Six South Pacific Sips

Six South Pacific Sips

1. Air Tahiti Nui

Begin your journey at 30,000 feet on Air Tahiti Nui’s direct, eight-hour flight from LAX. In business class, indulge in the French Polynesian menu (be sure not to miss the luscious foie gras mille-feuille). Sip the fragrant, signature Orange Blossom Cocktail, a twist on the screwdriver, just before slipping on your sleep mask and nodding off.

2. Carrefour

After landing in Papeete, swing by Carrefour, a local supermarket, and pick up a dark or light bottle of Tahiti’s locally made rum—recognizable by the Gauguin-like illustrations on the bottles—and plump green pamplemousse (also known as French grapefruit), Tahiti’s sweeter, less acidic cousin of the grapefruit. They make a refreshing combination.

3. Vin de Tahiti

A marvel of nature is the grapevines that sprout from coral rock soil. Dominique Aurory’s French Polynesian wine label, Vin de Tahiti, is located in Rangiroa and offers vineyard tours and tastings. Vin de Tahiti’s rosé and white wines are served in many fine dining restaurants in Tahiti.

4. Raiatea Lodge Hotel

Snack on prawns in mango sauce at the charming Raiatea Lodge Hotel and wash them down with the house’s lip-smacking namesake concoction. Made from the French spirit, Soho Starfruit, an infusion of star fruit enriched with honey, citrus and spices, it’s perfectly balanced with white rum, fresh pineapple and orange juices.

5. Hotel Kia Ora Resort & Spa

Stay the night in Rangiroa in one of Hotel Kia Ora Resort & Spa’s secluded villas with your own patio and plunge pool. Follow the path of white hibiscus and coconut trees that lead to the glass-floored, ’60s-chic Miki Miki Bar that seems to float on the lagoon. The lounge’s frothy pink signature cocktail, the vodka-based Miki Miki, combines flavors of banana liqueur with coconut, pineapple and pomegranate and makes for the ultimate cooler

6. InterContinental Tahiti Resort

Before boarding your flight back home, take in a traditional tamure dance show at the lavish InterContinental Tahiti Resort while sipping the Tiki Bar’s house specialty, The Beachcomber—an addictive dark rum and coconut ice cream cocktail served from a coconut shell. The perfect way to say nana to island paradise.

Here are more recommended spots for tropical sips:

Think Bora Bora is the only place in French Polynesia to get your tropical tipple on? Some of the South Pacific’s greatest sips can be found in a treasure trove of elegant hotels and unexplored places. W.E. journeys to the Society Islands and the Tuamotu atoll, Rangiroa, to uncover drink delights far beyond kitsch cocktails.

1. Upon landing in Tahiti’s capital city, Papeete, peruse the municipal market, Le Marché and take in the symphony of native islanders strumming traditional Polynesian melodies in the center of the market square. Hydrate with ice-cold coconut water straight from its freshly cracked shell and stroll through colorful rows of spiny fruits.

2. Take a drive out of Papeete through the coastal mountains of Mataiea and head to the Musée Gauguin. Linger in the lush botanical gardens among water lilies, ficus trees and Galapagos turtles.

3. Charter a boat from Huahine Nautique to your destination. Your captain will prepare lunch and serenade you with ukulele accompaniment. Sip a cold Hinano beer, while the national dish, poisson cru, is made on the spot from the milk and flesh of several varieties of coconuts, fresh squeezed lime and cubes of ruby red tuna.

4. Fly in to Raietea and make your way to Taha’a via chartered catamaran from Tahiti Yacht Charter. Cruise to French Polynesia’s only Relais & Châteaux property, Le Taha’a Island Resort and Spa. After settling into the over-water-bungalow village, venture to Manuia, the hotel bar, and sip the resort’s revered Taha’a Vanilla Cocktail, made with coco vanilla liquor, vodka and local vanilla. Retire to your bungalow to bathe in a pontoon-shaped bathtub or take a lagoon dip from your private dock.

5. Tahiti’s vanilla beans are among the most aromatic in the world and appear in everything from creamy coconut milk sauces to delicate tropical cocktails. By way of Terainui Tours, take a drive through Taha’a, just outside of the town of Faaaha. Tour a private vanilla plantation and pick up a few well-stuffed bags of vanilla beans and a bottle of Noa Noa vanilla liqueur, the island’s creamy, nog-like spirit. 

Published on February 1, 2012