The summer months can be a popular time for weddings, so it stands to reason that it is also a popular time for honeymoons. Even though most brides are swamped with planning their actual wedding, many experts suggest researching and booking a honeymoon about six months out from the big day.
With this in mind, we thought now would be a good time to share some tips about French Polynesia: a destination that is often at the top of the wish list for many brides-to-be.
So if Tahiti, Bora Bora or Moorea are on your radar (for a honeymoon, destination wedding, or even a vacation), here is a brief rundown of some of the things you can see and experience as well as some cost saving tips that come from my own honeymoon experience to all three islands.
The largest island, Tahiti is typically the first stop for anyone traveling to French Polynesia – mostly because the capital of Papeete is home to the only international airport in the region. However Tahiti has much more to offer than just serving as a layover destination en route to somewhere else. The city of Papeete (which apparently means “water basket”) boasts numerous resorts as well as a vibrant downtown area packed with restaurants, markets and pearl shops. It also offers some fun nightlife.
- Consider a sunset fondue dinner at Le Belvedere. The restaurant resides on top of a mountain that has some amazing views of Papeete. And who doesn’t like a little fondue once in a while? (Note most of the local hotels can arrange this excursion for you and the meal comes with a complimentary shuttle to and from the restaurant).
Cost Saving Tips:
- Take the local bus from the airport to your hotel. Many hotels are situated directly on the bus route that takes you into the center of Papeete.
- Keep checking Fly.com for international flights to Papeete. We have seen airfare as low as $905 roundtrip, including taxes, but prices can climb up to almost $1,800 on peak dates.
Only a short trip from Papeete by (ferry or plane), Moorea is a particularly popular destination with honeymooners. It not only offers spectacular scenery and a slightly less touristy feel, but it can also be a little bit cheaper than other parts of French Polynesia. Plus it has over-the-water bungalows and similar tours and activities to those offered in Bora Bora. In short, it is a great destination to both kick-back and explore.
- Think about renting a moped (about $50) or a car (much more expensive) so that you can get out and explore Moorea – even if it is just to sample food at a local restaurant
- Take a trip out to Belvedere Lookout, in the center of the island, for some amazing panoramic views of Mt. Rotui, Cook’s Bay, and Opunohu Bay. There are also some ancient temple ruins that you can explore on foot.
- Ever wanted an up-close and personal experience with a dolphin? Well the Moorea Dolphin Center offers just that. When their dolphins aren’t swimming around in their 3,500 square meter lagoon there are opportunities to interact with them directly in the water. (I even got a chance to cling onto one for a high-speed underwater ride).
- Even though there are plenty of places to buy one of Tahiti’s famous black pearls in Papeete, you should definitely take a wander around Tahia Collins’ boutique on Moorea. Her designs are simply divine!
Cost Saving Tips:
- Consider the ferry from Papeete, instead of an inter-island flight. It is a relatively short trip and much more cost effective. However you may want to bring some anti-nausea medication because I got horribly sea sick on my trip back to Papeete.
Bora Bora is one of French Polynesia’s northern-most islands and, as such, it is a little harder to get to. Your only realistic option is to take a 45 minute inter-island flight service. However the extra cost is well worth it – at least in my opinion. Surrounded by a lagoon and a barrier reef, the main island and its surrounding motu (smaller islands) are home to some of the best over-the-water bungalow resorts in the world. And the aquatic experiences that Bora Bora has to offer are simply unbelievable.
- Walk, take a local taxi, or even a water taxi (depending on where your hotel is located), and check out Bloody Mary’s one evening. Most folks who have honeymooned in Bora Bora will likely have had at least one fun night out at this establishment.
- Pick just one or two really unique activities to splurge on, instead of something that you may have a chance to do back home or elsewhere. My personal favorite was the private motu BBQ picnic that was offered through our hotel, the Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa. On just this one excursion my husband and I got to experience the following:
- A private boat tour of Bora Bora
- An opportunity to pet and hand-feed sting rays in their natural habitat
- Have a lobster BBQ lunch…while dining in the ocean…off of a deserted motu…with a musical serenade from our guide…surrounded by fishes
- Swimming with sharks
- Watch locals hand feed moray eels
Cost Saving Tips:
- Consider purchasing your alcoholic beverage(s) of choice in duty free and bring them with you. This will help you save on alcohol charges at your hotel. Bora Bora can be expensive!
- Not everyone can finance a honeymoon at the St. Regis, like Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban. However there are plenty of cheaper resorts (like the Intercontinental Le Moana) that still have great amenities – as well as access to the same type of activities and tours offered by higher-end operations.
Is French Polynesia not what you had in mind for your honeymoon? Then consider these other honeymoon suggestions from Gabe Saglie, over at Travelzoo:
Exotic – South Africa’s Western Cape offers great beaches, wine country and, of course, wildlife safaris.
Romantic – Paris, France oozes romance; share a kiss under the Eiffel Tower, stroll hand-in-hand along the Champs-Élysées or cruise the river Seine.
Value - Cruises can be a great way to save some money. Not only are meals and entertainment typically included but they provide a unique experience in and of itself.
And remember to search Fly.com for cheap honeymoon flights.