Portfolio: Sample from T+E Magazine: Tahiti Issue (April. 2014)
Picking the Perfect
Overwater bungalows have become Tahiti’s trademark
image and, for many, the symbol of an ultimate dream vacation.
Words & Photos by Stacey McLeod
Surprisingly, the hotel concept is still fairly young (nearing its 50th anniversary). Club Bali Hai
Moorea Resort was the first hotel to unveil them in the 1960s, inspired by traditional Polynesian huts.
Nowadays, overwater bungalows are found throughout the Tahitian islands. While they’re the
priciest of accommodations here, you’re paying for the over-the-top experience of waking up to the
lapping of waves, and slipping out for a private sunrise dip in the calm lagoon waters as tropical fish
scatter around you. There’s literally some of the world’s best snorkelling right off of your dock. At
night, you can watch fish, rays and even lagoon sharks swim under the glass coffee tables and floors
(nicknamed “Tahitian TV”), attracted to the light.
The bungalows are pretty fascinating pieces of architecture and, while sitting in a cottage on stilts
above the water, it’s hard not to think about why they’re so common here and not other places—and
how they can rest so close to the water without being hit by waves. It turns out, Tahiti’s calm conditions
are perfect for overwater life. It’s generally safe from cyclones, and Tahiti is located at an amphidromic
point for the lunar tide cycle. This means that the lunar tide is minimal and water levels in the lagoons
barely change, both day and night.
But as you can imagine, hovering over the ocean can be hard on an exterior. Thatched roofs, made
from pandanus leaves, need to be replaced roughly every seven years.
Picking the Perfect Overwater Bungalow
There are lots of overwater bungalows found at resorts throughout Tahiti, with several options to
choose from. Ask yourself the following questions so you can request the right bungalow from the
1. Are you looking for a romantic hideaway or travelling as a group or family?
Most overwater bungalows are built for couples, but some resorts offer multi-room—and even
multi-level—bungalows that can house a group.
2. Do you prefer sunrise or sunset?
If you like taking in gorgeous skies with a glass of wine or prefer to kick back with a cup of coffee,
you’ll want to request a bungalow that’s facing the right direction.
3. How many perks does it have?
Ask about the little perks, like soaker tubs, private plunge pools, or the number of glass floors and
where they’re located. It’s different for every resort—and even some bungalows within them. Some
have glass coffee tables that look down on the ocean floor, around the bathtub, on the deck or on
the floor in the middle of the cabin.
4. Are you seeking complete silence?
Overwater bungalows take a beating from the salty air and require a lot of maintenance. Ask the
resort if there is currently construction on any of the bungalows and, if so, if you can secure a
bungalow away from the action.