We have been lucky enough to visit not one but three of the French Polynesian islands! On our Round the World trip we wanted to visit as many of the islands of Polynesia as possible and we managed to visit Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea! If you are planning a once in a lifetime trip to Polynesia you may not have the opportunity or the inclination to visit all of these islands! But we are here to help you decide which island(s) is the right from for you by answer the question: Tahiti vs Bora Bora vs Moorea – which is better?
While it is hard to pick a winner in the battle of the island paradise titans of Tahiti vs Bora Bora vs Moorea it is, at least in my opinion, easier to pick a loser! For me Tahiti just doesn’t hold a candle to its more remote counter parts of Bora Bora and Moorea!
When you picture Tahiti, I don’t know about you but I have visions of a beautiful Paul Gauguin painting and a Paul Gauguin painting it ain’t – at least in the capital city Papeete! To be honest, Tahiti is actually more of a gateway island to French Polynesia rather than a destination in itself. It has a large port, both for international cruises, between island ferries and other vessels for import shipments! As with any industrial port there is a certain seediness around it! Papeete was somewhere that I don’t think I would have felt comfortable walking around on my own after dark and on one occasion when my husband went out he was propositioned many times!
However, it isn’t all bad! Tahiti is definitely the best island for shopping especially if you want to buy a famous Tahitian Pearl! It is also the island that has the most nightlife! We were traveling as a family so we didn’t experience this but it seems to be the general consensus.
Now I have told you the bad things about Tahiti namely Papeete, onto the good! Once you are outside of the city, the island does open up into a tropical island paradise. While we were on the island we stayed at the Intercontinental Tahiti Resort and Spa! The hotel was about a twenty minute taxi ride outside of Papeete and even closer to the international airport!
The hotel is absolutely stunning! The hotel is technically rated a 4 star hotel but definitely seemed more 5* than 4star in my opinion!
The main attraction of the hotel is that there is a large lagoon in the grounds. This salt water lagoon provides a great first snorkelling experience as the water is calm and shallow and filled with fish! On top of the lagoon there are also two beautiful infinity pools!
The hotel also boasts 25 hectares of tropical gardens which are perfect to stroll around! The extensiveness of the grounds also mean that you can also always find privacy!
On top of this, I have to give two giant thumbs up to the hotel restaurant! Open onto the grounds, the local cuisine and seafood on offer at the restaurant was some of the best food I ate while in French Polynesia!
For those wanting romance and a true Polynesian experience there are beautiful over water bungalows but for those more budget conscious the hotel also has garden view and lagoon view rooms!
If you are staying on Tahiti then we recommend the intercon as the best hotel on the island!
Overall opinion of Tahiti: It is the perfect place to spend the beginning or end of your vacation but don’t plan on this being the destination in itself! A night at either end is more than enough! And if you are staying there then there is really only one choice – The Intercontinental Tahiti Resort and Spa!
Bora Bora vs Moorea
Bora Bora vs Moorea – this is where the competition really starts to heat up! I have to say I loved both of these islands for totally different reasons, so here I am going to break down what we loved about both islands to help you make a more informed decision! While Bora Bora is definitely the more well known out of the two, you shouldn’t discount Moorea!
Bora Bora Vs Moorea Which is the Easiest to get to?
The options for getting to both of these islands are well established but completely different! For those on more of a budget, then Moorea is far easier to get to as it only takes one hour on the ferry to get from the main island of Tahiti to Moorea! Bora Bora on the other hand is a short but costly sea plane ride away!
Which has the best resorts Moorea Or Bora Bora?
As a more well known destination, it is not unsurprising that Bora Bora has a higher number of hotels and resorts! However if you are looking for luxury or overwater bungalows booth islands have something to offer!
Moorea has less choice, but as a result, there is a more obvious answer to the question – where is the best place to stay on Moorea. It is without doubt the beautiful Hilton Moorea!
The Hilton Moorea offers the sought after over water bungalows that are perfect for honeymooners and romance orientated travelers while those travelling with young children can opt for an in hotel room which also have beach access or private terraces and some have private plunge pools depending on the room type you opt for! For those travelling with children, please note the hotel does not have a kids club but does offer babysitting services and has a children’s menu at its restaurants!
One of the biggest appeals in my opinion about the Hilton Moorea is that I think it is actually one of the best value hotels in French Polynesia and is more moderately priced in comparison to its Bora Bora counterparts!
Bora Bora on the other hand has a greater range of resorts both on the island and just off the island. While Moorea does have overwater bungalows I think the most stunning overwater bungalows are in Bora Bora! Also while, in Moorea there really is only one main contender for the best hotel award, on Bora Bora there are a few contenders for this crown! The top three resorts on the island in our opinion are:
Four Seasons Bora Bora
The hotel has a combination of over-water bungalows and beachfront villas! Located on Point Matira in Bora Bora, voted ‘the best island in the world’ by U.S. News in 2012. The Motu Mute Airport is a mere 15-minute boat ride away. This resort is great for those wanting to snorkel as they do free guided snorkelling tours of the lagoon sanctuary.
The Conrad Bora Bora Nui
One of my all time favorite hotel chains! This hotel resort is a twenty minute boat transfer from the airport. One of the oldest over water bungalow accommodations in French Polynesia but its recent renovation means that it feels utterly up to date! They really have thought of everything during their renovations and if you are looking for utter modern luxury this is the place to go!
The St Regis Bora Bora
When I think of Bora Bora, this hotel is always the one that springs to mind having been the setting for the 2009 Vince Vaughn film Couples Retreat! The St Regis Bora Bora Resort is a 10-minute drive from Mont Otemanu and Mont Pahia or a 15-minute boat transfer from Bora Bora Airport. The hotel property boasts beach front villas as well as some of the mist stunning overwater bungalows where you can dive right into the ocean – the perfect accommodation for any honeymooner! ! The hotel has two pools, an unbelievable spa and beautiful beaches, gardens and terraces. For those travelling with kids there is a kids club available as well as a play area and on demand babysitting at an additional cost!
Interconinteal Le Moana
A beautiful resort, that is one of the cheaper luxury resorts on the island!
Which is the most romantic island aka is Bora Bora or Moorea better for honeymoons?
I think both islands are particularly romantic especially with the volume of over water bungalows but because of the range of accommodations Bora Bora probably just pips Moorea to the post! However I think the perfect honeymoon would include a combination of the two islands.
Is Moorea or Bora Bora more Family Friendly?
Again, both islands are great for children. As Moorea is easier to get off resort, this is great for families who love hiking and want to undertake activities outside of the resort. However the resorts on Bora Bora have more extensive children’s clubs and facilities. If travelling with children, you will have a great time on either island – it just depends what your family wants to get out of the visit!
What has the best activities Moorea or Bora Bora?
Resorts on both islands will offer in house excursions and actitivites such as kayaking, snorkeling, yoga etc. But for those eager to get out of the resort and see more of the island, then Moorea is more likely the island for you! It is much easier to grab a taxi on Moorea or organize an independent excursion to do kayaking, snorkeling, island tours etc.
Information about visiting French Polynesia
When to Visit French Polynesia
High season in French Polynesia is May – November! June and August tend to be the busiest but also have the most guaranteed perfect weather! November – April is counted as the humid season and while they do not have a hurricane season per se, when we visited in February there were frequent storms!
Have you been to French Polynesia? Where did you stay? Did you have a favorite island?