French Polynesia

First Time Staying In Overwater Bungalow!

Waking up and looking at the island in the distance, yes it is blue sky and white clouds in Moorea! Please wait for us! We took our suitcases and everything with us to have breakfast at an open-air area right in front of the reception. There were tables there with cereals and juices but need to walk in the reception to get our tray of breakfast including breads and cups. Don’t forget apply insect repellent! Breakfast area: Our breakfast tray: After breakfast, I walked up the stairs to have a view of the Tahiti Airport, the island on the back is Moorea – where we will be heading to! After breakfast, we checked out and walked down the little hill, across the street, and into the airport. Checking in was quick and we weighted our two carry-ons; husband’s backpack was over by .5 kg! I asked the agent and she said it’s okay!! We went through a short line of security, just x-ray our carry-ons, that was it! There are only two gates in the domestic terminal! We waited around 45 minutes for our 8:45 am flight and when I was in the restroom, they announced boarding, hubby was the second person stand in line, I ran out quickly and joined hubby. There’s no assign seating on all Air Tahiti flights between islands so around time to board, get in line fast so you can select the best seat for the best view! Handicapped people get the priority to board first as they will be seated in the last rows in the plane and then general boarding. We lined up and then walked over to the plane following the agent, reminded me of elementary school lol! We got the 2nd row seats on the front left side of the plane but still can slightly see the propeller so had to shifted a little when taking pictures! The flight duration was only 7 minutes, probably the shortest flight we ever taken! This is Tahiti with the overwater bungalows….I think that’s the Le Meridien Tahiti! Here it is Moorea! The plane had a stop at Moorea and continued onto other islands, hubby walking out of the plane: Moorea Airport: A look back of the plane: Picking up our luggage no baggage carousel haha! It’s a very small airport, there are some souvenir shops and a pearl shop only. We walked out and saw no driver with the sign of my name; I had pre-booked transfer with Hilton Moorea! I went into the Air Tahiti office and asked the lady to call Hilton, Hilton forgot OMG! I really had no luck booking transfer with hotel grrr! The lady at Hilton said the driver is coming and we’ll pay 3000 xpf and Hilton will pay for our return journey. We waited for few minutes and the driver showed up. The ride to the hotel was scenic, passed mountains on the background and the beautiful bay, the shades of blue were unbelievable! I couldn’t wait to jump into the water!!! Arriving at the hotel, we checked in but our room will not be ready until 1 pm…..3 hours to wait but there’s a changing room for us to change (we were wearing long pants to minimized the chance of mosquito bite but it was hot). We received lei, a cup of cold juice, 2 free drink certificates, and cold towels. We got change immediately, put on sunscreen, and then insect repellent. I went to the concierge and asked if she can call Francky Franck to confirm our 4×4 tour tomorrow (I booked months ahead). The lady at Francky Franck couldn’t find my email confirmation! I did not have access to internet since we haven’t have our room number yet! I had to walk all the way to the hotel bar for free guest wifi. I forwarded the email and waited. She said the tour tomorrow is already full WHAT!!! I went to the concierge and asked if there’s any 4×4 tour available tomorrow, I booked through the hotel for 4,980 xpf per person vs Francky Franck for 3,800 xpf. No time to waste, time to explore the hotel!! First thing we saw walking out of the lobby, swimming pool: But my eyes were drawn to the overwater bungalows on the back! OMG they are much closer than I thought….overwater bungalows…my dream came true ahhhhhh!!! Who needs a swimming pool when you have this: The water was so clear that you can see the floor and the corals, this is what I called turquoise water! We placed the camera on the floor of the hotel restaurant for a picture of us two at paradise! Dipping my feet in the crystal clear water – wow the water was so warm!!! Usually it is time-wasting waiting for our room to be ready in the hotel lobby but this time, I had no complain!!! The view was better than any postcard pictures! The non-motorized equipment are free like kayaking, stand-up paddle (have to try that), and snorkels! We walked toward the overwater bungalows…I couldn’t believe it, we made it here! Panorama of the overwater bungalows, no matter which angle you take the picture, it will be postcard perfect! This is from the iPhone: I couldn’t stop taking photos, can you blame me? I requested room 95 or 97, the 3rd or 4th one on the left branch facing the hotel beach, but unfortunately both were not available. Hope we’ll
get a good view one! We redeemed 2 nights with 80,000 Hilton points each for a garden bungalow and the hotel emailed us an option to upgrade to an overwater bungalow for 24,000 xpf per night (~$240). I replied back that don’t we get a free upgrade since hubby’s a gold member at that time? The free upgrade is to a garden bungalow with pool but they decreased the price to 15,000 xpf (~$150) per night to an overwater bungalow. I asked for 12,000 xpf but they said no so we took the 15,000 xpf per night! The view of the hotel beach from the overwater bungalows:     The lush green mountain on the back, what a view! The difference between French Polynesian islands and Maldives islands is the mountain…..Maldives islands are flat with just the ocean view…while French Polynesian islands have the ocean and mountain (reason I picked French Polynesia)! Blue sky, white clouds, green mountain, and turquoise water, what more could I asked for? For those who followed my blog know that I color match my clothes with the place haha, I found that bright colors or white are the best for the turquoise water 🙂 Here’s the view from overwater bungalow room 95 that I asked for but not available: Pictures, more pictures! We walked back to the bar for free internet access and on the way, more photos! We stopped by the lobby and tried our luck to see if our room is ready but noooo! Alright head to the bar, we passed by this walkway with tons of fishes in the pond: The bar: There’s a terrace at the bar with this view: It’s sooo pretty! I took some with my phone and posted a pic on Facebook to share with friends and family that we arrived Moorea! It was noon time and were hungry! We walked down to the restaurant, Rotui Bar & Grill for lunch. I know food in the hotel is always more expensive but paying extra for this view….totally worth it! We asked for a front table so we can enjoy the view while having lunch. We also redeemed our 2 drink certificates for pina coladas! The pina colada was very good tasted like they put condense milk instead of regular milk, yummy! I ordered the chicken wrap (around $20), the portion was large enough for two! I really like the chicken wrap, it had refreshing vegetables, and the sauce was just right not too creamy! Hubby ordered the $25 burger, it was probably the most expensive burger we had, I told hubby be used to the expensive French Polynesia prices lol: Looking at the overwater bungalows while having lunch…what a “once in a lifetime” experience! The $25 burger was just okay, nothing amazing! We provided our last name and they’ll charge it to our room even we didn’t know what’s our room number yet. French Polynesia – you tip like in Europe – nearest dollar or few dollars is okay no need to tip 15-18% like in the US! After lunch, we walked back to the bar to browse the web. It was so comfortable there with ocean breeze that hubby took a nap! Almost 2 pm, time to walk back to the lobby and ask for our room! Wohooo our room is finally ready….walking back to the overwater bungalows, more photos of the beach! The hotel grounds were well maintained! One of the three beach bungalows for families of 4: Our room #64 is on the right side of the branch after the Toatea Bar & Creperie (the pointy hut in the middle): Here it is our room, so excited to see the inside! The right side after the entrance is the huge restroom with a tub and shower, modern looking: The twin sinks and can see the bed, two free bottles of water too (they gave us two free bottles every night enough for us that we didn’t even need to go out to buy water)! There’s a controller there to have the electric shade down if you like some piracy between the bedroom and the restroom! The view from the sink into the bed and the glass doors to the outside terrace: On the left of the hallway into the bedroom is a small table with the refrigerator on the bottom and an electric kettle with some cups and snacks (extra charge of course): They gave us a free big bottle of chilled water and a welcome note on the famous glass coffee table and glass floor where you can look down to see fishes! Our comfortable looking bed: The glass sliding door was double locked (I read that there were thieves going around overwater bungalows, not sure it happened at Hilton or not, but be sure to double lock the door)! In our spacious terrace, there are two sunbeds, a table and two chairs! Stairs to go down to the lower deck where you can access the water directly: The view from our lower deck of the three family beach bungalows and the lush green mountain as the backdrop: Actually, I liked the view from our room than the room I asked for, it’s much quieter here than looking over the busy hotel beach! Love the view and the weather was warm in the 80’s and not hot, perfect! More pictures! Time to change and jump into the water! The water was so comfortable! Snorkeling is pretty good at Hilton, it has tons of fishes! Hubby snorkeling with the GoPro! Believe it or not, he does not know how to swim but the water is shallow enough – up to my neck and his shoulder – that he can safely enjoy the water 🙂 That was why I paid to upgrade to the overwater bungalow only and not the panoramic bungalow located at the end of the bungalows due to water is much deeper there! The water is also so calm! One of my goal in this trip is to teach him how to swim, first lesson: how to float, but was unsuccessful! We spent quite some time in the water, who wouldn’t right? Then, we showered and waited for the sunset, yes I still haven’t given up hope for a colorful sunset! We applied insect repellent before heading out even though we hardly notice any mosquitoes at the overwater bungalows. Once again, the clouds were covering the horizon sighh I just had no luck for sunset. But the lights and the overwater bungalows were still pretty even at night! It was full moon too so magical!   Some said it’s boring at night since really nothing to do so bring some games or movies from home. For us, a tripod and our cameras can easily spent hours taking night photos! The crepe bar opened at night for dinner: I read that the crepes there are delicious and great value! It’s also popular for watching the sharks, yes sharks I spelled that right, swimming down as you have dinner! OMG, they really come around sunset and hang out there!   Hubby ordered the Moorea (pineapple, ham, and cheese) crepe 1950 xpf (less than $20) and I ordered the Aito (ham, mushroom, cheese, and and eggs) crepe 2100 xpf (~$21). Both were very good! Water is around $7 a liter bottle yikes!   The bicycle belongs to the waitress to get supplies to the restaurant right in the middle of the overwater bungalows. The housekeepers here all have a bicycle cart or golf cart as it’s a pretty long walk from the start of the walkway to the very last overwater bungalow! Service as like in other islands are slow so be patie
nt…I am sure with nice view like this, waiting isn’t an issue! After dinner, more photos! There’s less light pollution here that you can clearly see the stars even though it was full moon! And lastly, a picture of us right in front of our room: After almost a year of planning, we made it to French Polynesia! I felt so blessed that my dream of overwater bungalow came true! I was very nervous that January is the wet season in French Polynesia but our first day in Moorea was perfect weather! Can’t wait to enjoy and explore Moorea tomorrow, just hope that time will go slowly in paradise! Follow me through my 17 nights journey from the north Pacific to the south Pacific by subscribe or follow my blog to get notified whenever I posted the newest trip report!

24 thoughts on “First Time Staying In Overwater Bungalow!

  1. Hi there,

    I was just wondering what kind of camera you were using for most of your shots? They look great! I’m also traveling to French Polynesia this fall and I don’t think the iPhone camera will cut it for this once in a lifetime trip! So I’m looking for something compact that can also catch the amazing color of the turquoise waters!

    Thanks in advance!


    1. Thanks! My husband uses Canon 6D with a 16-35 f4 lens while I use Canon 5D Mark III with a 24-70 f2.8 lens. I agree with you, for a once in a lifetime trip, you’ll need a DSLR not just an iphone! An average DSLR will do it since it’s already so beautiful and most likely you’ll take the photos during daytime. If you don’t want to carry the heavy DSLR then take a look at mirror-less camera! Fall should be better chance of having perfect weather 🙂

  2. Hi,

    Those pictures are fantastic.
    What tripod do you use on these trips? My fiancee and I will be staying at the Hilton in12 days for our honeymoon. We’ve got a Sony A6000 mirrorless camera but would like to bring a tripod with us.

    Any other tips while staying in Moorea?


    1. Hi Paul, we use Benro, it fits nicely in our suitcase and pretty light weight but very steady – carbon fiber (opps)! Bring at least two to three bottles of insect repellent! Enjoy your trip in paradise!

  3. Absolutely gorgeous! We will be going in 2016 … haven’t booked yet, just finishing planning. I have a large carbon fiber tripod that only fits in my largest suite case. Mind if I ask some questions?

    Any size limitation on suite cases to Moorea or Bora Bora? Did you consider taking the boat versus flying?

    Do you use Lightroom or …? The photos looked great but I bet you had to lift shadows on faces?

    1. Checked baggage limit on Air Tahiti’s website:, Maximum dimensions: length + width + height = 150 cm (59 in) but double check before your trip in case they change it.

      I chose flying because we landed in Tahiti late at night so more convenient to walk across the street to Tahiti Airport Motel and then next morning walk back to the airport to catch the flight to Moorea rather than transport to the port next day to catch the ferry. Another reason was the Bora Bora pass, it cost just a few dollars more than flying Moorea to Bora Bora and then Bora Bora back to Tahiti so meaning the flight from Tahiti to Moorea was almost free. And the most important factor was I am very vulnerable to seasick LOL, it takes almost an hour by ferry, that’s too long for me.

      I use Lightroom to process all my RAW photos and Microsoft ICE to stitch the panoramas…..just some shadow reduction on faces not too much as the white sand was a great light reflector 🙂

  4. Really beautiful blog and pictures. I’ll be there in June, hopefully less mosquitos then. I’ll be bringing my 5D3 and 24-70 2.8. Hoping to pick up a used 17-40mm before then. Is the 70-200mm necessary at all?

    1. Thank you! June should be a great time of the year and will be less mosquitoes since not the “wet” season! We have a 17-40 and the quality of the photos aren’t that great (sharpness and colors) so just before our trip, my husband bought the 16-35 and it’s much better! I don’t think the 70-200 is necessary at all, save the weight for more inspect repellents and sunscreens!

  5. Hello,

    Just a quick and straight to the point question. Say I wanted to plan an 8 day trip to Moorea and stay in an OWB what should I be expecting in terms of budget? Sorry if this question is a bit vague, but I would appreciate your help.

        1. It really depends on where you flying from….from Los Angeles around $1200 roundtrip per person to get to Tahiti, if like us from Boston at least $1800 per person! I redeemed with airline miles and half paid in cash and I flew to Hawaii first, stopped there for 1.5 weeks, then flew down to Tahiti. Hotels…depending on which islands you are staying, hotel class, and room category. Moorea is cheaper whereas Bora Bora the most expensive but there are mid-range hotel choices as well. The flight from Tahiti to Bora Bora is more than $500 per person roundtrip. You might want to look into packages for savings if you are paid in cash. We redeemed hotel nights so our 6 nights were from points. You can read the details here: I also posted the food and activities expenses here: This is definitely a trip you need to do some research and compare prices.

  6. Your photos are stunning!!

    We are looking at going to Moorea for our Honeymoon in late February early March 2016.

    Being the wet season as you would have experienced, im concerned about the rain!!
    Would you still risk it? How did the weather hold up for you for the rest of your trip?

    Thank you! 🙂

    1. Weather always depend on luck rather you are in the wet or dry season. We were there in early Jan for 6 days; 2 in Moorea where only half the afternoon was raining for a few hours. 4 days in Bora Bora where one day was overcast with few drops of rain for less than an hour and other than that rest of our trip was sunny! Are you paying your trips with points or miles or full in cash? Are you available other time in the dry season to go? I was debating about it as well but I was paying mostly with points and miles and most importantly I do not have enough vacation days so can only go by combing Christmas/New Year holidays.

  7. We are heading to Tahiti for 8 nights over Christmas 2016. We are spending 2 nights in Tahiti (IC Tahiti. We arrive around 10 PM from LA), 4 nights in Moorea (Hilton), and 2 nights in Bora Bora (IC Thalasso). My question for you, should we upgrade to OWB at Hilton Moorea? We would like the privacy of the Deluxe Garden Pool bungalow, but heard the snorkeling at the Hilton is pretty good. We will be snorkeling in Bora Bora too.

    1. Yes definitely upgrade to OWB at Hilton Moorea, the snorkeling right off the OWB is so much better than snorkeling right off the OWB at IC Thalasso! In Bora Bora, you need to take a snorkeling trip out to have great snorkeling! Definitely worth the splurge! 2 nights in Bora Bora….can you readjust so you can do 3 and 3 each?

      1. We can’t change our dates. My choice was 2 nights in Bora Bora or no Bora Bora. I thought 2 nights would be better than no nights. :}

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