Palm trees, tropical flowers, and water that sparkles with a thousand shades of blue – it’s what most French Polynesian dream vacations are made of. And you can find it all less than a five-minute drive from Tahiti’s Fa’a’a International Airport at the InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa.
As you approach the resort by car, there aren’t many hints to what’s waiting for you, but when you step in the lobby it all comes into beautiful focus. Set on more than 60 acres of Tahiti’s lush coast, the resort offers postcard-worthy views of the neighboring island of Moorea.
The InterContinental Tahiti features 246 accommodations; most rooms and suites are located in three-story buildings. However, the resort also boasts two-dozen overwater bungalows that face the neighboring island of Moorea. You’ll receive a map at check-in, but you won’t need it for long.
I stayed in a Premium Ocean & Moorea View room located on the third floor. Dark wood furnishings, white linens and a sprinkling of colorful fabrics combined to give the space a polished but comfortable feel. However, for many travelers, it’s the view that will be the most memorable part of a stay here.
The spacious balcony offered stellar panoramas of Moorea and its surrounding blue seas. Furnished with a table and two chairs, the private outdoor space provided an ideal perch to watch fluffy clouds float by, spot rainbows, and watch the sunset.
The bathroom featured two sinks, a walk-in shower with a wand and rainfall shower head, a huge soaking tub, and a separate, private space for the toilet. A fixed window looking into the bedroom allowed natural light from the outside to make its way in. Easily adjustable window blinds provided privacy when needed.
The list of room amenities included almost everything you’d expect from the InterContinental brand. Along with a television, small refrigerator and safe, there was an electric kettle along with tea bags and packets of instant coffee. However, there was no coffee maker; coffee drinkers must be content with packets of Nescafé and powder creamer.
Tahiti is typically a stopover destination; most travelers only spend a short time on the island either on their way to, or returning from French Polynesia’s big name islands like Bora Bora and Moorea. That said, the InterContinental offers plenty of options for guests searching for a day or two of enjoyable down time.
The InterContinental Tahiti boasts a lagoonarium, or natural aquarium where guests can snorkel in a controlled setting. Along with shells and coral, you’ll see parrot fish, Picasso Triggerfish, angel fish, and more. Even if you’re not the type to jump in, guests are welcome to watch the daily feedings at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Te Taire, the hotel’s main pool borders the lagoonarium. Complete with waterfalls, the freshwater infinity pool is massive and hard to pass by without at least dipping in your toes. The sandy-bottomed, Le Lotus infinity pool boasts a swim-up bar and stunning views of Moorea. The two pools are only a short walk apart, but during my stay the Le Lotus pool offered a much quieter experience.
TOPDIVE’s Tahiti dive center is located on the outer edge of the resort. In addition to expected SCUBA experiences, TOPDIVE offers snorkeling tours to a nearby spot known as L’ Aquarium. Along with a coral reef, there’s an eclectic collection of wrecks lying in the sand that includes a Cessna airplane, boat, and desk complete with a chair and lap top computer.
Steps away from the dive center, kayaks and jet skis are available to rent by the hour. For those preferring to stay dry there’s a 24-hour fitness center, pair of tennis courts, and volleyball court.
The property is not within walking distance of many shops or restaurants. Downtown Papeete, home to the island’s Le Marche public market, ferry terminal, and countless shops, eateries and bars, is about a 15-minute drive and $30 cab fare. (Those preferring to stay in the thick of Papeete should look at Hotel Tahiti Nui.) The InterContinental offers shuttle service to Papeete for approximately $10 per person, (round trip) but it is by reservation only and does not run in the evening.
Unless you have a rental car, a majority of meals during your stay will likely be eaten on property. Open for lunch and dinner, overwater Le Lotus restaurant serves French cuisine and offers the most formal dining experience at the resort.
Overlooking the main pool, Te Tiare Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a casual setting. The lunch and dinner menu includes a variety of selections the likes of Hawaiian tuna poke and a vegan Buddha bowl with falafel, to pizza and a cheeseburger. On most Wednesdays and Fridays, dinner is served buffet style and accompanied by a music and dance performance.
Te Tiare also serves a festive Tahitian Brunch buffet every Sunday morning. Along with typical American options like bacon and pancakes, guests can try local options like poisson cru, or marinated raw fish.
The Tiki Bar, Lobby Bar Terrace, and Le Lotus Swim-Up Bar, offer limited menus alongside tropical cocktails, beer and wine. Room service is available from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m.
I was happily surprised to discover the hotel offers four complimentary, self-service laundry rooms for guests, making traveling light easier. Free-of-charge transit rooms are also available for folks arriving or departing late.
Rates for a Premium Ocean & Moorea View room start at $441. There is also a 6% resort fee and 1.5% community and conservation fee. Certain packages include breakfast and dinner. You can make your reservation directly online at the hotel website. Or, you can check Expedia or Booking.com for a better rate and make your reservations there. Dining out in Tahiti can add up quickly, so it’s worth taking a look at the offerings, especially if you plan on eating most of your meals at the property.
Review and photos by San Francisco Bay Area travel writer and television correspondent Dana Rebmann. Her stay was organized by InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.