marine life on the surrounding small islands. Each of the 35 private villas features a small plunge pool and a path that leads to a private stretch of immaculately raked white-sand beach. The calm waters of the sheltered lagoon allow guests to explore the crystalline water via paddleboards or outrigger canoes. 

  2. The five-pearl Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora is the only resort in Bora Bora where families, honeymooners, and friend groups all manage to peacefully coexist, and it’s not hard to see why. The resort’s 115 overwater and beachfront bungalows are beautifully appointed with luxe Polynesian decor, and standard rooms can accommodate up to four people thanks to a pullout couch. Features are impressive here as well. The resort is home to a stunning infinity pool, a beautiful beach and protected lagoon, a top-notch spa and workout facility, and four on-site restaurants. Just beyond the stunning infinity pool is the resort’s main white-sand beach. Beach attendants consistently walk up and down the shoreline to help guests with beach chairs and towels. Though the beach is great for swimming, guests looking for superior snorkeling should head to the resort’s protected inner lagoon. Here guests can swim with an assortment of tropical fish and see local reef life. There’s also a small beach purely dedicated to water sports, where guests can try out kayaks, paddleboards, and the resort’s nifty water bicycles. 

  3. Like many of Bora Bora’s most luxurious resorts, the St. Regis is located on its own "motu," or tiny island. A few steps from the main pool (there are two: one with a swim-up bar and one for adults only) is the St. Regis’s beach, wide stretch of sand with lounge chairs, hammocks, and stunning views of Mt. Otemanu. At the beach, guests have access to free non-motorized water sports equipment, like Hobie Cats, paddleboards, kayaks, and pedal boats. Towels, sunscreen, and snorkel gear are also available for free at the adjacent beach hut. Guests looking for great snorkeling can head to the resort’s private lagoonarium -- a protected lagoon with dozens of tropical fish and coral species. The resort’s marine biologists host thrice-weekly feeding sessions where guests can learn more about the local aquatic life, and get up close and personal with the fishes. 

  4. Le Meridien Bora Bora was the first luxury hotel of its kind in the area when it opened in the late '90s. Since then, it has consistently remained one of Bora Bora’s most exclusive resorts, prized for its large, crescent-shaped beach with two sides, one facing the outer lagoon and Mt. Otemanu, and one facing the protected interior lagoon. The Meridien has free kayaks and paddleboards available for guests to use, as well as free snorkel gear for anyone who wants to check out the incredible marine life in the protected lagoon. What sets the Meridien apart is its on-site turtle sanctuary, where guests can visit rescued turtles and learn about the hotel’s efforts to rehabilitate them. 

  5. With 80 overwater bungalows and a world-renowned spa, the luxurious InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa is about as good as it gets in French Polynesia. Directly in front of the infinity pool is the main beach. It’s quite long and narrow, and can be a bit rocky along the shoreline, but the calm, crystal-clear water is perfect for snorkeling, paddleboarding, and kayaking -- the equipment for which can be rented for free at the pool hut. Umbrella-covered lounge chairs are scattered across the beach, along with large hammocks between the trees. One of the coolest things to do at the InterContinental’s beach is watching the daily stingray feeding. Every afternoon, hotel staff members bring buckets of fish into the water, and guests can watch as dozens of sting rays eagerly swim to the shore. The InterContinental also has its own protected lagoon, which is great for snorkeling and leisurely swimming. However the lagoon is much smaller than those at the InterContinental’s luxury competitors, and doesn’t have as much varied marine life. 

  6. Like other top Bora Bora resorts, Le Moana has gorgeous overwater bungalows, a beautiful beach, a nice pool, and a few quality restaurants. It doesn’t have a spa, a turtle sanctuary, a romance concierge, or its own protected lagoon -- but here, fewer amenities translates to fewer crowds, a quiet atmosphere, and plenty of privacy. Even at full capacity, the hotel never feels congested. Plus, as one of the only upscale resorts on Bora Bora’s main island, Le Moana is within walking distance of local shops and restaurants, and is next to Matira Beach, often considered one of the world’s most beautiful. The pool at the InterContinental Le Moana is small, but it has a sleek infinity edge with ocean views. A few steps away, the hotel’s large beach has soft white sand and calm waters that are perfect for snorkeling or kayaking. Luckily for guests, snorkel gear, kayaks, and other non-motorized water sports equipment like paddleboards and canoes are free to use. 

  7. The infinity pool and adjacent beach are the nicest features at the Sofitel, an upscale property on Bora Bora’s main island, and the most affordable option available in its category. The gorgeous pool overlooks the ocean, and has multiple alcoves for lounging and sunbathing. The pool is surrounded by a wooden deck with a few lounge chairs and umbrellas. Next to the pool, the resort’s beach stretches in long a crescent shape. There are a few plastic-slatted lounge chairs and picnic tables set up along the shore for guests to use, as well as a water-sports rental hut, where guests can rent kayaks, paddleboards and snorkel equipment. Marara Beach has calm, crystal clear water, but it can get crowded with guests. Matira Beach, one of Bora Bora’s most famous stretches of sand, is about a 15-minute walk from the hotel, and tends to be less crowded. 

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