Land of aquamarine lagoons, lush green mountains, brightly colored fish, warm breezes, sublime sunsets, and the scent of tropical flowers around every corner, French Polynesia is a feast for the senses. 

Add in upscale, luxury accommodations — namely the overwater bungalows for which the islands are famous — and you’ve got a once-in-a-lifetime vacation destination that tops many travelers’ bucket lists.

My husband and I traveled to this dreamy locale at the end of 2021 and deemed it our best vacation ever. We spent 12 romantic and relaxing days on the islands of Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora — including two incredible nights at a remarkable resort I’d suggest everyone visit at least once in their lifetime.

Yep, it was that good.

InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa.
InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa (Photo Credit: Kara Williams)

This Posh Bora Bora Resort Is Exclusive And Remote

Arrival at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa is by boat — the property is located on a motu (islet) and only accessible via water. It sets the tone for an exclusive experience from the get-go.

When we arrived at the waterfront property and the hotel’s front-desk clerk said enthusiastically with a smile, “Ohhhhhh, you’ve been upgraded to a Pool Overwater Bungalow,” we knew we were in for a special treat.

She drove us in a golf cart directly to our accommodations, and upon entry to bungalow #200, my jaw dropped and I blurted out, “Are you kidding me?”

Bedroom in a Pool Overwater Bungalow at InterContinental Bora Bora Resort.
Bedroom in a Pool Overwater Bungalow (Photo Credit: Kara Williams)

The InterContinental’s Pool Overwater Bungalow Is Incredibly Roomy 

For just the two of us, we had 700 square feet of interior living space in which to spread out. Vaulted ceilings and giant picture windows in the freestanding, thatched-roof building added to the roominess.  

I was immediately taken by the king-size bed in front of a floor-to-ceiling window allowing for direct views of the pristine lagoon outside. What a way to wake up in the morning!

Bathroom in a Pool Overwater Bungalow at InterContinental Bora Bora Resort.
Photo Credit: Kara Williams

And if the double sinks and walk-in shower in the bathroom weren’t enough, a claw-foot tub sat right in front of another gigantic window with similar scenic views. 

In the expansive living room, we could kick back and sip sparkling wine (a lovely anniversary gift from the hotel), while gazing at the fish swimming below our bungalow via the glass coffee table and the clear “window” to the water below that was cut into the floor.

With all of the glass windows, we felt like we were a part of the natural scene outside. The eye-catching aqua water, blue sky, and green mountains were a perfect complement to the natural beige and brown tones found inside — with bright pops of color found in orange, yellow, and peach throw pillows.

Early morning reading at the plunge pool, InterContinental Bora Bora Resort.
Early morning reading at the plunge pool (Photo Credit: Kara Williams)

The Best Part Of Our Overwater Bungalow Was The Plunge Pool

However, my husband and I didn’t spend too much time lounging inside — as lovely as it was, with its contemporary Polynesian decor and comfortable furniture. We much preferred to breathe in the tropical air outdoors while seated in sun loungers on our huge 624-square-foot terrace perched above the crystal-clear water. 

We’d while away time alternating between reading our paperbacks and keeping an eye out for the stingrays and eagle rays that effortlessly glided around the shallow depths. We’d watch other guests kayaking around the bungalows in the calm water. And with direct access to the lagoon from our private deck, we’d hop in to snorkel amid a variety of fish whenever we wanted. 

When we didn’t feel like swimming in the lagoon, we’d simply jump in our very own 172-square-foot plunge pool. As much as we might like lounging at a communal resort pool, there’s something so decadent about having your very own soaking area for relaxing just steps from our bedroom. It was the ultimate in privacy — we felt like celebrities, for sure!

Just one station at the expansive breakfast buffet at InterContinental Bora Bora Resort.
Just one station at the expansive breakfast buffet (Photo Credit: Kara Williams)

Dining At The InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa

Though we appreciated the privacy of our Pool Overwater Bungalow, we did want to enjoy the dining options and other amenities of the upscale resort. With only two nights on the property, we made the most of dining options without breaking the bank. We indulged at a stellar breakfast buffet in the late mornings, which served as brunch for us, so we didn’t eat again until the late afternoon or early evening. 

The breakfast spread included everything you’d expect — made-to-order omelets, ham and bacon, pancakes and waffles — as well as amazing treats like savory cheeses, an array of freshly baked breads and pastries, individually portioned gourmet smoothies, and plenty of fresh tropical fruit. Like I said, it was easy to fuel up for the day with so many options. 

Otherwise, we ate with our feet in the sand at the appropriately named Sands restaurant. In the evenings at this beachfront spot, flickering torches set the tone for romance. I must admit, we’d eaten so much traditional (and good!) seafood in the week earlier on our South Pacific vacation, that we craved red meat toward the end of our trip. French red wine accompanied my husband’s perfectly cooked cheeseburger and my spaghetti with bolognese sauce. 

The other evening, we spent it happily nibbling on appetizers and drinking discounted 2-for-1 happy hour cocktails while listening to local music for nearly 2 hours at the upbeat and modern Bubbles bar.

Deep Chiller Walk at InterContinental Bora Bora Resort.
Deep Chiller Walk (Photo Credit: Kara Williams)

Pampering At The Spa With Phenomenal Water Features

Besides its bucolic surroundings, top-notch service, and spacious accommodations, a major draw of the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort is its Deep Ocean Spa. This is an amenity-filled spa retreat where you definitely want to allow for plenty of time to enjoy all of the relaxing water features (thalassotherapy) — from the steam room and rainshower experiences to the cold plunge pool and private outdoor hot tubs.

I hopped around like a kid in a candy store, trying as many of the indoor-outdoor experiences I could fit into the hour before my spa treatment. (I recommend spending a whole half day here if you can.) 

My favorite was the Deep Chiller Walk: an oblong, waist-deep pool outfitted with intensely pulsating jets designed to soothe tired legs. I’d just walk up and down the below-ground tub (which wasn’t as cold as its “Chiller” name would imply) and stop at the jets positioned at different heights to have the pulsing seawater relax my calves and thighs. Amazing!

There’s also a lovely relaxation area called the Tea Room where you can enjoy hot and cold beverages, as well as other spots with lounge chairs for repose before it’s time for your appointment.

Treatment bungalows at the spa, InterContinental Bora Bora Resort.
Treatment bungalows at the spa (Photo Credit: Kara Williams)

My 90-minute Bora Bora Bliss Massage took place in a glass-bottomed overwater bungalow. It began with a seated footbath, and then I transferred to a massage table; when face-down, I could gaze at the clear lagoon water below me. This is a nifty feature, but honestly, I always close my eyes during treatments for full relaxation, so I didn’t take the time to look at much!

Kara Williams

Other Amenities And Activities At The InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa

As is typical at upscale resorts on Bora Bora, guests at the InterContinental can enjoy complimentary use of snorkel gear, stand-up paddle boards, and kayaks. We’d brought our own snorkel gear, but we did take out the SUPs and kayaks one afternoon. It was fun to paddle around the calm water and admire looming Mount Otemanu, the most prominent land feature in the area. 

On the property, there’s also a fitness center, gift shop, tennis courts, and activities desk where you can book local tours. A zero-entry infinity pool is a popular place for guests to gather, as is the sandy beach area with umbrellas and lounge chairs. The resort staff regularly holds cultural demonstrations. 

While I believe that snorkeling amid the colorful tropical fish is the best way to get up close and personal with the awesome marine life of French Polynesia, guests can check out the creatures that swarm around coral nurseries without getting wet. A protected “lagoonarium” is a marine habitat that allows the fish to feed and shelter among the introduced coral — and you can spot them from a walkway over the water.

Bungalows at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort.
Bungalows at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort (Photo Credit: Kara Williams)

How To Get A Great Deal At The InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa

If I’ve got you convinced that a vacation featuring a stay at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort needs to be in your future, but you’re concerned about the cost, I’ll let you in on a secret: I didn’t pay full price for our stay in the extraordinary Pool Overwater Bungalow!

Instead, I joined the InterContinental Ambassador Program for $200 before I booked our stay on Bora Bora. With the membership, I got one of our two nights at the resort totally free, but I also scored an upgrade of four room categories.

That’s because one of the perks of membership is a free weekend hotel night anywhere in the world with InterContinental Hotels & Resorts (just book your trip so it falls on a Friday and Saturday), and a guaranteed room upgrade for every stay.

Kara and her husband in front of Mount Otemanu (Photo Credit: Quent Williams)

We booked the lowest room category (Emerald Bungalow) expecting to get bumped up to the Sapphire Bungalow category. But the hotel can, at its discretion, upgrade multiple room categories. Maybe there were no lesser-category rooms available. Maybe the room manager was feeling generous. Who knows! We just very much appreciated our rock-star status with our own pool in our Pool Overwater Bungalow.

Our extra-special digs in a beautiful tropical locale were the perfect culmination to a dream trip in the South Pacific.

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