They called this a “test.” The Islands photo staff spent more than a month sleeping in, shooting, and OK, “testing” the iconic overwater bungalows in Tahiti. Sure, it sounds easy but there is a lot of work involved, and there are many questions that need to be answered. Is the location convenient? Is it family-friendly? How is the food? Are the rooms big? Just how private is private? Will it break the bank? And so on.
It was a tough job, and someone had to do it. After so much work, and visiting so many beautiful tropical locations, our photographers selected their favorite overwater bungalows in Tahiti.
Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort and Spa
Located on the private island of Motu To’opua, Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort and Spa is well-known as the home of the only two-story overwater bungalow (it’s really a villa) in the South Pacific.
The King Deluxe Overwater Villa features a terrace that leads right into the gorgeous lagoon, and depending on luck or preference, guests will enjoy a view of the horizon or Mt. Otemanu. While they look classic and traditional from the outside, the deluxe villas boast modern, luxurious amenities, including a large bathroom and separate dressing room and seating area.
InterContinental Le Moana
Offering horizon or lagoon views, the overwater bungalows at InterContinental Le Moana are perfect for explorers. After enjoying breakfast that is delivered each morning in a canoe, guests can spend the day relaxing on Matira Beach, swimming and paddleboarding in the lagoon, or seeking adventure on a hike around Mt. Otemanu.
Being on Bora Bora’s main island also makes money-saving market trips easy.
With a view of the lagoon from the bathtub, it’s understandable if guests never step foot outside of the InterContinental Thalasso‘s luxurious overwater villas. However, it would be a shame to miss out on the incredible dining, from loungers and umbrellas at the South Beach Bar to an intimate, romantic experience at Le Corail, which features the largest wine cellar in French Polynesia.
This resort also serves the most epic tuna sashimi ever: The serving platter itself is made of tuna.
Le Maitai Polynesia
At Le Maitai Polynesia, 13 is a lucky number. Guests looking for privacy and romance can book one of the resort’s 13 Tahitian Overwater Bungalows, or step out into the sand while staying in one of the 13 Beach Bungalows. Of course, only in the overwater bungalows will you have the opportunity to look down and appreciate the local marine life, as the glass coffee table serves as a window to the water. The price says you’re in a hotel. Fish swimming under the couch says you’re not.
Can’t miss: The Haere Mai restaurant features a weekly Polynesian barbecue and buffet.
Le Méridien features seven different types of bungalows and villas, including the signature Overwater Bungalows and Overwater Premium Bungalows. The difference between them is the latter has a larger terrace and a clear view of Mt. Otemanu. Otherwise, both bring guests close to the marine life with glass floors and spiral staircases that descend into the lagoon.
This is arguably the best resort for families and kids, with one-of-a-kind snorkeling in a lagoon that is teeming with turtles.
Bora Bora Pearl Resort and Spa
Another great family pick, the overwater bungalows at Bora Bora Pearl Resort and Spa are surrounded by shallow water with lots of fish in the coral garden. These bungalows are highlighted by furnished sundecks with gazebos. Offering more privacy, as well as new amenities following a recent renovation, the End of Pontoon Overwater Suites are among the most popular overwater bungalows in Tahiti. Both of the Bora Bora Pearl Resort and Spa’s bungalow styles feature glass tops on the coffee and bedside tables so the marine life is always around.
Perfect for couples, the Superior Bungalow at Sofitel Marara is half-overwater and half above ground, boasting all the necessities for a perfect romantic getaway. The larger luxury bungalows offer a little more space but are still ideal for two people seeking ultimate privacy. Both bungalows feature direct lagoon access and the basic amenities in a truly luxurious setting.
Sofitel Marara also offers the easiest access to mainland adventures, like jeep tours into the historic hills.
St. Regis Bora Bora Resort
Think enormous. While the St. Regis Bora Bora Resort offers several types of overwater bungalows, they all have one thing in common: oversized rooms. The 1,500-sq. ft. Overwater Deluxe Otemanu Villa features one bedroom, a lounge and a large bathroom, in addition to a terrace with a dining gazebo. It’s hard to believe an overwater bungalow could be more luxurious, but the 3,455-sq. ft. two-bedroom Overwater Royal Otemanu Villa takes things to an unimaginable level.
Connected by a lounge area, both bedrooms have their own extravagant bathrooms, but the kicker is the private swimming pool on the villa’s massive terrace, which also features two private dining gazebos.
Sofitel Private Island
The two overwater bungalow styles available at Sofitel Private Island offer all of the same amenities, in terms of direct lagoon access, private terraces and outdoor showers. The only real difference is the view, but you can’t go wrong here with the mix of lagoon life and high overlooks.
Four Seasons Bora Bora Resort
They thought of everything at Four Seasons Bora Bora. The one-bedroom overwater bungalows are available with lagoon, beach or mountain view, and they offer a private deck with two loungers, an oversized tub inside a bathroom that opens onto the lagoon and a sofa bed in addition to a king-size bed, making it perfect for couples or small families. One-bedroom bungalows are also available with plunge pools. Need more space for larger families and groups? The Two-Bedroom Overwater Bungalow Suites are twice as large (more than 2,200-sq. ft.) and are available with two king beds or a king bed and two queens.
There is even a complimentary washer and dryer on every boardwalk, because, again, they thought of everything.
Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa
The exterior of the overwater bungalows at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa is the classic Tahiti picture — long boardwalks and expanses of blue water. Inside, though, is a different story as the bungalows are stylish and modern, featuring glass flooring for endless views of marine life and private terraces.
So green, no boardwalks. The biggest decision to make when choosing a room at InterContinental Moorea is whether you want a garden suite with a private plunge pool or the overwater bungalow with direct lagoon access. Obviously, we prefer the latter, especially with paddleboards and kayaks available for exploration through and beyond the lagoon. Our photographer’s only regret? “Wish I had the suite overlooking the dolphin lagoon.”
There are several overwater bungalow styles available at InterContinental Tahiti, but the crown jewel is the Overwater Motu Villa Suite. Floor-to-ceiling windows and tropical luxury highlight the lone overwater villa that boasts enough space for four adults and two children. However, the massive deck makes it almost impossible to want to be inside.
An added benefit of this resort is its proximity to the airport. It is a great transit stop for late flights or one last fling.
For those who want an overwater experience near the civilization of the main island, Le Meridien is the perfect choice. With seven types of accommodations available, guests can enjoy the simplicity of the standard Overwater Bungalows, which offer direct access to the water, or spread out a little more with the added space of the Overwater Premium Bungalows. Either way, the lagoon awaits.
With overwater bungalows just shy of 1,000-sq. ft., the interior of the Le Taha’a suites is among the best. The bathtub was so nice our photographer even took a self-portrait in it (not shown).
The End of Pontoon Overwater Suite offers the most privacy and will leave guests feeling like they’re the only people in the lagoon. All three overwater suites feature a king size bed and one single bed, making them perfect for couples or small families.
Manava Beach Resort and Spa
Formerly known as Moorea Pearl Resort and Spa, Manava Beach Resort and Spa is defined by smaller bungalows with a hip island vibe. While the Overwater Bungalows offer a mountain view from the shallow lagoon, the Premium Overwater Bungalows are all about the ocean. The private deck features two loungers for rest, relaxation and simply marveling at the horizon.
Both bungalows are available at a good price, and there is also great snorkeling at the drop-off.
Hotel Kia Ora Resort and Spa
Located on Rangiroa, the “Island of the Endless Lagoon,” Hotel Kia Ora offers overwater bungalows that cover all the bases. A spacious bedroom that opens onto a terrace, with glass floor areas for watching the fish swim by? Check. A large, lavish bathroom? Check. A terrace nearly as large as the bedroom, with a staircase that leads to a smaller deck and the beautiful lagoon water? Check.
On top of that, guests will experience amazing snorkeling at the most amazing atoll.
Sofitel la Ora
The Luxury and Superior Bungalows at Sofitel la Ora aren’t the largest in terms of square footage, but their names say it all. Most of the bungalows offer a panoramic view of the lagoon from a private terrace, but inside guests will be thrilled with the modern, tropical décor. What makes the bungalows seem more spacious, though, are the raised ceilings.
Vahine Island Resort and Spa
They call it “the ultimate island fantasy,” and the overwater bungalow experience at Vahine Island lives up to the hype. This small, private island located northeast of Tahaa boasts one of the most beautiful lagoons in the world, and this under-the-radar resort offers three of the best overwater bungalows in Tahiti from which to enjoy it.
The interior is unmistakably dedicated to local culture and style, including an aquarium coffee table that lights up at night to attract marine visitors.