The interaction of water with freshly cleaved BaF2 (111) surfaces at ambient conditions (room temperature and under controlled humidity) has been studied using scanning force microscopy in different operation modes. The images strongly suggest a high surface diffusion of water molecules on the surface indicated by the accumulation of water at step edges forming two-dimensional bilayered structures. Steps running along the 〈 1̄ 10 〉 crystallographic directions show a high degree of hydrophilicity, as evidenced by small step-film contact angles, while steps running along other directions exhibiting a higher degree of kinks surprisingly behave in a quite opposite way. Our results prove that morphological defects such as steps can be crucial in improving two-dimensional monolayer wetting and stabilization of multilayer grown on surfaces that show good lattice mismatch with hexagonal ice. © 2010 American Institute of Physics.