If my husband and I hadn’t already taken our honeymoon 25 years ago, I’d seriously consider spending our post-wedding week at the Kia Ora Resort & Spa on the island of Rangiroa in French Polynesia. It’s one of the most beautiful — and spectacularly romantic — settings I’ve ever experienced.
Rangiroa, part of the Tuamotu Archipelago, is comprised of narrow coral islands surrounding a brilliantly aqua lagoon that’s more than 100 miles around. It’s a one-hour flight from Tahiti’s international airport in Papeete.
Kia Ora staff meet guests at the airport to shuttle you to the hotel, welcome you with a fragrant flower lei, and offer you fresh tropical juice in the open-air lobby as you check in.
Guest Rooms and Amenities
Kia Ora has 60 villas and bungalows, which were all refurbished in 2011. The most expensive, and most private, are the overwater bungalows, set along a boardwalk into the lagoon. But the two categories of accommodations that sit on the beach and in the garden are equally stunning, so I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite.
The large thatch-roofed beach bungalows (pictured above) are just steps from the sand, facing the lagoon, and come with hammocks strung between the palms.
We stayed in one of the thatch-roofed “garden villas,” just a short walk from the beach.
Best of all, the garden units all have private plunge pools. And if you and your beloved choose to skinny-dip in your pool, secluded behind a stone wall, well, I’ll never tell.
The spacious, airy garden villas have a wall of windows facing the plunge pool and a glass door that leads into your private courtyard. In addition to the pool, our courtyard had lounge chairs and a small dining table, an outdoor shower, and a deep soaker tub.
Inside, in the spa-like bathroom area were two sinks and separate shower and toilet compartments. Plush bathrobes and slippers are provided.
Rooms, which are air-conditioned, have complimentary Wi-Fi, as well as satellite TV and iPod docking stations, mini-fridges, and electric kettles (along with an assortment of teas and instant coffee).
Rates vary significantly, depending on the type of accommodations you choose, but expect to pay at least US$700 per night for two people.
Resort Facilities and Activities
For hardcore gym addicts, a standalone “fitness center” bungalow is equipped with a treadmill, stationary bike, and weight equipment. However, during our stay, we never saw anyone inside.
More appealing in this lush setting than sweating in the workout room is the infinity pool (above) set between the overwater Miki Miki Bar and the resort’s restaurant.
Or you can indulge in a taurumi — traditional Polynesian massage — at the Poekura Spa. Treatments take place in one of the spa bungalows or in the open-air fare pote’e, where the bamboo beams, thatch roof, and opaque curtains provide shelter from the island sun.
The resort’s Te Rairoa restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a window-lined room overlooking the pool. During the one dinner we sampled, we enjoyed the garlicky fish soup and the swordfish with curried vegetables.
If you do venture off the resort, it’s about a 15-minute walk to the end of the island near the Tiputa Pass, where there’s a grocery store and a couple of small cafes; the waterside Snack Moetu serves tasty poisson cru and simple grilled tuna overlooking the boat docks.
Kia Ora maintains a supply of kayaks and snorkeling gear for guests, which you can use on the beach or from the hotel docks.
The helpful activities staff also arrange for various excursions around the island and onto the water. One don’t-miss trip is a day-long excursion to the Blue Lagoon, a lagoon-within-a-lagoon that will fulfill every tropical island fantasy that you might have.
Tropical island fantasy? At the Kia Ora Resort & Spa, Isn’t that what your honeymoon — or whatever romantic escape you’re taking — is all about? Make reservations directly with the hotel or through agoda.com.
For more information about traveling to Rangiroa and French Polynesia, contact Tahiti Tourism.
Hotel review by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller, author of the books, Moon Handbooks: Ontario and Living Abroad in Canada. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. We paid a discounted media rate for our stay at Kia Ora Resort.