11 gorgeous hotels with overwater bungalows around the world that start under $600 per night

11 gorgeous hotels with overwater bungalows around the world that start under $600 per night

May 28, 2021

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  • Overwater bungalows are among the most desired hotel accommodations in the world.
  • Many overwater bungalows cost thousands per night, but affordable options exist for as low as $120.
  • We found affordable overwater bungalows in the South Pacific, Caribbean, Central America, and Asia. 

Few destinations in the world inspire more wanderlust than far-flung locales dotted with overwater bungalows (or alternatively called overwater villas). These lodgings are perched atop calm, shallow waters and crystalline lagoons that are striated into every imaginable color of blue.

Planning a stay at a hotel with overwater bungalows is a bucket-list item for many, but the accompanying price tag can be a daunting obstacle, even for a once-in-a-lifetime event like a honeymoon. 

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Fortunately, not all of the world’s overwater bungalows have an astronomical financial barrier to entry. Affordable options exist, and while less common, they’re still in desirable areas like the South Pacific, Asia, and the Caribbean. These are the best affordable overwater bungalows, from rustic and eco-minded to over-the-top posh.

The best affordable overwater bungalow hotels were chosen based on the following criteria:

  1. We considered price first and foremost, and every hotel on this list ranges from $121 to $570 per night to start in off-peak seasons (aside from one worthy splurge). 
  2. Every hotel offers overwater accommodations, plus access to beautiful beaches, activities, and scenery.
  3. These budget-friendly options are found in top-end destinations such as the South Pacific including Tahiti and Fiji, Central America and the Caribbean, and Asia, including the Maldives.  
  4. All overwater bungalow hotels provide excellent service and picture-perfect amenities to ensure each property meets your lofty expectations.

  5. We made selections based on our own travel experience, as well as past traveler reviews and rankings on trusted traveler sites such as Trip Advisor and Booking.com.
  6. Most hotels are tailor-made for romance and ideal for couples (many are adults-only), though we’ve also included some options that welcome families or are affordable for solo trips.
  7. Every hotel takes the health and safety of guests seriously, with COVID-19 protocols in place, which we’ve noted for each hotel.

Browse the best overwater bungalows below, or jump directly to a specific area here:

  • South Pacific
  • The Caribbean and Central America
  • Asia
  • FAQ: Overwater bungalow hotels
  • More incredible hotels in the US and around the world

These are the best affordable overwater bungalows, sorted by location and price.

The South Pacific region is probably what most people conjure up when dreaming of an overwater bungalow landscape: crystalline waters surrounding islands ringed by lagoons, Polynesian decor and cultural inspiration, all overlaying that jaw-dropping landscape. South Pacific destinations known for dreamy overwater bungalows include the likes of Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa, and other far-flung islands.

Pros: Direct flights to Tahiti make this exotic destination closer than you might think — the flight is just over eight hours nonstop from LAX.

Cons: Expect accommodations overall to be much pricier than those that might be found in other regions, like Central America. Also, Fiji is far — you’ll have to cross the international dateline to get there if arriving from the US.

Koro Sun Resort

Book Koro Sun Resort

Category: Luxury

Location: Vanua Levu, Fiji

Typical starting/peak prices: $208/$551

On-site amenities: Spa, marina, kayaks, 3 pools, restaurant, sports and water activities

Pros: Koro Sun has a spectacular Fiji location with kayaks included in every room’s personal dock, plus free water activities.

Cons: You’ll have to cross the International Date Line to get to Fiji — plan for jet lag, and stay long enough to recover.

Fiji’s Koro Sun Resort sprawls over 160 acres on the island of Vanua Levu. The property has a spa, impeccable scuba options, and an overwater room category billed as Fiji’s only floating accommodation.

Here, Edgewater Floating Bures are adults-only accommodations offering 380-square-foot rooms, each one floating within the resort’s calm marina. A two-person kayak is tied to each bure’s 120-square-foot private front deck, so you can hop right in the water for either kayaking or swimming. Traditional Fijian decor with touches of nautical style and thatched roofing completes the look. 

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Coconuts Beach Club Resort and Spa

Book Coconuts Beach Club Resort and Spa

Category: Resort

Location: Maninoa, Samoa

Typical starting/peak prices: $379/$539

On-site amenities: Spa, restaurant, pool, bar

Pros: The price offers excellent value for an intimate, indulgent room with a more under-the-radar location than Tahiti or Fiji.

Cons: Reviewers note occasional lapses in service, plus stronger ocean currents than expected have occurred.

Located in the culturally rich but much lesser-traveled South Pacific destination of Samoa, Coconuts Beach Club Resort and Spa is located on Upolu’s southern coast where you’ll experience incredible sunrises and sunsets.

The intimate resort offers only overwater fales with six indoor-outdoor accommodations boasting spectacular views of the beaches, lagoon, and ocean. Each has a large sun deck, expansive bedroom with a King bed, and a soaring traditional Samoan ceiling. Private decks can be closed off with sliding glass doors for privacy, and the use of AC. Open-air bathrooms have sunken tubs and waterfall showers. There are no phones, no TVs, and complete peace.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Le Tikehau by Pearl Resorts

Book Le Tikehau by Pearl Resorts

Category: Boutique

Location: Tikehau, French Polynesia

Typical starting/peak prices: $384/$726

On-site amenities: Spa, dive center, restaurant, bar, pool

Pros: This hotel is surrounded by incredibly unspoiled natural beauty with no crowds in sight.

Cons: Tikehau is remote — don’t expect to get there in a fast jaunt from Tahiti’s international airport. You’ll need time.

Even by Tahitian standards, this resort’s remote location might be as close as you ever get to living that Robinson Crusoe life.

Totally unspoiled with screensaver views in every direction, Tikehau Island places you away from the over-saturated crowds of (big-spending) honeymooners on Bora Bora while still indulging in overwater accommodation luxury.

Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort is the only boutique hotel in Tuamotu Archipelago, located on one of its most beautiful atolls. The environment includes pink sand beaches, wild coconut groves, and a stunning tropical garden.

There are 24 overwater suites and bungalows and the entry-level options are Overwater Suites with living rooms, large bathtubs, and private decks with shaded sitting areas and direct access to the lagoon.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

While it was not always a region known for overwater bungalow offerings, Central America and the Caribbean now offer plenty of options, ranging from sky-high price points to budget-friendly options. For the latter, places in Central America like Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, and Panama are all strong choices. 

In the Caribbean, Sandals now offers overwater bungalows in Jamaica and St. Lucia for a worthy splurge. They’re pricier, but all-inclusive options add serious value.

It’s also worth noting that Mexico offers overwater bungalows too — but Palafitos at El Dorado Maroma and Rosewood Mayakoba’s entry-level price points for these accommodations exceeded our qualifications for this budget-friendlier list.

Pros: These regions are short distances from the mainland US, so you’ll save both time and money on flights.

Cons: While some options represent the highest-end overwater experience, others in this region might be more rustic and less luxurious.

Azul Paradise Resort

Book Azul Paradise Resort 

Category: Budget

Location: Bastimentos, Panama

Typical starting/peak prices: $121/$210

On-site amenities: Restaurant, water activities, all-inclusive packages

Pros: This is the most value-priced property on our list for overwater bungalows with glass floor panels to gaze right into the sea at a shockingly low starting point.

Cons: This hotel lacks some of the extravagances of its South Pacific or Maldivian counterparts — if that’s what you’re looking for. Wi-Fi is also weak.

This eco-lodge is located in Panama’s Bocas del Toro area, where white sand and turquoise water make the views and the atmosphere idyllic. Azul Paradise is situated on the southern coast of Bastimentos Island and has a tiki bar, beachfront grill, clubhouse, bar, and restaurant.

Guests can take their dinners on the private decks of extremely budget-friendly overwater bungalows, which feature private outdoor showers and outdoor living areas with lounge seating right over the water. Ladders plunge directly from a sundeck into the shallow waters below, and glass floor panels allow for views of the marine life below.

Las Lagunas Boutique Hotel

Book Las Lagunas Boutique Hotel

Category: Boutique

Location: Flores, Guatemala

Typical starting/peak prices: $249/$346

On-site amenities: Restaurant, pool, excursions and tours

Pros: Excellent value with access to stunning Mayan ruins and a jungle feel unlikely to be found in other overwater villas.

Cons: If you’re looking for over-the-top opulence, you might find this option rustic (or that aspect could be a pro).

Las Lagunas is located in the heart of the Mayan world, near the ancient ruins of Tikal, Uaxactún and Yaxhá in Guatemala. Although it’s just 10 minutes from the international airport, it feels isolated in the rainforest amid more than 300 acres of untouched nature reserve.

There are a set of 12 Waterfront Master Suites, connected by high-rise paths. Each is a one-bedroom bungalow with a cascade shower bathroom, and a deck with a hot tub overlooking the water.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

St. George's Caye Resort

Book St. George’s Caye Resort

Category: Budget

Location: St. George’s Caye, Belize

Typical starting/peak prices: $315/$476

On-site amenities: Pool, spa, water sports and activities

Pros: This is an excellent value for an overwater accommodation with private porches, hammocks, and full board all included in such an affordable price.

Cons: These bungalows are more rustic looking and clustered closer together than some of the more opulent luxury options elsewhere.

St. George’s Caye Resort offers adults-only lodging that is located on a rustic but indulgent private island in Belize. There is a totally secluded feel but it’s actually just seven miles from Belize City, so it’s still easy and affordable to access.

Overwater bungalows here feel like a downright bargain compared to similar accommodations in other parts of the world. Prices start in the low $300s, including full board, and there’s no catch. You’ll get a private porch with a hammock and thatched roof overlooking the Caribbean Sea on the west side of the island. These six cabanas are situated on a half-moon-shaped dock with prime sunset views. 

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Sandals South Coast Jamaica

Book Sandals South Coast Jamaica

Category: Luxury

Location: White House, Jamaica

Typical starting/peak prices: $1,100/$1,526

On-site amenities: 8 restaurants, 6 bars, 3 pools, spa, a wide variety of activities

Pros: Over-the-top luxury with a truly impressive list of inclusions helps offset the high price and add value.

Cons: Still, this is the priciest property on our list.

We’re including Sandals’ adults-only South Coast Jamaica property even though its price point is an outlier, for good reason. Here, you can book an overwater bungalow for about $1,100 per person per night, but the all-inclusive pricing model offers significant cash value.

When you consider the savings on shorter flights from the US East Coast, as well as inclusions such as all food without limitations, premium liquors, round trip airport transfers, all tips, taxes and gratuities, scuba, and more, it might end up costing around the same as a hotel for $500 nightly that doesn’t include any extras.

Bungalows have spa-style bathrooms, private patios with extended sun decks and outdoor showers, private outdoor soaking tubs, and over-water hammocks. Inside, glass floor panels reveal sea life in lit-up waters. Butler service is also included for a truly luxe stay.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

A high concentration of overwater bungalows can be found in Asia, most famously, in the Maldives. These stunning islands rival the South Pacific in terms of reputation for coveted ultra-luxury accommodations and otherworldly scenery.

The Maldives are also exceptionally expensive for rooms atop the water. For cheaper alternatives, look to other Asian regions with overwater bungalows that include Malaysia, the Philippines, and more.

Pros: The Maldives is simply a must-hit bucket-list destination for many travelers, offering some of the most high-end accommodations. It’s what you picture when you dream of an overwater villa.

Cons: Many of these locations can be quite a journey from the US and expensive, before even factoring in arduous, pricey flights, not to mention jet lag.

Pangkor Laut Resort

Book Pangkor Laut Resort

Category: Resort

Location: Lumut, Malaysia

Typical starting/peak prices: $201/$481

On-site amenities: Pool, fitness center, restaurant, spa, activities

Pros: This hotel enjoys total seclusion and is off the beaten path, surrounded by raw, natural beauty.

Cons: Expect a very long journey to reach such a remote paradise.

Pangkor Laut Resort is located on a privately owned island situated three miles off the West Coast of Malaysia along the Straits of Malacca. Here, there are no other resorts, so you’re isolated among secluded bays, impeccable beaches, and magical sunsets.

The island comprises 300 acres, but the resort developed just a fraction leaving it feeling lush and natural. Overwater accommodations sit on stilts above the tropical waters, each with an expansive balcony with loungers, a bathroom with an oversized tub, and a shower that opens to the sea.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Adaaran Club Rannalhi

Book Adaaran Club Rannalhi

Category: Resort

Location: South Male Atoll, Maldives

Typical starting/peak prices: $261/$553

On-site amenities: Spa, many activities and water sports, restaurant

Pros: You’ll enjoy the classic overwater bungalow experience at this Maldivian stunner for far less than many other counterparts.

Cons: The island is small, which might (or might not) feel sleepy to your pace.

Adaaran Club Rannalhi is located at the tip of the South Male atoll in the Maldives, with easy access to the capital city of Male. A slate of daily activities includes morning or sunset fishing, a sunset photo tour (on which it would be nearly impossible not to nail some prize-worthy snaps), as well as a full menu of treatments at the spa.

The 34 large and private Water Bungalows at Adaaran Club Rannalhi all include direct access to the stunning ocean waters from private sun decks festooned with wooden ladders. Bungalows are quite large at nearly 750 square feet, and decor is modern tropical, done in creams and vibrant colors. 

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

El Nido Resorts, Lagen Island

Book El Nido Resorts, Lagen Island

Category: Resort

Location: Palawan, Philippines

Typical starting price: $541

On-site amenities: Pool, fitness center, restaurant, spa, kids center, activities and sports

Pros: The opportunity to observe incredible wildlife in one of the world’s most beautiful island locations.

Cons: Critical reviews note the food lacks variety and a remote location means other options are limited.

Lagen Island is serenely located between a lush forest and a crystalline, shallow lagoon.

El Nido Resorts’ Eco-Sanctuary island resort comes with the densest forest perched over limestone, surrounded by 45 islands and islets scattered throughout Bacuit Bay. As such, it’s a sanctuary for a diverse variety of birds and other animals.

Water Cottages, as they are called here, are built on stilts connected by a boardwalk. There are 18 in all, each with about 570 square feet to spread out. All rooms are crafted from recycled timber sourced from old Filipino homes for floors and furnishings and also feature sliding glass doors that open to a private veranda.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

Book Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

Category: Luxury

Location: Rangali Island, Maldives

Typical starting/peak prices: $570/$2,800

On-site amenities: 8 restaurants including underwater dining, 4 bars, 2 pools, 2 spas, dive center, water sports center, business center, 3 shops, fitness center, open-air cinema

Pros: Because the resort is spread on two islands, it feels like you’re staying on your own private island. It’s expensive but justifiably so as everything needs to be grown or imported. There are many free amenities, which help offset the price, but the views from rooms alone are worth it even if you don’t take advantage of the perks. 

Cons: Some overwater villas feel dated, especially in comparison to more modern and updated beach villas. Consider breaking up your stay by booking a few nights in each.

The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, part of Hilton Hotels, is unique from many other resorts in the area because it’s located on two islands instead of one, resulting in many room options, privacy, and amenities. It also has the world’s first underwater restaurant and underwater residence, plus tours to see whale sharks, and a unique coral regeneration program to help rebuild its damaged house reef. 

Cheaper rooms not located overwater exist, but if you have your heart set on one, nightly rates for one-room overwater villas can start as low as $570. In shoulder season, they go up to $830 and max out at around $2,800 during high season, making this a strong pick for flexible travelers who are interested in visiting in off season.

Superior Water Villas are wooden bungalows on top of reinforced stilts with a thatched roof and are spacious, clean, and come with huge bathrooms with a shower, bathtub, and large window overlooking the balcony. The balcony includes a hot tub and stairs leading right into the Indian Ocean.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Read our full hotel review of Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

FAQ: Overwater bungalow hotels

Where are the best overwater bungalows?

Many of the world’s best overwater bungalows are found in Asia and the South Pacific, in places like the Maldives and Malaysia, as well as Fiji, Bora Bora, and Tahiti. This is because these areas are home to crystal clear, shallow blue waters that are suited to such accommodations.

Are overwater bungalows worth it?

If you dream of stepping out of your room and dipping straight into warm, turquoise waters surrounded by incredible scenery, then you’ll likely feel that the answer is yes. Overwater bungalows offer the ultimate in luxury, romance, and privacy, in most instances.

However, because of their idyllic accommodations, overwater bungalows will be more expensive than most hotel rooms simply because of the style, but also because remote locations mean it’s more expensive to maintain upkeep and import goods and services.

Where are the cheapest overwater bungalows?

According to our research, the cheapest highly-rated overwater bungalows are found at Azul Resort in Panama. In general, bungalows in the Caribbean and Central America are cheaper than you’ll find in Asia and the South Pacific.

For the cheapest prices, look to travel in off season, away from holiday periods, and when weather might mean more rain.

How much does it cost to stay in a water bungalow?

If you travel in off season, it might be as low as $100 to $200 a night. However, on average, many prices seem close to $400 or $500. And if you opt for true luxury resorts, they likely will inch closer to $1,000, especially if you opt for all-inclusive or full-board packages and travel during popular times of the year and holidays.

Can you travel if you are vaccinated?

The CDC said people who are vaccinated can travel safely, though their current recommendations are for travel within the US. However, many countries are now accepting vaccinated American travelers or those who can show proof of a negative COVID test.

Are hotels safe? 

As long as you follow proper precautions and choose hotels that promote the health and safety of guests, you can travel with little risk, especially if you are vaccinated. 

For more on hotel safety during COVID, read our reporting on what experts say you need to know.

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