Just west of Oponohu Bay is the Intercontinental Moorea. It is the largest of the French Polynesia properties at 26 acres. A garden, apiary, and the resort share that space in what feels much cozier than it sounds. All the resort rooms are closest to the beach and channel that run through the property. It’s also one of the two properties with non-bungalow rooms available for the more price-conscious travelers in addition to over-the-water (OTW), garden and beach bungalows. Check out our complete photo album on our Facebook page!
Entering the resort
The curvy entrance way unveils the largest lobby of the Polynesian Intercontinental resorts. Soaring ceilings with dark woodwork and white paint greet guests. The main lobby building plays host to a 24-hour reception desk, concierge desks, a boutique for souvenirs and sunrise, a Robert Wan pearl gallery, and the main restaurant. A small business center is also available for guest use. Moving past the Reception desk and towards the Lobby your eyes catch a glimpse of the turquoise waters of the Pacific, the two infinity pools, and a sun deck area. Some chairs are under a pergola with shade cloth which is a nice respite from the strong sun or for those who fry pretty easily (like me!). In the pool closest to the beach, there is a swim-up bar that overlooks the pier and beach. The beach is decently wide with several palm trees to use as shade. The pier that you see is where majority of the water activities for the island pick-up and drop-off – staying here gives you an edge since you wouldn’t have to be transferred from somewhere else.
Entertainment and Culture
A WEEKLY Polynesian dance and dinner show is held on property. The meal served is prepared using the traditional oven built on-property – one of the only ones that guests can participate in opening up to serve dinner. Just listen for the sounding of the shell horn.
The two-story building housing the non-bungalow rooms are located behind the traditional oven and beach. They’re not quite attached to the lobby building, but very close. There are 5 interconnecting rooms available on a request basis. Day rooms are also located in this building to maximize your enjoyment of the property.
Two very unique entertainment features for the kids and kids at heart are the turtle conservation center and dolphinarium. The turtle center is operated by Le Moana Te Omana to rehabilitate injured and sick sea turtles. You can only view the turtles and read about the life-saving work where the ocean channel starts to feed into the resort’s stretch of beach bungalows. The smaller turtles are sure to delight you as they did us!
The dolphinarium is home to three dolphins named Hina, Lokahi, and Kuokoa. The oldest female is a retired US Navy bomb detector (how cool is that?!). The other two young males were retired from another aquarium where they had been born in captivity. This is pretty much their retirement home with more space than they would ever have in the US in similar circumstances. Different packages can be purchased to spend time with the dolphins in very small groups. There are some age limits to be aware of based on how deep in the water the package goes, so pay close attention. There is a boardwalk that crosses over the dolphinarium linking the OTW bungalows with the rest of the property so you never know when you’ll get a free show from the spunky dolphins!
The garden bungalows get their privacy from lush foliage purpose-built around their back decks to offer privacy to the guests. Each has their own plunge pool to enjoy as a perk. The bungalow interiors are decorated and laid out the exact same way across all three location-types. The comfy king bed can be split into two twins and accommodate two adults and one child. It’s just enough space to sprawl out in and enjoy the peace and quiet. A romantic dinner on your private patio can be arranged, too!
The next step up, and quite special in our eyes, are the beach bungalows here at the Intercontinental Moorea. Unlike the beach bungalows at the Le Moana property, these are on an ocean channel that bisects the property creating a calm, snorkel-able, private area to relax and play in. It’s completely separate from the main beach. Guests simply just walk out of their bungalows onto their stretch of sand and walk into the water. It’s a really nice option for families or those who aren’t strong swimmers, but want to be super close to the crystal-clear water. The interiors are the same size and décor as the OTW bungalows.
The iconic OTW bungalows here have some slight difference compared to the sister properties. Some have back decks that open out on to the deeper water with stronger surge and current. These would not be appropriate for folks who aren’t strong swimmers or who just want to lazily float in a lagoon. The others have frontage onto the backside of the peninsula and thus are on calmer waters. The trade-off to that? There is definitely no jumping into the water since it can be as shallow as 6 inches deep at the steps from the patio. You would also want to wear water shoes to protect your feet. When the bungalows were originally built, they were put in mostly on land so these are not on pilings entirely suspended over-the-water. It’s more environmentally friendly construction, but you can’t feed fish from your coffee table. If you’re looking for a friendly, warm atmosphere with the perks of being OTW, but you’re not super picky, this might be the very perfect fit.
Spa and Wellness
The Helene Spa is just around the corner from the fitness center. Opened in 1999, it has provided guests with traditionally massage and locally sourced relaxation oils exclusively. You will not find any “brand name” spa here. They offer relaxation and massage only; if you’d like any other services such as hair, manicures, or pedicures, for example, it can be prearranged with the concierge and they will bring someone to the property just for you. Clearly the Helene Spa is doing something right and we can’t wait to go back and try it for ourselves!
How to get here...
Moorea is an easy 45 minutes ferry ride from Papeete – or short flight, if you prefer. With lots to do and see, the island that inspired the fictional Bali Hai does indeed call to you with it’s lush tree canopy and craggy mountain tops. Out of the four Intercontinental properties that we toured, we really dug the vibe here – laidback, friendly, family-friendly, quality décor and service, and great food (it was the best poisson cru we tasted on this trip).