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.
Updates for 2019
The list of 28 resorts below has been totally updated for 2019, and all room rates are current for this year. We've included 16 new resorts this year and 12 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 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 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 4 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$105
- High season from US$125
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 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, because they are high above the ocean instead of perched just over a calm lagoon.
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.
>>>Check rates at the AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort
- 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.
>>>Check rates at the Aimeo Lodge
- Low season from US$169
- 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 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.
>>>Check rates at the Lexis Hibiscus – Port Dickson
More overwater resorts in Port Dickson near Kuala Lumpur Airport in the same price range:
- Low season from US$259
- High season from US$332
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.
>>>Check rates at the Sun Island Resort And Spa
- Low season from US$302
- High season from US$423
Only open since August, 2017, the Reethi Faru Resort started with surprisingly low rates and they are keeping them unusually low even after getting hundreds of very good guest reviews. The 48 water villas and suites here are large, luxurious, and private, even though they are closer together than most Maldives resorts.
Bargain hunters might be a bit disappointed that Reethi Faru is quite remote even for the Maldives, so the sea-plane flight to reach it is rather expensive. On the other hand, they do offer all-inclusive rates that are very appealing to those who like a few drinks each day while on holiday. This is one to consider as long as room rates stay so reasonable.
>>>Check rates at the Reethi Faru Resort
- Low season from US$306
- High season from US$562
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.
>>>Check rates at the Gangehi Island Resort
- Low season from US$313 (full board, Jacuzzi Water Villa)
- High season from US$638 (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.
>>>Check rates at the Meeru Island Resort & Spa
- Low season from US$329 (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.
>>>Check rates at Thulhagiri Island Resort
- Low season from US$348
- High season from US$686
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.
>>>Check rates at the Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort
- Low season from US$350
- 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 is 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.
>>>Check rates at the Royal Huahine Resort
- Low season from US$355
- High season from US$399
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.
>>>Check rates at the Mercure Maldives Kooddoo Resort
- Low season from US$369
- High season from US$369
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.
>>>Check rates at the L'Escapade Island Resort Noumea
- Low season from US$369
- High season from US$452
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.
>>>Check rates at the Reethi Beach Resort
- Low season from US$374 (half board)
- High season from US$413 (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.
>>>Check rates at the Embudu Village Resort
- Low season from US$379
- High season from US$448
The six over-the-water fales (as they call them here) are the only overwater bungalows on Samoa, so it's helpful that room rates are quite reasonable. In case you don't have a geography degree, Samoa is about midway between Hawaii and Australia, so this place is most popular with Aussies and Kiwis because it's quite a haul from North America.
This is another 3-star resort so as long as guests aren't expecting something more than that they seem to be very satisfied. As the only such option in its area, this place seems to be booked consistently, so it might be tough to book this place on shorter notice.
>>>Check rates at the Coconuts Beach Club
- Low season from US$380
- High season from US$417
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.
>>>Check rates at the Berjaya Langkawi Resort
- Low season from US$389
- High season from US$496
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.
>>>Check rates at the Pangkor Laut Resort
- Low season from US$405 (half board)
- High season from US$519 (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$416 (Jacuzzi Water Villa)
- High season from US$688 (Jacuzzi Water Villa)
An extremely popular Maldives resort since it opened in late 2010, the Vilamendhoo 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.
>>>Check rates at Vilamendhoo Island Resort & Spa
- Low season from US$420
- High season from US$606
With 50 overwater villas and very much of a romantic-couples atmosphere, Anantari Veli stands out as an excellent bargain for the Maldives. Room rates are often higher than the ones quoted above, but we did see these legit room rates for 2019 dates and hopefully you can find them as well.
This resort is on a small island that is a 2-minute boat ride from its sister resort, the Anantara Dhigu. The overwater bungalows come in two categories and even the cheaper of the two is quite large. The sea-plane ride to reach this place is one of the shorter and cheaper sea-plane rides in the Maldives, so that also helps keep the cost of the whole holiday down.
>>>Check rates at the Anantara Veli Resort
- Low season from US$421 (full board)
- High season from US$489 (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$429
- High season from US$432
The cheapest of the “honeymoon-style” overwater bungalow resorts in Bora Bora, the Le Maitai Bora Bora Resort is justifiably popular. The 19 overwater bungalows here are perched over a lagoon and just a bit off shore, so it's a different experience than the resorts with long piers that stretch way out over a huge, turqouise lagoon.
This is a boutique 3-star resort with 55 bungalows on the island, and all of the rooms are on the smaller side compared to most of the others on this list. Guest reviews tend to be mostly very positive, especially among those who researched well and knew what they were getting. If you dream of staying in an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora and you aren't loaded, this is an option to consider.
>>>Check rates at the Le Maitai Bora Bora
- Low season from US$430
- High season from US$481
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.
>>>Check rates at the Angaga Island Resort
- Low season from US$435
- High season from US$495
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.
>>>Check rates at the Le Méridien Tahiti Resort
- Low season from US$438 (full board)
- High season from US$771 (full board)
This extremely popular resort is a smaller and more remote version of its sister resort – Meeru Island – which appears closer to the top of this list. The room rates during high season are understandably quite a bit higher, so this one stands out as a major bargain for those coming in the slower months.
The rates quoted above include 3 meals a day, and you can get an all-inclusive package with unlimited alcohol for not much more per night. The water villas here might not be as photogenic as some others, but the service and experience are outstanding, according to the many repeat visitors who have cult-like affection for this place.
>>>Check rates at the Veligandu Island Resort
- Low season from US$443 (full board, Jacuzzi Water Villa)
- High season from US$1016 (full board, Jacuzzi Water Villa)
For many years, Komandoo Island Resort has been in a higher price category so it's a pleasant surprise to find that their low-season rates can be so affordable. This is another stalwart Maldives resort with a strong following of repeat guests and a great reputation.
The high-season rates still seem to be quite high, but if you are coming in the low season this one is worth a long look. The rates mentioned above for a Jacuzzi Water Villa also include 3 meals a day, and the all-inclusive (alcohol) package isn't much more expensive.
>>>Check rates at the Komandoo Island Resort
- Low season from US$449
- High season from US$475
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.
>>>Check rates at the InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa
- Low season from US$453 (half board)
- High season from US$605 (half board)
Our last new entry is The Sands at Chale Island, which is about a 4-hour drive from Nairobi in Kenya. They only have 2 overwater bungalows to go along with 60 land rooms, so you'll want to book as early as possible if this one sounds interesting at all.
This is a luxury resort with a great reputation and consistently excellent reviews. The quoted rates include breakfast and dinner each day, and packages that include lunch are only a bit more. All-inclusive packages are available as well, although the price jump to those is considerable.
>>>Check rates at the Sands at Chale Island
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.