Creating family memories amid the welcoming islands of the South Pacific.


By Vanessa Niven

French Polynesia is a tropical paradise scattered across the vast expanse of the South Pacific and is synonymous with dreamy oceanscapes, turquoise waters, and crystal-clear lagoons. But while stunning destination weddings and exquisite honeymoon escapes may come to mind first for potential visitors, it must be said that French Polynesia also holds great appeal for families seeking an unforgettable and secluded holiday that the whole family can truly enjoy.  

The Windward Islands: Tahiti and Her Neighbors 

The islands of French Polynesia are divided into five groups, perhaps the most famous of which is the Society Islands, home to Tahiti and Bora Bora. The Society Islands are further subdivided into two groups – the Windward and Leeward Islands. Tahiti, in the Windward Islands, serves as the gateway to many adventures, with the capital of Papeete and Faa’a International Airport both found here.  

Papeetei Tahiti Tourism ©Grégoire Le Bacon

Tahiti itself provides a wonderful balance between urban charm and natural beauty. Families can explore the vibrant market of Papeete, where local artisans showcase their crafts, or embark on a cultural journey at the Museum of Tahiti and The Islands, which offers insights into the rich history and traditions of this archipelago. Just opposite the museum is one of the world’s most famous surf spots, Sapinus, where English explorers first spotted Polynesian locals surfing all the way back in 1769. While Sapinus is not suitable for novices just beginning to learn surf techniques, it still serves as an excellent place to watch surfing professionals take on two incredible left reef breaks. 


Beyond Tahiti, the Windward Islands also encompass Moorea, a heart-shaped volcanic island celebrated for its lush landscapes, vibrant coral reefs, and opportunities for thrilling water activities. As families embark on island-hopping adventures, Mehetia and Maiao islands add to the allure of the Windward Islands. While largely devoid of vegetation, the tiny gem of Mehetia entices with its rugged volcanic peak and stunning coral reef just below the surface. Lush Maiao and its bright blue lagoon are entirely surrounded by a coral reef, with two inland hypersaline lagoons that appear a stunning hue of green from above. What's more, a 4WD excursion into the interior of one of the many islands or islets allows you to further explore the unique volcanic landscapes and verdant vegetation. 

Where to Stay - Windward Islands: The Brando Resort 

In the heart of the Windward Islands lies Tetiaroa Atoll, home to The Brando Resort, a stunning luxury lifestyle resort offering all-inclusive experiences for discerning travelers. This exclusive establishment offers a blissful experience where opulence meets environmental preservation. The resort takes its name from Hollywood icon Marlon Brando, who discovered this magical place while filming Mutiny on the Bounty. In fact, the resort’s development was a family affair, with direct involvement from the Brando Estate and eight of his living children when it first opened its doors in 2014.  

Brando Resort Tahiti

With private villas featuring infinity pools and breathtaking views of the turquoise lagoon, The Brando epitomizes tropical elegance. Guests can relax on white sandy beaches, explore fascinating marine life on guided dives, or rejuvenate at the Varua Te Ora Polynesian Spa. The Brando is an ideal destination for families, providing specially designed activities for children, such as educational nature excursions at the Lagoon School, kid-friendly spa treatments, and Polynesian dance lessons. 

Memorable family meals are offered in the refined restaurants, showcasing delicious local and international cuisine, or in several unique private dining locations around the atoll. Entertainment options abound with water sports, kayak excursions, paddle outings, and evening cultural performances. Numerous archaeological sites dot the island and surrounding islets, including an archery platform, marae (sacred place), and a dancing platform, all used by ancient Polynesians in their daily religious and cultural practices.  

The Leeward Islands: Bora Bora and Her Neighbors 

Meanwhile, the Leeward Islands offer a special blend of adventure and tranquility for families seeking an idyllic escape. While not the largest in the group, Bora Bora – the "Pearl of the Pacific" – is a prime starting point for a tropical family journey. Renowned for its iconic overwater bungalows and stunning coral reefs, Bora Bora captivates visitors with its turquoise lagoon and majestic Mount Otemanu and Mount Pahia. Families can engage in a variety of water activities, from chartering a boat to snorkel and swim amid vibrant marine life in the lagoon to embarking on thrilling shark and ray feeding excursions.  

Tahiti Family Travel© Grégoire Le Bacon

Referred to as the "Sacred Island", Raiatea boasts historical significance as the cultural and religious center of ancient Polynesia. Families can explore the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Marae Taputapuatea, a sacred site that offers a glimpse into the political and spiritual history of Polynesia’s earliest people.  

The nearby island of Huahine, often considered Tahiti's best-kept secret, is a paradise for nature enthusiasts. With its lush forests – including two botanical gardens – and pristine beaches, Huahine invites families to immerse themselves in the untamed beauty of the South Pacific. 

Also nestled within the Leeward Islands, the “Vanilla Island” of Tahaa stands as a hidden gem awaiting discovery by families seeking an intimate escape. Renowned for its vanilla plantations and pearl production, Tahaa captivates with fragrant landscapes and vibrant coral gardens. Engaging in a vanilla-themed workshop allows children to understand the cultivation process and create their own vanilla-infused keepsakes.  

Where to Stay – Leeward Islands: Le Taha’a by Pearl Resorts 

Located on the private islet of Motu Tautau with stunning views of the lush shores of Tahaa, Le Taha'a by Pearl Resorts is a Relais & Châteaux resort offering an unparalleled experience of indulgence and natural beauty. The overwater bungalows and beachfront suites of Le Taha’a provide breathtaking views of the turquoise lagoon and Bora Bora’s iconic Mount Otemanu in the distance. The resort's commitment to luxury is evident in its Polynesian-inspired architecture, generously sized accommodations, and personalized services. Guests can unwind at Tavai Spa, which offers a range of rejuvenating treatments using local ingredients. For families seeking a luxurious retreat, Le Taha'a provides a haven where parents can relax while children engage in supervised activities with a babysitter. 

Tahiti Family Travel French Polynesia© Grégoire Le Bacon

From water sports and snorkeling adventures to cultural excursions, the resort ensures a seamless blend of affluent luxury and family-friendly experiences. Families can savor gourmet cuisine at the resort's restaurants, featuring fresh and locally sourced ingredients. The resort's idyllic setting just off Taha'a provides a gorgeous backdrop for family bonding, whether through beachside picnics, exploring vibrant sea life, or embarking on a sunset cruise. Le Taha'a makes for an enchanting destination for those desiring a refined tropical getaway. 

Where to Stay – The Splurge: Motu Nao Nao  

One of the best private villa options in French Polynesia, Motu Nao Nao is a pristine retreat located on a fully private 75-acre island just off the coast of Raiatea. With its white sandy beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters, this small and intimate resort provides a haven for those seeking an indulgent tropical escape in absolute privacy. The property is limited to three two-person villas – six guests in total – making it the ideal spot to spend quality time with the kids and grandkids.  

French Polynesia Raiatea© Audrey Svoboda

Families are welcomed at Motu Nao Nao with open arms, as the resort seamlessly integrates family-friendly activities into its luxurious offerings. A kids’ club isn’t needed here – a full staff is present 24/7 to cater to the entire family’s individual requests, from special celebrations and private dance performances to wellness activities and spa treatments. Activities on offer are wide-ranging, from a Va’a Holopuni sailing canoe experience to kite surfing, paddleboarding, swimming, snorkeling, and diving. Or let the team surprise the kids with an outdoor movie theater set up on a secluded platform for a screening of Moana. After the screening, the family can gather around the campfire to toast marshmallows and gaze up at the stunningly clear night sky. 

French Polynesia beckons families to unlock the secrets of paradise together, weaving a tapestry of experiences that celebrate the beauty of nature, the richness of culture, and the joy of togetherness. In this archipelago of dreams, families can discover a destination where luxury and adventure coalesce, creating a truly magical escape that transcends the ordinary and leaves an indelible mark on the hearts of all who wander its shores. Contact a Ker & Downey designer to start planning your journey to French Polynesia. For more travel inspiration from Quest Magazine, follow Quest Magazine on Instagram.

*Images courtesy of The Brando Resort | Tahiti Tourisme © Grégoire Le Bacon and Audrey Svoboda 

The Itinerary
Leeward Islands Private Catamaran Cruise

Charter the Allegra Lagoon 630 MY, a 64-foot five-cabin catamaran perfect for a multigenerational island-hopping adventure through French Polynesia. Each en suite double cabin provides plenty of room with lots of storage space. A central kitchen, solarium, and lounge round out the interior facilities, while the exterior offers several sunbathing areas and two large trampolines. Also at disposal on board are standup paddle boards, kayaks, floating hammocks, and snorkeling equipment. Three dedicated crew members are on hand to pilot the boat, prepare meals, and cater to guests' every need. 

Suggested Journey At A Glance:

  • Day 1: Raitatea to Tahaa
  • Day 2: Tara to Huahine
  • Day 3: Huahine
  • Day 4: Huahine to Tahaa
  • Day 5: Tahaa to Bora Bora
  • Day 6-7: Bora Bora Lagoon

Spring 2024 Family Travelog
The Travelog

Quest Magazine

Dedicated to the experiential style of Ker & Downey travel, QUEST Magazine features eye-opening content that focuses on unforgettable experience, unheard-of destinations, and the very best our world has to offer. Each issue is packed with insider information, what's new in the world of travel, and editorial pieces that focus on our global culture, philanthropy, and transformative travel.

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