Moorea Pearl Resort & Spa, one of the most conveniently placed resorts on Moorea - just 10 minutes from the airport and 15 minutes from the ferry dock - is an exceptionally inviting place.
As one of Tahitian-owned SPM Hotels, its greeting is one of "Maeva!" ("Welcome!") and its philosophy is one of respect for Polynesian culture. Entrusted by its owners to the protection of the tiki - half human-half god statues carved from wood or stone throughout Polynesia - the resort has tiki guardians in the lobby, in the garden and around the pool, mixing modern luxury with reverence for ancient tradition.
The Best of the Bungalows
Built on the site of Moorea's first resort (The Bali Hai, constructed in 1961), this property dates to 2002 and sits on 7.5 oceanfront acres amid lovely gardens. There are a total of 94 air-conditioned rooms and bungalows, the most popular of which are the 28 Overwater Bungalows that spread over the shallow and tranquil lagoon water in two groupings. Each measures 517 square feet and features a palm-thatched roof, king-sized bed, bathtub, glass floor panel, and sundeck with direct lagoon access. The décor mixes contemporary lines with traditional Polynesian artwork.
Equally coveted for the great privacy they offer are the 28 Garden Pool Bungalows, which also measure 517 square feet but feature a spacious walled garden with a private dipping pool. Slightly smaller at 475 square feet, the eight Beach Bungalows are set along the white-sand beach and have small front decks offering limited privacy. A total of 22 Garden View Rooms (at 475 square feet) and 8 Garden View Duplexes (two levels with 635 square feet designed for families) round out the resort's accommodations.
Barefoot Snacks to Gourmet Fare
Dining at Moorea Pearl Resort & Spa runs the gamut from barefoot casual buffet breakfasts enjoyed poolside at the open-air Mahana'i restaurant, which also serves lunch and dinner with a focus on French-Polynesian fusion fare, to epicurean delights at Matiehani restaurant, an intimate, air-conditioned enclave where Chef Pascal Bionaz creates magnificent multi-course, wine-paired tasting menus. For a traditional Polynesian buffet, reserve a table at Manahana'i for the Wednesday night dance show or "The Sea" buffet on Saturdays, also featuring a Polynesian show.
There's also a poolside lounge, Autera'a Bar, serving cocktails, light dishes and Polynesian specialties - as well as lessons in everything from Tahitian dance to making Polynesian marinated fish (poisson cru) - from noon to 4:30 p.m. daily.
Get Rubbed the Right Way
One place you will definitely find your way to during your stay is the intimate Manea Spa. Nestled amid the resort's flowering gardens, it has five treatment rooms, a small steam bath and a tranquil pool for aquatic massage, called Rumiavai.
Based on the purest traditions of Polynesian massage known as Taurumi, the all-natural treatments range from a relaxing body massage with monoi oil or a skin revitalizing massage with fresh pineapple to a sandalwood body scrub or a hot and cool stone facial. Lagoon-side al fresco massages can also be arranged.
When you are not snorkeling the lagoon or relaxing by the inviting infinity edge pool, you can also use Moorea Pearl Resort as a great base for experiencing the many land and water-based activities the island has to offer.
Scuba fans can arrange excursions to top dive spots - where lemon sharks, turtles and a variety of tropical fish species congregate year-round - within 15 minutes by boat from the hotel.
Photo buffs can head up to nearby Belvedere Overlook for sweeping views of Cook's and Opunohu Bays and golfers can book tee times at the nearby 18-hole Moorea Green Pearl Golf Course, Tahiti's one and only course.
Adventure-seekers can head out on shark and stingray feeding tours on the lagoon, while those seeking a lasting souvenir can get a traditional tribal tattoo by one of the resort's renowned tattoo artists. It doesn't get more authentically Polynesian than that.