Food Lover's Guide to the Society Islands
Tasty Traditional Cuisines on These Island Paradises
The Society Island archipelago—home to Tahiti, Bora Bora and Mo’orea—is filled with so many luminous lagoons, radiant beaches and breathtaking vistas, odds are you’ll spend most of your visit slack-jawed in complete awe, your mouth permanently agape. Luckily for you, there are some tasty treats you can stuff into your mouth while it’s open.
Although the views are sure to impress, it’s the food that surprises, offering you a tantalizing taste of fare rich in French history with a refreshing tropical twist. To try the authentic dishes of the Society Islands, spend some time exploring the towns, villages and cities that make each one beautifully unique.
Often just a stopover point for honeymooners and vacationers, the bustling main island of Tahiti is filled with gastronomic goodies. Before you depart to Mo’orea or Bora Bora, grab lunch at the Pink Coconut, where you can feast on tuna sashimi or fresh fish tartar, wash it down with a Hinano local beer, and enjoy the stunning views of nearby Mo’orea’s lush mountains.
For something a little fancier, make dinner reservations at Le Coco's in Punavai, just 15 minutes from Papette. Located right next to the beach, the calming sounds of the ocean provide the perfect soundtrack for your romantic dinner of traditional French fare, with a slight South Pacific flair. Order the chef's sampler or the seven-course tasting menu, which comes with ample wine pairings, but only if you have two and a half hours to savor one of those meals you’ll still talk about a decade later. The black pearl dessert, a luscious chocolate "pearl" stuffed with fresh fruit, will end this once in a lifetime with a bit of glitz and glam.
The best food on the island—just like the most secluded beaches—is found off the beaten path, so grab a scooter, a bike or a car and drive to Snack Mahan -- a small beachside shack located on the Northwestern side of the island. Order the grilled Mahi or the tuna burger -- both are freshly caught the same day. Finish your meal in true Tahitian style with a big scoop of soft and creamy vanilla bean ice cream.
To end a perfect day in paradise, enjoy an early sunset dinner at Moorea Beach Cafe. The restaurant sits next to the stunning aqua-hued lagoon, offering astonishing views of the setting sun from almost every table. The owner, Bruno Jamais’ French upbringing and passion for Mo’orea is reflective in the food, which covers everything from traditional salad niçoise to sesame seed crusted tuna. Although you could order off the menu, the best dishes are those Bruno suggests himself – so be sure to ask for his famous recommendations.
If you can tear yourself away from your luxurious overwater bungalow, book a six-hour picnic tour on Moana Tours. Not only will you get to feed sharks, swim with stingrays and snorkel around some of the most beautiful reefs in the world, you'll also get a taste of authentic island cuisine. The guides will make you a mouthwatering, out-of-this-world lunch made with freshly caught fish, just-squeezed coconut milk and juicy local fruits.
A local, and traveler favorite, is Bloody Mary's on the mainland. The vibe is kitschy but comfortable, with sandy floors, thatched roof and carved coconut seats. The menu offers a vast collection of island and visitor favorites, like mako shark, striped marlin, mahi-mahi, grouper and rock lobster. Although they offer signature beers and cocktails, your best bet is to ask the bartender to whip up his favorite using lively island ingredients.