Bora Bora and Moorea with children
Once upon a time, Tahiti was the ultimate couples’ paradise, but now one of the world’s most romantic destinations is also family friendly. It is not just honeymooners but mum, dad and the kids you’ll see strolling hand in hand along a perfect beach.
Platinum blonde beaches, turquoise blue lagoons, over water bures; these all sound like a dream setting for a lovers’ liaison. These days however, families who visit Tahiti are feeling the love too, because the paradise islands are turning on the child-friendly chic. We visit two resorts which cater for children in true five star style.
FOUR SEASONS RESORT BORA BORA
Turquoise water dominated by a dramatic view of volcanoes, sun baking on the beach, drinking cocktails at sunset from your overwater bure and fine dining combined with Polynesian culture: Bora Bora is the perfect place for a holiday.
From the moment your plane flies over the coral atolls set in an azure sea to the clinking of champagne glasses on your bure deck, you know you’re in paradise.
The five star Four Seasons resort is set on 22 hectares of tropical gardens on Bora Bora’s surrounding coral atoll. It has a main beach with smaller lagoons, creating secluded private beaches.
You can choose from one of 100 overwater, thatch-roofed bungalows and bures, or seven spacious beachfront villas, with interior design inspired by traditional artwork and the island’s natural beauty. The textile patterns used in the rooms’ design were derived from traditional body tattoos; while the walls, light fixtures and original art are inspired by mother of pearl.
" From the moment your plane flies over the coral atolls to the clinking of champagne glasses on your bure deck, you know you’re in paradise. "
The children won’t be bored at Four Seasons, with a Kids for All Seasons clubhouse including a splash pad for those aged five to 12. For older kids there’s Chill Island, a private beach and coral lagoon with a clubhouse, cultural activities, volleyball and water sports.With the resort’s strong connection to the island community, local guides are available for many excursions. The resort’s marine biologist takes kids on snorkelling sessions or exploring the Lagoon Sanctuary as part of its ‘adopt a coral’ program. There’s also fishing, hermit crab hunts and races, team sports, island-style fashion shows, limbo contests, pareo painting and activities relating to other aspects of Polynesian culture.With all these activities, there’s plenty of time for parents to use the secluded spa featuring open-air treatment decks amid the kahaia trees.The resort also has four restaurants, offering private oceanside dinners or traditional Tahitian feasts.
HILTON MOOREA LAGOON RESORT AND SPA
If you’re looking to immerse your kids in a tropical island experience replete with incredible marine adventures and jaw-dropping scenery, it’s hard to beat a few memorable days on Moorea, just a half-hour ferry trip from Papeete, Tahiti.
At Moorea’s ferry terminal we pick up a hire car and set off around the island’s spectacular coastline with our wide-eyed seven-year-old son, Luca, in the back. It’s an easy 25-minute drive around stunning bays overlooked by jagged volcanic peaks, past neatly painted churches and fragrant frangipani trees on the way to our destination, the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa. Set among manicured gardens fronting a translucent turquoise lagoon between Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay, the resort has a choice of spacious garden bungalows with plunge pools and private decks or overwater bungalows built on stilts and connected by wooden walkways.
On our first afternoon we borrow snorkel gear and head straight for the lagoon directly in front of the hotel for hours of aquatic exploration among clusters of coral teeming with tropical fish. We top it off with games of hide-and-seek in the hotel’s enormous pool before heading back to the room to prepare for the night’s Polynesian feast followed by a spectacular fire dance show.
Next morning, after an indulgent buffet breakfast, we make our way to the pier where our tour guide, Tom, is waiting to whisk our small group across the lagoon by speedboat for a picnic lunch on a motu (island). Halfway there, we drop anchor on a sandbank where half a dozen other boats have congregated. Tourists stand in the water or peer overboard as dark, winged shapes move around the ocean floor and reef sharks patrol the perimeters.
Following Tom’s lead we pull on our fins and snorkel gear and slip into the waist-deep water. Almost immediately I feel the gentle caress of a metre-wide stingray as its wing grazes my leg; I peer through my goggles and watch it gracefully glide past.
Back on board, we zoom off to our motu and enjoy the delicious picnic lunch prepared by our tour guide, followed by more snorkelling and another visit from a tame stingray that beaches itself obediently at our feet.
The next day, we experienced another aquatic encounter. At the Moorea Dolphin Centre, Luca gets to plant a kiss on a dolphin’s wet beak. It’s another experience on Moorea that he’ll never forget.
Fly: Air Tahiti Nui www.airtahitinui.com.au
• Air Tahiti www.airtahiti.com
Stay: Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora www.fourseasons.com/BoraBora
• Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa www.hilton.com/Moorea-Lagoon
Five star facts
CHILDREN & OVERWATER BURES:
- Bures have no age restriction, but you need to be at least 14 to stay in a separate room
- Outside decks can be baby-proofed
- It’s fun to watch fish through the glass panels
- Diving off bures can be dangerous if kids are not strong swimmers
- Keep the noise down for the sake of other guests
This article appeared originally in Signature Luxury Travel & Style magazine.