There is a chance I may never scuba dive again. Because then I will be able to say “the last time I dove was in Bora Bora.” And really, with a drift snorkel jammed with vibrant coral and exotic fish directly next to Le Taha’a Resort, I have one less reason to don a scuba tank. (And one more excuse to visit this property again). For the record, we didn’t sleep at Le Tahaa, but I was given an extensive tour of the rooms, the pool and spa while also experiencing a spectacular lunch. I’d heard many mutterings about the Relais & Chateau – operated property on Taha’a, but had no idea how blown away I would be at the vistas and service until I approached the small French Polynesian island in the resort’s private shuttle.
After a 35-minute pre-arranged journey from Raitea airport, we began to pass quaint buildings including a majestic yet simple chapel. Taha’a is part of the Society Islands, and shares a lagoon with the much larger island of Raitea. From the channel, you can catch a glimpse of Bora Bora in the background. We arrived at the Tahaa dock and were presented with handmade leis. I had never smelled the Tiare flower in life – only in expensive perfumes. It was a scent I would become familiar with as I strolled the grounds, and it is so delicate that I would have done anything imaginable to preserve my necklace for days! The entire grounds were covered in flowers and old trees – a priority of the resort’s owners.
Le Taha’a Over-Water Bungalows and Rooms
Le Tahaa is probably most famous for its over-water bungalows. This class of luxury-style room is becoming more and more common on ‘bucket lists’ across the globe, and along the lines of other resort attributes, these bungalows are constructed with materials native to the land. The 57 villas and rooms are all unique, and many incorporate carvings representing philosophies central to French Polynesian culture. The resort offers 45 Overwater Suites, 10 Beach Villas and 2 Royal Beach Villas.
Each unit is covered with thatched pandanus roofs with walls of bamboo, exotic wood furniture. Bathrooms are tiled with stones and corals, and decor elements include Marquesan “tapa” cloths and woven coconut “nape” ropes.
The over-water bungalows are constructed in the same fashion as the rooms on the mainland, but are interconnected with a walkway. The further away from the mainland, the more expensive the room. Taha’a offers more family-friendly options as well, such as this villa below equipped with a separate room, outdoor tub and pool adjacent to the beach. I loved the outdoor hand-carved signs sporting the name of the family occupying the villa. Umbrellas are supplied beside each door in case of tropical showers.
One of my favourite touches was the sign to say either ‘do not disturb’ or ‘maid service’ for outside each door. The circular middle section is hand carved and the guests can rotate it with the appropriate message.
Le Taha’a Pool
It’s a tad difficult to figure out where the pool ends and the ocean begins as the turquoise colours are so similar. Ocean sports like kayaking were readily available, and as I mentioned earlier – the drift snorkel next to the Island was the best experience I had ever had snorkeling. One should bring water shoes and follow a guide to the entrance so as not to damage the coral.
I did not receive any treatments here, and yet I did purchase the branded products to use at home. The spa is tucked in a corner of the resort that resembles an exotic garden, and “Monoi”, the sacred traditional Polynesian oil infused from coconuts and flowers is used for most treatments. Simply entering the building was relaxing as the smell washed over me.
Food at Le Taha’a
There are three restaurants and one bar at the resort, and the food was shockingly good. I usually find that on small islands in the middle of the ocean where staples are very expensive, the food is never as delectable as in more accessible areas. This was our first day in French Polynesia, and besides the Four Seasons Bora Bora, Le Taha’a ranked high for both taste and presentation.
Le Vanille is the main restaurant and is located high in the treetops overlooking the pool and over-water bungalows. Taha’a island (translated into ‘moto’) is famous for vanilla plantations, and you can purchase beans and powder in the gift shop. We ate at Le Plage, directly beside the pool area, and the salad, fish and carpaccio below were all served with obviously incredible presentation. Of course, the ice cream was the big hit with our two boys!
When I am lucky enough to be in the south pacific once again, Le Taha’a is certainly going to be included. But next time, I will be able to share the over-water SLEEPING experience!