In some places, old-school authenticity trumps fancy bells and whistles every time - and for genuine Tahitian ambience and architecture it's hard to beat the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa. This sprawling and yet somehow also intimate resort, set on a lushly landscaped parcel on Motu Tevairoa facing the emerald peaks of Bora Bora, offers abundant hospitality, a fabulous location and just enough luxury to satisfy those who demand it.
Sister property to the Moorea Pearl Resort & Spa, the Bora Bora Pearl is ideal for couples, or even families, who value memorable experiences over marble bathrooms.
One of Bora Bora's Best Beaches
Set on a pristine strip of soft white sand that extends for hundreds of yards into the pale blue lagoon, Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa's beachfront is like a shallow, salt-water pool, perfect for floating and snorkeling with ease. There's also a small fresh-water infinity pool overlooking the beach, the resort's cluster of overwater bungalows and towering Mt. Otemanu in the distance.
With just 80 bungalows, the resort feels less spread out than some of its competitors - and yet there is ample room to roam amid the garden paths that wind between well-spaced bungalows back toward the exceptional Manea Spa. Tucked amid the landscaping, you'll find a mini-golf course, bacci ball court, tennis court, volleyball court and game room with billiards and ping-pong tables.
There's also a Coral Nursery that attracts tropical fish, where you can snorkel, as well as an onsite dive center.
Which Bungalow is Right For You?
Most visitors to Tahiti dream of staying in an overwater bungalow - and Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa has its share of them. There are 50, each measuring 570 square feet, about half the size of those at Bora Bora's newer five-star resorts but with plenty of luxurious touches: air-conditioning, a full-size bath tub (only Overwater and Premium Overwater Bungalows have tubs) and separate shower, king-sized bed, satellite TVs and several glass viewing portals imbedded in bedside tables and the coffee table.
The only difference between the 20 Overwater Bungalows and the 30 Premium Overwater Bungalows are the views from the outdoor terrace (the Premiums face Mt. Otemanu).
But couples seeking privacy may want to check out the two other bungalow categories, both of which also are air-conditioned. The 20 Garden Pool Suites (with 14 classified as Premium due to desirable location and extra amenities) each measure 872 square feet inside (including an outdoor shower and tropical garden) but also feature a spacious and fenced outdoor space with covered lounge area and a private plunge pool.
The third option is one of the 10 Beach Suites with Jacuzzi, which measure 786 square feet and feature a living room with direct beach access, a shower in a tropical garden bathroom and a private enclosed terrace with a Jacuzzi. Because they also sleep two adults and two children, they are a great option for families.
Exceptional Dining Options
With three restaurants and two bars, Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa has options to satisfy most palates. Tevairao, the main dining room, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in a memorable setting: it's a soaring, thatched-roof pavilion that sits 20 feet above sea level and offers wonderful views of the lagoon as you dine on an extensive menu of local and international favorites.
It is also the setting for special theme evenings, including a music-and-dance - accompanied Polynesian Night.
More casual, the poolside Miki Miki Restaurant and Bar is open solely for lunch and serves up sandwiches, salads and local fare, such as delicious poisson cru (Tahitian raw marinated fish).
The newest eatery is Fare Ambrosia, a fine-dining Italian restaurant serving a mix of Italian favorites, accented by local seafood and Polynesian preparations. It is open for dinner five nights a week (closed Mondays and Fridays) in high season, from May to October.
For cocktails, the Taurearea Bar, set upstairs and adjacent to the dramatic, thatch-roofed lobby/reception area, is open nightly (the poolside Miki Miki Bar serves up libations by day).
A Garden of Delights
Unlike many Tahitian resorts, where the beach is the sole star, Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa has a second scenic wonder: its fabulously lush gardens.
They are shaded by palms and are ideal for a casual morning or late afternoon stroll, but they are also home to the must-try Manea Spa. Built in 2006 and featuring five treatment rooms and a couples-only Royal Pavilion, it is a relaxing, open-air refuge of bamboo, kaori wood and lava stone set amid blooming lily ponds.
As at all Manea Spas (a Pearl Resort and SPM Hotels exclusive), treatments are based on the Tahitian Taurumi tradition, which in Polynesian culture is the holistic expression of spirituality, energy, spoken word and touch. All treatments are done with products using local ingredients, such as monoi oil, sandalwood, vanilla, tiare and frangipani.
Guests in search of a more lasting memory of Tahiti can also get a traditional ancient tribal tattoo from one of Bora Bora's master tattoo artists (the word tattoo is a derivation of the Tahitian word tatou). Like everything at this welcoming and serene resort, its origins are authentic.
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About the Author
Donna Heiderstadt is a New York City–based freelance travel writer and editor who has spent her life pursuing her two main passions: writing and exploring the world.