It’s traditionally a popular wedding and honeymoon destination, although I was there with travel writers and a bubbly Accor Hotels PR woman who could drink pirates under the table. How unromantic is that?! I was still smitten. The island of Bora Bora lived up to its legend, I swam and snorkelled and dived in a vast lagoon so tranquil and bright blue it could have been the biggest swimming pool in the world. Except this pool was swarming with vivid tropical fish. Late at night the only sounds were breakers thundering against the reef.
We bought French wine, cheese and fresh baked baguettes at a local store for next to nothing and had a picnic on a dazzling white beach. I drank Bloody Marys at Bloody Mary’s, the famous bar where Hollywood stars and billionaires also hang out on occasion. But Bloody Mary’s isn’t star-struck, it’s traditional thatched roof, open sides, white sand floor, wooden slab tables and stools made of coconut stumps. It has a freshly-caught seafood buffet each night.
What a great place to get hitched, I thought.
Here’s the good news: Sofitel Luxury Hotels in French Polynesia have launched several new wedding packages for getting married in paradise in 2012, catering from the most simple of ceremonies through to elaborate romantic celebrations at a choice of two destinations – the Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort and the Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach Resort & Private Island. The bedroom pictured below is in an overwater bungalow with water views – also in the floor!
Optional extras: Bottle of French Champagne with canapés and a private butler service organised for bride and groom, priced from $A301 per couple (26,400 XPF). Sofitel can arrange a wedding coordinator, additional flowers, ukulele trio and dancers and photographer/videographer, make-up and hairdresser, at an additional price.
More elaborate wedding and party packages are also available. One package on Bora Bora takes place on top of Sofitel’s very own private island or “motu”. The wedding ceremony is conducted in the Tahitian language. The Herehia package is priced from $A1,095 (96,000 XPF). It includes a wedding coordinator, a ceremony by a Tahitian priest on the beach of Sofitel Moorea, Tahitian singers and ukulele players, plus wedding flowers.
They can also do a romantic dinner under the stars, decorate your overwater bungalow with flowers and champagne chilling on ice.
- Tahiti is the economic and political centre of French Polynesia. It’s 4,400 km south of Hawaii and 5,700 km from Australia. An archipelago in the Society Islands, the capital of Papeete has the only international airport in the region. You take domestic flights to outlying islands.
- French is the only official language although Tahitian is widely spoken. Colored pearls are a substantial export and tourist attraction. Almost every Tahitian woman seems to be wearing a strand of these lustrous beauties, and I left wearing a pair of sea-green pearl studs in my ears that remain my favourite piece of jewellery.
- Air Tahiti Nui is the national airline, flying to and from Tokyo, Charles de Gaulle, LAX, Sydney and Auckland. It has codeshare arrangements with other airlines including American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Air France, Air New Zealand and Qantas.
- Apart from your bikini and wedding shoes, take reef shoes – much of the seabed is a mass of white coral.