There’s no better way to enjoy French Polynesia than by sipping a fruity cocktail with your toes in the sand. These are 10 of the most perfect places to refresh after a day at the beach in French Polynesia. They range from five-star resorts to hidden island gems, helping you lose track of time in a place where sun-soaked hours are counted by drink umbrellas.
Intimate and elegant, K Restaurant is one of the most romantic restaurants in French Polynesia. Aside from a stunning waterfront view, crystal chandeliers hang from a high ceiling artfully crafted from kahaia wood, contrasting beautifully with the white sand floor to invoke a relaxed island feel. Internationally acclaimed chef Guillaume Burlion offers gastronomic tasting menus of three, five and seven courses, all paired with fine wines, then Tiki torches light up the night for a magical evening of fine dining and a Polynesian dance show.
Suspended over the lagoon, the Miki Miki Bar has not only a 360-degree view, but also a glass-bottomed floor which perfectly frames the tropical fish swimming under your feet. As you sip cocktails decorated with mini floral bouquets, nature provides the entertainment: throw a piece of bread in the water and hundreds of tropical fish swim up to get it. Sunsets create a spectacular display over the water and, at night – if moonlight shining on the water isn’t romantic enough – small black-tip reef sharks cruise the shallow water below.
The perfect post-flight recovery-aid is a cocktail (or three) at Le Lotus Bar. Located in a white sand-bottomed pool overlooking the lagoon, your mood will be lifted with fine French champagne and classic Polynesian cocktails. Conjuring up just the right vacation vibe, views of the sunset are unrivalled: you’re not just overlooking the water, you’re actually in the water, soaking up the dramatic views of Moorea as the sun sets behind it. The last call is at six o’clock, which may sound a little early, but is perfectly timed to fall just before dark.
Located on the longest white-sand beach on Moorea, Vue Bar serves up turquoise lagoon views by day and the twinkling lights of Tahiti by night. With an extensive selection of liquor, fine wines and twists on classic cocktails, there is (almost) no drink its experienced bartenders can’t make. Choose from menus offering everything from raw fish to wagyu burgers, then sidle up to the bar for a fruity libation or take a seat on the elegant pier for dramatic lagoon and mountain views.
Chic swinging loveseats and chaise longues in the sand create a beach-club feel by day, while live music spices up the vibe at night. It’s easy for the hours to slip by as you go from working on your tan to taking in the sunset and watching the moon rise. With top service, haute cuisine and a refreshingly casual atmosphere, Faré Hoa Beach Bar delivers a Polynesian beach-bar experience to remember.
Not all the best restaurants in French Polynesia are found in five-star hotels – pensions sometimes offer excellent cuisine as well. Villa Ixora, on the popular sailing island of Raiatea, draws tourists and locals alike with Escoffier culinary school graduate chef Terence Trouyet’s beautifully plated appetizers, creative fish specials, homemade squid-ink pasta, and luscious passionfruit cheesecake. After lunch, in typical Polynesian style, take one of Villa Ixora’s kayaks out for a relaxing paddle to a nearby islet.
Freshly caught lagoon fish and French-Polynesian fusion cuisine are just two elements which make Te Rairoa a Polynesian favourite. French doors open onto the infinity-pool terrace to reveal lagoon views and create a breezy island atmosphere. The menu features Polynesian specialties such as coconut curry swordfish and marinated Ragirora oyster carpaccio, and remember to try a bottle of locally made wine from grapes grown on the coral atoll. Every Wednesday and Sunday guests are invited to join the fun as locals perform a heartwarming Polynesian dance and a delicious BBQ buffet is served up.
A historic Tahitian restaurant on the island’s western shore, a reservation at Le Coco’s is one of the most coveted in all of French Polynesia. Waterfront views and inspired Polynesian and French cuisine have delighted guests for decades, offering a choice of three distinctive dining concepts and a fusion of world flavors: Cuisine de Comptoir for lunch, and La Carte Blanche or Carte du Soir for dinner. Must-try dishes are the Tahitian peninsula shrimps raviole, grilled Paraha peue fillet and the chocolate black pearl made by pastry chef and owner Bénédicte Sauvage.
This elegant open-air gourmet restaurant sits over the lagoon, meaning you can watch the fish and occasional reef shark cruise over a coral garden as you dine. Dramatic views of Moorea add to the atmosphere, and a sunset cocktail adorned with fresh fruit and flowers is a must. Indulge in specialties such as tuna sashimi terrine and the catch of the day with octopus nem, while vegetarians and vegans will be pleased with a creative and adaptable plant-based menu.
Located on a private motu at Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa, this swim-up bar has the lush, tropical Polynesian feel you traveled all those miles to experience. Steps from the beach, the views of Taha’a’s crystal clear turquoise lagoon are incredible. If all that suntanning has left you peckish, light snacks are served after 3pm, while tropical cocktails made with fresh juice and premium alcohol are available all day.