Tropical Bungalows on the Shore of Coral Atoll
A bamboo and pandanus bungalow hovers over a crystalline lagoon, whose waves gently lap the shores of the Manihi atoll, a sliver of land in the South Pacific's Tuamotu Archipelago. Below the stilted bungalow's sundeck, a kayak lolls in the water. As you'd expect in a region where homes are built right on top of the water, life revolves around the ocean in French Polynesia. And Manihi Pearl Beach Resort—whose name references the coral island's famed black pearls—is no different. Every aspect of the resort, from its architecture and cuisine to its abundance of aquatic activities, embraces the tranquil island lifestyle.
An elevated pier stretches out from the white-sand coastline, branching off to each cottage's front patio. A sliding glass door leads to a spacious sundeck, where a spiral staircase leads down into the water. On shore, volleyball and bocce ball courts dot the beachfront, and the resort's open-air Miki Miki Bar serves tropical beverages from its spot stationed between the freshwater outdoor pool and nearby beach. During the included dinner at the Poe Rava Restaurant, guests sample the multifarious flavors of French Polynesian cuisine in dishes chosen from a rotating menu. The resort's black-pearl boutique both displays and sells the island's most beautiful resource, and the on-site Manea Spa ensures full-body relaxation with wraps, facials, massages, and tentacle scrubs.
Manihi: Black-Pearl Farms and Exotic Marine Life Beneath Tranquil Waters
Beneath the surface of Manihi's turquoise lagoon, a labyrinthine coral reef system plays host to a multitude of sea creatures. Hammerhead sharks, manta rays, and barracudas all call the atoll's shallow depths home, and at black-pearl farms, thousands of oysters dangle underwater beneath stilted, offshore huts. The isle's expert divers escort visitors beneath the sea to explore the stunning underwater landscapes, feed the sharks (depending on the season), and choreograph elaborate underwater ballets. The resort also offers opportunities for skimming across the island's surfaces on a complimentary loaner bike or kayak. On Wednesday nights, the resort's resident astrologist points out heavenly landmarks and constellations such as the Southern Cross and Vega.