Families with children may feel out of place at many Polynesian luxury resorts, where the atmosphere is pin-drop quiet and overwhelmingly catered towards couples there to celebrate a honeymoon or landmark anniversary. On the other end of the spectrum are the many run-down hostel-like pensions that are better suited for solo travelers and budget backpackers. Luckily, these six hotels — ranging from a rustic three-room guesthouse to a world-class luxury resort — occupy a family-friendly middle ground. Check out our picks for the top kid-friendly hotels in French Polynesia.
Unlike many French Polynesia resorts, the Four Seasons Bora Bora caters to families with as much care as it does to couples. The one-, two-, and three-bedroom beach villas -- all of which have private pools, outdoor patios, and private beach access -- are popular with families who need space to sprawl. The resort is home to a stunning infinity pool, a beautiful beach and protected lagoon, a spa with special treatments for kids and teens, and four on-site restaurants. Plus, it has both kids' and teens' clubs, both with a host of daily activities, and both the best of their kind in Bora Bora. Freebies like Wi-Fi, non-motorized water sports, and snorkel gear are nice perks, but hardly outweigh the mighty costs of everything else at the Four Seasons.
Set along the black-sand shores of quiet Lafayette Beach, the upscale 91-room Tahiti Pearl Beach Resort (formerly the Radisson Plaza) caters to families, honeymooners, and pre- and post-cruisers. All of the rooms face the ocean and feature a simple Polynesian style and private balconies, as well as flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, and tea kettles. The water here is rough and not ideal for swimming, but a huge infinity-edge pool, regular aqua aerobics classes, Tahitian dance classes, live entertainment, and a kids' club help keep guests busy. The hotel's open-air, thatched-roof restaurant offers a variety of fresh seafood as well as basic burgers. While the hotel has undergone some sprucing up since it changed ownership, many areas are unkempt, run-down, and in need of renovation.
Though it's also suited for couples and solo travelers, the majority of Pension Au Phil du Temps' guests are families. Speaking of families, the owners of the charming three-room guesthouse, Muriel and Franck, welcome guests like members of their family, and treat them as such by personally escorting them on private excursions and preparing fantastic daily meals. Rooms have an authentic Polynesian feel, and are a bit on the rustic side (with no air-conditioning or TVs). But with bright local artwork, fresh smelling linens, and spotlessly clean bathrooms, rooms here are a far cry from many of the old, run-down pensions in Polynesia. You won’t find a better bang-for-your-buck spot on the tiny, quiet island of Taha’a.
Hotel Hibiscus is a solid value option for travelers seeking simple accommodations in Moorea. At this beachfront property, guests can choose to stay in authentic thatched-roof bungalows or air-conditioned rooms (family rooms have multiple beds). The former can be hot and buggy, while the latter tend to resemble college dorms. Either way, freebies like daily breakfast, parking, and fast Wi-Fi, and the location within walking distance of convenience stores and restaurants, make Hibiscus a formidable contender in its category. The beach isn’t the nicest, thanks to the strange concrete wall that runs across it, but there is a mid-size pool surrounded by lounge chairs; the pool here is typically crowded, likely due to the fact that the beach in front of the hotel is difficult to access.
The dated rooms at Bali Hai -- one of the oldest hotels on the island -- won’t win any interior decorating awards, but they’re fairly spacious and designed with families in mind. All have multiple beds, kitchenettes, and large balconies that overlook the otherworldly Cook’s Bay. The small beach is clearly man-made, but the water in the bay is crystal clear and full of marine life, and kayaks and snorkel gear are free. There is also a mid-size pool nearby. Each week, the hotel hosts a Polynesian night that’s free for all guests to attend. The evening consists of a local dance performance, followed by a seafood barbecue buffet at the on-site restaurant, Blue Pineapple. While dinner isn’t free, the performance is (a rarity in Polynesia), and the dance is often lauded as one of the best around. The hotel's storied history (it opened in 1962, and has been a Moorea institution ever since), stunning location, and affordable nightly rates continue to attract guests year after year.
One of the oldest hotels on Moorea, Hotel Kaveka is 25-room, three-pearl property on beautiful Cook’s Bay. Decor varies slightly from room to room at Hotel Kaveka, but all have Polynesian accents, mini-fridges, small flat-screen TVs, electronic safety deposit boxes, air-conditioning units, and small porches with wood Adirondack chairs. Family Bungalows have an extra bed, plus bathroom doors (other units have open bathrooms). There’s a small beachfront, and an on-site restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but otherwise there’s not much to do. However, Kaveka’s central location in Cook’s Bay means it’s easy to get out and explore the island.