As a Travel Writer, I have seen how marvellously the A-listers have this wonderful knack of losing themselves and relaxing in discreet luxury. Many of the jet-set brigade today own holiday properties in some of the world’s most stunning locations. From the icy slopes of Aspen to the beaches of Fiji, the ultra rich have left no stone unturned in ensuring that their vacations are absolutely top class.

Words Subhasish Chakraborty

As a Travel Writer, I have seen how marvellously the A-listers have this wonderful knack of losing themselves and relaxing in discreet luxury. Many of the jet-set brigade today own holiday properties in some of the world’s most stunning locations. From the icy slopes of Aspen to the beaches of Fiji, the ultra rich have left no stone unturned in ensuring that their vacations are absolutely top class.

Words Subhasish Chakraborty

How about holidaying in the Private Island Paradise of French Polynesia? Yes, I am talking about the Tahitian island of Bora Bora: Overwater Bungalows, star-lit Tahitian night sky, sparkling blue lagoons, romantic sunsets…

If my memory serves me well, the fashion of owning island resorts was pioneered many decades ago by the irresistible Marlon Brando. Legend has it that in the year 1965, Marlon fell in love with Tahiti while shooting for the Mutiny on the Bounty and went on to buy the stunning Tetiaroa atoll. Following in the footsteps of the great Marlon Brando, celebs like Richard Branson, Leonardo Di Caprio, Johnny Depp, Nicolas Cage, and Mel Gibson have all become owners of private islands.

Bora Bora is a perennial favourite of the A-Listers, primarily for the element of privacy that it affords and the fact that the paparazzi find it difficult to infiltrate their private lives. A vast majority of the hotels have their own private islands and it’s no surprise that these command a hefty price – would you believe that the stunning St.Regis Hotel reportedly charged the celebrity couple Nicole and Keith $17,000 per night!

Leaving aside the element of exclusivity, Tahiti is by far the largest island in French Polynesia. All of its 118 islands are nicely dispersed, each of them being little specks of paradise, many of which are still uninhabited.

In the minds of travellers, Tahiti conjures up images of a distant island, which is not just isolated but secluded as well. Secluded, it might be, but it’s certainly very reachable – an 8 hour flight from Los Angeles is all that’s required to be able to vacation in one of the world’s most beautiful environments.

Tahitian islands are scattered in two principal segments – the one to the Northeast is popularly referred to as Tahiti Nui while the South-eastern one (Tahiti Iti) is smaller in size and consists of Mount ‘Orohena, Mount Aorai and the Queen of Tahiti – Le Diadème.

Papeete, the bustling capital city of Tahiti, is the commercial hub of French Polynesia and your journey to Tahiti begins from Faa International Airport. While a vast majority of travellers choose to escape to their chosen island paradises, thereby spending very little time in the capital city, Papeete is in its own right a touristic delight with its vivacious city vibes, wide boulevards, and the harbour, which is a beehive of activity.

If you are looking for authentic Tahitian souvenirs, walking along the streets of Le Marché neighbourhood could be a very rewarding experience – Tahitian Vanilla Beans, the indigenous Monoi oil, and multi-coloured Pareos are simply too good to be missed. As you amble past Le Centre Vaima, the magnificent Robert Wan Pearl Museum draws your attention. Further ahead is the Vai’ete Square and the best time to be here is after sunset when the entire neighbourhood with its waterfront promenade comes alive with all guns blazing – with epicurean food ranging from French crêpes to steak frites. Try out Les Roulottes to savour some of their specialities.

Tahiti is all about celebrating life and many a traveller has fallen in love with Polynesian culture and its rhythmic dance forms. One great venue to catch up with Tahitian dance traditions is the Inter Continental Resort, where every Friday and Saturday local artists demonstrate their unique dance performances. First time visitors would do well to book a tailor-made Circle Island Tour that takes in the historical trail – the house of James Norman Hall, the Museum of Tahiti, Point Venus, the Paul Gauguin Museum, as well as the breathtaking Harrison Smith Botanical Gardens.

Bora Bora, is ideally located about 280 km northwest of Tahiti, being ‘discovered’ way back in 1722, and thanks to the ingenuity of the Tourism mandarins, it has evolved as one of the most beautiful islands on Planet Earth.

Bora Bora has romance written all over. The village of Vaitape is much preferred by visitors as they are able to immerse themselves in the local Tahitian lifestyle and shop at the well-stocked boutiques. For those with a penchant for adventure, exploring Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu on a Jeep Safari could be ideal.

Embarking on a 4X4 Island Tour offers spectacular natural vistas of Bora Bora – marvel at the World War II American cannons, discover the fauna and flora, mingle with the locals and if you are open to cultural immersions, very likely you will be offered home cooked food and garden fresh fruits straight from the family kitchen garden or plantation.

For diehard snorkellers, Bora Bora offers some of the most stunning diving sites. Even learners can participate in this exciting activity using state-of-the-art masks with great visibility. The guides are pretty adept in training novices, as you follow their instructions, first in shallow waters, then onto average depth, and finally into deep waters where you can have a date with a bewildering variety of underwater sea life.

Many travellers come to visit Bora Bora with the dream of holidaying in Private Overwater Bungalows and the hotels here have designed their properties in such amazing ‘Hideaway’ patterns that the discerning romantic traveller finds it difficult to ignore. To lure sensitive visitors, 5 star Hotels & Resorts have come up with all-inclusive honeymoon packages. Sofitel Bora Bora, for instance, offers overwater bungalows, round-trip international air fares from Los Angeles, all transfers (inclusive of inter-island air), free daily breakfast for two, dinner on the beach, 4×4 Jeep safari, snorkelling excursion, a minibar replenished daily, and a gamut of other romantic add-ons.

In your efforts to seize a taste of romance while vacationing in Tahiti, do not miss out on a dinner at perhaps one of the world’s most outstanding sea food restaurants – Bloody Mary’s,

Inside the restaurant’s hallowed interiors, many legends from Hollywood and beyond have dined here – Jimmy Buffet, Julio Iglesias, Steven Bishop, Commander Cody, and Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones to name just a few.

It all began in the latter part of the 1970s, to be precise in 1979, when a Polish nobleman, Jerzy Hubert Edward von Dangel was on a visit to Bora Bora and fell in love with the island. Being a showman, he decided to set up Bloody Mary’s that served speciality Tahitian seafood, while the interiors were every bit aboriginal Tahitian to the core – thatched roofs, wooden tables, white sand flooring and coconut stump stools.

This iconic seafood restaurant is best summed up by Rick, who oversees the day-to-day operations thus: “This is the old Tahiti right here. This is a big Fare Tiurai (the baraques or carnival type huts built for the Heiva Festival each July). All we’ve done is add the varnish.”

Try out the culinary spread: crabs, steak, chicken, shrimp, etc., along with signature cocktails.

Traveller’s Fact File:


In terms of accommodation, Bora Bora is renowned for water bungalows. These magnificent floating villas with their signature glass floors offer a peek into the mysterious sea life below. What is more, most high end properties possess their own private islands, popularly referred to as ‘Motu’ in the local parlance.
Outstanding hotel chains like St.Regis, Conrad, Four Seasons, Inter Continental, etc., have carved a niche for themselves in Bora Bora.
Hotels room rates range from $400–$2,000 per night at the low end. The average cost of vacationing for a week in Bora Bora hovers around $11,000 for two.

Reaching There:

Bora Bora being located to the northwest of Tahiti, is about an hour’s journey by Air from Papeete, the capital city of Tahiti. The airport is located on the small island of Motu Mute.
Flights to Bora Bora are limited which is perfectly in sync with the island’s ‘Restricted Tourism” policy.
Visitors first touchdown at Papeete from Los Angeles, which takes around 8 hours and thereafter to Bora Bora.


According to the directives of the French government, it is mandatory on the part of the visitor to have their passports valid for six months. Passport related services are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of State.