French Polynesia, a set of spectacular islands in the South Pacific, is considered a -mystical paradise—-unattainable except for the intrepid, unaffordable except for the honeymooning. But it’s not entirely out of reach. Air Tahiti Nui can get you from Los Angeles to the main island in eight hours. From there, boats and puddle jumpers take you to 118 islands encircled by coral gardens, pristine lagoons, swooning palm trees and boat coolers filled with beer.
Round up a group of friends and head to Ninamu, an all-inclusive six-bungalow resort on the remote Tikehau atoll. Some 200 miles from Tahiti, it operates entirely off the grid. It’s luxuriously rustic, epitomizing the minimalist Polynesian attitude that comes from having maximum natural resources. Case in point: A nearby island farm provides all the vegetables, meat, honey and vanilla. Some activities (deep-sea fishing, scuba diving) are loosely organized; others (paddleboarding, kite surfing) can happen on a whim from the secluded beach.
Vibe and terrain change from one island to the next, so it’s worth island hopping. Until the Brando—a luxury eco-resort on -Marlon’s private island—opens later this year, Bora Bora will suffice. Sofitel Bora Bora is on a small private island with over-water bungalows and views of Mount Otemanu.
Lagoon Service Bora Bora runs a small fleet of outriggers whose captains double as ukulele players. They know where the stingrays are and encourage you to jump overboard for a better view of everything lurking in the lemon-shark-patrolled waters. Once you come down from the adrenaline rush, shuttle to Bora Bora Yacht Club, a tiki bar decorated with flags from past cruisers. A round of Hinano beers is in order, and so is a cheeseburger in paradise.