Overwater bungalows are what dreams of visiting Tahiti are made of. Said to be invented in the islands more than 50 years ago, being able to plunge into a Tahitian blue lagoon from a thatched-roof bungalow is considered the ultimate vacation for travelers from around the world.
With 48 over-the-water bungalows and a dozen waterfront villas, Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa is where dream vacations become reality. Located 35 minutes by boat from the Raiatea Airport, rates start at $1,048. (Splurging is a bit easier these days thanks to low-cost, long-haul airline, French bee. The newcomer offers service direct to Tahiti from San Francisco, with flights beginning at $330 one-way.)
The only Relais & Chateaux property in the islands of Tahiti, this list of must-dos will fill your days at Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa.
Linger longer in your room
Overwater bungalow — Photo courtesy of Le Taha’a Island Resort and Spa
You could happily spend the entire stay at your bungalow, feeding fish and rays from the window set in the floor at the foot of your bed, lounging in the sun or making a splash off of your private deck. But the island (Motu Tautau) lends itself to exploring. Along with lush, landscaped gardens, there seems to be a different view at every turn.
Go drift snorkeling
Coral garden — Photo courtesy of Le Taha’a Island Resort and Spa
A coral reef is located just off the sandy beach. Teeming with colorful sea life, daily tours are run by the resort’s pool boys. Masks, snorkels and water shoes are provided. You won’t need fins; the current does all of the work for you. Snorkelers simply drift and take in the view.
The water is very shallow, especially in the afternoon, so it’s best to snorkel in the morning. Be sure to use only reef safe sunscreen. (In Tahiti, a coral reef is often referred to as a coral garden.)
Swim from your bungalow
Make a splash — Photo courtesy of Le Taha’a Island Resort and Spa
You won’t find much coral, but the smile-inducing blue water under your bungalow is also home to an assortment of fascinating sea creatures. You can purchase fish food from the front desk to attract more company.
Go kayaking or paddle boarding
Get on the water — Photo courtesy of Le Taha’a Island Resort and Spa
A rainbow of kayaks and paddle boards are available for complimentary use. Lined up in the sand not far from the infinity pool, guests can get help with paddles and life jackets at the pool boy hut. If you have a waterproof camera, bring it along. You never know what might swim by and say hello while you’re out on the water.
Stroll in the sand
Stretch your legs — Photo courtesy of Le Taha’a Island Resort and Spa
A short stretch of beach leads the way to the coral garden. Set aside time after drift snorkeling to explore the soft, white sand around the resort. Along with seashells and pieces of coral, odds are good you’ll spot a variety of crabs and birds. On most days, the island of Bora Bora can be seen in the distance.
Enjoy the pool with a view
Water everywhere — Photo courtesy of Le Taha’a Island Resort and Spa
Framed by towering palm trees, the infinity pool boasts views of shimmering turquoise water and the island of Taha’a. Swim-up Bar Manuia hosts happy hour every day from 4 pm to 5:30 pm.
Visit the spa
Spa day — Photo courtesy of Le Taha’a Island Resort and Spa
Feeling jet-lagged? Boasting three treatment rooms, the spa offers a wide range of massages, body scrubs and wraps. Flower-infused coconut oil, called monoi, is used in many treatments.
Go to Iaorana Pearl Farm on Taha’a
Tahitian pearls — Photo courtesy of Dana Rebmann
Cultured pearls are the Tahitian island’s largest export. At Iaorana Pearl Farm, it’s fascinating to watch as oysters are meticulously grafted and pearls are harvested, sorted and turned into jewelry.
Pearls come in a whopping 178 different colors at Iaorana Pearl Farm. Prices range from $25 for a simple bracelet to $25,000 for a full string of pearls.
Taha’a is also home to an award-winning rum distillery, Pari Pari, and vanilla farms like La Vallée De La Vanille. If you’re willing to spend an entire day away from Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa, Terainui Tours can make sure you see them all with time leftover for snorkeling and a picnic lunch on a private motu.
Order room service
Special delivery — Photo courtesy of Le Taha’a Island Resort and Spa
Even when they’re not headed to your bungalow, it’s fun to watch room service staff move swiftly about the resort on bicycles. But for an out-of-the-ordinary meal, make a reservation to have breakfast floated to your bungalow by canoe. Somehow, everything tastes better when it arrives by boat. The special delivery runs around $124.
Don’t miss sunset
It almost doesn’t look real — Photo courtesy of Le Taha’a Island Resort and Spa
Some overwater bungalows are perfectly positioned to say goodbye to the day, but a small section of beach just past the Pool Beach Villas also offers a fantastic vantage point to watch the sun go down. You’ll want to have a camera handy.