Food lovers' guide to the French Polynesian islands
The French Polynesian islands aren't just home to the most beautiful lagoons and views in the world, they are home to some of the best food too! Mostly French-inspired with a fresh, South Pacific twist, the food is innovative and unbelievably fresh.
To taste what makes Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora such incredible food destinations means hiking off the resorts' property and exploring around these breathtaking islands.
Although Tahiti is often just a stopover point for honeymooners and vacationers, this bustling main island is filled with great restaurants, mostly mom-and-pop shops, and some fabulous beer. Before you depart to Moorea or Bora Bora, grab some breakfast or lunch at the Pink Coconut. Not only are the views of Moorea and the Tiki boats stunning, the food is superb. The tuna sashimi with two sauces and beef tartar are both excellent choices. Pair with a cold Tahitian-brewed Hinola or Tabu. Lunch prices start at 400 XFP.
For something a little more romantic, grab dinner reservations at Le Coco's in Punavai, Punaauia. Punavai is just a short 15-minute ride from Papette, the main hub with the airport and ferry dock. Le Coco's is traditional French fare but with a slight South Pacific flare. Located right next to the beach, this is the perfect place for a romantic dinner for two. Order the chef's sampler or the seven-course tasting menu to really get a taste of the chef's talents. The black pearl dessert, a luscious chocolate "pearl" stuffed with fresh fruit and a wafer, is the most raved about dish. Dinner for two will set you back $500 though.
Although Moorea is home to many top-notch hotels and resorts, the best food on the island is found off the beaten path, away from the concierges and infinity pools. Grab a scooter, a bike or a car and drive to Snack Mahana, a small beachside shack run by a group of extremely talented women. Order the grilled mahi (the best we've ever had) or the tuna burger, both of which are freshly caught. Finish your meal with a big scoop of Tahitian vanilla ice cream. They only take cash, so plan ahead.
If you're vacationing with your honey and want a romantic seaside dinner, make reservations at the Moorea Beach Cafe. The restaurant sits next to the stunning aqua-colored ocean & lagoon, offering breathtaking views from almost every table. The food is reflective of owner Bruno's French upbringing with a fresh South Pacific twist. Start your day with the salad nicoise, made with fresh, local seared tuna. Then for dinner, ask for Bruno's recommendation. If he's not around (which is rare), go for the fish of the day. It'll be freshly caught. Then, in true Parisian style, get a side of French fries and order the incredible Tahitian vanilla creme brulee for dessert.
If you can tear yourself away from lying on the white sandy beaches and staring into the mint-colored lagoon, book a tour on Moana Tours. Not only will you get to feed sharks, swim with stingrays and snorkel some of the most beautiful reefs in the world, you'll get one of the best meals of your life. Book the 6-hour tour with the picnic. The guides will make you a mouth-watering, out-of-this-world lunch made with freshly caught fish, just-squeezed coconut milk and steaks and fish grilled in front of you. It's the kind of meal you'd have if you joined the guide for lunch at his or her own home. Worth the price of the tour and more.
Another extremely popular restaurant and bar is Bloody Mary's. It's not fancy, but the food, atmosphere and staff make it a must-stop for those visiting the main island. Unlike traditional restaurants, there is no menu here. You pick out your food from a 10-foot display. Same goes for drinks. You tell the bartender how you like them, and they'll pour to your specifications. Although it' a bit touristy, with t-shirts and trinkets for sale, it's fun. Just don't wear fancy shoes since the floor is sand!