Planning a Proposal? We Share Our Favorite Spots in the Islands of French Polynesia

Some people collect seashells, others collect stamps. I collect islands — specifically the sun-drenched, verdant isles of the South Pacific.

My quest has led me to explore some of the most beautiful places in French Polynesia. I’ve visited more than 100 islands via freighters, yachts and cruise ships.  Each one is a treasure.

If you’re in the mood for love, these islands, marked by craggy mountains and eye-popping lagoons, are the perfect place for that perfect proposal. My fiance and I spent a month sailing a 40-foot sloop in Tahiti and Huahine years ago.  It was romantic and exciting — wild orchids grew in the trees and the fragrance of plumeria floated through the evening breeze (and yes, I did accept!). Heavenly.

My experience inspired me to consider great places in French Polynesia for others to pop the question (our cover photo was shot on Moorea). Here’s a list of romantic spots on my four favorite islands, Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea and Huahine. Each offers unique and picturesque settings. All you need to add is love — and the proposal.

Tahiti

Tahiti may be French Polynesia’s most populated island, but there are still lots of places to get away from civilization

Island ambience:  Bustling. “Moby Dick” author Herman Melville visited in 1841 and described it as “magnificent; a mass of shaded tints of green from beach to mountaintop; endlessly diversified with valleys, ridges, glens and cascades … waterfalls glitter in the sunlight.” Nearly 200 years later, the island remains breathtaking,  although the port city is a bit scruffy.

Where to propose: On a hike up Mount Aorai, one of Tahiti’s highest peaks. The ascent offers stunning views of the coast, waterfall valleys and jagged peaks.  The path starts at O Belvedere restaurant, but it’s a long 6½ miles to the top. Propose along the way, or stop at the stunning Fautaua Valley waterfall, where sparkling water cascades 450 feet into a large pool, before getting down on one knee. The lighthouse on Pointe Vénus, on Tahiti’s northern coast, offers a great backdrop.

Details: Tahiti is the main jumping-off point for other islands in the region, home to Fa’a’ā International Airport and home port for Windstar cruises.

Bora Bora

In Bora Bora, romance is a given

Island ambience: Magical. Bora Bora is known for its vibrant lagoon, lush nature and twin peaks. Mount Otemanu soars 2,385 feet high in the center of the atoll; another summit, Mount Pahia, reaches 2,169 feet.

Where to propose: On the beach as part of a romantic candlelit dinner.  Windstar regularly offers a private island “fire dancing” experience here, and ship staff can arrange privacy for your magic moment before other guests arrive. Windstar itineraries typically include an overnight stay here, but there’s a new option as well: a mid-cruise stay at an overwater bungalow via Pacific Beachcomber’s Intercontinental Bora Bora Le Moana.

Other possibilities: Charter a private boat at sunset and watch the daylight melt into a fusion of orange and gold, then pop the question while sipping Champagne. Or ask over lunch on a deserted island, or even while swimming with sharks and rays after a private snorkel tour. Finally, there’s nothing like saying “Will you marry me?” in a helicopter while soaring above the peaks.

Details: For private outings and excursions, contact your travel adviser or Windstar. To incorporate a stay at the Intercontinental Bora Bora Le Moana, book via Windstar’s shore excursion offerings.

Moorea

Diving in Moorea is a special way to cement a relationship/Shutterstock

Island ambience: Paradise. Moorea, a mere 12 miles from Tahiti, seems less touristy than some of the other islands and yet has lots to do: hiking, shopping, exploring, swimming, cycling and high-octane kitesurfing.  It has two lagoons, Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay, both with clear, aquamarine waters and pristine beaches.  Moorea’s jagged peaks, carpeted in shades of emerald, rise sharply from the shoreline and invite adventure.

Where to propose: On a stroll through ancient history. Moorea’s Three Pines Trail and Opunohu Valley Loop near Belvedere Viewpoint include more than 500 archeological sites. Or hike Three Coconut Trees Pass,  Moorea’s most popular trail, for magnificent panoramic views of an ancient volcano. Other possibilities: Book a private 4×4 safari tour to see Moorea’s lagoons, volcanic peaks, Belvedere Lookout, Opunohu Bay, and Cook’s Bay, along with one of my favorite little hideaways, a bucolic pineapple plantation. Or head to the private beach near Sofitel’s Kia Ora Moorea Beach Resort and Restaurant for dinner. The resort is home to magnificent landscaped gardens.

Details: Windstar ships typically leave late at night from Moorea, so check the schedule before you make dinner reservations here.

Huahine

Huahine Iti feels like no other place in French Polynesia

Island ambience: Tranquil. Huahine consists of two islands, Huahine Nui (big) and Huahine Iti (little), with a stunning, turquoise-like-you’ve-seen-from-a-paint-can lagoon and a barrier reef surrounding both islands.

Where to propose: On Fare Beach, a calm, uncrowded spot. Charter a catamaran cruise or arrange for bespoke island tours, and be sure to spend time in the water, admiring tropical fish, dolphins, manta rays and more. Options include sailing, kayaking, paddleboarding, snorkeling and scuba diving.

Details: For private outings and excursions, contact your travel adviser or Windstar

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