Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort – the Ultimate Overwater Bungalow Island Getaway

Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort | French Polynesia | Tahiti | Island | Ultimate Overwater Bungalow | Travel | Travel Photography | Bubbly Moments

Magnifique! This is the word often used to describe the beautiful island of Moorea in French Polynesia. It is also the word that best describes the Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort. Imagine spending a few days in an overwater bungalow on the resort’s crystal-clear lagoon. Magnifique in its purest form!

Why Stay in Moorea?

Moorea is only a 10-minute flight or 30-minute ferry ride away from the main French Polynesian island of Tahiti. The tropical wonderland of sawtooth mountain ridges and lush rainforests surrounded by white sandy beaches and turquoise lagoons offers an island breakaway of unrivaled beauty.

Moorea was voted the world’s third-best island by readers of Conde Nast a few years ago. I can understand why. Believe me when I say absolutely no filter is needed when posting pictures of the island and the Sofitel Moorea overwater bungalow on social media or any other place. The vivid colors make every shot a winner.

The eight mountain peaks rising from the Pacific Ocean that form the central interior of Moorea are in sharp contrast to the translucent lagoon. Is it a wonder that the heart-shaped island is also a popular honeymoon destination? The northern shore is split by two bays: Opunohu Bay and Cook’s Bay.

Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort | French Polynesia | Tahiti | Island | Ultimate Overwater Bungalow | Travel | Travel Photography | Bubbly Moments

Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach

The Sofitel Moorea Overwater Bungalow

Representing the ultimate in luxury, the overwater bungalow was invented in nearby Tahiti. Of the 112 bungalows in Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort, 39 are overwater bungalows.

It’s an incredibly soothing experience to fall asleep to the sound of gently rolling waves lapping against the stilts. A dip in the crystal-clear, warm lagoon water is only a few steps away because each thatch-roofed bungalow has its own ladder for exclusive access to the lagoon. Instead of taking the wooden walkway, you can swim there while marveling at the selection of colorful tropical fish around you.

If you don’t like the sea water, there is also an infinity pool near the overwater bungalows. You won’t even realize you’re not in the lagoon.

The influence of French painter Paul Gauguin is evident in the interior of a Sofitel Moorea overwater bungalow. Think bright colors, bold patterns, and floral motifs. The unspoiled beauty of the heart-shaped island, also known as the ‘Island of Love’, was a great source of inspiration for the French Impressionist artist.

Each Sofitel Moorea overwater bungalow has the following special features that invite the ocean inside:

  • Sliding glass doors
  • A glass floor viewing panel
  • Private terrace

You can book a Sofitel Moorea overwater bungalow in four different categories:

  • Superior Overwater Bungalow
  • Superior Horizon Overwater Bungalow – with additional butler service, free bottle of Champagne on arrival and a free mini-bar refilled once a day.
  • Luxury Overwater Bungalow – including a free mini-bar with 2 beers, sodas, and water.
  • Luxury Horizon Overwater Bungalow – with the same features as the Superior Horizon Overwater Bungalow.

The bathroom in our Sofitel Moorea overwater bungalow had a stone tile rain shower. It didn’t bother us that it had no tub, which is only available in the garden or beach villas.

Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort | French Polynesia | Tahiti | Island | Ultimate Overwater Bungalow | Travel | Travel Photography | Bubbly Moments

Dining at the Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort

French-influenced menus with the inclusion of fresh local produce as far as possible is what the dining experience at Sofitel Moorea Ia Beach Resort is all about. The resort has 2 restaurants and 2 bars each with their own unique features and each in a stunning setting.

Pure Restaurant – Enjoy a scrumptious seafood dish right on the edge of the lagoon while staring at the silhouette of Tahiti across the water. Wednesday and Saturday nights are popular for the Polynesian feast. This is when the restaurant celebrates Polynesian millennium history with a theme evening called Ahima’a.

Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort | French Polynesia | Tahiti | Island | Ultimate Overwater Bungalow | Travel | Travel Photography | Bubbly Moments

K Restaurant – A restaurant best visited barefoot. Why? Because although it has a vaulted wooden ceiling, the sand floor invites the ocean and the beach inside. This is where local flavors and traditional French cuisine meet under the internationally acclaimed Chef Guillaume Burlion. On request, K also serves private dinners in a romantic setting on the beach.

Vue Bar – The place to enjoy a cocktail while watching the shimmering ocean from the open-air bar area.

Beach Bar – Ideal for an informal snack or drink on the water’s edge during the day.

Tip: You can also opt to dine in the privacy of your own Sofitel Moorea overwater bungalow. Just remember to book and order in advance.

5 things to do in and around Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort

1. Explore the beaches around Sofitel Moorea

You won’t find gyms or tennis courts at Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach. Instead, all the action happens on the beach and in the ocean. The resort’s lagoon is a protected marine area which means it’s free of jet skis and other motorized watercraft.

Goggles and flippers are available to explore the sea life on your own. The resort also has its own scuba diving operator with whom you can book a dive.

If you don’t want to be too active, you can simply walk along the beach. Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora’s own beach is not that long but it merges with a public beach until you get to the headland. It’s a good idea to wear shoes to prevent your feet from getting cut by pieces of coral.

Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort | French Polynesia | Tahiti | Island | Ultimate Overwater Bungalow | Travel | Travel Photography | Bubbly Moments

2. Swim with Sharks

Take a boat ride with a local tour operator. They know all the best spots for snorkeling and where you are likely to find sharks and dolphins. We had the amazing experience of actually swimming with sharks!

Choose a trip that takes you to see Moorea’s two bays, dolphins, sharks, and stingrays. The skippers are knowledgeable about the area and the ocean and you learn so much about the history and the culture of the local people. The fresh fruit served during breaks is a bonus.

Some tours include a barbecue lunch on tiny islands. You actually sit at tables in the shallow surf while little fish nibble at your legs.

Tip: If you visit between August and December, the chances of seeing and swimming with humpback whales are excellent. Imagine getting as close as 10 m from these magnificent giants of the ocean.

3. Explore Moorea’s Interior

Take a break from the ocean to explore the mountains and rainforests of Moorea. There a number of tours that take you to pineapple plantations, an ancient marae, a beautiful waterfall, and even some locations for the Mutiny on the Bounty movie featuring Mel Gibson.

If you like to do your own thing, it’s possible to rent a car drive around the island on your own time and pace. Since the island is not even 60 km in radius, you won’t need the car for more than one day. Use the opportunity to do shopping in Maharepa and Haapiti and to check out some of the other beaches on Moorea.

Tip: Rent bicycles instead of a car. There are dedicated cycling paths along big sections of the main road. Also, ask about horseback treks and quad bike tours.

Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort | French Polynesia | Tahiti | Island | Ultimate Overwater Bungalow | Travel | Travel Photography | Bubbly Moments

4. Hike to the Belvedere Lookout

Hiking to the Belvedere Lookout will reward you with unforgettable views of Cook’s Bay and Opunohu Bay split by Mount Rotui. While there are other options to get to the Belvedere Lookout, hiking there takes you via different forest trails with different ruins along the way.

It can get busy up there when big tour groups arrive but if you wait it out you can enjoy the views and take photographs in peace and quiet.

Tip: If you like exploring nature on your own two feet, do the hike from Vaiare to Paopao. It’s a beautiful hike through the tropical forests of Moorea and also passes several archaeological sites.

Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort | French Polynesia | Tahiti | Island | Ultimate Overwater Bungalow | Travel | Travel Photography | Bubbly Moments

5. Visit Tiki Village

Tiki Village is a reconstructed ancient Polynesian village showcasing Tahitian culture. Entering the village is free but it’s up to you if want to pay to participate in a workshop to learn some traditional Polynesian skills. Among others, you can weave a basket from palm tree branches, make a sarong, learn a Tahitian dance, and play the ukulele. There is even a cooking class where you get to make poisson cru (raw fish in coconut milk), French Polynesia’s national dish.

About French Polynesia

French Polynesia is an overseas territory of France about halfway between California and Australia in the Pacific Ocean. It’s 118 islands are divided into five groups: the Austral, Gambier, Marquesas, Society and Tuamotu archipelagos. Only 67 of the 118 islands are inhabited, with Tahiti the most populous.

Tahiti and Moorea are part of the Society Islands. The capital of this island group is Papeete which is situated on Tahiti.

Tahiti was discovered by the British in the mid-1760’s with Captain Cook stopping by in 1769. He observed the Transit of Venus before sailing on in search of the fabled Terra Australis Incognita. The various Polynesian island groups were annexed by the French during the 1800s. Today, the Islanders are working hard to get their independence back. The process is underway but is expected to take at least a decade or two.
Although the Tahitian language has a special status in the territory, French is still the official language. Of course, English is also spoken in the tourist areas but to a lesser degree. Here are some basic Tahitian words to help you get along with the locals:

Ia ora na – Hello

Nana – Goodbye

Mauruuru – Thank you

E – Yes

Aita – No

The Best Time to Visit Moorea

While the peak travel season to French Polynesia and Moorea is between June and August, I would say the best month to visit is May. The temperatures in May range from 21 to 31°C while the average hours of sunshine are seven.

No matter when you go, Moorea is warm and tropical. The average year-round real feel temperature is 27°C with the average temperature of the water in the lagoons at around 26°C in winter and 29°C in summer. Do you now understand why you could spend the entire day in the water?

The months to avoid if you can are November to March when humidity and rainfall are the highest and there is a possibility of cyclones. Not the best time to be in a Sofitel Moorea underwater bungalow.

You may also want to time your visit to coincide with some popular annual events. These include the Tahiti Pearl Regatta in May, Heiva in June and July (a cultural festival), and the Moorea Marathon in February/March.

Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort | French Polynesia | Tahiti | Island | Ultimate Overwater Bungalow | Travel | Travel Photography | Bubbly Moments

Getting to French Polynesia and Moorea

By Plane

The following airlines offer regular flights to Tahiti’s Faa’a International Airport:

Air Tahiti Nui – from Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Auckland

Air New Zealand –  from Auckland

LAN Chile – from Easter Island

Air Tahiti – from Rarotonga in the Cook Islands

Hawaiian Airlines – from Honolulu

By Boat

Several cruise ships as well as cargo ships from Australia, New Zealand, Panama, and Hawaii stop in Tahiti and other French Polynesian islands.

Paul Gauguin Cruises offers luxury cruises to Tahiti and other French Polynesian destinations such as Moorea. Their flagship, the m/s Paul Gauguin was designed specifically to sail the lagoons of French Polynesia. It does a regular weeklong trip around the Societies.

Island Hopping

By air – Getting from Tahiti to your Sofitel Moorea overwater bungalow is made easy by domestic flights from Air Tahiti. It’s also possible to book a private charter or helicopter flights. To make it easy to visit several islands while vacationing in French Polynesia, Air Tahiti offers special air passes that cover different islands.

By sea – There are ferries traveling between most islands, but especially between Tahiti and Moorea.

Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort | French Polynesia | Tahiti | Island | Ultimate Overwater Bungalow | Travel | Travel Photography | Bubbly Moments

5 Tips for your Stay in Moorea

  • Pack only lightweight cotton clothes. Synthetic fabrics are a definite no due to the heat and humidity. They don’t fit into the Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort lifestyle anyway. And don’t forget a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen lotion!

  • US citizens need a valid passport but require no visa to visit French Polynesia and Moorea for up to 90 days.

  • The local currency is the CFP franc. It’s pegged to the Euro and costs tend to reflect European norms. 

  • Take mosquito repellents as a precautionary measure. Dengue fever has occurred on the islands. However, no vaccines are required before visiting Tahiti and Moorea.

  • If you want to buy a unique souvenir to remember your stay in Moorea, pearls are a good idea. Black pearls are more exclusive (and expensive) while there is a wide choice of more affordable mother-of-pearl jewelry for yourself or to buy as gifts.

Moorea island life truly is magnifique!

Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort | French Polynesia | Tahiti | Island | Ultimate Overwater Bungalow | Travel | Travel Photography | Bubbly Moments

Have you been to the beautiful island of Moorea and the Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort? Any tips and recommendations?
How was your experience? 
Comment below!

Outfits Featured in this Post

2019-08-13T16:57:55-05:00

109 Comments

  1. Jerrin Soman April 16, 2018 at 5:35 am - Reply

    Nice post with lot of information in detail,……Thank You

  2. Nancy Bowers April 16, 2018 at 6:55 am - Reply

    A dreamy place to visit!

  3. Jodi W April 16, 2018 at 7:01 am - Reply

    This is such beautiful scenery! Would love to go someday.

  4. Kim G April 16, 2018 at 10:09 am - Reply

    I’ve actually never heard of Moorea but it looks beautiful!!

  5. Phyllis A Huebbe April 16, 2018 at 11:02 am - Reply

    I’ve never been here but the scenery looks gorgeous!

  6. Toniann Lopez April 16, 2018 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    I really appreciated this blog post! This look absolutely beautiful and there was so much to do! I really appreciate all the details of your trip and can’t wait to plan my own!

  7. Barrie April 16, 2018 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    My husband and I have always wanted to go to a place where the bungalow is over the water! This looks so relaxing and beatiful!

  8. Gwendolyn Jordan April 16, 2018 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    Beautiful location

  9. Kim Pincombe-Cole April 16, 2018 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    Moorea is like a dream! Definitely on my travel bucket list…

  10. Gabrielle April 16, 2018 at 9:40 pm - Reply

    Those overwater bungalows sound dreamy!

  11. Calvin April 16, 2018 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    Reminds me of bora bora, it’s such a nice paradise looking place.

  12. Deb Pelletier April 16, 2018 at 11:46 pm - Reply

    Why , thanks for the information, a lot to remember.

  13. Barrie April 17, 2018 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    We’re not much on beaches but would still love to go. It look so beautiful and relaxing!

  14. Gabrielle April 18, 2018 at 1:12 am - Reply

    Swimming with whales would be a magical experience.

  15. nyxnyx April 18, 2018 at 7:20 am - Reply

    so beautiful

  16. Phyllis A Huebbe April 18, 2018 at 10:52 am - Reply

    I’ve never been out of the U.S.but this looks like a wonderful place to visit”

  17. Darlene Carbajal April 18, 2018 at 11:14 am - Reply

    Such a beautiful place! I would love to travel there!

  18. Stephanie Z April 18, 2018 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    I have never heard of the island of Moorea in French Polynesia. Thanks for sharing about it and this beautiful beach resort!

  19. Gary Martell April 18, 2018 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    I’ve wanted to go there since 1990, but have never had the chance.

  20. Carol G April 18, 2018 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    Wow, this resort looks amazing. Would love to go there sometime.

  21. Susan Hartman April 18, 2018 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    Thats what I consider a dream vacation. The colors are spectacular. Green is my favorite color!

  22. Barrie April 18, 2018 at 7:49 pm - Reply

    The photos are gorgeous! This is on our “bucket list”.

    • julie ellis April 19, 2018 at 11:21 am - Reply

      i agree–any of these place would be a great place to visit.

  23. Kayley April 18, 2018 at 9:27 pm - Reply

    Great post. The recommendation to wear lightweight cotton clothes is especially useful as I’ve never traveled to that type of climate before and would not have known that ahead of time.

  24. Zuly April 19, 2018 at 7:32 am - Reply

    Wow paradise at its finest!

  25. Christine McMeo April 19, 2018 at 7:36 am - Reply

    I’ve wanted to head to Bora Bora and so many other French Polynesian islands. The water alone is stunning.
    Your pictures are amazing and it looks like you had a trip that created everlasting memories.

  26. Stephanie Z April 19, 2018 at 1:21 pm - Reply

    Staying in an overwater bungalow over a lagoon sounds like it would be really cool. It is not something I have ever done.

  27. Lanie April 19, 2018 at 9:01 pm - Reply

    wow amazing. I can not imagine being lucky enough to take a nice trip like this. Its beautiful and it looks like an amazing place!!

  28. Barrie April 19, 2018 at 9:06 pm - Reply

    What a great way to awake in the morning! I love the idea of seeing nothing but deep blue water and sky. Sounds romantic and wonderful.

  29. Joshua April 20, 2018 at 7:48 am - Reply

    Scuba diving or any reefs nearby ? 🏊🐙

  30. Stephanie Z April 20, 2018 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    I did not realize that this island is so close to Tahiti. It is nice you can take a ferry ride between the two beautiful islands.

  31. raymond kimmell April 20, 2018 at 7:48 pm - Reply

    very nice place that i would go to

  32. Stephanie Z April 21, 2018 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    If I visited the island I think I would want to visit one of the rainforests.

  33. Barrie April 21, 2018 at 8:41 pm - Reply

    Wow, the water is so clear! I can’t imagine how amazing it would be to wake up to the water and the view! Breathtaking!

  34. Virginia April 21, 2018 at 10:01 pm - Reply

    Oh… Beautiful place!

  35. nyxnyx April 22, 2018 at 4:31 am - Reply

    so awesome!

  36. Sajida April 22, 2018 at 7:30 am - Reply

    The scenary looks gorgeous!! Would love to go someday xx

  37. Jennifer Dugan Murphy April 22, 2018 at 1:45 pm - Reply

    I have never been there… Bucket listed!!

  38. Stephanie Z April 22, 2018 at 9:39 pm - Reply

    It is so cute that this island is in a heart shape. Probably another reason it is popular for honeymoons!

  39. Alina April 23, 2018 at 7:38 am - Reply

    Absolutely STUNNING! Love your 5 tips on Moorea.

  40. Joshua April 23, 2018 at 7:40 am - Reply

    Where are the bathrooms?

  41. Stafford April 23, 2018 at 8:01 am - Reply

    I’ve stayed at a hotel Sofitel but not in Moorea. Looks amazing to say the least!

  42. Sean C April 23, 2018 at 10:19 am - Reply

    I can see why this was voted in the top 5 best islands. WOW!

  43. Stephanie Z April 23, 2018 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    The infinity pool near the overwater bungalows sounds like it would be so nice and fun to swim around in!

  44. Virginia April 23, 2018 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    Lovely!

  45. Stephanie Z April 24, 2018 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    It is great that the Sofitel Moorea overwater bungalows each have their own private terrace.

  46. Stephanie Z April 25, 2018 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    The Superior Horizon Overwater Bungalow seems like it would be very luxurious with the butler service, champagne and free mini bar.

  47. Virginia April 25, 2018 at 8:48 pm - Reply

    Beautiful place

  48. kathy Persons April 26, 2018 at 6:33 am - Reply

    NIce vacation spot

  49. Stephanie Z April 26, 2018 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    The glass floor viewing panel in the Sofitel Moorea overwater bungalow sounds really cool!

  50. Virginia April 26, 2018 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    Oh… The beach!

  51. Stephanie Z April 27, 2018 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    It is really nice that the resort has 2 restaurants and 2 bars that have a great setting.

  52. Stephanie Z April 28, 2018 at 12:05 pm - Reply

    The Pure Restaurant must have an especially beautiful vista of the lagoon and a view of the silhouette of Tahiti across the water. It would be great to see!

  53. Valentina López April 28, 2018 at 9:28 pm - Reply

    Hola desde Venezuela, <3 los invito a conocer nuestro hermoso país

  54. Virginia April 28, 2018 at 9:54 pm - Reply

    I would love a vacation there

  55. cheryl carothers April 29, 2018 at 9:07 am - Reply

    I would love to go to this place is so beautiful

  56. Gord April 29, 2018 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    Wow this looks like such a beautiful place to explore. I would love to have an extended visit there someday. Your pictures are just wonderful.

  57. Ronald Gagnon April 29, 2018 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    Wow..have you ever made this Alberta, Canada boy want to take this trip right now

  58. Stephanie Z April 29, 2018 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    The sand floor in the K Restaurant is so cool. One would definitely have the atmosphere of being on the beach.

  59. Joshua April 30, 2018 at 3:28 am - Reply

    When you 🛏 in a #bungalow over the 💧🌊 do you hear the #wavescrashing ?

  60. Stephanie Z April 30, 2018 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    It would be so awesome to have one of the private dinners in a romantic setting on the beach that the K Restaurant sets up.

  61. Chiara April 30, 2018 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    So much detail! I’m in Dreamland now!

  62. Kim May 1, 2018 at 8:04 am - Reply

    you guys are so lucky to travel. looks fab!

  63. Stephanie Z May 1, 2018 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    I can see myself at the Vue Bar, sipping a cocktail and enjoying the ocean view. Sound so nice!

  64. Lucy.purdy May 1, 2018 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    Is a beauty site

  65. Virginia May 1, 2018 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    Nice Place

  66. Stephanie Z May 11, 2018 at 11:42 am - Reply

    Thanks for letting us know the best month to visit is May. It is so beautiful! I would love to go someday!

  67. Virginia May 11, 2018 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    You such a lucky girl

  68. Joshua May 11, 2018 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    Did you boat from island to island? 🚣

  69. Joshua May 11, 2018 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    What was the temperature in Tahiti?

  70. Richard Hicks May 12, 2018 at 6:54 am - Reply

    Another dreamy place to get away too

  71. Joshua May 12, 2018 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    Do you ever feel like you’re in that Brooke Shields film Blue Lagoon?

  72. Joshua May 12, 2018 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    Does sleeping over the water in a bungalow anything like sleeping on a boat?🚢

  73. Gord May 12, 2018 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    What a beautiful place to visit. You are so lucky to have ben there. I need to go and SOON!

    • Gord May 12, 2018 at 2:35 pm - Reply

      Oops it should have read: What a beautiful place to visit. You are so lucky to have been there. I need to go and SOON!

  74. Stephanie Z May 12, 2018 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    It would be fun to rent a car drive around the island for a day!

  75. Virginia May 12, 2018 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    I want a vacation on this site… Please!

  76. Stephanie Z May 13, 2018 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    It is a great idea to time one’s visit to coincide with one of the popular annual events, such as the Tahiti Pearl Regatta in May. Thanks for the tip!

  77. Joshua May 13, 2018 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    Is there any mountain trails to hike cause I can see mtns in the background of many of your pictures? 🚶