The beautiful islands of Tahiti are on most people’s bucket list of destinations to visit, not least for the turquoise waters, friendliness of the locals and the promise of a tranquil, laidback holiday. However, another draw should be its abundance of overwater bungalow accommodation, which the islands are famous for.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of these stunning lodgings. As the story goes, three Americans, Hugh Kelley, Muk McCallum and Jay Carlisle, known as the “Bali Hai Boys” visited and fell in love with French Polynesia. They promptly opened a hotel on Moorea (an island in the north west of Tahiti), which was very popular due to its stunning location, beautiful beach and great snorkeling. However, they wanted to do the same on Raiatea (the second largest island after Tahiti) but hit a huge stumbling block because there was no sandy beach to place the hotels. They ingeniously came up with the solution of building the bungalows over the water, to give guests direct access to the lagoon. They even fashioned a way for guests to be able to look through part of the floor into the lagoon, and that’s how the glass-bottom floor was born.

Bucket list goals: Overwater bungalow holiday in TahitiThe first three overwater bungalows were built at the Bali Hai Hotel on Raiatea in 1967. Fifty years on, there are now 884 overwater bungalows spread across 22 hotels in seven of The Islands of Tahiti’s 118 islands, offering guests the ultimate island luxury getaway.

Bucket list goals: Overwater bungalow holiday in TahitiThe designs have come a long way from the original stilted homes, allowing guests to admire the tropical fish swimming below glass-floor panels – fondly referred to as Tahiti TV! Today the bungalows have evolved into palatial suites offering the amenities of a first-class hotel room. Boasting private terraces, infinity pools, hammocks, spa baths, signature glass floors, and breakfast delivered by outrigger canoe. These iconic designs paved the way for modern luxurious accommodation, all the while staying true to local Polynesian culture.

Bucket list goals: Overwater bungalow holiday in Tahiti

Speaking about the attraction of the overwater bungalows, Mr Paul Sloan, CEO of Tahiti Tourisme, said: “For many travellers looking for the perfect South Pacific escape, staying in an overwater bungalow is a can’t miss experience. The overwater bungalows are one of many types of authentic and luxurious accommodation that visitors can find in our islands. They also compliment The Islands of Tahiti’s striking natural beauty and have become an icon around the world.”

If we’ve inspired you to head on over to Tahiti, here are five overwater bungalow hotels you should check out:

Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa

Visit the hotel here


Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora 

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Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa – Relais & Châteaux

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Visit the hotel here


Hôtel Kia Ora Resort & Spa, Rangiroa

Visit the hotel here


Intercontinental Tahiti Resort & Spa

Visit the hotel here

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