Best known for their picturesque turquoise lagoons and sparkling white sand beaches, The Islands of Tahiti—a collection of 118 landmasses scattered throughout the South Pacific Ocean—are back in vogue since their 1960s heyday, thanks in part to America’s revived tiki obsession. And it’s the classic postcard shot depicting a string of overwater cottages tethered via a wooden walkway that lazily leans into French Polynesia’s calm, crystal clear aquamarine sea that makes this exotic, remote region a worldwide bucket list
Colonized by the French during the 19th century, today, less than half of Polynesia’s islands are inhabited, with even fewer counting lodging fit for foreigners. Over the past decade or so, Bora Bora has emerged as the collective’s main tourist hub, with the greatest concentration of spendy luxury resorts situated on what many believe to be Polynesia’s most Instagram-worthy aquamarine sea.
While cultures throughout the South Pacific have lived in "floating homes
" for centuries, it wasn’t until the 1960s—when America’s obsession with tiki took off—that the first hotel, Club Bali Hai Moorea on the island of Moorea, introduced the concept of overwater bungalows. Today, throughout the Islands of Tahiti, most high-end hotels offer overwater suites and single rooms equipped with varying amenities, from glass floors to infinity pools.
Scroll on for The Islands’ most beautiful five-star overwater residences.