Paul Chai

Lucky old us got to check into an overwater bungalow at one of Bora Bora’s most luxurious resorts, Le Meridien. So was it worth the hype? Read on.

Bora Bora’s reputation as a high-end retreat for the rich, famous and newly in love casts as big a shadow as Mt Otemanu as you take your resort boat on a 25-minute jaunt from the airport.

At Le Meridien Bora Bora you won’t be disappointed, with the resort set on an islet with perfect views of the famous mountain with two wings of overwater bungalows in several categories and a range of beach bungalows.

The whole resort seems to lean towards the view and it has easy access to Bora Bora’s changing blue lagoon, as well as a natural internal lagoon where you can have a test snorkel with some of the friendly tropical fish.

The reception, bar and main dining room are all set back from the white-sandy beach, and there are wedding facilities and an overwater chapel. The unique aspect of Le Meridien Bora Bora is an onsite Turtle Ecological Centre that helps save and return sea turtles to the wild.

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I am staying in an Overwater Bungalow Lagoon View, a dark-wood, Polynesian-tinged stay, but the décor initially takes second place.

Upon opening the door you are struck by the 540sq foot glass panel in the floor that lets you gaze on the colourful fish frolicking under your bungalow (the local tourism types call it Tahitian TV, and you can see why as you get stuck staring into it).

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A huge mosquito-netted bed comes right to the end of the glass so you can fish-watch from bed too if you like. Crossing the floor is a bit disconcerting at first but I have to get to the private balcony as sunset is on its way, so I hang there for a while before changing into swimming gear and launching myself off the private back step into the lagoon.

Hotel Le Meridien Bora Bora

The turtle sanctuary at Le Meridien Bora Bora is based around the natural internal lagoon and guests can visit, swim with the turtles or come down for a turtle talk to learn about the conservation efforts. The sanctuary is independent so if you can leave a few notes to help them with their work that will be much appreciated.

We meet a dear old turtle with air in his shell from a collision with a boat, who is on the road to recovery and seems eager to get back to the sea.

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One of the best things about French Polynesia is the fusion of both cultures. I like to put them together like this: taking a snorkel in the Bora Bora Lagoon with the sun setting behind Mt Otemanu while a thin white cloud appears to be amputating its peak.

I swim out to the two carved poles welcoming you to the resort where I come across a pair of stingrays skimming the lagoon bottom and kicking up a trail of sand. Then, after returning to my bungalow for a quick shower, head to the Te Ava Restaurant with feet in the sand for a great French meal and glass of St Emillion. Culture clash of the finest order.

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TIP: Find your way to the special wine-tasting room for even more top-notch drops, and tapas.

To book visit Le Meridien Bora Bora.

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Have you been lucky enough to stay at an overwater bungalow in Tahiti?