28 Cheapest overwater bungalow resorts in the world in 2018
Show a person a photo of an overwater bungalow or water villa and suddenly they have a new goal in life. Unfortunately, most of the 180 or so resorts that feature overwater rooms are quite expensive, usually well over US$600 per night, even in the off season.
Well, there is a bit of good news then as it turns out that not all of them are priced only for the super-rich. Thanks to the overwater bungalows and water villas guide, which lists every overwater resort in the world, we know that there are some affordable options out there.
Updated for 2018
The list of 28 resorts below has been totally updated for 2018, and all room rates are current for this year. We've included 8 new resorts this year and expanded the list by two. Some resorts only have one rate, while most of the larger resorts offer the lowest rates only to those who book well in advance.
In case you were wondering, about two-thirds of the 6,000+ aquatic rooms are water villas in the Maldives, spread around more than 90 resorts. The overwater bungalows in Bora Bora are the next biggest group, and a as of this update none are affordable enough to make the list below. There are also smaller groups in Moorea, Tahiti, elsewhere in the South Pacific, plus over water bungalows in the Caribbean, Mauritius, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
If you are mostly just interested in an affordable holiday in the tropics you should check our list of the cheapest Caribbean destinations.
All rates below are per night for 2 people including all taxes
When you are looking at individual resorts you'll very often see a room rate that doesn't include local taxes or service charges. Again this year we calculated all of those and included them in the rate we list, so it should reflect the bottom line at each hotel.
- Maldives cheapest months: June and July
- Bora Bora, Tahiti and Moorea cheapest months: March and April
- Caribbean cheapest months: May through November
All-inclusive, full board, and half board resorts are included
On the list below you'll also find the cheapest half-board (breakfast and dinner included), full-board (3 meals included), and all-inclusive (3 meals and alcohol) resorts. Needless to say, these are even better deals than many of the other resorts on the list, which usually only include breakfast.
28 Cheapest overwater bungalow and water villa resorts
All rates on this page are per night for 2 people including all taxes
- Low season from US$97
- High season from US$97
Open since 2011, the AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort has 392 water villas, which until 2016 was by far the most in the world (see immediately below). The water villas range from large to enormous, with the largest having 3 bedrooms. The resort completed a renovation in early 2014, after only being open 3 years, and rates are now much lower as well. The cheapest water villas are 4 to a stucture, though they are huge and surprisingly luxurious for the price. The one main caveat is you can't swim beneath the villas, unlike nearly all others on this list.
It's located off the coast just south of the Kuala Lumpur Airport, so it could actually be a very cheap getaway when combined with an Air Asia flight from anywhere in the region. Reviews for the AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort were “mixed” for the first couple years, but are now very good, which reflects the most recent management change. Check out the overwaterbungalows.net pro review of AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort if you are seriously considering this one. It's far nicer than you'd expect in this price range.
- Low season from US$191
- High season from US$191
Opened over the course of 2016, the Lexis Hibiscus Port Dickson has 522 overwater villas, each with its own private splash pool. This is obviously now the largest overwater resort in the world, and it's located a bit south of the AVANI Sepang (above), and still quite near the Kuala Lumpur Airport. Similarly, you can't swim below the water villas here, but even the cheapest class here are in freestanding structures.
Considering the huge and luxurious rooms with the private splash pools, the room rates here are amazingly low. Everything here is new, well built, and very well appointed with luxury amenities. The sheer size of the resort might be off-putting to some, but there is still a lot to like even if you don't factor in the novelty value.
More overwater resorts in Port Dickson near Kuala Lumpur Airport in the same price range:
- Low season from US$271
- High season from US$457
With some of the best review scores in the Maldives, the Reethi Beach Resort is an unusual bargain for water villas. You might be disappointed to learn that the 30 water villas are in 15 structures, so each shares one wall with another. But that doesn't mean that they are not private, and each is larger than you'd expect in this price range.
The resort itself has 114 total rooms in addition to 5 restaurants and 5 bars, which offers much more choice than most other resorts of this size. If this sounds interesting to you then read the reviews and you'll probably be ready to book.
- Low season from US$271
- High season from US$488
The Sun Island Resort & Spa has 68 semi-detached water bungalows in addition to its 358 island rooms and bungalows, making it among the very largest private-island resorts in the Maldives. The water bungalows here are a bit on the small side, but they are nicely appointed with luxury bathrooms and appealing private terraces over the lagoon.
A larger resort like this also comes with many benefits, including a long list of water sports and other family-friendly activities. There are also 9 different restaurants and bars, so even on a longer stay guests can avoid getting bored with the food service. The huge swimming pool as well as tennis courts, beach volleyball, and fitness club should appeal to guests looking to stay busy.
- Low season from US$285
- High season from US$285
Scheduled to open in August, 2017, the Reethi Faru Resort still doesn't have any reviews a couple months later, so it seems like the opening might have slipped back a bit. Still, the photos look amazing and the room rates they are starting with are astonishingly low for what they offer.
Many people don't like to book at newer resorts and in the Maldives some of them have had “growing pains” so that's not unwise. The reviews should be coming in soon so those will tell us a lot about the condition the place opened in.
- Low season from US$294
- High season from US$396
The 24 water villas at the Ellaidhoo Maldives by Cinnamon are in 12 structures, so each does share a common wall with another unit. Still, guests get a lot of privacy as each room has its own terrace that doesn't overlook the others. The resort also has 88 island bungalows, and 3 restaurants and bars from which to choose.
Reviews here are good and the rate includes breakfast daily (and for a bit more you can get dinner included as well), so it's one to consider in this lower price range. Another benefit here is that it's close enough to the main Maldives airport to allow for speedboat transfers, which are cheaper and more flexible than the sea-plane transfers that most other Maldives resorts require along with booking.
- Low season from US$302
- High season from US$336
The 47 overwater chalets at the Berjaya Langkawi Resort are more tightly packed than most other resorts, but they are luxurious and quite large on the inside. This resort has 350 total rooms, including Rain-forest Chalets that are similar inside except they are perched among the trees on the side of a mountain.
The complication for most people could be the location, which is on Langkawi Island in northern Malaysia. It might sound hard to reach, but it's actually similar to the Maldives in that you have to take at least two flights to reach most resorts. Especially if you are in or near Southeast Asia, this is one to consider.
- Low season from US$322 (half board)
- High season from US$412 (half board)
A very interesting “eco-resort,” the Punta Caracol Acqua-Lodge has 9 overwater suites in 3 different categories, and no other rooms. The best news might be that breakfast and dinner are included in the room rate, so this place probably deserves to be higher on the list of cheap overwater bungalow resorts.
Even the smallest class of overwater suites here is 2 levels with a king-size bed in an upper loft area, and a large private terrace out front. The main downside (for some people) is that this resort is quite remote, so it's not the sort of place you can just pop by and get a room.
- Low season from US$338
- High season from US$348
Currently the cheapest overwater bungalow resort in the South Pacific, the Royal Huahine Resort is also one of the few to claim only 3 stars as opposed to the 4- or 5-stars that nearly all other overwater resorts offer. The 17 overwater bungalows here are all quite large, however, and they are set over a beautiful calm lagoon on a small island not far from Bora Bora.
The resort has 18 less expensive rooms on the island, so the whole place is quite modest in size. Still, there is a wide variety of water sports and other activities that you'd expect to find at a luxury hotel in the tropics. Guests here pay less than in Bora Bora or Moorea, yet as long as they don't expect a 5-star property, this one could be a great deal.
- Low season from US$339
- High season from US$586
The Gangehi Island Resort features 8 Overwater Villas that are just off the island and 8 Overwater Deluxe Villas that are a bit farther out on the pier, in addition to 29 Island rooms. While the overwater villas may not look as pretty as some others on the outside, they are quite luxurious on the inside and well appointed with amenities.
Considering there are only 45 total rooms you might be surprised to find 2 different restaurants and an additional bar. Reviews here are consistently great, which is another small surprise considering the modest overwater room rates.
- Low season from US$351
- High season from US$515
Featuring 46 water villas and 66 beach villas, Medhufushi Island Resort has been one of the Maldives' most popular private-island hotels for many years now. The 44 standard water villas are large and fairly luxurious, and there are two restaurants and one bar at this small resort for just a bit of variety.
One downside for some is the remote location, as it is neither fast nor particularly cheap to reach from the main Malé Airport. For some people this is another benefit, as the more remote islands tend to have fewer guests coming and going every few days.
- Low season from US$357 (Half board)
- High season from US$486 (Half board)
Located on one of the smaller Maldives resort islands, Thulhagiri Island Resort has 34 water bungalows that are on the small side as well, in addition to 52 island rooms. One major benefit here is that each guest on the island is on the “half board” plan, so dinner is included in the room rate instead of just breakfast like at most others.
Another great benefit is Thulhagiri Island is fairly close to Malé International Airport, so it's not only fast to reach by speedboat, but it has among the very cheapest airport transfer rates of any resort in the Maldives.
- Low season from US$367
- High season from US$587
The 20 water villas at Angaga Island Resort are on the smaller side for the Maldives, but still about twice as large as a typical city hotel room. This is a small private-island resort with only 50 more bungalows on land, with no pool or Kids Club so it's almost exclusively a resort for adults.
This is another of the least expensive Maldives resorts that runs on a half-board (breakfast and dinner included) basis, so it's an even better bargain than you might first realize. The house reef here is among the best, so snorkeling and diving enthusiasts should give this one an extra look.
- Low season from US$378
- High season from US$390
The 25 overwater bungalows at the L’Escapade Island Resort Noumea are among the cheaper such accommodations in the South Pacific, although most people will find this one to be quite remote. New Caledonia, by the way, is just northeast of Australia, so it's a long way from Europe and the Americas.
For those in the area, this could be a gem because it's a Maldives-style private island with only 44 land-based bungalows to go along with the overwater bungalows. Things here are laid back though, so it's best for those who are looking primarily to relax and enjoy the weather.
- Low season from US$385
- High season from US$773
With 25 water villas and 50 island bungalows, Vakarufalhi Island Resort is another smaller property in the Maldives. The water villas are fairly large and reviews here are excellent, so this is a good-value option if they have availability.
The room rates mentioned include breakfast, and they also offer an all-inclusive rate that comes with lunch, dinner, and most alcoholic drinks. It's not one of the cheaper all-inclusive upgrades in the Maldives, but still the total price is still quite reasonable if that is what you are after.
- Low season from US$392 (full board)
- High season from US$632 (full board)
With 106 water villas, the Meeru Island Resort has more overwater rooms than any resort in the world except for the two mammoth Malaysian resorts at the top of this list. There are also nearly 200 beach and island villas, so this is among the largest Maldives private-island resorts overall. The low-season rates here are great bargains for anyone looking for a tremendous number of activity and dining options. This rate includes 3 meals per day in addition to most activities.
The water villas are quite nice and fairly large so the reasonable rates seem to be due to the size of the place. The cheapest category of water villas are along the waterfront at low tide, and the larger and newer Jacuzzi Water Villas are justifiably more expensive. There are more than a dozen restaurants and bars on the island, and even a small pitch & putt golf course. This place keeps rates reasonable in order to stay fully booked all year, and many guests come back over and over. The upgrade to the All-Inclusive Plus package is sometimes free during slow months and quite reasonable the rest of the year, so this is easily among the best all-inclusive deals in the Maldives. For a closer look at this justifiably popular resort, read this Meeru Island detailed pro review with videos and photos.
- Low season from US$397
- High season from US$473
No longer operating on a fully all-inclusive basis, the Adaaran Club Rannalhi is still very good value as they've lowered rates by quite a bit now that lunch, dinner, and meals are a la carte. The 34 water bungalows are in addition to 96 island rooms, so this is a mid-sized resort with plenty of activities and water sports available.
As with most Maldives resorts, they have a dive shop and diving school here. There is also the Ayurvedic Massage Centre for guests who primarily come to relax and unwind. For an all-inclusive resort in the Maldives, this one is very good value.
- Low season from US$439
- High season from US$460
Only open since August, 2017, the Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort has launched with surprisingly excellent reviews, although maybe less surprising from a chain like Mercure. They have 43 water villas and 25 island villas, so it's another smaller island with smaller villas as well.
One interesting thing to note about this resort is that it's on an island that has a small airport of its own, so can get here on a normal domestic flight rather than the special sea-plane service. If rates stay this low, this will be a good bargain for any visitor.
- Low season from US$446 (full board)
- High season from US$514 (full board)
CoCo View Resort has 16 overwater rooms that are in a total of 5 structures over its lagoon, as well as 13 rooms on the island itself. This is basically an all-inclusive diving resort, with diving packages that are only slightly more expensive than just the room itself.
The service and diving experience are excellent, according to nearly all guest reviews, so this place is a big favorite among the Scuba set. Room rates also include 3 meals per day, 1 welcome cocktail, and airport transfers. Divers who pay for the Diving Package get 2 dives per day plus all equipment, so it really is a fantastic deal if that's what you are after.
- Low season from US$460
- High season from US$631
With 148 total villas including 60 over the water, the Cinnamon Dhonveli Maldives is one of a very few in the Maldives with its own surfing beach. The surfing packages cost a bit more, but it's still a great deal for enthusiasts looking to add some waves to their tropical island holiday.
The reviews here are consistently very good so the value is high. Each overwater villa has a Jacuzzi tub among many other luxury features, so this is not a cut-rate resort by any means. The two restaurants and three bars also get good marks, and the nightlife here does as well.
- Low season from US$465
- High season from US$465
Speaking of Maldives-style, the Pangkor Laut is another private island with around 140 total rooms, including 45 overwater villas. The reviews here are excellent so the room rates are very appealing for those who can transfer through Kuala Lumpur or Singapore for the short flight to a nearby island.
The resort features 7 restaurants and bars and a huge list of included water sports and other activities. The spa here has an excellent reputation of its own, which helps make this a very popular destination for the honeymoon crowd from all over Asia.
- Low season from US$497
- High season from US$726
One of the larger Maldives islands, Filitheyo Resort has 16 overwater villas to go along with its 109 beach villas. The water villas here are huge so those low-season room rates are even a better bargain than they might appear.
This is another fairly remote resort so it's not fast or cheap to reach, but again, many romantic couples prefer the remote islands as they seem less busy in general. The normal room rate comes with breakfast and for a surprisingly reasonable price you can get a rate that also includes dinner.
- Low season from US$515
- High season from US$626
Only open since March, 2017, Kudafushi is yet another brand-new Maldives resort that instantly made a splash with excellent reviews. They have 35 water villas in addition to 72 island rooms at this remote resort. The water villas are very large and well appointed, according to some of the first guests to stay here.
Some resorts start with a low rate to get business and then push the prices up, but Kudafushi started high and now has come down to a very reasonable rate. Those looking for a newer resort should put this one on their list as long as prices stay near these levels.
- Low season from US$519
- High season from US$804
Easily one of the largest and best-reviewed resorts in the Maldives, Kuredu Island has been popular for a long time. The 50 large water villas are accompanied by 333 island rooms, and all of those are serviced by 15 different restaurants and bars. This resort even has a small golf course, which is obviously very rare in the Maldives.
Some Maldives visitors prefer the smaller islands because it feels more intimate and you actually get to know many other guests and staff. But others prefer these larger islands because they offer so many more activities and evening options. If you like a larger resort that still gets consistently excellent reviews, this is one to try.
- Low season from US$524
- High season from US$716
Not long ago the Sun Siyam Iru Fushi Resort was the Maldives Hilton and it seems to have only improved on its already-solid reputation. This resort has 80 water villas that are all huge by most standards, so it's a bit surprising that their low-season rates are so competitive.
The Sun Siyam continues to get excellent reviews and it's one of the premier large private-island resorts in the Maldives. They have 10 different restaurants and bars spread over a fairly large island, so they offer far more choice of ambience than the boutique resorts where there is usually only one main dining room. Especially in the slower months, this one stands out as excellent value.
- Low season from US$540 (All Inclusive)
- High season from US$540 (All Inclusive)
Robinson Club Maldives is the only resort on this list that operates on a fully all-inclusive basis, and normally their rates are quite a bit higher than this. Their 25 water villas are enormous and their 76 island suites and villas are quite nice as well.
Depending on when you are reading this, the rates at Robinson Club might have gone back up closer to US$1,000 per night. If that's the case then you missed a pretty good bargain. But if you see the rates closer to US$500 per night as they are at press time in late 2017, this is one to jump on for all-inclusive fans.
- Low season from US$543
- High season from US$712
An extremely popular Maldives resort since it opened in late 2010, the Viamendhoo Island Resort & Spa has 30 very large Jacuzzi Water Villas as well as 154 island villas. That's right, your water villa has its own Jacuzzi for two people on a totally private deck, which is a feature you rarely see in this price range.
This larger resort has literally thousands of very positive guest reviews so it continues to be popular and is often one of the first resorts to fill its water villas. They have 3 restaurants as well as 3 separate bars, and they'll even set up a private dinner table on the beach for a romantic meal away from the crowds.
- Low season from US$559
- High season from US$559
Another excellent resort for those who might otherwise be considering Bora Bora, the InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa has a stunning location and all the luxury a honeymoon couple could want, at a more affordable price than you might expect. The water bungalows here are all very private, and most are perched just off a small island out in the lagoon.
If you know InterContinental Hotels, you know to expect a world-class experience, with amenities like bath robes for each guest. This resort also has a dolphin center as well as a variety of activities and excursions for those who can bring themselves to leave the bungalow for long enough.
If you are interested in going to a tropical island closer to the eastern United States or Europe you should check out our list of the cheapest Caribbean islands and destinations, which reveals where luxurious resorts go for a small fraction of the price of similar resorts on other islands.
Note: This article was first published in 2012 and has been fully updated and expanded each year since.