Tahiti is a bucket list vacation for many folks. Travel in French Polynesia is expensive, but you can make your dollar stretch a bit further by skipping the flashy resorts and taking advantage of smaller, typically family-operated Tahitian guesthouses like Moorea Beach Lodge. Also referred to locally as pensions (pronounced pone-see-owns), they are much smaller than a traditional hotel.
Moorea Beach Lodge has just 13 accommodations: one Honeymoon bungalow, four beachfront bungalows, and eight bungalows with a garden view. Bungalows are small, but charming, with a Polynesian beach feel. (The family garden bungalow is the exception, with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room, and kitchen.)
Along with a queen bed, bungalow eight had a daybed that I used as a place to put my open suitcase. The compact closet had room to hang a few items, and some shelf space, along with a mini refrigerator and small safe. All bungalows have air conditioning.
The bathroom featured a pedestal sink, toilet, and walk-in shower. Only a couple bars of soap are provided, so be sure to bring toiletries like shampoo and conditioner, or plan on purchasing supplies locally.
There is a deck on the front of every bungalow with a table and seating. Blackie, the lodge’s cat, makes rounds from time to time.
Bungalow eight is located just off the parking lot, and close to the island’s main road, so at times you can hear street noise. Sensitive sleepers should request lodging closer to the water. Overall, the room is big enough for two travelers, but for a family of three, it would be a tight fit.
The dozen bungalows surround a comfortable common area that’s steps from the sand, and boasts stunning views of the beach and water. Chances are good this is where you’ll spend a majority of your time on the property.
Breakfast is served every morning on the covered terrace from 7am to 9:30am. It includes cooked-to-order eggs, fresh fruit, croissants, baguettes, coffee, tea, and juice, and costs $21. The kitchen is also available for guest use from 11am to 11pm, offering a good money saving option for budget travelers.
Beach access is located steps away from the common area. In addition to swimming, and strolling on the sand, Moorea Beach Lodge provides a handful of kayaks for guests to use. The covered terrace off of the common area is an ideal location to take in the sunset.
Located on the west side of island, Moorea Beach Lodge is situated on the main road that circles the island. But it’s easy to drive by; there’s no big sign. (The name is on the property’s gate, but you might not see it until it’s too late to turn in.) A handful or restaurants and shops are within walking or biking distance. The lodge provides complimentary bikes for guests to use on a first come, first served basis.
Rates for Garden bungalows start at $234 (24,800 XPF). Rates for Beach Bungalows start at $253 (26,800 XPF). Wi-Fi is complimentary, but not consistent. If you see folks standing in certain locations with their phones in their hands, odds are good they’ve found a spot where the signal is strong. Reception is typically open during the day, but not at night, so be sure to plan accordingly. You can also compare rates at Expedia or Hotels.com
Review and photos by San Francisco Bay Area travel writer and television correspondent Dana Rebmann. Her stay was organized by airline French bee and Tahiti Tourism, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.