The overwater bungalow is a luxurious vacation experience that has become increasingly popular in recent years. But what many people don’t know is that the birthplace of the overwater bungalow was in the beautiful country of Tahiti. A French Polynesian archipelago located in the South Pacific Ocean, Tahiti is known for its stunning beauty, making it the perfect place for these stunning structures to take root.

Let’s explore the history of this unique vacation experience and why Tahiti is its birthplace:

Definition of an Overwater Bungalow

An overwater bungalow is a type of accommodation that typically consists of a thatched roof or wooden cottage located over open water. It is often built on a raft structure, allowing the building to float above the water. The bungalows are usually small, sometimes just one room such as those found in tropical resorts around the world.

The first overwater resort was built in Tahiti in 1967 by American travel promoters Richard Evans Schulze and George Beckwith. This resort featured eight beach cottages and two overwater bungalows for rent as guest accommodation. Over time, more floating cottages were added to accommodate more guests and eventually the concept of an overwater resort was born.

The success of Schulze and Beckwith’s floating village inspired other resorts around the world to add their own version of an overwater bungalow for guests looking for a unique adventure experience convenient to land-based amenities but with all the natural beauty right outside your doorstep!

History of the Overwater Bungalow

The history of the overwater bungalow goes all the way back to the late 1800s, when the first overwater bungalow opened on a small island in the South Pacific Ocean. This island, named Rangiroa, is believed to be the birthplace of the overwater bungalow, as it has provided the perfect conditions for such structures since the early days.

In this article, we will explore the history of the overwater bungalow, from its origin to its growth in popularity over the years.


Origin of the Overwater Bungalow

The word “bungalow” originated in India, where British colonialists traditionally resided in small, enclosed rooms known as “bangla.” The word was later adopted to refer to simple, one-story dwellings in the United States and eventually made its way to French Polynesia.

The overwater bungalow is said to have been invented by Tahitian architect Antoine Stéphan Koechlin in 1958 upon the request of Professor Jacques Cousteau and his Underwater Research Group. Koechlin is believed to have built two of the first waterfront huts suspended on lychee tree trunks above a lagoon at the Hotel Bora Bora.

In order for such a structure to stay afloat, Koechlin utilized narrow, tall stilts that were strong enough to support the building regardless of tidal changes. Until recently, these stilts were made from unrefined wood such as mangrove and coconut trees and were secured at each end with an anchor drilled into coral stone found deep beneath the ocean floor.

The advent of such a structure provided vacationers with access to directly observe aquatic life and other marine activities while also comfortably enjoying a peaceful scenery away from land-based resorts. Its popularity grew exponentially in 1964 after being featured by Life Magazine and has only grown further throughout time— owing mainly due its innovative design and approachable costs relative to those that could afford it.

Evolution of the Overwater Bungalow

The recent trend of overwater bungalows can be traced back to the 1920s, when a few elite adventurers and visionaries made their way to the South Pacific in search of paradise. Their dreams were answered in Bora Bora, which was one of the first places to offer what we now refer to as an “overwater bungalow”, essentially a hut suspended atop stilts for easy access over the shallow reef flats.

In the 1930s, resorts started popping up in nearby Tahiti and Fiji with luxury overwater living that would soon become popular around the world. The original structures had no electricity or running water, however advances in technology and engineering soon brought those amenities as well as a wealthy clientele that desired more extravagant comfort than ever before.

Today you are likely to find distinguished overwater hotels with premium services. From private decks and pristine beaches to superlative restaurants offering award-winning cuisine – all this is being offered right above beautiful untouched coral reefs. With tourism bringing increasingly rising demands for comfort and quality, its fair to say that what was once seen as an audacious idea almost hundred years ago – is now a popular symbol of exceptional lifestyle nowadays.

The Birthplace of the Overwater Bungalow

The Overwater Bungalow is a luxurious accommodation that has become popular in many parts of the world. But where did it originate? The birthplace of the Overwater Bungalow is said to be in Tahiti. In the 1960s, the Polynesian island was home to the first of these unique structures and they have been a hit ever since. Let’s explore more about the Overwater Bungalow and its history.

Where is the Birthplace of the Overwater Bungalow

The birthplace of the overwater bungalow is a highly contested geographical location. There’s no clear evidence indicating when these unique structures first made their debut, but some believe they started appearing as early as the 1950s with resorts primarily in Polynesia. However, others argue that Tahiti, a French Polynesian archipelago off the coast of New Zealand, was the first to build such structures.

These beautiful structures have captivated travelers for decades, offering a unique and tranquil way to experience life close to nature.

Tahiti has held strong cultural ties with neighboring archipelagos within France and boasts some of the best restaurants and attractions featured in these islands. It is also home to one of only two overwater bungalow resorts in the world. The InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa houses some of Tahiti’s most luxurious overwater villas offering breathtaking views across Manuae Atoll’s pristine turquoise lagoon. With more than 100 overwater suites and guest rooms spread across thirteen acres of terrain, guests can enjoy luxurious accommodations with direct access to both beachfront and offshore activities such as snorkeling, standup paddle boarding or simply lounging on one’s own private deck overlooking the crystal-clear waters.

Whether Tahiti was actually the birthplace of overwater bungalows or not, it has certainly helped keep this concept alive for decades through its commitment to excellence in hospitality, stunning scenery and proximity to other island paradises like Moorea only minutes away by ferry service or fifteen minutes away by plane making it easy to reach both islands during a tropical vacation in French Polynesia!


What are the Benefits of the Birthplace of the Overwater Bungalow?

The birthplace of the overwater bungalow, Bora Bora, is a beautiful atoll in the Pacific Ocean located just a few hundred miles northwest of Tahiti. It boasts some of the most spectacularly crystal clear and turquoise waters in all of Polynesia, as well as amazing biodiversity and wonderful hiking trails across its motus (or sand islets).

Set amidst these magnificent and dramatic natural surroundings stands an unbeatable combination: world-class resorts featuring overwater bungalows that can offer exclusive privacy with unparalleled amenities. These unique structures perched on stilts above the lagoon waters provide an exquisite perspective from which to view one of the more remarkable beauties of nature.

Often referred to as ‘floating hotels’, the overwater bungalows allow greater accessibility to coral gardens, public beaches and other attractions due to their central yet secluded locations, while presenting fantastic views all around them. Guests seeking a quieter getaway will appreciate how each privacy wall runs right into its own enclosed deck that extends out into the tranquil lagoon waters.

Furthermore, Bora Bora’s location as the Birthplace of Overwater Bungalows enables many resorts to offer additional advantages such as top tier snorkeling gear and equipment that allows guests to easily access tropical fish with ease. This underwater paradise also offers extensive fishing for both trolling or bottom fishing needs. The amount of catch available for you can depend on your resort’s personal reef areas which often feature abundant species due to protected waters present throughout the region.

Overall, it is easy to see how much this breathtaking region has changed over time with only one thing remaining constant – its incredibly stunning beauty! Come visit Bora Bora and be a witness this masterpiece created by nature itself!


The history of the overwater bungalow demonstrates how important innovation is in the hospitality industry. A combination of necessity and a desire to stand out amongst their competitors make up the bulk of many modern vacation experiences.

When it comes to hospitality, there is always room for further advancement and improvement. This can take the shape of more comfortable bedding, innovative amenities, or anything else that helps make a traveler’s experience more convenient or memorable. No matter what it takes, innovation has been and will continue to be essential in creating unforgettable travel experiences.

As long as there is an interest in exploratory travel, people like Bill Burchill will continue crafting amazing ways for guests to experience new places. Thanks to his invention, visitors no longer have to stay ashore when seeking luxury on vacation. Now they can explore what lies beneath them during the times when they choose to relax inland at beautiful overwater bungalows!