The ocean scares me. Sand? No. Seaweed? Not ideal. Fish? Absolutely not. But there is something mystical about Bora Bora. So, despite my fears, I found myself diving headfirst into the crystal-clear waters of the Pacific, floating casually among schools of tropical fish, and paddle-boarding like a pro.
Best known for its sugar-white sand beaches, turquoise water, and brightly colored coral reef, the French Polynesian paradise is a perfect place to relax and disconnect. I recently spent a week at the Four Seasons Bora Bora, home to 108 overwater luxury bungalows with unmatched amenities and unobstructed ocean views.
Each bungalow comes with a private sundeck, dining area, outdoor shower, and dock for jumping directly into the crystal-clear waters. Guests seeking an even more luxurious stay (or those who prefer to look at the ocean versus swim in it) should splurge on one of the 27 bungalows that come with private plunge pools. For those traveling in larger groups or just seeking a bit more privacy, there are seven beachfront villas, ranging in size from one to three bedrooms.
Along with private beaches, a lagoon sanctuary, ultra-luxe spa, and an infinity-edge pool, the resort also offers four top-notch restaurants. Led by Executive Chef Eric Desbordes and his team, each venue offers a different culinary experience with equally impressive views. They range from the daily breakfast buffet at Tere Nui to the elegant Arii Moana, which offers Mediterranean-inspired dishes and overlooks the lagoon.
Have at least one meal (or three, like I did) at Vaimiti. With its Asian-inspired cuisine, curated cocktails, and a seemingly never-ending sake list, this venue feels more like a discovery found in the meatpacking district of Manhattan than the Tahitian island of Bora Bora.
Jamie O’Banion’s Travel Tips: Sunset Cruises and the World’s Best Beaches
The founder of skincare brand BeautyBio, Jamie O’Banion has traveled all around the globe. She says she’s found some of the most impressive beaches and crystal-clear, turquoise lagoons in Bora Bora. For dining, O’Banion is a big fan of the Lagoon Restaurant led by Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten at the St. Regis Bora Bora Resort. For accommodations, she favors the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, with its luxe amenities and private bungalows. And for a special treat, the beauty business exec highly recommends taking a sunset cruise to St. James. Restaurant-Bar. “It is the place to enjoy a fine French Polynesian fusion-style meal and cocktails in a romantic waterside ambiance,” she says.
And after lounging in one of the many beachside cabanas, stop in at Faré Hoa Beach Bar & Grill. The casual eatery a must for lunch or a post- excursion cocktail. It converts weekly into Fish House at Faré Hoa, showcasing the region’s freshly caught seafood. Digging your toes in the sand as you indulge on Mahi Mahi Fish and Mango Leche del Tigre is a blissful experience.
There’s no shortage of ways to relax at the resort, but for those seeking a bit more adventure, a wide variety of excursions are available. They range from a 360-degree WaveRunner island tour or a guided deep-sea fishing trip to a ray and shark feeding tour. There are also extensive dive programs and tours offered onsite; no surprise, as Bora Bora is a renowned diving destination.
Stop by the Four Seasons dive center to set up an adventure or even get certified. While you’re there, ask about the company’s partnership with WiseOceans, an organization focused on conserving the world’s oceans. Led by on-staff marine biologist Louise Sabadel, the resort offers guided lagoon snorkel tours, children’s programs, and even a chance to graft your own coral and return it to the lagoon sanctuary.
Those looking for a more terra firma experience can opt for a Land Rover guided history tour or a hike up Mount Pahia. And for self-care, don’t miss the Four Seasons’ full-service spa, which offers unique experiences like the Taurumi Mind and Body Ritual—a two-hour body scrub followed by a Polynesian massage, said to “restore balance and harmony in the mind and body.”
Whether you spend your time in the infinity-edge pool looking out at the ocean, lounging in one of the private cabanas, dining on delectable tropical treats, or enjoying one of the specialty massages, it’s time well spent. And who knows, maybe you, too, will find yourself fearlessly floating in open water. Manuia!