As travel agents, we start to recognize certain patterns in client requests. For example, when ever people think of a visit to Polynesia they think of over water bungalows. Indeed, many high end resorts have them in Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora. To experience this first hand, we stayed in an over water bungalow at the Moorea Intercontinental Hotel. The things we do for our jobs!
What’s a bungalow?
What’s a bungalow? Well, it’s a stand alone hotel room with a thatched roof. Some are off the beach, some are on the beach, some have private gardens in the back and some have private pools. Others are on the water.
What does over water really mean?
At the Intercontinental Moorea, over water typically means that the room itself is on a reef (off the main land) while the deck is over water. Some bungalows are truly 100% over water. Bungalows we saw at many other hotels are 100% over water.
What really matters in an over water bungalow?
The fact that the main cabin is not over water is not a big deal. Some bungalows (not at the Intercontinental) do have glass floors so you can see underneath. But our observation is that those bungalows are so high off the water, there’s really nothing to see. In our opinion what matters is that the deck is over water. This means that you can jump right off the deck into the water and you can climb the ladder right back onto the deck. This means that you can see the fish from your deck easily (as the deck is very close to the water).
The other thing that matters is privacy. Some bungalows “look” out onto others while some look out entirely onto the lagoon. At the Intercontinental these are the “premium” over water bungalows. In these you have to work to see your neighbors. From our room, you can see boats going by but not much else.
We were also amazed at the difference location made with respect to the breeze. Our deck faced east and as a result we felt a strong breeze the entire time. Other bungalows had different exposures or were not on the water, making those rooms considerably warmer. All had air conditioning of course, but spending time on the deck was an added pleasure with a gentle breeze.
Snorkeling from the bungalow
We soon figured out that there was a plethora of fish right under our bungalow. We learned that going snorkeling before breakfast was advantageous for several reasons. The lagoon tended to be calmer. Also, the light was nice and flat. And we had less chance of getting sunburned. And really what could be a better start to the day than seeing brightly colored creatures going about their business in their very own world? Does it really get any better than this? We saw angel fish that were about 12 inches high. We saw parrot fish, blue tang as well as yellow and blue Sargent fish. When we swam a school of fish went right around us. There was great coral very near our room which attracted all this activity. Lots of brightly colored clams as well.
The best part? We could come and go whenever we wanted. No excursion, no boat ride. We simply rolled out of bed and jumped in the water to visit our little friends. We went snorkeling before AND after breakfast. And why not? We found an underwater nursery where they were growing coral to replace those destroyed in a previous storm. On our last day in the hotel, we snorkeled until the wind started kicking up. We noticed a storm moving in so we went back to the room. Sure enough, it rained most of that morning until we had to leave the resort at 11 am. Good thing we went snorkeling when we did.
Logistics: Moorea to Tahiti
Our stay in Moorea was over after three days. We checked out and then took our transfer to the ferry terminal. Next, we caught the 1 pm ferry to Tahiti. It’s a fast 30 minute ride. Due to the storm, it was a little choppy so I was happy it was over. We claimed our luggage in Tahiti and looked up and found the Paul Gauguin about 200 ft away. A short walk later we were queued up at the Paul Gauguin tent waiting for our embarkation. That’s the subject of the next post.