Slice of Heaven

Global Traveler|June 2020

Slice of Heaven
Find your personal paradise in the islands of the South Pacific.
KELLY MAGYARICS

PLANNING A VACATION TO FRENCH POLYNESIA, the Cook Islands or Fiji? Lucky you! While you really can’t go wrong with any of these exotic locales that beckon with white-sand beaches, mornings spent listening to soothing water lapping your bungalow, and immersion excursions with some of the world’s most amazing flora and fauna, not all islands are created equally.

THE DOUBLY-NAMED ISLAND of Bora Bora in French Polynesia is a euphemism for any far-flung, romantic spot that seems out of reach, but Air Tahiti Nui actually makes it easily accessible with an eight-hour flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Papeete (PPT). It’s just a short flight from there to your temporary home in paradise. Because a protective lagoon and barrier reef surround Bora Bora, dreamy overwater bungalows prove the accommodation of choice here.

The recently refreshed 90 beach and overwater bungalows at The St. Regis Bora Bora are among the largest in French Polynesia. All feature air-conditioning, with separate bedroom and lounge areas, glass-paneled coffee tables to spot colorful fish, sunken bathtubs and open-concept tiled rain showers; outdoor decks include lounge and dining furniture, and some also have outdoor showers and plunge pools or jetted tubs. The legendary St. Regis Butler Service fulfills requests large and small, from pressing garments to booking excursions to buggy rides around the sprawling property; the resort sits on 44 acres and boasts stunning views of iconic Mount Otemanu.

Start the morning beachside with breakfast and a Bora Mary at Te Pahu before taking a jaunt on a jet ski, or snorkel in the private Lagoonarium, a protected underwater sanctuary for tropical fish and coral. Book a Polynesian massage at Miri Miri Spa by Clarins, which uses monoi oil and Tahitian medicinal plants and techniques for the ultimate in relaxation. Then head to a table à deux at the signature Lagoon Restaurant by Jean-Georges for locally caught uravena fish with passion fruit and Thai chilis or crusted ahi with citrus — all while spotting black-tipped and nurse sharks. A water shuttle takes guests to the island’s main town of Vaitape, where they can catch a shuttle to the Tahitian Pearl Market for custom black pearl jewelry and unparalleled customer service, or the touristy but must-visit Bloody Mary’s for toes-in-the-sand grilled seafood and tropical tipples.

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June 2020