For those of you who have been following us for some time now, you know that we try our best to answer all our readers on our blog, specializing on French Polynesia. For about a year now, we have started to extend our field of vision on travels to French Polynesia. Because even if the majority of French people who come to French Polynesia do not sleep in 5-star hotels, more and more of you are asking us for advice on beautiful hotels.
In this article, we take you on the discovery of a magnificent and charming accommodation, the Raiatea Lodge, on the island of the same name. We know the island from having been there several times in previous years, but we had never had the opportunity to sleep in this beautiful lodge which has recently been completely renovated. I had been there before the renovations last year for a meal one evening, and had already found the atmosphere to be nice and the meal excellent.
So off we go for a great weekend (three nights) in this dream setting. As usual, we specify from the start that this article was written in partnership with the hotel. However, we share with you our honest opinion about the hotel and remain completely independent on the content of this article.
At the end of the article, I recommend you two activities you can’t miss during your stay in Raiatea. You will love them !
So off we go to discover this beautiful hotel which, I’ll say right now, is in my opinion one of the best places if you are passing through the island of Raiatea, for example during a honeymoon in French Polynesia.
I must admit that from the moment we arrived at the Raiatea Lodge, things started well. With Melanie, we are used to traveling, both around the world (of course, not as much recently with the Covid19) and throughout French Polynesia, and we always attach great importance to first impressions, the famous welcome and the first few minutes at the hotel. And what can we say, except that we were more than welcomed by the Staff. From the beginning, we were treated to a welcome that we consider personalized, really attentive, with care, and honestly, it was a real pleasure, especially in French Polynesia where the welcome is not always up to standard depending on the accommodations.
But here, we were really delighted. They sat us down in the outdoor lounge, in front of the main entrance of the Lodge which we discover. I must say that even if I went there maybe a year and a half before, I hardly remembered it. And that’s good because it gave me the impression of discovering a new place, Melanie obviously too. We were brought an excellent fresh homemade fruit juice and explained how things were going to go during our stay. A good short briefing of 10/15 minutes giving us all the information we needed to know about the hotel.
We take advantage of our arrival to discover the beautiful outdoor lobby that overlooks the restaurant and the swimming pool, which from where we are, already makes you want to take a dip. The place is really beautiful and the decoration blends very well into the setting. A turquoise blue/white trend which at first sight reminds me a little of Florida in certain aspects. All the colors can be found pretty much everywhere as well in the cushions, as the paintings, the welcome messages and even on the pool side. We are simply in awe and can tell that we are going to be just fine here for the 3 following full days.
While waiting for our bungalow to be ready (we are in advance), we decide to eat at noon at the hotel restaurant which offers a breathtaking view of the swimming pool and the immense garden located in front of the restaurant. While waiting for our dishes, I walk around the property and discover this sumptuous swimming pool, completely renovated recently. Because yes, as mentioned at the beginning of the article, the hotel was completely renovated in November 2019 and just reopened in July 2020. The result is superb. Everything has been redone. But above all, the biggest change is the landscaping of the large garden with the integration of beautiful wooden bungalows and turquoise blue color. Even though we don’t have access to our bungalow yet, I went for a walk in the middle of the 7 wooden bungalows set on the sides of the garden. Simply turn around to see the large colonial-style building where the restaurant and bar are located on the ground floor, and the rooms upstairs. I’ll tell you more about it later.
We enjoy with pleasure our dishes ordered for lunch which are really excellent, a grilled steak for me and a lagoon fish prepared “à la meunière” for Melanie. Our vacation is off to a good start. We finish our meal and a staff member accompanies us to our famous family bungalow with lagoon view. We detail all this below, but there are 3 family bungalows in the garden. From the first steps on the outside corridor leading to the terrace, the atmosphere is set. Arriving on this huge white wooden terrace is, I must say, grandiose. These family bungalows seem really huge even from the outside. The terrace is perfect with a superb decoration which decorates the place with taste: very nice wooden furniture, a sofa falsely suspended from the ceiling (perfect for resting), a wooden coat rack to put the towels, everything is very well thought out. The terrace offers a beautiful view of the garden just in front and of course of the lagoon and the sunset that we will enjoy every evening.
It is even more spectacular when you enter the bungalow. The decoration, the interior design and the overall beauty of the place is what stood out to us from the start. We quickly grab Louis so that he doesn’t make a mess before we can take pictures at the entrance of the bungalow! We are shown around our family bungalow (of 65m2) which consists of two rooms, one with a King size bed (for us) and the other of two single beds (for the children). We enter through the lounge area located in the main bedroom. The decoration hung on the wall is a marvel and honestly, I would dream to have the same thing at home! The room is full of flowers: on the desk, the bed, the sofa, in short, it is a delight for the eyes and clearly makes you say “we are going to be perfectly fine here”.
We discover the bathroom/toilet side with a beautiful walk-in shower that separates the two bedrooms. The children’s room is just as beautiful and nicely decorated. Everything is well thought out and it’s perfect. Regarding the equipment, there is a desk, perfect for working in the evening when everyone is asleep and to start setting up ideas for the article I am proposing today. Of course, the bungalow is air-conditioned, even if during our visit there in September 2020, the weather was nice and to our taste, air conditioning is not essential during this season. In hot season however, it will obviously be appreciable! There is also a safe at your disposal, a ceiling fan (for those who prefer), a fridge (very useful), a television, a coffee/tea machine and of course free internet connection in the hotel. In short, for us, it is sublime and we are happy to be there.
Meanwhile, we also take advantage of our afternoon to check out the swimming pool area which has been completely redesigned. Once again, you can only fall in love with this small area. The pool is really big, L-shaped and perfectly adapted for children since it offers several swimming heights. The turquoise blue tiling and white exteriors recall the decoration and color of the bungalows. For us, this is a success. But the nicest part is the facilities around the pool. You have access to deckchairs and rattan seats / sofas everywhere. To top it all off, you have, under a large shady pergola, two huge round sofas to sit on, the perfect spot to bask in the sunset while sipping a Pina Colada.
The setting is magical, it’s great.
To go further and provide you with a general introduction of the hotel, here is some interesting information you should know to prepare for your stay at the Raiatea Lodge. The hotel has 5 types of accommodation, namely:
- The Standard room (27m2): located on the first floor of the main building, it offers a partial view of the garden and lagoon. This is the most economical room.
- The Lagoon View Room (27m2): also on the first floor, this room offers a superb view of the lagoon located just in front of the hotel,
- The Family Suite (50m2) : located on the ground floor of the building, this suite has two bedrooms, ideal for family stays,
- The Lagoon View Bungalow (41m2) : these are the four recently built bungalows in the garden with a large terrace and a lagoon view,
- The Family Bungalow with lagoon view (65m2): it is in this accommodation that we spent our three nights. The bungalow offers two separate bedrooms and a magnificent terrace with a lagoon view. It is the ideal bungalow for couples with children!
Although we did not sleep in one of the rooms, we did have the opportunity to visit them upstairs, and I must say that they are really nice, very well decorated. The ones with the lagoon view seem to me to be a very good plan, but considering the small price difference with a lagoon view bungalow in the garden, I would rather recommend the bungalows.
In terms of dining, the hotel only has one restaurant on the ground floor of the main building, but what a restaurant! I don’t think I’ve never eaten so well on the island of Raiatea. All of the dishes were excellent and honestly, we were not once disappointed. There was one day in the week (while we were sleeping somewhere else) where we tried the restaurant of the Opoa Beach hotel, although it used to be renowned, we were more than disappointed with the meal, even if the setting is very beautiful.
We were on half board and let’s just say that we enjoyed the delicious homemade breakfasts offered every morning. Of course, it was not an all-you-can-eat buffet like in a (normal) 5-star hotel, but the essentials were there: croissants, pain au chocolat, homemade yoghurts flavored with vanilla (I want the same ones every morning in Tahiti, does anyone have the recipe?!), fresh fruit juice, coffee/tea, fresh fruit plates, ham/cheese plates. In short, for us it was very good! To make your mouth water, here is what you will found at the restaurant.
As mentioned above, the hotel has a beautiful garden between the swimming pool and the lagoon. The only ” hitch” of the hotel according to me is that it is located a little bit back from the ring road, even if between us, it did not bother us at all and you cannot hear the road from the rooms, restaurants, etc. You will enjoy crossing this garden and the road to go and rest on the other side, on the edge of the lagoon, to watch the sun fall behind the horizon on the famous Pearl of the Pacific, the island of Bora Bora. The view is magical.
Finally, concerning the activities offered at the hotel, you have free access to a kayak to enjoy the lagoon in front of the hotel, but especially to access the motu Miri Miri, a public motu about 15 minutes away by kayak. I’ll tell you more about it below. You also have free access to bicycles, which is very convenient for exploring the surroundings and even getting to Uturoa (10 km away). Finally, snorkeling equipment, board games and a library are also available. The hotel also offers a wide range of activities and paid excursions such as a tour of the island of Taha’a, scuba diving, car rentals, jet-ski rides, etc. Just ask the hotel staff for more information.
This is what you need to know about the hotel. Ah, and I almost forgot. The hotel has a transit room (with shower) where you can leave your luggage if you have to check out of your bungalow and catch a later flight. We didn’t use this because the staff kindly allowed us to keep our bungalow until it was time for our flight. Very convenient with our 3-month-old baby to take a nap. I will now be talking about the rest of our weekend.
The hotel also provided us with a rental car for two days, which allowed us to rediscover the island of Raiatea and in particular places that we had never visited before. We tell you everything! Of course, I’m not going to repeat everything I’ve already written in the article on the things to do in Raiatea. Nevertheless, we took the opportunity to go back to a few places we already knew, for the pleasure of the eyes! So, let me take you along for the ride!
To start off, we took advantage of the hotel’s free kayak rentals to go visit the small Miri Miri motu, located at only 15 minutes from the premises. I had been praised the merits of the place. So I took my (almost) 5-year-old son on the kayak with me, Mélanie staying cool with Téo, our last one of 3 months. We did not feel like bringing him out in the sun on a kayak in the middle of the lagoon. After some paddling, we quickly arrive on the sublime part of the Miri Miri islet. The arrival is magical, in translucent water and the view from the kayak with the motu in front of us and the island of Bora Bora on our right is amazing! We dodge a few coral potatoes on the right and on the left and here we are, finally arrived on this very beautiful motu of white sand. It is a public motu on which you can camp (permission from the city hall required). We tour the motu very quickly (it’s very small) with my son who is almost as delighted as me. I take the opportunity to shoot some beautiful “postcard” pictures of the place and here we are back at the hotel an hour later, very happy to have discovered this very beautiful motu. If you are at the hotel, it’s a no-brainer to go there. It is without particular difficulty. Just bring water and a cap for the sun (on the way, the motu is shaded). Judge the place by yourself.
For our first day, we took advantage of our rental car to head back to the east coast. We had heard that it was possible to discover several motus of the island of Raiatea, those famous white sand islets, such as the Motu Céran, off the island of Taha’a, which I already talk to you about on the blog. So, we made inquiries the day before to go on the motu Iriru. We found a provider who could take us to this little piece of paradise. The departure is just in front of the Casino Store, at PK9 on the east coast. There is a small market on the side of the road. You can contact Laina (87.33.12.03) for the outing. This will be ensured by Maxi TAPU Excursion, for 1000fr per adult and 500fr per child, round trip. As far as French Polynesia is concerned, it is rare to see such low prices, and that’s good.
We embark on the strokes of 9am, in direction of the famous Motu Iriru, for a few hours of idleness in a paradisiacal setting. This is the first time that we are going on the lagoon of Raiatea. Once on the water, you only have to turn around to appreciate the beauty of the landscapes! The island, green and lush, appears majestic. The arrival in limpid water at the motu is also magical. We found ourselves a small spot in the shade under a tree and set up all our gear, including a tent so that Téo can sleep. On the program until noon you wonder? A stroll around the motu for pictures, swimming in the clear waters of the motu, discussions with the locals, in short, a great time in a setting that leaves you speechless. Funny thing, on this motu you have a much more exposed side (ocean side) and a really quiet side for swimming (lagoon side), like a swimming pool. In both cases, the spot is sublime and clearly, if you have the time and the desire, this is the kind of place where you can spend a day with family or friends. In addition, you have access to drinking water, toilets, barbecues, in short, paradise is not far away… judge for yourself.
We leave the motu at noon, almost reluctantly, to go to a spot that we do not yet know, the gabbros walk. This new site arranged at PK2 of the traverse road allows us to visit a geological curiosity of the island, all with a very nice panorama on the interior of the island of Raiatea. For those who are wondering, the walk is interesting even if you are not a geographer or geologist like me… A small half hour on this site to observe the famous rocks as placed on the ground and here we are set off again in direction of the Marae of Taputapuatea, at PK 30 East.
Of course, this is the famous Marae, recently classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We are lucky to arrive there with very nice weather and we take pleasure in rediscovering the place, with a stroller for our little one. We didn’t have the opportunity to go up to the summit at the top of the path that recently opened. It seems to be very beautiful, but it requires a bit of walking and we were already a little late for our rendezvous at the new pearl farm that had just opened.
So we arrived at the Raiatea Pearl farm, at PK 42.7 on the East coast, in Opoa, a bit at the end of the world, well of the island of Raiatea. We meet Terei who welcomes us very well. In spite of the bad weather, we embark (for free) on the small boat to get to “the house on the water” as Louis says. It is indeed, a “real” house on the water, like all the pearl farms that we can find in French Polynesia. We are treated to a mini visit of the place and some explanations. Of course, we are already familiar with it, but it is still nice.
We discuss in particular about a product that we did not know at all: the Mabe. To make a long story short, the Mabe is the result of a mother-of-pearl secretion around half a synthetic core. This will be glued on the edge of the oyster (the same one that produces pearls in Tahiti) and the layers of mother-of-pearl will cover the half core. The result is a very particular, curved shape, which after a lot of work allows us to obtain jewelry with very original shapes. Melanie gave into a beautiful bracelet!
We end our weekend at the Raiatea Lodge by exploring the botanical garden which had just opened at PK14, East of the island. The spot is very recent, well decorated and really nice to walk around, even with a stroller! For those who wish to discover the local flora, this is an ideal place to stretch your legs in a beautiful tropical setting.
Our weekend in Raiatea is coming to an end and we have to return to Tahiti. What are we remembering? As we repeat more and more around us, Raiatea (and even Taha’a) are islands that we appreciate more and more as we visit them. The three sites that have just opened on the island (the Gabbros Walk, the Ridge Path and the Botanical Garden) add more things for tourists to do and see and that’s good.
Concerning the hotel, I must say that Melanie, as much as I and the children, were delighted. The setting and the new bungalows are sublime and what can I say about the food which to my liking is simply perfect. Do we recommend the place if you are passing through Raiatea? A 100% YES. In our opinion, you won’t be disappointed with the place. You can check the rates directly on their page.
We know the island very well and during our several stays here, we had the opportunity to test several activities. Here are the 2 activities that we absolutely recommend during your holiday in Raiatea.
- Boat trip on Raiatea and Tahaa lagoon : If you want to explore the beauties of these two islands from the lagoon, this is the trip for you! A pure delight!
- Kayaking on the Faaroa River : It's a perfect outing in my opinion: splendid landscape, calm and ecological activity and moreover economic! You won't regret it!
Anyway, we hope you liked our review of the Raiatea Lodge? Please do not hesitate to tell us in the comments what you thought of the article! If you are looking for another nice accommodation, but this time on the island of Taha’a, I invite you to come and read our review of Le Taha’a Island Resort and Spa.
See you soon for a new article, most likely about a nice spot on the island of Moorea!
Mélanie and Sylvain