Hilton Moorea – Overwater Bungalow Review
The Hilton Moorea was one of the coolest hotel experiences in my life: staying in an overwater bungalow and sharing the turquoise ocean backyard with fish, sting rays, and sharks was incredible.
While I was fortunate to be upgraded from a land bungalow, we still paid a pretty penny to stay at this property and the Hilton Aspire card helped cover several costs (breakfast, premium wifi, etc.) If you stay, I recommend having at least Hilton gold status (through Amex Platinum or other Hilton Amex card) to maximize covering costs. This Hilton is pricey and not exactly super luxurious, but being in an overwater bungalow for a few days really did feel like paradise.
There are a few different categories of rooms/bungalows:
- On the land – King or twin bungalow, with or without private pool (49 rooms)
- Lagoon/Beachside King overwater bungalow (3) – I do not recommend booking these
- King Overwater Bungalow (25)
- Panoramic Overwater Bungalow (20)
- Premium Panoramic Overwater Bungalow (9)
Based on the Hilton Honors app, the rooms can be priced up to ~$730 USD for a land garden bungalow to $1127 for a King Overwater Bungalow to $1272 for a King Overwater Bungalow with a Panoramic view. I booked a “spring saver” rate that was a lot less expensive, but still way more than I would pay for a usual hotel.
I had called the Hilton diamond concierge to book- and booked one night at a king land bungalow and two nights at a king overwater bungalow. A few nights before our stay, the Hilton Honors App showed that I had been upgraded to a panoramic king overwater bungalow for all three nights, but reflected a rate that would be at least $500 more than my previous total. I spent 1-2 hours on the phone with Hilton, and the morning of our flight to Tahiti, got email confirmation from the hotel that I would pay the rate that I booked, and that I would be upgraded to a panoramic king overwater bungalow for all three nights. Although the 1-2 hours on the phone (and writing an angry tweet) was stressful, I am glad we got upgraded and saved several hundred dollars based purely on room rate. Getting the $450 [annual fee] Aspire Card already paid off, although Hilton is still getting lots of $ from me.
I do not recommend one of the 3 lagoon/beach overwater because a bunch of seaweed comes underneath them, making the deck virtually useless.
Getting to the Hilton & Checking-in
Moorea is a separate, smaller island about 15 miles away from Tahiti. After landing in Tahiti, we spent the night in an Airbnb, and then took the half hour Terevau ferry ($11 USD per person) the next morning to Moorea.
I emailed the Hilton arranged for a shuttle transfer service ($32 USD for two people, also they were very particular about knowing our ferry time) to take us to the Hilton, which was around a 20-30 min drive north from the ferry station. Our driver stopped by a belvedere lookout over the Sofitel, which had a really nice view, and even took a photo for us.
We arrived at the Hilton around 12:30, and there were 3-4 other groups/couples in the lobby checking in who presumably took the same ferry. It was awkward because we were all gunning for the front desk but they told us to just sit and relax and they would bring us our check in materials.
If you sit closer to the concierge you can meet the resident cat who was super chill and friendly.
The staff explained the layout of the hotel, and where the bungalows are located. Fortunately all our rooms were ready, and a golf cart came to drive groups to their rooms one by one. While the first group was carted off, we made a dinner reservation for 7 pm at the crepe restaurant. (reservations are highly encouraged).
Our first room was Bungalow 104- a Panoramic Overwater Bungalow, in the lagoon facing east with a view of the other panoramic bungalows.
The Panoramic Overwaters are roomier than standard kings, fitting a bathroom with 2 sinks, a clawfoot tub and standing rainfall shower, a king bed, and a small space with a couch. The coolest feature is a 1 ft by 3 ft glass panel where you could see the ocean floor and fish underneath, that is also illuminated at night.
Opening the patio door leads to a balcony with a table and two chairs, and also two sunchairs to lay down/tan. There is another set of stairs that leads to a deck right above the water, well designed since the lagoon water seems to not vary by over a foot or two.
The room came equipped with a mini-fridge that is restocked daily- it has a liter of water, two coke/sprite cans, pineapple juice, and Tahitian beer. For the first night, it also came with champagne and macarons!
Overall, the room isn't super fancy, but the bungalow is for being outside and enjoying the ocean! I appreciated all the amenities, and the AC was especially nice and a luxury in humid weather. The further out the bungalow is, the worse the wifi is, but why do you need wifi when you got the ocean view?
The resort has limited dining options:
- Toatea- an overwater Crepe bar,
- Rotui- a grill with American options,
- Arii Vahine -a French/international restaurant, that does a $95 USD buffet with a Polynesian dance/fire show on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and
- room/service delivery.
If you are Hilton Gold/Diamond, then continental breakfast at Arii Vahine is complimentary (saving $40), and hot food is extra ($24 or so). The hostess allowed us to get free hot food our first visit, and then declined even when I said I was diamond the second time, so it seems arbitrary. Besides an omelette bar, the hot options are definitely not worth an upgrade, and even the continental breakfast is just fruit/cold bar and pastries.
Eimeo Bar – happy hour 5-6 pm - drinks are normally $21 each- but happy hour is BOGO.
We had dinner at Rotui Grill the last night- which has sandwiches, burgers, and seafood, and I tried the swordfish while Jocelyn had a burger. With a $7 bottle of water our bill was around $60 USD. They had a fancier, limited menu, but none of the options appeal to me. The swordfish was good and came with a fistful of garlic butter, which I also slathered over the mashed sweet potato side. Service was terribly slow, I was not sure if the resort was understaffed.
The food was generally good, but wasn't mindblowing and pretty pricey general. Be prepared to spend extra on food. We ended up skipping lunch everyday we were there so that saved some money at least.
Snorkeling in the lagoon is definitely a highlight – I recommend bringing a GoPro or waterproof phone bag. The lagoon is maybe 4-5 feet high so most folks can also stand- just don’t bump into coral!
You can also get paddleboard and kayak for free between 8 AM - 5 PM. Paddleboarding was also fun when the water was calm, and kayaking was nice to go out further in the lagoon.
The freshwater "infinity" pool was recently remodeled and is mostly for the land bungalow folk. The beach was small, and also probably more for land bungalow folk.
There's also a gym and tennis courts. They are across the street. Nothing special about the gym, except you can shower there after you check out.
There's also a pearl/Jewelry shop and a gift shop for souvenirs. They are expensive, I recommend buying stuff at Tahiti island (besides the airport).
The Hilton Moorea was awesome even though it wasn't opulently luxurious. For an experience that some people pay $1K a night for- there are ample opportunities for privacy, and at many times it barely felt like there were 100+ people on the property- especially in the bungalow lagoon. If you have Hilton status, you can strategically book a land bungalow and get upgraded if there's availability.
I'm grateful to have experienced the overwater bungalow without completely breaking the bank, and I definitely experienced moments of tropical bliss at the Hilton Moorea!