32 Cheapest Overwater Bungalow Resorts in the World in 2023
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$700 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. The cheapest water villa or overwater bungalow resorts tend to be in Malaysia and nearby, but the Maldives itself has over 80 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.
Note: This article was last updated in December, 2022.
Updates for 2023
As you’d imagine, all of these resorts closed at least temporarily in 2020 and more than a few of the overwater bungalow resorts in the Maldives and South Pacific has still yet to reopen. As of 2023 nearly all of them are operating again and unfortunately most of the remaining ones have raised room rates significantly. Fortunately there are still some good-value water villa resorts with reasonable rates, and they are listed below.
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 32 Cheapest overwater bungalow and water villa resorts
All rates on this page are per night for 2 people including all taxes
1 – AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort – Malaysia
- Low season from US$113
- High season from US$122
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 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.
>>>Check rates at the AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort
2 – Berjaya Langkawi Resort – Malaysia
- Low season from US$143
- High season from US$308
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 2023, rates have come down for off-season stays, and increased for high season. It’s worth checking if this one looks interesting to you.
>>>Check rates at the Berjaya Langkawi Resort
3 – Punta Caracol Acqua-Lodge – Panama
- Low season from US$148 (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 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.
4 – Lexis Hibiscus Port Dickson – Malaysia
- Low season from US$207
- High season from US$211
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.
>>>Check rates at the Lexis Hibiscus – Port Dickson
More overwater resorts in Port Dickson near Kuala Lumpur Airport in the same price range:
5 – Sol Bungalows – Panama
- Low season from US$284
- High season from US$284
With only two actual overwater bungalows, Sol Bungalows is by far the cheapest such places in the Americas, but still they are much nicer than a few others in Central America. Both of them have glass floor sections (an extremely popular feature), deck hammocks, and steps down into the water below.
Interiors look very posh for the price range, and there are loads of water sports available in the area. The places are only a couple years old and they are very popular, so we expect the prices to go up before long. They are located in Bocas del Toro off the Caribbean coast of Panama, so reaching them is a bit complicated.
6 – Tahiti la Ora Beach Resort
- Low season from US$300
- High season from US$321
By far the cheapest overwater bungalow resort in Tahiti, this one has become a bit of a mystery. We’ve seen these very low room rates shortly before press time, but on other searches we find the resort unavailable. It’s hard to know what is going on.
The reviews of this place have not been strong in recent years and evidently it’s showing its age. If you can find availability at a good rate it could be really nice if your expectations aren’t too high. It’s possible that this resort is under some kind of transition and we will edit this if we find out more.
>>>Check rates at the Tahiti la Ora Beach Resort
7 – Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu
- Low season from US$303
- High season from US$315
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.
>>>Check rates at the Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu
8 – Atmosphere Kanifushi – Maldives
- Low season from US$306
- High season from US$1,591
This newer 5-star resort has 40 water villas that all look amazing. In fact, 28 of the 40 water villas have their own private pools. This place is normally far more expensive than anything else on this list, but we are including it because we have discovered some very low rates for off-season stays. It’s worth checking yourself, especially if they happen to have availability only a week or two out.
The resort has a vegan restaurant that claims to be the only one in the Maldives. Vegetarian dishes are popular at all resorts, especially the ones that get quite a few Indian guests, but Atmosphere takes it to another level.
>>>Check rates at the Atmosphere Kanifushi Resort
9 – Gayana Marine Resort Malaysia
- Low season from US$330
- High season from US$374
Located just off Borneo rather than Malaysia’s peninsular region, Gayana Marine Resort is an eco-hotel that opened recently with very good room rates. They’ve got 52 overwater bungalows that are over 800 square feet (75 square meters) in size, making them some of the largest in the area.
Each overwater bungalow is very luxurious with large showers and direct access to the water below. The resort has a full spa along with snorkeling, a PADI dive center, and loads of other water sports. They take the “eco” in eco-resort pretty seriously, so if that sounds interesting to you this one is great value.
>>>Check rates at the Gayana Marine Resort
10 – DoubleTree by Hilton Noumea Ilot Maitre Resort
- Low season from US$336
- High season from US$385
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.
>>>Check rates at the DoubleTree by Hilton Noumea Ilot Maitre Resort
11 – Angaga Island Resort and Spa – Maldives
- Low season from US$349
- High season from US$442
With 20 water villas connected to one of the Maldives’ smaller private resort islands, Angaga Island Resort has been a great-value option for many years. The resort doesn’t have a swimming pool or a kids club, so it’s meant for couples rather than families with kids.
Each water villa comes with a glass-bottom table, which is an extremely popular feature not found in all water villas in the Maldives. They have scuba diving, wind surfing, and even tennis, so you won’t get bored. The last-minute specials here can be amazing, so if you are looking for something on short notice, Angaga might be ideal.
>>>Check rates at the Angaga Island Resort and Spa
12 – Sun Island Resort And Spa – Maldives
- Low season from US$356
- High season from US$446
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
13 – Sun Siyam Vilu Reef Maldives
- Low season from US$399
- High season from US$622
Another great-value resort, Sun Aqua Vilu Reef has some of the best low-season rates in the Maldives. They’ve got 41 water villas including 35 with private Jacuzzis, which of course cost a bit more. The resort also has 80 island villas and with the size you get features including 24-hour room service and 3 separate restaurants.
Sun Siyam Resort has a 5-star spa and a long list of water sports, making it ideal for those who want to do more than just sit on the beach all day. Similar to many other Maldives resorts, they offer night fishing, sunset cruises, and island hopping excursions.
>>>Check rates at the Sun Siyam Vilu Reef Maldives
14 – Azul Paradise Resort – Panama
- Low season from US$401
- High season from US$401
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.
>>>Check rates at the Azul Paradise Resort
15 – CoCo View Resort – Roatan, Honduras
- Low season from US$430 (full board)
- High season from US$498 (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.
16 – Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu – Maldives
- Low season from US$416
- High season from US$697
As one of the Maldives resorts that advertises a “No news, no shoes” style, Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu is a great choice for those really wanting to unplug. They have 14 water villas that each has its own plunge pool, which is a feature that normally costs much more. Room rates here are usually more toward the high season prices mentioned above, but if you look around and get lucky you might get something like the low season rate.
If you’ve got even more money you could book one of the Sunset Water Villas on the end, which are twice as large and come with butler service. The resort offers a wide variety of diving and water sports along with tennis, a gym, and a full spa.
>>>Check rates at the Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu
17 – Safari Island Resort and Spa – Maldives
- Low season from US$439
- High season from US$570
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.
>>>Check rates at the Safari Island Resort and Spa
18 – Reethi Faru Resort – Maldives
- Low season from US$446
- High season from US$724
With 44 water villas and 2 water villa suites, Reethi Faru Resort is a newer private-island hotel and one of the more budget-friendly as well. Each water villa is 840 sq ft (78 m²), making them about triple the size of a typical city hotel room. And each has steps down into the lagoon from the private terrace, along with a luxurious bathroom.
The resort also has 106 island villas, so it’s one of the larger and busier islands in the Maldives. With a larger size comes more options including 5 restaurants, a Turkish bath, and an aqua gym. Room rates in high season are up there, but this is another resort that is worth checking because they do have promotional rates if they aren’t full and the dates are drawing near.
>>>Check rates at the Reethi Faru Resort
19 – Robinson Club Maldives
- Low season from US$450
- High season from US$624
A resort popular with German guests as it’s part of a chain of luxury German hotels, Robinson Club Maldives has 25 water villas and 76 island villas. Room rates are pretty competitive all year round so this could be a good option if you want to go to the Maldives in high season around Christmas.
The Lagoon Villas are all enormous, clocking in at 1,238 sq ft (115 m²). They’ve also got a 2-bedroom Lagoon Suite, which could be a great option for a multi-generation stay, although 2-bedroom suites tend to cost more than double the 1-bedroom water villas, so it won’t be cheap. Robinson Club has scuba diving and snorkeling at one of the best house reefs in the Maldives, so it’s a favorite for the water sports crowd.
>>>Check rates at the Robinson Club Maldives
20 – Sun Siyam Olhuveli – Maldives
- Low season from US$464
- High season from US$650
With 60 overwater villas, the Sun Siyam Olhuveli Resort is the most affordable of the luxurious Sun Siyam chain in the Maldives. The room rates here have always been reasonably priced considering the quality, and they stand out even more now that so many of their competitors have raised rates.
The resort has a dive center and most of the standard water sports and beach activities, including a children’s pool. This is an excellent choice for those on a more modest budget because it’s reached by speed boat rather than sea plane, which also saves quite a bit of money.
>>>Check rates at the Sun Siyam Olhuveli
21 – VOI Maayafushi Resort All-inclusive – Maldives
- Low season from US$490
- High season from US$490
The cheapest of the Maldives all-inclusive water villa resorts, VOI Maayafushi Resort could be perfect for some people but not for everyone. The room rates are excellent, especially for an all-inclusive property, but it’s a 3-star resort with 8 water villas run by an Italian company. In other words, it’s popular with Italians and it’s not luxurious, and that may or may not be your cup of tea.
The all-inclusive package here includes 3 buffet meals each day along with unlimited beer and wine. For the Maldives, this is pretty basic, but that is reflected in the price. The house reef is said to be way above average so the scuba diving and snorkeling right from the resort is quite good.
22 – Gangehi Island Resort – Maldives
- Low season from US$495
- High season from US$654
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
23 – Meeru Island Resort & Spa – Maldives
- Low season from US$518 (full board, Jacuzzi Water Villa)
- High season from US$1,062 (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
24 – Reethi Beach Resort – Maldives
- Low season from US$521
- High season from US$536
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
25 – Coco Bodu Hithi – Maldives
- Low season from US$529
- High season from US$646
The larger of the two Coco Palm resorts in the Maldives, Coco Bodu Hithi has 56 water villas and each has a private plunge pool on their terrace. This is a luxury resort that is somehow offering reasonable room rates at least some of the time. With almost 100 total rooms and suites, it’s a fairly large resort with a long list of amenities and activities.
The spa here has a great reputation with treatments from Indonesia, Thailand, and India. And they have 6 restaurants and bars, including an experience where guests can prepare their own al fresco meal for the ultimate in privacy and romance. They also do an open-air cinema, which is a popular feature and the few resorts that offer it.
>>>Check rates at the Coco Bodu Hithi
26 – Koro Sun Resort Fiji
- Low season from US$536
- High season from US$536
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.
>>>Check rates at the Koro Sun Resort Fiji
27 – Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay
- Low season from US$576
- High season from US$679
With 22 overwater bungalows out of 250 total rooms, the Fiji Marriott is one of the larger resorts on this list. One advantage of a larger resort is they have more activities and services for guests, so this is a great choice for families or groups traveling together.
The location in Fiji is a tricky one for many people because it’s a longer flight than Bora Bora and Tahiti, so any savings on an affordable overwater bungalow will partly go to a more expensive flight. On the other hand, Fiji is gorgeous and a new adventure for those who might be tired of Bora Bora.
>>>Check rates at the Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay
28 – InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa
- Low season from US$624
- High season from US$663
Most of the overwater bungalow resorts in Bora Bora and Moorea have drastically raised their rates since the start of the pandemic, but the InterContinental Moorea Resort has kept them fairly steady. As part of the famous InterContinental chain, you can expect quality and professional service. The overwater bungalows are just off a small island, so it’s not quite the turquoise lagoon experience like some of the Bora Bora resorts, but you can still swim directly from your terrace.
If you haven’t heard of it, Moorea is a gorgeous island just off Tahiti itself, so it’s much easier to reach than Bora Bora and faster as well. There are a few amazing resorts on Moorea, although prices of those are similar to the 5-star places on Bora Bora, so they are unaffordable for most of us.
>>>Check rates at the InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa
29 – Le Meridien Bora Bora
- Low season from US$625
- High season from US$868
Speaking of Bora Bora, the Le Meridien is the most affordable overwater bungalow resort on (or just off) the island, at least when they have availability. The low season room rates here are so reasonable that they can be hard to find. This is one of the older resorts in Bora Bora, but the lagoon is one of the best and it’s extremely popular with the honeymoon crowd.
They have 85 overwater bungalows at the Le Meridien, in two room classes. As a larger resort, they are able to offer more services and amenities and still offer competitive room rates. They’ve got 3 restaurants and 2 bars, and of course a full spa and wellness center. If you can lock in one of their better room rates, this one might be the best value in the South Pacific.
>>>Check rates at the Le Meridien Bora Bora
30 – Sofitel Moorea la Ora Beach Resort
- Low season from US$654
- High season from US$713
The 39 overwater bungalows at the Sofitel Moorea la Ora Beach Resort are another of the most affordable on Moorea these days, which makes them ideal for many couples. Moorea is a much more beautiful island than Tahiti itself, and it’s much closer than Bora Bora as well. You can fly into Tahiti and then take a 30-minute (cheap) ferry ride to Moorea, rather than a one-hour ($500) flight to Bora Bora.
This is a Sofitel, which is a professionally run French chain of hotels, so you can expect a higher standard of service. Once on Moorea you can take a taxi or bus to reach other resorts or restaurants, allowing you to get more of a feeling for the island than those staying at a remote resort on Bora Bora.
>>>Check rates at the Sofitel Moorea la Ora Beach Resort
31 – Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island Resort
- Low season from US$668
- High season from US$930
The off-season rates at the Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island Resort make this one a popular choice for budget travelers when nearly all of the other Bora Bora resorts now start over US$1,000 per night. This “private island” is a separate hotel from the Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach Resort, which is just across the lagoon and has similar rates for overwater bungalows most of the time.
The 20 overwater bungalows here aren’t the largest in Bora Bora, but they are still very nice and larger than a typical city hotel room. You reach the Private Island by a free boat service run by the combined hotels, and you can use the facilities at both places if staying at either. They have a spa, a wine cellar, cigar cave, and even wedding facilities.
>>>Check rates at the Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island Resort
32 – Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa
- Low season from US$684
- High season from US$718
Another amazing deal (relatively speaking), the Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa and its 48 overwater bungalows are just off Bora Bora itself, so this is a first-class resort with a top location at a reasonable price. The overwater bungalows here are enormous at over 1,100 square feet (100 square meters), so you sacrifice nothing.
This one really stands out as a bargain because the similar resorts just a short boat ride away in Bora Bora are now charging about double the rates that Le Taha’a are doing. They’ve got butler service and all of the water sports and activities, so this is no compromise at all.
>>>Check rates at the Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa
If you are interested in going to a tropical island closer to the eastern United States or Europe you should check out our list of the cheapest Caribbean islands and destinations, which reveals where luxurious resorts go for a small fraction of the price of similar resorts on other islands.
Note: This article was first published in 2012 and has been fully updated and expanded each year since.
I am really impressed by reading all the answers that you have given for the queries and I really think you are giving quite honest reviews. I am from India and planning to visit the Maldives with my parents (in age group 50+) this year, 2018, in the third week of december. I have the following queries if you could please clarify:
1. We are definitely interested in either over water villas or water front cottages and I have checked Meeru’s reviews etc, where i have read about some renovation being needed for the furniture etc. The point is that since we are paying so much, for that money if we do not get pristine facilities and interiors, it is a waste for us. We also read that Meeru staff sometimes force guests to swap rooms. So i wanted to ask you can you please suggest some resorts which is not very far from airport and and is worth the money (we are looking for locations that can provide all inclusive rates of up to 700$). Further will these resorts provide excursions like Meeru provides such as submarine outing, island hopping, cruise etc..
2. Secondly I wanted to know if December third week is a good time to travel to Maldives ? I know rates are high during this time but off season might end up being hot or rainy ?
3. Is the weather alright in December ? Can you please tell me which part (northern or southern atoll) faces rain during December? If so, which resort islands must we focus on to avoid rain ?
Waiting eagerly for your response
I’m happy to try to help. I stayed at Meeru a couple years ago and they showed me many different villas in different categories and all were very nice. It’s true that the beds and sofas might have been a few years old, but everything I saw was very nice, especially for the rates they charge. I talked to many guests and half of them came back every year. The resort in general gets fantastic reviews, although every hotel gets some negative reviews that complain about certain things. Of course, the main reason to go to the Maldives is to relax in the sun and swim in the lagoon or at the beach, or in the private Jacuzzi on your deck.
There are newer resorts that likely have newer beds and sofas, and most of them charge 50% more than Meeru for similar water villas. I’m not aware of a new resort in that category with rates that are similar. Here is a list of all of the resorts that are close enough to the Male Airport for speedboats on our other site. My best advice is to put your dates into Agoda.com (they always have the best rates in the Maldives) and see what your options are in your price range. Since you are coming before Christmas week you might find a promotional rate at a better resort that still has many available villas. At any given time it’s hard to know which are the best deals. I frequently recommend Meeru Island and Veligandu Island because they are run by a company that likes to stay full all year round so they offer rates low enough to do that without having to run promotions at the last minute.
December is a great time to go to the Maldives. From late May through early July the Maldives sometimes gets rainy days where it rains for hours at a time, but for the rest of the year the storms are typical tropical storms that usually last 20 to 30 minutes. Sometimes the rain falls overnight, and other times it rains in the late afternoon, but only for a short time and then the clouds turn into a beautiful sunset. In other words, the Maldives has almost the exact same weather all year round, except around June it can be a bit rainier.
The weather patterns I’ve described are mostly for the resorts that are reasonably close to the airport, and that’s most of them. There are a couple resorts south of the equator and a few closer to Sri Lanka and they might have slightly different patterns, though it’s also true that it can rain any day of the year in the Maldives and the storms are almost always very short. When you find a resort that you are thinking about booking you can look at the TripAdvisor reviews for last December and the December before that. See if many or any of them mention the weather as a problem. At most resorts December is one of the best months with slightly lower humidity than summer. I hope this helps. There is much more information on overwaterbungalows.net that you might find useful. -Roger
Can you tell me why the first 2 Malaysian OW resorts don’t aloww swimming under the bungalows? Thanks.
Those Malaysian resorts are lovely and I’ve visited them, but they are over the ocean rather than over a lagoon. Most of the resorts with water villas are in the Maldives and Bora Bora, and those are all over clear lagoons that are almost like swimming pools. The Malaysian ones are over regular bays and oceans, so the tide is fairly strong. You actually CAN swim under the water villas, but it’s a long way down and there are no stairs or ladders. You’d have to go to the shore and swim out, and there isn’t much point in doing that. The two huge Malaysia resorts are so large that the villas are hundreds of meters from shore. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger
Family of 4 looking for spend 5 nights in OWB. Where do you recommend?
The main choices are the Maldives and the South Pacific (including Bora Bora). The tricky part is finding resorts that will allow 4 guests per water villa because most of them only allow 3. The Maldives and Bora Bora are both absolutely amazing and worth a visit, so the best choice is probably the one that is easiest to reach from where you are. Basically if you are in Europe or Asia it’s faster to reach the Maldives, and if you are in the Americas it’s faster to reach Bora Bora.
Here is a list of Maldives resorts that allow 4 guests per room
And here is a list of Bora Bora resorts that allow 4 guests per room
Best of luck with this. -Roger
any over water bundaloos in Fiji
Yep, the top two resorts on this list of overwater bungalows in the South Pacific are resorts located in Fiji. -Roger
you can check Pulo cinta Eco resort in Gorontalo, Indonesia also Ora Beach Resort in Maluku, Indonesia
Thank you. I wasn’t aware of those and I will look into them. We don’t always add “eco resorts” to this list because people who find this list have a strong preference for “honeymoon style” places, but we will take a look. -Roger
I’ve heard that some of the financial backing for these types of resorts comes from states who have sponsored terrorism & there’s a concern we may be using our money to support people who don’t appreciate it.
For instance, I’ve heard that the ferry services in Tahiti mainly operate for the locals and don’t really care much about the tourist.
I’ve also heard that the facilities in the East since you have to fly through the Gulf are mainly supported by nations who have a financial interest.
What can you do to assure us that our honeymoon $’s are going to the right sort of business people?
I’ve taken the ferry back and forth between Tahiti and Moorea and it was mostly tourists on my boat. Polynesian people aren’t known for great customer service in general, but I’ve always been treated pretty well. I just made a list of the cheapest of the overwater bungalow resorts. I don’t have an ethics scorecard, partly because my scorecard might look different than yours. Hopefully you can find your answer elsewhere. Sorry I couldn’t help more. -Roger
First of all, thank you for all that you do and for taking the time to answer all of our questions…you rock! My fiance and I are planning our honeymoon and really really want to go to Bora Bora. The only downside of this is that we can only go the first week of February. What are your thoughts about going in February in regards to rain, heat, humidity, and mosquitoes? I hate mosquitoes!!! They love my blood! Also, I have been doing my research and it seems there’s some sort of striking going on at the airport there in Tahiti resulting in flights being cancelled and I’d hate for our honeymoon to be cut short because of this. Any other destination you’d recommend for February that would have nice weather and OW bungalows? Thank you 🙂
I’m happy to try to help. This is the first I’ve heard of that strike, and I wouldn’t worry about it because tourism is most of French Polynesia’s economy. In other words, no one wins if they shut down the hotels, so it will never happen.
As for February, it’s part of the more-humid season there. But honestly the weather in that area is almost the same all year round. From November to April you get a few more quick rain showers each week than the rest of the year, but the temperature is almost the same. Especially if you are staying in an overwater bungalow, you’ll get pleasant breezes most of the day, so it doesn’t feel as hot as it would if you were in a city. Also, the rain storms usually last only 30 minutes or so, and they often happen overnight. The ones during the day are usually in the late afternoon, and they usually leave behind some stray clouds that make for amazing sunsets.
As for the mosquitoes, they don’t bother me much and I haven’t heard of them being a big problem for anyone. My suggestion would be to check the TripAdvisor reviews from this past February for any resort that you are considering, and see what the guests said. If many of them mention mosquitoes as a problem, then it might be a problem for you.
There are now some just-opened overwater bungalows in the Caribbean at 3 different Sandals resorts. Two are on Jamaica and the other is on St. Lucia. February is the heart of the dry season there. The only bad part is that they are in such high demand that room rates are high and they are sold out many months in advance.
The only other place with overwater bungalows like that is the Maldives, which has about 90 resorts with them. It’s a wonderful place, but if you are in the US then it’ll take you a full day to get there and to get back. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger
From KL fly into Terrenganu and from there a speed boat to Gem Island
Great overwater bungalows. Really competitive pricing. Island has no other hotels or accomodation.. It is a turtle sanctuary and breeding island
There is great snorkeling and they cater the most beautiful weddings. Guests can either stay or be ferried in from the mainland. Well worth the trip.
Restaurant on site is pretty good as well.
Thanks for the information. They say their bungalows “hug the sea front” so they aren’t really overwater in the sense we are looking for. It looks like a nice place though. -Roger
Great article and advice!!!! thanks so much 🙂
Would you be aprehensive taking a 5 month old baby on a speedboat?
Obviously it’s up to the parents whether to take an infant on a speedboat, but I can tell you that the sea is usually quite calm in the larger atolls in the Maldives. However, the hull does bounce up and down a bit as it goes, and the engines can be fairly loud on some boats. Each resort owns or leases their own boats, and you might be picked up in one and dropped off in another. They are safe and modern, so I don’t think there is a real worry other than perhaps the engine noise, and maybe there are earplugs or something? Have a great trip. -Roger
thanks so much 🙂
Hi Roger! we will be going on our honeymoon around october 9th of this year. I know october is an iffy weather season for some places. where do you think we should go at that time of year?thanks!!
Actually, the October weather is very good in the main destinations with overwater villas. They are mostly clustered fairly close to the equator, while the monsoon and hurricane seasons are more focused north of that. If you can get to the Maldives you’ll have by far the most choices. If not, the Bora Bora and Moorea area is also excellent.
Now that there are some overwater bungalows in the Caribbean (Sandals has 2 resorts in Jamaica and one opening soon in St. Lucia), the hurricane season will be an issue for some people. Still, the chances of any one hotel being in the path of a hurricane in a given week in October is less than 1%. And the chances that any guest gets trapped at a hotel with a hurricane hitting it are basically 0% because they have so long to shelter or evacuate.
Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger