With winter’s cold death grip around the collective throat of most North Americans, it’s time we start thinking about a mid-season escape. Some people take the easy route and book a trip to south Florida, hitting up Miami or the Keys; others opt for drier climes in Southern Arizona and California among the senior snowbirds; and still others go further afield for tropical beach vacations in Mexico or the Caribbean. For this year’s winter escape, allow us to suggest switching hemispheres entirely and run away from winter to the electric-blue paradise that is the South Pacific and Polynesia.
Thanks to newly announced direct flights from San Francisco to Tahiti via United Airlines (the only U.S. airline to do so), French Polynesia and its famously beautiful motu-ringed volcanic island, Bora Bora, are now less than 10 hours away from the West Coast. With crystal clear waters, healthy coral reefs, and more than a few luxury resorts, Bora Bora is the ultimate island destination for couples, relaxation seekers, and anyone with several thousand dollars, a spirit of adventure, and the good sense to take our advice and stay at the Conrad Bora Bora Nui Resort.
Nestled along the white-sand beaches in its own private cove on the southern edge of Motu To’opua, The Conrad Bora Bora Nui resort offers amazingly appointed overwater bungalows, garden-view suites, and private villas with infinity pools overhanging the seriously cerulean lagoon. Sweeping vistas showcase the central island and the jagged, lush Mount Otemanu soaring into the sky beyond.
Nature, privacy, solitude, and oustanding service abounds at Conrad Bora Bora Nui. The overwater bungalows feature indoor/outdoor design, utilizing wall-length sliding glass doors to open your room to the fresh South Pacific sea air while also affording expansive views of the lagoon, reefs, and the sandy motus in the distance. Simple wooden architecture, reflective of the native tropical trees of the island, surrounds large living and sleeping areas complete with flat-screen, hi-definition television; free high-speed Wi-Fi; and specialized concierge services. Bathrooms come equipped with soaker tubs, separate showers, granite counter tops, and luxury bath products.
When it comes to dining — whether it’s a fresh breakfast delivered directly to your bed thanks to 24-hour room service, a traditional omelette in Iriatai French Restaurant, lunch on the beach at Tamure Beach Grill, or dinner at the Canton and Fujian-inspired Banyan Chinese Restaurant — you won’t ever go hungry or be disappointed in the taste or preparation. In fact, you can even join one of the resort’s Stay Inspired Activities called Catch of the Day, in which you take part in a traditional Tahitian fishing experience. Learn how to bait a line and fish like a local with attentive instruction from a native Tahitian fisherman. If you’re lucky enough to make a catch, you can even clean and grill it right there for a perfect impromptu South Pacific repast.
Other great Stay Inspired Activities (organized according to length of activity in one-, three-, or five-hour periods) include the Beauty Below the Surface snorkeling excursion (which features a boat ride to a reef for snorkeling among the surprising healthy and beautiful corals and colorful fish of Polynesia) and a picnic on the previously mentioned private Motu Tapu (with chances to see manta rays, black tip reef sharks, and other tropical fish, along with dishes of scallops, poisson cru, and fruit salads and french breads). The Take Back the Ultimate Souvenir option offers a traditional Polynesian tattoo appointment where you can actually get tattooed using a boar-tusk comb and ink, making this a truly unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience. These excursions are an easy way to learn more about the culture, traditions, and history of French Polynesia, Tahiti, and Bora Bora. Because, what’s the point of traveling half-way across the world if your only goal is to get a tan? You can do that in Boca.
If all that activity wears you down, seek respite and restoration at the hilltop Hina spa for a fantastic Tahitian spa experience, composed of a traditional Polynesian deep-tissue massage in a quiet, al fresco treatment area with soul-achingly beautiful views of the lagoon and its gently lapping waters.
Now for the worst part about staying at the Conrad Bora Bora Nui: Having to leave such a relaxing, peaceful, and beautiful place.
Overwater bungalows at Conrad Bora Bora Nui start at just under $2,000 per night on average in May. If that’s a little bit of a budget buster for you, Lagoon View Suites (stationed on land) can be found for as low as $650 a night if you’re willing to sacrifice sleeping above the sea.