Vahine With no roads and a maximum of 18 guests at a time, you’ll feel like a modern-day castaway on this isolated private island. And that’s just what it is – a sandy disc taken over by a gorgeous, understated hotel. It’s like The Island With Bear Grylls, but with all the frills… The island is a storybook South Pacific atoll, fringed by turquoise waters and bursting-with-life coral. You’ll feel entirely cut off from the rest of the planet; the only way in and out is via speedboat transfer from nearby Raiatea. There are just nine modestly decorated thatched bungalows, either perched on stilts over water or spread out across the beach (the latter are the largest), and the central copse of towering palms seems to sway giddily in the balmy, calming breeze.
WHERE TO DROP ANCHOR? VAHINE ISLAND RESORT Photo Gallery
Allow Roy, Vahine’s longtime local tour leader, to guide you among the coral gardens that surround Vahine. You’ll snorkel with hundreds of tropical fish species, all buzzing around a pristine aquatic ecosystem – and if you’re lucky you might even encounter a lazy turtle or skittish octopus. Above the surface there are kayaks and paddleboards to borrow or, for the true Pacific experience, take a va’a (a Polynesian outrigger canoe) for a spin. Or simply while away the hours sunbathing on a floating pontoon. Divine.
Meals are served as a daily set menu in the island’s cosy beachside restaurant, within metres of the ocean, and the resident French chef creates stunning, mostly local seafood dishes. For an authentic island treat, visit a week before the monthly full moon and sample the sea urchins, delicately cured in lime juice. GO Double bungalows from £370; vahine-island.com.
WILL ONLY AN ALL-BELLS, ALL-WHISTLES RESORT DO?
Then you better lay your sun hat at the grande dame of flash Bora Bora hotels: the impeccable Four Seasons. Sure, prices start from a slightly eye-watering £1,100 a night, but you can expect utterly slick service (there are over 300 staff for the 100 over-water bungalows), specks of 24-carat gold in the massage oil at the gargantuan spa (in the new Signature Gold Ritual, if you’re asking) and you’ll find immaculate, landscaped gardens alongside combed sand beaches.
The design inside the bungalows is also a world away from rustic, barefoot living: think chic, polished wooden floors, sleek day beds with plump cushions and glistening private pools. Ofourseasons.com/borabora.