Would you book a hotel with an overwater bungalow? We did! Contrary to popular belief, not all rooms are overwater bungalows, so don’t worry if that’s not in your budget. We chose to stay at the French-based Sofitel Kia Ora. It was the right choice because of its location on such a well-preserved coral reef, and because we were, well, in French Polynesia! We very much enjoyed ourselves, and with one notable exception (mentioned below), this was one of the most epic, most unique hotel experiences we’ve ever had. Here’s everything you need to know.
The Sofitel Kia Ora is the only hotel on the island of Mo’orea that faces nearby Tahiti and its beautiful, green peaks across the Channel between the two islands. The views are gorgeous from all sides. It’s also the closest hotel on the island to both the airport and the ferry terminal, so it’s a great location for weary travelers eager for a luxurious night’s sleep!
Keep reading: What to Know Before You Visit French Polynesia
The Sofitel Kia Ora (sometimes written as “Sofitel Ia Ora”) is one of three hotels on Mo’orea that feature overwater bungalows. The hotel is almost entirely open-air, which, if you ask me, is the most pleasant way for a tropical hotel to operate. The lobby was gorgeous, and we were greeted with the scent of tropical flowers, a fresh pineapple juice, and a flower lei.
More here: The Best Hotel Luxuries in the World
There is no main building with lots of hotel rooms in it; instead, each room at the hotel has its own separate bungalow, most of which are on land. There are also a couple of shops, a few restaurants, a swimming pool, and even a running trail that starts on the property as well. It’s a gorgeous property on one of the most beautiful islands on earth!
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Le Jardin Spa
Because it was raining–hard–the day we arrived, I took the opportunity to get a massage after more than a day and a half of travel. I chose the “Relaxing Massage” with papaya oil, which was precisely what I needed to start such a stressful trip off right. In the busy season, I’d recommend making a reservation in advance, but because we were there in the low season month of January, during the Pandemic no less, they were able to schedule me within 10 minutes.
I was offered hot tea both before and after my treatment, which was perfect when combined with the sound of tropical rain and an open-air experience. They also offer intensive treatments, facial massages, skin protection treatments, and more, so there’s something for anyone who wants to pamper themselves in paradise!
Get the details: What to Do on Mo’orea on a Rainy Day
We chose a Superior Overwater Bunglow, which was one of the best travel choices we’ve ever made. We thought it was 100% worth it to stay in an overwater bungalow. We got to watch the rain roll toward us right over the ocean, see fish off our back deck (and through our “window” in the floor), and go for a swim or a snorkel any time we wanted. It was truly a special experience that can’t be replicated in many hotels in the world!
The bungalow was quite spacious, and there was plenty of room to sit and relax both inside and outside. The decor was welcoming and appropriately tropical, and the mini bar was not only complimentary, it was also restocked daily! We also enjoyed daily housekeeping, despite the Pandemic. You know it’s not really a vacation to me unless someone else is making the bed!
The bathroom was massive as well. I always appreciate plenty of counterspace around the sink! The shower was quite large, with both a rainfall shower and a hand-held shower head. The toilet was in a separate room attached to the bathroom for maximum privacy. And the luxury toiletries were from Hermes–who knew they made toiletries?
Keep reading: The Ultimate Guide to Solid Toiletries
The Sofitel has several restaurants on property, but Pure is the only one available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We ate both breakfast and lunch here, both times looking out over the lagoon, but also well under the shade. It was a perfectly pleasant experience each time!
We did not choose to have breakfast included in our room rate, because we like to explore the local cuisine, but we did enjoy the breakfast buffet one morning. They offer European, American, Asian, and Polynesian fare, so feel free to sample a bit of it all!
Lunch was served in the same outdoor patio area as breakfast, and it was truly delicious. Steve got the fish special, which included a Tahitian vanilla sauce–very unique! I had a salad, but the real star was the ice cream for dessert!
Keep eating: The Best Places to Eat on Mo’orea
Wi-fi, guest parking, kayaks, paddleboards, and special events are all included in a stay at the Sofitel! There are also snorkeling tours, bicycles, and even a Polynesian cultural show available for an additional cost, but we were happy to take full advantage of the included water sports during our limited time there. We took out a tandem kayak one morning to see the coral and get a little exercise. On our last day, I took out one of the stand-up paddleboards, which was plenty of fun, even the few times I fell in!
Want more? Get everything you need to plan your trip on my dedicated French Polynesia Page!
And find out how to redeem points for FREE nights in my post Why Hotels.com is Better Than Hotel Brand Loyalty!
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