Our last secret of Tahiti is one of our favorites, and perhaps one of the worst-kept: the overwater bungalows. This world-famous hotel room that fills the daydreams of honeymooners and travelers originated in the islands of Tahiti 50 years ago this year and we must say, they are aging quite well! Our most recent additions include the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa’s overwater pool villas and the overwater Brando suites that include multiple rooms, a spacious living area, and an expansive deck and pool with an unrivaled view of Mt. Otemanu. Read more below on the history of these idyllic forms of accommodation that we just can’t get enough of.
Overwater bungalows. These two words immediately conjure images of exotic luxury, tropical escapes, romantic seclusion, and the South Pacific. Throughout the years, these traditional huts perched on top of the breathtaking lagoons have come to be the quintessential icon of Tahiti. Becoming a bucket list item for many travelers, the overwater bungalows offer first class accommodations in an unrivaled tropical setting. Although originating as simple one bedroom huts placed atop cement stilts in the water, the most exclusive overwater bungalows now feature several rooms, plunge pools, Jacuzzis, outdoor terraces, air conditioning, wifi, and multiple flat screen televisions.
It is fairly common knowledge that overwater bungalows trace their origin back to the islands of Tahiti in the 1960s. However, not everyone knows about the origins of the creators, the Bali Hai Boys. The three Bali Hai Boys – Hugh Kelley, Don “Muck” McCallum, and Jay Carlisle – are USC graduates originally from Newport Beach, California. They decided together to escape the so-called rat race and moved to Tahiti and promptly purchased a vanilla plantation. After a failed attempt at growing and selling the Tahitian vanilla bean, they transitioned into the hotel business and created the now-popular overwater bungalow concept for a hotel room on the island of Moorea. Before the island even had air travel to it, the men would strategically place themselves at the dock and entice just arriving tourists to stay at their hotel. News spread of their tropical paradise, leading national magazines such as Life to run feature articles on their story putting Tahiti and overwater bungalows on the map. The rest, as they say, is history.
Although the design will forever be associated with French Polynesia, overwater bungalows are quickly appearing in many tropical locales around the globe including: Maldives, Fiji, Mexico, the Philippines, and the Caribbean, among others. Disney has even jumped on the bandwagon for some of their resorts. With so many options available, it can be difficult to decide which location is the best fit for you on your upcoming vacation. However, can you really ever beat the original? We think not. Which is why if you are itching to take that dream vacation and stay in an overwater bungalow, you have to go to Tahiti!
Overwater bungalows are the ultimate indulgence, a once-in-a-lifetime experience where travelers can enjoy the breathtaking ocean views in a traditional Polynesian-style hut with a close proximity to nature yet still retain the exclusivity and luxurious amenities of a modern-day high-end resort. The authenticity and differentiation that so many travelers crave, is precisely what these bungalows offer and what makes them so unique. Just as the Bali Hai Boys yearned for an escape from the rat race, many travelers today still yearn for that escape on their vacations. The creation of the overwater bungalows has insured that throughout time, there will always be a secluded tropical escape waiting to embrace travelers as they arrive at their destination.
Have you stayed in an overwater bungalow before? Which one was your favorite? And if you haven’t, contact our Tahiti Specialists to make that dream vacation a reality.