28 Cheapest Overwater Bungalow Resorts in the World in 2020
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 200+ 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.
Note: This article was last updated in December, 2019.
- 1 Updates for 2020
- 2 The 28 Cheapest overwater bungalow and water villa resorts
- 2.1 1 – AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort – Malaysia
- 2.2 2 – Aimeo Lodge – Moorea
- 2.3 3 – Lexis Hibiscus Port Dickson – Malaysia
- 2.4 4 – KC Resort & Over Water Villas – Koh Samui, Thailand
- 2.5 5 – Gangehi Island Resort – Maldives
- 2.6 6 – Azul Paradise Resort – Panama
- 2.7 7 – Royal Huahine Resort – South Pacific
- 2.8 8 – Punta Caracol Acqua-Lodge – Panama
- 2.9 9 – Pulo Cinta Eco Resort – Indonesia
- 2.10 10 – Berjaya Langkawi Resort – Malaysia
- 2.11 11 – Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu
- 2.12 12 – Le Méridien Tahiti Resort
- 2.13 13 – Thulhagiri Island Resort – Maldives
- 2.14 14 – Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort
- 2.15 15 – Summer Island Village – Maldives
- 2.16 16 – Embudu Village Resort – Maldives
- 2.17 17 – Koro Sun Resort Fiji
- 2.18 18 – Furaveri Island Resort & Spa – Maldives
- 2.19 19 – Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort – South Pacific
- 2.20 20 – Filitheyo Island Resort – Maldives
- 2.21 21 – Sun Island Resort And Spa – Maldives
- 2.22 22 – CoCo View Resort – Roatan, Honduras
- 2.23 23 – Sun Aqua Vilu Reef Maldives
- 2.24 24 – L'Escapade Island Resort Noumea, New Caledonia
- 2.25 25 – Meeru Island Resort & Spa – Maldives
- 2.26 26 – Olhuveli Beach Resort & Spa – Maldives
- 2.27 27 – Reethi Beach Resort – Maldives
- 2.28 28 – Drift Thelu Veliga Retreat Maldives
Updates for 2020
The list of 28 resorts below has been totally updated for 2020, and all room rates are current for this year. We've included 12 new resorts this year and 16 that remain from last year's list. 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 7,000+ aquatic rooms are water villas in the Maldives, spread around more than 110 resorts. The overwater bungalows in Bora Bora are the next biggest group, and as of this update only one is 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. Most resorts raise prices when they don't have many water bungalows left for a given date, so you'll often see higher room rates if you are checking on shorter notice.
- Maldives cheapest months: June and July
- Bora Bora, Tahiti and Moorea cheapest months: March and April
- Caribbean cheapest months: May through November
Full board and half board resorts are included
At least a couple of the resorts on the list below include 3 meals a day with the room rate, and several of those offer all-inclusive (alcohol included) packages for not much more per night. These resorts are even better deals than they first seem because food and drinks are quite expensive at nearly all of these resorts around the world.
The 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$107
- High season from US$132
Open since 2011, the AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort has 392 water villas, which until 2016 was by far the most in the world (see #3 below). The water villas range from large to enormous, with the largest having 3 bedrooms. The cheapest water villas are 4 to a structure, 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, because they are high above the ocean instead of perched just over a calm lagoon.
The resort is 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$146
- High season from US$146
For many years this resort was known as Club Bali Hai, and it closed down in early 2018 only to reopen many months later as Aimeo Lodge. It's now operated as more of a vacation rental property than a hotel, and its 6 overwater bungalows are offered with very few amenities.
If the price seems too good to be true then keep scrolling down this list for places that are more likely to be what you are looking for. Recent guests describe it as very rustic and basic, so it might be better suited for an adventure holiday than a honeymoon. There is also a small rustic resort on Bora Bora called Oa Oa Lodge that is only a bit more expensive and has some similarities. But again, you generally get what you pay for and these resorts are quite different from the rest on this list.
- Low season from US$206
- High season from US$191
Opened in 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 room 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$218
- High season from US$253
Another interesting resort that isn't exactly a traditional overwater bungalow hotel, the KC Resort has 16 “Over Water Villas” that hover over 8 infinity-edge swimming pools on top of a hill on the busy Thai island of Koh Samui. That island is far easier to reach for most people than Bora Bora or the Maldives, and they are now offering better deals on the over water villas so we've included them on the list this year.
The resort gets very good (but not amazing) reviews, and the room rates seem pretty reasonable even for a private mini-villa with an infinity-edge pool, much less for one where you can look into the pool from a window near your bed. If you find a good room rate for this one, it's worth considering.
- Low season from US$246
- High season from US$620
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$250
- High season from US$269
As one of the newer “eco-friendly” resorts in Panama that also features some version of overwater bungalows, the Azul Paradise is also one of the best and most affordable. Some of the others stress the “eco” part so much that they are more like overwater campgrounds, but the Azul Paradise and its 10 overwater bungalows get rave reviews from honeymoon couples as well.
Located on an island in the hot Bocas del Toro area of Caribbean Panama, this resort is also fairly easy to reach compared to some of its competitors. You can swim beneath the bungalows and there are many other water sport options available as well. At this price, the Azul Paradise should get a serious look for those looking for something romantic and interesting in the Panama region.
- Low season from US$262
- High season from US$372
The 17 overwater bungalows at the Royal Huahine Resort (near Bora Bora) have long been very good value for those in search of reasonable overwater room rates in this area. This place bills itself as a 3-star resort, so that helps explain the more modest prices compared to the 4 and 5 stars that nearly all of its nearby competitors claim.
Reviews for the resort tend to be mostly positive but a bit mixed as well, so it's wise to study the recent reviews for issues that you might also be sensitive about. There is usually a reason why some nearby resorts charge 2 or 3 times as much per night for overwater bungalows. That said, if you can't afford 2 or 3 times as much per night this could still be a great choice.
- Low season from US$265 (half board)
- High season from US$379 (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$272
- High season from US$272
This stunning new “eco-resort” looks a lot more inviting than many others in that category, and the reasonable room rates make it all the more tempting. The remote location (only reachable by boat) off the Indonesian island of Sulawesi is the main drawback for most of us though. The Pulo Cinta Eco Resort has 15 overwater bungalows ranging from 1 to 3 bedrooms, but unless you are already nearby it could take you several flights and most of a day to reach the place.
The little island has the reception area and a small restaurant, but it's mostly sand. Guest reviews are mostly very good, although this place is not for everyone so read carefully before booking.
- Low season from US$290
- High season from US$296
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$259
- High season from US$332
The Holiday Inn Resort on Vanuatu is another place that would be ideal for many people if not for its fairly remote location. Vanuatu is technically in the South Pacific, but it's far closer to Australia than it is to Hawaii or even Tahiti. The resort has 10 overwater lagoon villas among its room types, along with dozens of water activities and even a casino.
Recent reviews have been excellent and the value is quite good for the amenities and features the place offers. The main problem will be getting to Vanuatu, unless you are starting in Australia.
- Low season from US$300
- High season from US$321
The 12 overwater bungalows at the Le Méridien Tahiti Resort are among the least expensive and by far easiest to reach in the Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora area. The resort is only a short drive from the main Tahiti Airport, yet not at all in the flight path. This means that you can reach these rooms from Los Angeles with only a single flight and a short taxi ride.
There are 137 island rooms at this French-run chain resort, which are even less expensive. This helps make the resort one of the better stops for those who might only be able to afford a couple nights in an overwater bungalow as part of a longer holiday. Le Méridien has a solid reputation in the luxury resort market, so this one feels like good value.
- Low season from US$304 (Half board)
- High season from US$570 (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. The low-season rates here are amazing, but in high season it seems harder to get a good bargain.
- Low season from US$304
- High season from US$409
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 guests 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$310 (half board)
- High season from US$310 (half board)
With 20 new stand-alone overwater villas, Summer Island Village continues to be one of the best-value resorts in the Maldives. Their room rates are among the cheapest for overwater bungalows, but the recent reviews are excellent so guests feel they are getting a lot for their holiday money.
Summer Island Village also offers all-inclusive plans, which are obviously great deals for those who like more than a drink or two each day. The buffet restaurant is on a 14-day rotating menu, so even those who stay two weeks won't get bored too quickly. If you are looking for an affordable Maldives water villa holiday, this is one to consider for sure.
- Low season from US$345 (half board)
- High season from US$401 (half board)
Billing itself as a 3-star resort, Embudu Village has long been considered a very solid bargain among smaller private-island resorts in the Maldives. The 16 water villas here are in 4 structures, so you'll be sharing at least one wall with other guests. Especially considering that dinner is included in the room rate, it's still a popular resort with those who want to experience the overwater rooms without spending a fortune.
The reviews here are generally excellent and it seems that they get quite a few repeat guests, so they are definitely doing something right. Embudu Village is also within a speedboat ride of the Male International Airport, so it's much cheaper to reach than most other resorts in the Maldives.
17 – Koro Sun Resort Fiji
- Low season from US$259
- High season from US$332
Another overwater resort with a variety of non-traditional room types, the Koro Sun Resort is definitely worth a look if you are thinking about Fiji for a romantic getaway. The hotel has a variety of “edgewater” accommodations that aren't way out in a lagoon like you'd find in Bora Bora, but still look pretty amazing, especially at these room rates.
Unlike many other resorts in the South Pacific region, the Koro Sun offers half-board and full-board meal plans, which helps make trip costs more predictable. They don't offer “all-inclusive” including alcohol, however, as that seems to be almost impossible to find in the South Pacific.
- Low season from US$259
- High season from US$332
Among the newer overwater resorts in the Maldives, the Furaveri Island Resort offers 14 Luxury Overwater Bungalows that are each enormous at around 100 square meters (or 1,000 square feet). The room rates listed above are not available all the time, but we did find them and with any luck you'll find rates that are within this range as well.
This is an excellent deal if you can find water villas offered for under US$500 per night in this size and with these amenities. The island is rather remote even for the Maldives so the sea-plane ride isn't cheap, but it's a thrill unto itself and a great introduction to this gorgeous corner of the world.
- Low season from US$384
- High season from US$585
At least during the slower months (March and April), the Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort has the least expensive overwater bungalows in the South Pacific. The 24 water bungalows here are fairly large for the region, and 15 of them have steps leading down from the deck into the turquoise lagoon below.
There is only one restaurant and bar here, but they offer quite a few included activities as well as a full service spa. Room rates during high season here are more expensive so this one stands out as a real bargain during the slower months. You'll first need to fly to Tahiti and then take a short flight to Tikehau Island to get here.
- Low season from US$386
- High season from US$596
The 16 overwater villas at the Filitheyo Island Resort are quite a bit larger than even those mentioned above, making them some of the largest in the Maldives for a standard water villa. Again, the off-season room rates we found are not available every night so it's wise to book ahead and have some flexibility in order to get the best bargain.
The resort has 109 additional island rooms as well as a long list of activities and amenities, so it's a good choice if you get bored quickly sitting in a room or on the beach. As with most other resorts in the Maldives, this place has a full-service spa and a diving center, so it's a good choice for many visitors.
- Low season from US$386
- High season from US$743
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$390 (full board)
- High season from US$446 (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$399
- High season from US$622
The off-season rates at Sun Aqua Vilu Reef are even more amazing when you consider that the rate is for Jacuzzi Water Villas that are very large on the inside and the outside. This resort even has 6 new Pool Water Villas, although you can expect to pay quite a bit more for those.
The base rates at this resort include breakfast and dinner daily, and you can pay a bit more to include lunch as well as alcohol, making this one of the more affordable all-inclusive resorts in the Maldives. The location is remote so the sea-plane ride isn't cheap, but if you are staying at least 4 or 5 days that doesn't add too much to the room rate.
- Low season from US$400
- High season from US$558
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$418 (full board, Jacuzzi Water Villa)
- High season from US$596 (full board, Jacuzzi Water Villa)
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$432
- High season from US$593
Another Maldives resort with a great reputation, Olhuveli Beach Resort has 60 water villas to go along with 104 island villas and suites, making this one of the larger Maldives resorts on this list. The Jacuzzi Water Villas are almost 900 square feet (90 square meters), so this could be a great choice for romantic couples who plan on spending a lot of their holiday alone in the room.
One more notable benefit of Olhuveli is that it's one of the closer resorts on this list to the main Maldives airport, which keeps transportation costs down a bit. That means this is a good choice for shorter trips of just a few days because you can be back to the airport quick enough for your outgoing flight without having to spend a night near the airport.
- Low season from US$435
- High season from US$506
With some of the best review scores in the Maldives (at least in the modest price category), 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$438
- High season from US$679
With 20 water villas and only 30 total villas, the Drift Thelu Veliga Retreat is one of the smaller private-island hotels on this list and one of the newest ones as well. Couples wanting to get away from it all might enjoy the fact that the villas here do not have TVs at all, although they do have minibars and many other traditional features.
The reviews for this resort might be the best for all of the Maldives resorts on this list, so guests do get a lot for their money. If you are looking for a boutique water villa resort and the idea of no TV sounds like a feature you'd enjoy, this is one to consider.
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.