If you’re looking for paradise, head to Bora Bora. There are 118 islands in French Polynesia and the only international airport is located in Papeete, Tahiti. If you’re flying to any of the other islands, you’re going to have a stop in Tahiti. Lori DeVries recently visited the Intercontinental Le Moana Bora Bora and this was her experience.
Upon arrival in Bora Bora, we spent 6 nights at the Intercontinental Le Moana Bora Bora Resort, and it was everything we hoped for and more.
How To Get To The Intercontinental Le Moana Bora Bora
We caught a flight from Tahiti at 11:45 am and arrived in Bora Bora at 12:35 pm. The only interisland airline option was Air Tahiti. We made the direct reservation separate from our Delta reservation that had gotten us to Tahiti from the USA.
I’m not sure if reservations are required, but the plane was full, so I’m glad we made the reservation in advance and would recommend doing the same. There are no assigned seats, so it’s first come, first serve. As a general tip, sit on the left side of the plane for better views. You want to also make sure not sit over the wing to be able to see the waters and motus of Bora Bora as you fly over them on arrival.
The plane lands in Bora Bora on a small runway on a Motu (small, narrow island) with water on both sides. The airport building is small and there are no roads on the motu from the airport. The Le Moana is located on the main island. The resort offers a water taxi for $70 per person, but you can also take a free Air Tahiti water taxi to Vaitape on the main island and then easily catch a land taxi to the resort for about $15 in total.
Bungalows and Rooms
We arrived at our resort and settled into our beach bungalow. Check-in is at 3:00 pm and check-out is at 11:00 am. You can choose between overwater bungalows or beach bungalows. We opted to stay in a beach bungalow in lieu of an overwater bungalow, and we loved it. It felt like we had our own white sand beach. The bungalow had a nice deck, hammock, and beach chairs just for the property.
The view was incredible, a few feet away from the water’s edge which was crystal clear turquoise and blues, as beautiful as the pictures show. The bungalow itself had plenty of room. We walked into a living area with a desk work area, a couch, a coffee table, a TV, and a mini fridge. The room has a king-size bed and a large bathroom and closet. It also comes with a TV in the bedroom area, but we never used either TV since there was just so much to do in Bora Bora.
We were greeted warmly by the staff as well as the general manager of the resort came to greet us, which was impressive. I saw her several times during our stay at the resort, always friendly and willing to help us with anything. Their concierge staff was very helpful and willing to plan any excursion, tour, or activity for us.
Facilities and Amenities
The resort never felt crowded, and it was quite relaxing. There are two pools. The lower pool seems to be more of a sand-bottom kiddie pool. I spent a fair amount of time at the upper pool, as well as the beach area in front of the bungalow and in the water. We took our own blow-up floaties and floated around in the water.
The waters are calm and there is very little current, so it’s easy to float. From the shore, you can see an occasional crab, a variety of fish, a stingray, and very small and cute black-tip reef sharks cruising around. We had a great view of Mount Otemanu, the big peak often seen in pictures of Bora Bora which seems to be the center of the island. It’s a beautiful backdrop.
This resort doesn’t have a spa, but its sister resort, the Intercontinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa, located on a separate Motu, has a spa you can book. I believe they provide a free water taxi to get there. We seriously considered it but never did it.
The Le Moana had paddle boards and kayaks available to use at no additional charge. We could check them out for an hour at a time. They limit you to just the resort water area within their buoys, but it was fun to paddle around and see the vast coral and fish within the waters. The ocean floor is sandy but there is a considerable amount of coral, too, so wear some kind of water shoe to protect your feet.
The Intercontinental Le Moana is located near the southern tip of the main island. Our bungalow faced east, so we had beautiful sunrises. One of the best parts about it is its close proximity to Matira Beach. In the evening, we walked out across the street to west-facing Matira Beach, which is the largest public beach on Bora Bora. You can enjoy some of the most amazing sunsets in French Polynesia here. I don’t think we ever saw more than a few other people at the beach.
Restaurants and Bars
We opted to include breakfast every day in our reservation since it looked like a good deal. There was a big selection of food, from bacon to cereal and yogurt, and a variety of other international choices. I personally loved the wide variety of bread, pastries, crepes, and fruits. They also cook omelets to order.
Each Tuesday and Saturday night, the Intercontinental does an international theme night with a wonderful buffet and a Tahitian dance show to live drums, guitars, and ukulele music. We were lucky enough to be there for one of the shows and it was really enjoyable. They recommend making reservations a day or two in advance. The dancing was beautiful and energetic and the whole show was fun. My favorite foods were swordfish and bite-size desserts, which make it feasible to try more than one.
We were at the resort for 6 nights and ate there on 2 of those. The other night we ate there and had delicious tacos. We had picked this resort for the location with one of the benefits being that we were close to a couple of grocery markets and other restaurants that gave us variety. Le Moana has two main restaurants, the Noa Noa, which serves French-inspired cuisine, and the Vini Vini Bar and Terrace Restaurant.
On two different evenings, we walked to the Bora Bora Beach Club restaurant which overlooks Matira Beach. I recommend getting a reservation for a preferred table with the best views. We didn’t, and it was still a pleasant experience as the food was excellent.
The resort is also close to another restaurant called Lucky House Restaurant and Pool Bar which is just up the road. It’s the only restaurant we’ve been to that has a swimming pool for the patrons to enjoy while waiting for the food. They offer a good variety of food and cocktails on their menu, and they’re popular for their pizza, which is tasty.
The most well-known restaurant and bar on the island that was a “must-do” was Bloody Mary’s. Our dinner reservation at the restaurant included a free taxi from and back to the Le Moana Resort. One of the benefits of staying at a place like this is that it’s well-known so everyone knows where it’s at so finding a shuttle is easy.
Eating at Bloody Mary’s is quite the experience. They have a lunch menu, but there is no printed dinner menu. As you walk in, there is a display case of what they offer sorted by price levels. Order from the food choices in the display and then be seated while they cook it. I wasn’t very impressed with the quality of this meal, but my husband really liked it, so I think it’s just a fun thing to do and pick what you think you’ll enjoy.
Activities and Excursions
The activities we did outside of our accommodations included a snorkel excursion that makes a complete circle around the island with three snorkel stops. The first stop involved snorkeling with black-tip reef sharks. I never thought I would get in the water with sharks, but it was amazing!
The next stop was the snorkel with stingrays. It was just so cool to be in the water close enough to touch them. The third stop was Coral Gardens, another of the most popular places for snorkeling in Bora Bora.
This location is so beautiful that it’s hard to describe. You can swim with so many different beautiful fish and the colors of the coral are vibrant. We personally saw different colored clams, such as turquoise, blue, and purple colors opening and closing, presumably eating. I highly recommend this excursion.
We planned to rent e-bikes to go around the island. The helpful hotel concierge staff called Avis, which is within a short walking distance of IC Le Moana. The e-bikes and regular pedal bikes had all been reserved already, so we rented scooters for about $80 for 4 hours. It was an additional $15 to rent for the whole day but we had a limited amount of time.
In hindsight, I wish we had taken the time to rent scooters all day to give us more time for additional stops for scenery and shopping. We did a short hike on our way to a WWII canon site but aborted because of the heat and the difficult climb. We really didn’t have enough time or water to complete the hike but made it part of the way to a scenic overlook area with panoramic views of different sides of Bora Bora and the turquoise waters.
I was glad we didn’t get regular bikes because it was very hot, and it would have been miserable. March, is the end of the rainy season so although rain was not much of an issue, there were periodic showers during our stay in Bora Bora. This probably resulted in more humidity than at other times of the year. Average temperatures were in the 80s but it felt much hotter.
The distance around the island is about 20 miles, and there is one paved road looping the island along the coastline. You won’t get lost if you just stay on the road. Enjoy the scenery, stop for a hike, have a cold drink at one of the restaurants along the way, or shop at the Black Pearl shopping area. We had a blast and stopped at Bloody Mary’s again for a Bloody Mary and an appetizer. I loved the tempura shrimp, so they redeemed themselves from the meal I had a couple of nights before that I thought wasn’t too impressive.
For our last night on the island, we did a catamaran sunset cruise. They picked us up at our resort and took us around the island. We ended the cruise as the sun was setting at the beautiful St James restaurant for the last light of the day. The booking included a ride back to the Le Moana from the restaurant after we were done eating.
This excursion takes us out by the barrier reef that surrounds the island, where the big ocean surf crashes into the barrier reef. Inside the reef, the island enjoys calm waters with minimal surf. There is just one opening in the reef for ships to travel through. We got to experience a wonderful sunset on the water and enjoyed getting close to the barrier reef. The snorkel excursion and this excursion both had fun guides who played the ukulele and sang as we cruised on the water.
This was our first trip to Bora Bora, and here are a few other things that might be helpful for other new travelers to this beautiful corner of our world.
Tips For Staying At The Intercontinental Le Moana Bora Bora
Should you tip? We were told they do not expect tips, but we are American, and we tip. Knowing tipping is not expected, we tipped lighter but they were very appreciative of the tips.
Should you bring bug spray to the resort? Yes, even though we brought it and never used it. We probably saw 4 or 5 total mosquitoes the entire time we were in our beach bungalow at night, but it was enough to know the island has mosquitoes. If we needed it, we would have been disappointed in ourselves for not bringing it. I heard it’s expensive to buy on the island. Also, bring your own sunscreen and make sure it’s reef safe. If you’re staying at one of the overwater bungalows, there’s a higher chance you might encounter them.
Learn a few Tahitian words before you go. When we used them, their faces lit up with smiles. Hello = la or ana (pronounced Yo-ra-na); Thank you = Mauruuru (mah-roo-roo); Goodbye = Nana; Cheers = Maunuia (Mahn-wee-ah).
Before we went, we watched several YouTube videos to educate ourselves on what to expect and options for things to do. Pick a few things but remember to relax and enjoy the quiet beauty of the island and the wonderful people you will meet. Staying at the resort isn’t cheap by any means, so ensure you enjoy it to the fullest.
When it was time to go home, we took a land taxi to the docks and caught a free Air Tahiti water taxi to the airport. We departed from Bora Bora at 11:30 am and arrived in Papeete Tahiti at 12:20 pm. Our flight from Tahiti to LAX departed at 7:10 pm, so we were hoping to be able to store our luggage at the airport and explore Tahiti a little that day.
Apparently, they are building luggage storage facilities, but they weren’t completed yet. Also, the airport was closed. There was a restaurant open but every airline desk was closed. Our backup plan to try to check our luggage early with our airline wasn’t an option. Wherever we were going, our luggage was going with us that day.
We are on a Verizon cell phone plan in the USA and had not used data since we left the US. We were able to use Wi-Fi at our resort and hadn’t needed to use the phones outside of our resort, so we didn’t need data. For the first time, I took my phone off airplane mode to use data to use maps to decide where to go. We had no signal and apparently Verizon doesn’t work in Tahiti. We got a cab and had them take us to the Intercontinental Tahiti Resort, where we had stayed when we arrived before going to Bora Bora.
I think because we had stayed there and because we had also stayed at the IC Bora Bora, they were pleasantly accommodating and agreed to hold our luggage. They also offered us pool passes for the day, but we opted to hang out at one of their restaurants. We had Wi-Fi connectivity again, so we watched a little bit of March Madness and then caught a taxi back to the airport a couple of hours before our flight.
The line to get through security was pretty long and moved very slow. I recommend a minimum of 2 hours to get through security. I also suggest having a plan before you get there if there is a long layover in Tahiti. Who would have guessed that the airport would close in the middle of the day? Thank you, IC Tahiti, for your hospitality!
This is a review of just the Intercontinental Le Moana in Bora Bora, but we can highly recommend the Intercontinental resorts in both Tahiti and Bora Bora. It was a wonderful trip!