17 Cheapest Overwater Bungalow Resorts around the World in 2024
Overwater bungalows in Bora Bora and water villas in the Maldives, which are different names for the same things, are at or near the top of bucket lists around the world. Anyone who sees a photo of a bungalow perched over a turquoise lagoon immediately dreams of staying in one of those places themselves. There are now over 250 resorts around the world with overwater rooms, but the bad news is that almost all of the really nice ones are over US$1,000 per night. The good news is that there are still some more affordable ones and we’ve got that list for you below.
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. The cheapest water villa or overwater bungalow resorts tend to be in Malaysia and nearby, but the Maldives itself has over 130 water villa resorts and many of them make this list even though they are full luxury resorts. You’ll also find some more basic places in the Caribbean, and some modest resorts in and near Bora Bora as well. The list below shows the cheapest options in all of the main regions for overwater bungalows and water villas as of 2024.
Note: This article was last updated in November, 2023.
Updates for 2024
There are now over 250 resorts around the world with overwater bungalows and villas and they range from fairly basic to unbelievably luxurious. The good news is that we have more choices than ever, but the bad news is that room rates for these places have gone WAY up in the last two years so as of 2024 you’ll have to pay over US$1,000 per night for almost all of them in Bora Bora and even most of them in the Maldives. There are some exceptions though.
In case you were wondering, about two-thirds of the 9,000+ aquatic rooms are water villas in the Maldives, spread around more than 130 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.
Video showing all of the resorts below
This year I started making videos to go along with my most popular articles and this one is my favorite so far. Please watch it if you want to see actual video footage of all of these places.
5 Major overwater bungalow regions around the world
With so many new overwater resorts opening in the last few years, we’ve decided that instead of just listing the absolute cheapest ones, which mostly are in just two of the regions, that we will list the cheapest few in each of the major regions.
- Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines)
- South Pacific (excluding Bora Bora, Moorea, Tahiti)
- Bora Bora, Moorea, Tahiti
On the list below you’ll find the cheapest resorts in each region so you can get an idea of the general price ranges.
The 17 Cheapest overwater bungalow and water villa resorts around the world
Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines)
There are water villa resorts in all four of these countries, but this year (as usual) the cheapest of them are all in Malaysia. There are a few cheap “Eco-resorts” in Indonesia, but they are more for divers than honeymooners.
- Low season from US$105 (for 2 people, including all taxes)
- High season from US$139
Open since 2011, the AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort has 392 water villas, which until 2016 was by far the most in the world (see #2 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 the popular ones in Bora Bora and the Maldives, 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$207
- High season from US$224
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 (#1 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. In fact, the distance from the shore to the remote water villas requires a ride in a golf cart.
More overwater resorts in Port Dickson near Kuala Lumpur Airport in the same price range:
- Low season from US$286
- High season from US$351
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. As of 2024, rates have come down for off-season stays. It’s worth checking if this one looks interesting to you.
South Pacific (Not including Bora Bora, Moorea, Tahiti)
The resorts in and near Bora Bora are the closest ones to North America and they are all extremely expensive. The ones on the list below are cheaper and are all closer to Australia than to the United States.
- Low season from US$292
- High season from US$292
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$312
- High season from US$312
With 25 overwater bungalows, the DoubleTree by Hilton Noumea is on a small island just off New Caledonia, which itself it fairly close to Australia. Since it’s currently part of the Hilton chain, you can expect things to be done professionally, which isn’t always the case of the cheaper overwater resorts in this part of the world.
The overwater bungalows are fairly large and well appointed, with plenty of great water sports and activities on offer, but the location makes it a challenge for those not starting in Australia or New Zealand.
The Maldives now has over 130 water villa resorts. First we will list the cheapest overall followed by two of the cheapest all-inclusive resorts.
- Low season from US$337
- High season from US$395
One of the Maldives resorts that always has great rates on water villas, Safari Island Resort and Spa can be a good choice for those who want luxury on a modest budget. They have 39 water villas as well as 15 waters-edge bungalows that are even more affordable. Each one has a glass coffee table for viewing the sea life directly below the villa.
As a smaller resort (they only have 20 island villas), Safari Island doesn’t have quite as many activities on offer as some other resorts, but they do have a diving center, a water sports center, and a gym. They’ve got one restaurant, bar, and coffee shop, all located on the lagoon itself.
- Low season from US$404
- High season from US$404
Part of the upscale Sri Lanka-based hotel chain, Ellaidhoo Maldives by Cinnamon offers excellent value for a smaller Maldives resort. They’ve got 24 overwater bungalows in 12 separate structures, so each shares a wall, but is otherwise totally private. They’ve got 3 buffet restaurants and the usual long list of water sports and included activities.
The resort has 88 rooms and bungalows on a small private island in addition to the water villas, with really good snorkeling in its house reef. Reviews are surprisingly strong for a resort that seems to be such a bargain, although most similar resorts don’t have a shared wall so that is one thing to consider. You also have to factor in the sea-plane ride from Malé Airport, which is a thrill unto itself but will set you back around US$400 per person round-trip.
Cheapest All-inclusive Maldives resorts
The two resorts below are the cheapest of the all-inclusive resorts, which are a popular category and can be great value for those who like to enjoy than one or two drinks per day.
- Low season from US$576
- High season from US$914
Built and opened in 2019, the Riu Atoll Resort has 36 water villas in 12 separate structures, but it like they are very private in spite of some shared walls. This, along with its neighboring sister resort Riu Palace Maldives, are the first ones from the Spanish hotel chain that specializes in all-inclusive resorts in sunny parts of the world.
As you can expect in the Maldives, they’ve got a full-service spa (costs extra) and a long list of water sports that are included. With 254 total rooms and villas, this is a larger resort with 3 restaurants and 3 bars and lounges. This could be a great choice for those looking for an affordable Maldives all-inclusive with a lot going on every day.
- Low season from US$615 (all-inclusive)
- High season from US$615 (all-inclusive)
The cheapest all-inclusive resort in the Maldives is the Adaaran Club Rannalhi, which has 26 water bungalows in 13 structures over its gorgeous lagoon, so again, they each have one shared wall. As you’d expect, the food comes from an international buffet with theme nights and there are two bars running from morning until midnight. They’ve also got a full spa and a long list of included water activities, so this place does offer fantastic value for those looking for an affordable Maldives all-inclusive.
The Adaaran chain operates 5 total resorts in the Maldives and that’s it, so they specialize in this area and that helps them offer a rare combination of value and quality. Reviews for all of their resorts have been good for years so this one is definitely worth considering if you are the all-inclusive type.
Bora Bora, Moorea, Tahiti
There are about 20 resorts in Bora Bora, Moorea, and Tahiti itself. Most of them start over US$1,000 per night and there are no all-inclusive resorts in this area, but the few relatively cheap ones are listed below.
- Low season from US$597
- High season from US$839
An older and more traditional Bora Bora resort, the Hotel Maitai has 19 overwater bungalows that are sometimes available as low as US$597 per night, which is over US$400 per night less than the second most affordable one on this famously pricey island in paradise. The water villas are a bit on the small side, but they are private and perched over a gorgeous lagoon just like you’ve always dreamed of.
Reviews of the place are good to very good, but rarely better than that. Everyone knows that Bora Bora is one of the most beautiful islands on earth and if you book the most affordable overwater bungalows there you can’t expect the Four Seasons (which is not far away actually and triple the price!). You might also have to try quite a few dates to find this room rate, but as of late 2023 it WAS available and includes all taxes and fees. Good luck!
- Low season from US$889
- High season from US$1,170
With 28 overwater bungalows along with 66 garden and beach rooms, the second most affordable overwater rooms in the area are at the Manava Beach Resort and Spa on Moorea, which is close to Tahiti itself. You can see in the photos that the lagoon here is clear, but it drops off quickly at the edge of the outer bungalows, so it’s not the same swimming-pool-style lagoon you’ll find at the Bora Bora resorts costing twice as much or more.
The vibe here is very Polynesian, unlike the top-end resorts that are more set up like a European spa. Reviews are very good and they’ve got a full service spa and the usual water sports on offer. Moorea isn’t quite as beautiful as Bora Bora, but it’s much nicer than Tahiti and if the place above isn’t available this would be my second choice in the area if it fit my budget.
- Low season from US$998
- High season from US$1,141
We are calling this the second cheapest overwater resort on Bora Bora even though it’s set on the nearby island of Le Taha’a (with great views of Bora Bora). The Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa has 48 overwater bungalows set over a stunning turquoise lagoon that rivals those below the most expensive resorts on Bora Bora itself. The overwater bungalows are each huge at over 1,100 square feet (100 sq. meters) including a private terrace for each.
They’ve got 3 restaurants and 2 bars and of course a full-service spa. This place gets mostly excellent reviews for everything and it’s had a great reputation for at least a decade. While $998 per night may not sound like a bargain, this place is similar to and as nice as the high-end chain resorts on Bora Bora that literally start at twice the price or more. Of the three Bora Bora-area resorts on this list, I would absolutely choose this one if I could afford it.
Believe it or not, there are almost 30 overwater resorts in the Caribbean, but the majority of them are tiny “eco-resorts” and “aqua-resorts” in Panama. Below are the cheapest of those plus the cheapest of the honeymoon overwater bungalows.
- Low season from US$132
- High season from US$154
Even though it’s only a few years old, the El Faro del Colibri is currently the cheapest overwater bungalow resort in the Americas. It bills itself as an “Acqua lodge” and it’s one of many similar places in Panama and specifically in the Bocas del Toro area. It’s obviously pretty basic and I wouldn’t book a surprise romantic weekend to this place, but technically it does have overwater bungalows and a very good location as well.
It’s worth noting that the US$132 per night room rate only seems available on its own website and Expedia starts at US$149 per night. In fact, the official website is still under construction so I’d be tempted to book with Expedia just in case. From the photos you can see a tiny flat-screen TV and an A/C unit in each cabin and reviews are quite good. Long story short, this is by far the cheapest overwater bungalow that isn’t located in Malaysia and it could be a fun choice for some people.
- Low season from US$248 (half board)
- High season from US$291 (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 is a better deal that it first appears and really is a fantastic bargain compared to many of the other places around it.
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$285
- High season from US$362
Yet another Acqua Lodge in Bocas del Toro, Panama, the Hotel Eclypse de Mar Acqua Lodge has by far the best photos of the resorts in this area and it looks very nice for the price. It’s set over a calm-looking lagoon with clearer water than the others, and their units have glass floor sections so you can observe the sea-life below from your cabin.
The Honeymoon Over The Water Bungalow in particular actually does look like the kind of place suitable for a romantic getaway, especially if your partner has a fondness for sustainability and the nearby nature reserve. Obviously there’s a very big difference between a place like this and the ones on Bora Bora mentioned above, but there’s also a huge difference in price and these are cheaper and easier to reach for most people.
Cheapest luxury all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean
If you are looking for a honeymoon-style overwater bungalow in the Caribbean, the one below is the cheapest option, believe it or not. There are only about 6 total resorts that are in this category and half of those are Sandals resorts.
- Low season from US$1,254
- High season from US$1,650
By now you’ve seen that this place is more than four times more expensive than the one just above. For many people it will be worth it as this one is actually the cheapest all-inclusive overwater resort in the Caribbean that compares to the places in Bora Bora or the Maldives. Like the others above, it’s also in Bocas del Toro, Panama, but this one is nothing like the others.
As of January 2024, each of the 16 huge overwater bungalows here will have its own private splash pool on its deck. The place is Balinese in design and style and it looks like they’ve spent a fortune on making these places properly 5-star, including a glass floor section in each unit to see the sea life below. Again, it’s all inclusive and that even includes airport transportation. Seriously, if you want something REALLY nice and you can’t afford the Sandals one below, this is a place to consider.
Cheapest luxury all-inclusive with butler service in the Caribbean
If you want the best overwater bungalows in the Caribbean, the one below is it. Fortunately it’s all-inclusive and provides private butler service.
- Low season from US$3,437
- High season from US$3,437
There were no luxurious overwater bungalows anywhere in the Caribbean until Sandals completed them at three of their resorts starting in 2016, and this is the cheapest and arguably the nicest of the three. I’ve actually been to all of them and toured the overwater rooms and these were my favorite. The 12 overwater bungalows here are huge and behind a security gate at the pier, so this is a 5-star +++ experience in every way, including the private butler service.
The other Sandals resorts with them are the Royal Caribbean near the Montego Bay airport and one in St. Lucia. They all would go for around US$2,200 per night until 2022, but now those other resorts are going for US$4,000 per night and these are a bit less. You can get something similar in Bora Bora for about US$2,500 per night, but that’s a very long flight for most people. It appears that demand for these places is so strong that they can charge this much and still sell out every single night. Are they worth it? Obviously they are to those who can afford them. I wish I could as well.
Note: This article was first published in 2012 and has been fully updated and expanded each year since.