There is so much info I'll try to give the highlights
Flights: FF skymiles through Delta/AF. Economy ok but if you can swing it do business class especially for a special occasion. Flight attendants aloof but professional. Food ok. Nothing to write home about.
Tahiti: I see this spot as a stopover. Granted I never did any of the inter island tours and that may have made a difference but chose to spend those dollars elsewhere. Intercontinental Hotel very nice...good breakfast...nice rooms...nice property just be aware there is NO BEACH.
Manava Suites: More Contemporary rooms...Kitchenette... Beach... Good for a stopover. Choose hotel based on whats important to you: either beach access (Manava) or resort feel (Intercontinental).
Ferry to Moorea: Terevau... Needs better stabilizers. Granted we were on the top level but boy did it rock. I would choose another option. Don't get me wrong it's not horrible but I was acutely aware of the instability of the ride and I'm a boat/water girl.
Beautiful lagoon.. lots of great activities (ATV tour was fun with stunning views great pineapple juice at the plantation but be aware the ride can be bumpy and rocky in some points but always fun). Hotel: Hilton... They were refurbishing bungalows when we were there so highernoise level than usual. Oh those cocks start crowing around sunrise and sunrise in Moorea in Nov was at around 4:30 am. So if you have a on land bungalow be prepared. Bungalows are a decent size...very Polynesian decor...deck with table&chairs as well as 2 loungers. Excellent snorkeling off deck. We had a OWB at end of pier and it was great. Sunrise views from deck & sunset views from side of deck or just walk out front door and pier is right there for great pics.
Crepe bar food tasty...fun to watch sharks swim by. No they are not scary ladies and you only see them at night when they come by for feedings at the crepe bar. Food at the beach bar decent. Happy hour is fun. Staff ratio more Polynesian here than what you will find at the top 2 resorts in BB. ( more French and Asian there). Breakfast is great, jams are amazing, great variety of dishes. If you are trying to decide whether to upgrade do so when you get there (if it's not busy season) you get a better rate. Pool: small; hot tub seems like an afterthought. Did I mention amazing snorkeling off beach and bungalows.
Restaurants in Moorea:
Te Honu Iti restaurant Seafood soup. Rays & shark by the table in the lagoon very cool.
Best overall meal Rudy's..The appetizer was amazing... Seafood casserol & The crab stuffed parrot fish melted in your mouth. Dessert was decadent. Bad thing whatever you choose you'll be missing out on another great dish. Good news is you won't ever regret your choice...every option is a good one.
Le Mahogany...excellent curry shrimp
Snack Mahana excellent garlic shrimp and Poisson cru... Friendly staff...very slow service but casual waterfront setting made up for wait. Oh fresh pineapple juice was great.
Moorea Beach Cafe....sexy setting...has a St. Barths feel to it. pork cheeks were very tasty
Flight to BB: ATN... they checked the weight of our carryon/purse on our flight. Lots of us had to reshuffle items around. Flight time 45 mins long. Narrow planes 2/2 seating but not as small as I thought. Holds about 50-60 full. Our flights were never full. Pretty smooth and pleasant flight. Breathtaking views coming into BB. Airport on a separate landing strip so only way for you to get to your hotel is via a (nice boat or yacht). Great way to start a vacation.
HOTELS BORA BORA
ST. REGIS beautiful property, bungalows huge and fab. Huge deck. Privacy level just depends on the location of your bungalow. So work with your travel agent or study the resort map. What might seem private enough for me might be a non starter for you. No issues with insects at all in the bungalow. We had a Deluxe bungalow and really didn't miss not having the small tub on deck especially since it isn't heated. The design on all these bungalows definitely have the wow effect!
Butler Ritchie was great....did what he could to make our stay as stress free as possible. Walking to dinner one evening I forgot something in room & out of nowhere butler Ritchie shows up with golf cart... Takes us back to room to get item & then got us to restaurant in time for dinner reservation. He also left a dessert surprise for us on our anniversary night. Service was excellent. They focus on details at the St Regis and believe me it matters. Your welcome greeting, the butler service, excellent buffet breakfast which included made to order crepes & omlettes the most amazing ham & cheese croissants, juices, Bloody Mary station & excellent service. Sushi restaurant was good.. Food from Lagoon restaurant was delicious. Unfortunately the restaurant was undergoing renovations at the time so the kitchen was moved and so we were able to enjoy their food at a private table on the beach...lovely setting with the table decorated beautifully. Our disappointment was quickly forgotten.
Beautiful property. Great internal lagoon for snorkeling. Shallow lagoon by beach. Great Cabana Bungalows for lounging by nice large pool. View of Mt from beach and pool. Nice OWB but much smaller compared to St. Regis. The tub setup here which opens to a full view of the ocean was very nice. Buffet breakfast very average and frankly disappointing (especially after experiencing the breakfast service at the SRBB)
Overall Service at the FS we found surprisingly AVERAGE. Service at breakfast was average...Room service was "interesting". Server accidentally had cucumbers fall off salad plate to floor.... she apologized quickly picked them back up (off floor) & then did something we have never seen done before and certainly not at a 5 star hotel. When she saw the look on my face she asked if I wanted the entire salad removed & replaced. I said please remove but no need to replace. She was so sweet but so untrained. My DH couldn't comprehend what had just happened in front of his eyes. It took us a while to stop laughing about it. FS really needed to train room-service staff properly before sending out to work with guests. I am confident things have improved by now so don't let our one off incident affect your decision. It didn't spoil our vacation in any way. By the way the fish sandwich we ordered off the room service menu was delicious! We ordered it again the next day. Food quality overall at the hotel was good but expensive even for Bora Bora.
FINAL VERDICT: I'd choose SRBB over the FS. Don't get me wrong I would stay there again... It's Bora Bora for goodness sake but if I had to choose between the two properties given my experience I'd head back to the St Regis in a heartbeat.
Restaurants in BB:
Had an excellent meal at Villa Mahana but ate most meals on property because we could not be bothered with the trip of getting to main island and back.
Excursion: Try PURE SNORKEL... It was scary at first for a novice snorkeler like me but I am so glad I decided to trust Fabien and his expertise. Fabien was excellent... I'm not a strong swimmer and he took such good care of me and helped me to enjoy an amazing day including seeing a huge manta ray. We also went to the Coral Gardens and outside of the lagoon to a spot to see sharks ( not my choice but I got overruled by my husband & 2 other very nice participants :-) ) I stayed on the boat for that one:-). Overall a great fun excursion.
Also heard great things about the private lagoon tour with champagne dinner
PEARLS: My style is more contemporary so my choices were a little more limited. I found a fantastic piece with 2 very rare pearl colors at TAHIA pearls. They were actually recommended by a staff member at the Hilton in Moorea. I don't know if I got a good deal but I know I LUV the piece and get non stop compliments on it whenever it is worn.
It was a fantastic once in a lifetime trip. If I lived in CA I'd visit annually :-)