One of my favorite things about travel is that feeling of curiosity and excitement when stepping off the plane after arriving at a new destination. This is one of the reasons I like visiting the Islands of Tahiti so much. In the islands, you do not have to travel far to get that feeling of visiting a new and diverse destination. Just do a little island hopping among the 118 islands in French Polynesia.
Each island has its own unique personality and offers so many different experiences. I can still taste the sweetest and freshest pineapple I’ve ever had while on a 4x4 excursion in Moorea. Often when I am on the water, wherever I may be, I can almost feel the gentle sensation of drifting through the coral gardens in Taha’a. Oh, and the smell of vanilla always takes me back to Domaine Pari Pari, a local rum distillery on Taha’a (I highly recommend stopping by for a taste of their vanilla infused Tahitian rum – simply delicious).
The following Tahiti hotels made our Top 5 list this year. A few of our favorite resorts are undergoing extensive renovations and updates, including Le Tikehau by Pearl Resorts. Every hotel that made our Top 5 is open for business and welcoming guests in 2023. Here is quick overview of the resorts. Continue reading for images and explanations on why we chose them
As an added bonus, keep reading to see the specific room category that we believe provides the most value. If you fall in love with a certain resort below, be sure to click the link for our detailed Hotel Overview.
The calming breezes and surreal lagoon views from a tropical overwater bungalow are intoxicating, no matter how many times you experience them.
Although our Tahiti Specialists, Advisors and Consultants have been traveling to French Polynesia since the 1990s, personally, my trips to the South Pacific began around 10 years ago.
I can still remember my first experience in an overwater bungalow. The alluring and calming assault on all of my senses will forever be imprinted on my mind, and on my soul (hint: a little vanilla flavored local rum seems to enhance this experience).
Years later, when it has felt like life’s challenges are getting the best of me, I have been able to mentally summon the sensual nirvana of my time suspended above the warm waters of the South Pacific in an overwater bungalow. These memories have often provided me with momentary respite from whatever is weighing on my thoughts.
They may be just the answer for you as well.
Polynesians have longed used very simple wooden huts on stilts as shelters for fishing. But, the overwater bungalow, as a dreamy, luxury overnight accommodation, is a modern invention from the 1960s.
The first overwater bungalow was developed for tourists by three friends from California. These three innovators, founded the Bali Hai Hotels. (The name "Bali Hai" was borrowed from the famous song in South Pacific).
To attract more guests to their hotel, and provide a unique experience, the "Bali Hai Boys" developed the overwater bungalow. These thatched roof huts on stilts soon became an iconic accommodation in French Polynesia.
Today, overwater bungalows are a symbol of tropical luxury and escape. Their beautiful views, direct access to the water, and glass floor panels are becoming more popular. But, they are still rare enough to maintain their elusive lure of Polynesian enlightenment that seems to beckon you like the siren song.
As distinct as each atoll, motu, or island can be, they do share a few things in common with each other. Namely, the sun, the sea, and those captivating overwater bungalows. As a follow up to our post highlighting the Top 5 Overwater Bungalows in Bora Bora for 2023, we will continue our journey through the other islands in Tahiti by highlighting the overwater bungalows we have fallen in love with on our travels.
Below is our list of favorite overwater bungalows in Tahiti for 2023. For additional detail, we've provided links to our comprehensive Hotel Overviews containing:
When I first stepped onto the narrow wooden pier at Vahine, I could tell the resort and island were one-of-a-kind. Each of the nine bungalows at Vahine is unique and contains handmade furniture from native wood found on the island.
"The Overwater Bungalows at Vahine are a treat. They feature a private ladder to the lagoon and a glass bottom viewing table. But, most of all, the quiet beauty of the surroundings immediately lulls you into complete relaxation. Book early as there are only three of them."
Arrange a 15-30 minute Advisory Session with one of our Tahiti Specialists for any self-booking or travel planning questions.
The Hilton Moorea is quite a contrast to Vahine mentioned above as it is a much bigger resort. However, given its expansive beach and the size of the grounds, we still get the feeling of isolation and privacy when visiting.
"At the Hilton the Panoramic Overwater Bungalows have long been a favorite of our team and our clients. My personal favorite is the Premium Panoramic Overwater Bungalow as they offer better views and a tad more privacy than the standard rooms."
For seasoned advice on excursions, restaurants, or transfers, schedule an Advisory Session with one of our Tahiti Specialists.
There is something about the Sofitel Kia Ora at night. After sunset, I am always overcome by the romance and Polynesian charm of this resort. It is such a beautiful place with the torch lights and candles flickering (not to mention the incredible restaurant, “K”, which comes alive after dark).
"While we love the romance and cozy feel of all the overwater bungalows here, the “Luxury” bungalows are our overall favorite. These rooms are larger than the “Superior” bungalows and the decks are twice the size! Plus, the Horizon view puts you right at the end of the pontoon giving you excellent views, and enhanced privacy."
For quick advice, arrange an easy and affordable Advisory Session with one of our Venture Tahiti experts.
While only an hour from the main island, Hotel Kia Ora offers something unique and all its own. The authenticity of the Rangiroa atoll and its huge lagoon (the size of the Island of Tahiti) will make you feel like you are in another world.
"At Kia Ora, the overwater bungalows feature a large terrace, sundeck, and a private swim platform for easy access to the lagoon. Inside, there is a glass floor panel (“Tahitian TV”) to observe the mesmerizing sea life below."
Talk to a Venture Tahiti Travel Advisor by arranging a private Advisory Session.
If you could magically combine five-star luxury with authentic Polynesian architecture… oh and an amazing turquoise lagoon, you would end up with one of my favorite places in the world, Le Taha’a. I am always amazed at how the resort can blend so effortlessly into its surroundings. This Relais & Châteaux resort is truly an amazing place to enjoy an overwater bungalow.
"When we visit, we prefer the Sunset Overwater Suites. You will easily see how these bungalows earned the top spot outside of Bora Bora (although, the Bora Bora Overwater Suites do allow you to gaze at Mt. Otemanu in the distance). The Sunset Suites are the furthest from the main resort facilities and very private. They also have “Instagram perfect” views in the evening as the sun sinks back into the ocean for the night"
Ask us anything! If you’d like some quick help in your travel planning, arrange a quick Advisory Session with our experts.
I hope you enjoyed reading about our favorite overwater bungalows in Tahiti. If you can’t tell, we are ready to get back to the islands. Any of the overwater bungalows listed above is easily worth the overnight flight from California. Even more so in times like these.
We all need something to look forward to. Why not get started planning your next trip now? Soon you could be on the deck of your own overwater bungalow, enveloped by the warm embrace that only a Polynesian sunset can provide.
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