Accommodation Options in Tahiti
Updated: Jan 8
When people think of Tahiti, they usually think of staying in ultimate luxury. That often brings up an image of an Overwater Bungalow into their mind. It is true that it is one item that is not to miss when visiting this incredible destination. However, it is not the only option and people are often surprised by the variety of accommodations. Here is an overview of some obvious and not so obvious ways you can rest your head in Tahiti.
Let's start here. An Overwater Bungalow (OWB for short and also called Overwater Villas) is the ultimate pinnacle of luxury and for good reason. Did you know that OWB was born in French Polynesia in the 1960's? It's also one of the reasons why a stay in one of these is a must for this destination. Tahiti has been doing them the longest and the best ones seem to be in Bora Bora.
So, what is it? An OWB is usually a single room hut perched on stilts over shallow water. They usually have a bathroom, a small seating area with a window in the floor to view the fish and water below, a bed, and a deck with access to the water. The quality of the accommodations varies but even in the more rustic islands, it still represents luxury. You might have a choice of one with air conditioning or one without. There are some OWB (like the one pictured above) that are enormous 2-bedroom, 2-story villas with over 3200 sqft, it's own pool and butler!
How much do they cost? That varies greatly depending on the time of year you travel, if there are renovations happening at your resort, what island you are visiting, how far your bungalow is out on the pontoon and more. On average, expect to spend about $500-600/night. I often do split stays at the same resort in two different accommodations so people can stretch their travel dollars further.
Are they worth it? I would say so but you do get what you pay for. Make sure you pick the right resort and the right room category or you might be disappointed. One of my least favorite OWB is at a resort where part of the bungalow is still attached to the land. Only a portion of the bungalow is overwater so I feel it is a bit deceiving to call it an OWB. To me, it is a Beach Villa with an overwater deck. This is just one reason why it is important to have a Certified Tahiti Specialist like me plan your trip!
Another option is a Beach Villa which takes an Overwater Bungalow/Villa and plops it on land. This is a great option for those who want to stretch their travel dollars or for families. You will often have your own private pool and these villas can be more spacious than an OWB. Sometimes, you can find Beach Villas with more than 1 bedroom which makes it appealing for families and multi-generational travelers.
A sub-category of these land villas is a Garden Villa. They can offer the ultimate privacy as they can come with a wall surrounding your villa. Sometimes honeymooners choose these for a secluded getaway after their nuptials. These villas are often set further back on the island and offer lots of privacy.
These accommodations are mainly available on the island of Tahiti and Moorea and sometimes it is the only type of accommodation available on some of the more remote islands.
What are they? Pensions are usually family-owned and operated lodgings that are generally small and homey. They are similar to Bed & Breakfast type of accommodations you can find elsewhere in the world. The standards and your host interaction vary greatly but you will find an authentic, cultural experience in all of them. If you are adventurous, want something affordable and off the beaten path then this might be the place for you.
You can get a room rented in a family home or you might find a private bungalow when you look for a Guesthouse. You won't find Overwater Bungalows offered here but you will find unique accommodations and a friendly staff.
This is an option that is sometimes overlooked but it is a great option for those who want to see several islands. You unpack your bags and get settled in while the ship takes you to a new island destination almost every day.
There are several cruise options on the Islands of Tahiti. You can find the bigger cruise lines here that carry about 700 passengers or smaller/boutique ships that only carry 150 or 300 passengers. The smaller ships often were built just for these islands so they can access areas the bigger ships cannot. You can even try out a unique freighter/passenger ship with only 250 passengers and sail out to the remote Marquesas islands where you can step back in time to see ancient Polynesian ways.
One thing that people don't consider is the cost of food and drinks in Tahiti. It is not unusual to pay $25 just for a simple burger and cocktails can be $15-20 additional. The nice thing about a cruise is that often your meals and most drinks are included in the price of your vacation package. Tahiti is not an all-inclusive destination (although I can add meal plans as part of your vacation package) but if you cruise through this destination, it is close to being all-inclusive depending on the cruise line you choose.
You can add an Overwater Bungalow stay after your cruise so don't feel like you will miss out by taking a cruise.
Private Yacht or Sailboat
The last accommodation option is not as exclusive or expensive as you might think! If you are a true sailor then you can rent a sailboat and sail away on your own or you can hire a crew to run the ship for you. There are boats for 2-10 people which allow you to explore the islands at your own pace.
If you prefer to have a pre-set itinerary, there is a catamaran option with only 24 guests and 13 crew members. It is a great option to share the expense and have a unique travel experience as well. It can also be chartered for a small wedding, family reunion or birthday celebration.
Hopefully, this gives you some information to pick the right accommodations for you. However, if you still stumped as to what options make the most sense for you, let me help!