Published: 27 March 2017 by: Kate Webster
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50 years of overwater luxury in the islands of Tahiti

The striking over-the-water accommodation that helped put the Islands of Tahiti on the map 50 years ago is being celebrated this year.

Fifty years on, there are now nearly 900 overwater bungalows spread across eight of Tahiti’s 118 islands, with the picturesque accommodation becoming as famous as the destination’s dazzling lagoons.

In 1967, Tahiti became the first destination in the world to take accommodation into uncharted waters, building suites over its islands’ beautiful blue lagoons in a move that cemented the Society Islands as one of the world’s most sought-after holiday destinations.

According to Tahiti Tourisme, the first overwater bungalows were built in Raiatea and Moorea by the “Bali Hai Boys” – Americans Don “Muk” McCullum, Jay Carlisle and the late Hugh Kelley – who travelled to the region after being swept away by James Michener’s South Pacific. 

Originally built as traditional stilted coral homes, over the past five decades Tahiti’s overwater bungalows have evolved into palatial suites boasting private terraces, infinity pools, hammocks, spa baths and in-room glass floors – fondly referred to as Tahiti TV.

50 years of overwater luxury in the islands of Tahiti

The iconic Hotel Bora Bora, the first hotel built on Bora Bora, added overwater suites in 1970 and now 11 Bora Bora resorts from The St. Registo the Four Seasons and the Sofitel, all offer the picturesque style of accommodation that has helped to make the island a popular playground for honeymooners and celebrities alike.

Hilton Bora Bora (now the Conrad), introduced the first two-storey villas in 2009. The InterContinental Bora Bora Thalasso is currently constructing its own split-level suites which are set to open later this year.

Director of Tahiti Tourisme Australia New Zealand, Robert Thompson said Tahiti’s popularity as a high-end destination can be traced back to the introduction of overwater villas half a century ago.

“Nothing complements Tahiti’s striking natural beauty more than her overwater bungalows. This luxurious style of accommodation blends seamlessly with the islands’ crystal-clear lagoons, laid-back culture and French sophistication.” he said. “Overwater villas are a huge part of what makes Tahiti so remarkable and why it has been the world’s pre-eminent island destination for five decades.” 

For more information or to book, visit Tahiti Tourisme

 

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