The results are in: Beach vacations are the preferred choice for both American and British holidaymakers.
But why settle for an ordinary beach resort when you could stay in a private bungalow on the water? Overwater bungalows have long been a luxury vacation option, but now they’re more popular — and affordable — than ever before.
In this post, we’ll take a deep dive (pun intended) into the world of on-the-water bungalows. We’ll discuss how to find the ideal bungalow and then we’ll reveal the world’s best destinations for your tropical getaway.
Let’s get started!
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How to Find the Best Overwater Bungalows
Before you pack your suitcases, you first need to find the perfect destination.
Not all beach resorts are created equal and not all bungalows offer the same experience, so here are some important factors to consider as you begin your search.
Location and Setting
First, consider the destination and its natural surroundings. Are you able to travel to the other side of the world for your holiday (i.e., the South Pacific), or do you need to look for something closer to home?
Look for overwater bungalows situated in pristine locations with clear waters, vibrant marine life, and picturesque views. Islands known for their coral reefs and shallow lagoons often offer the best experiences.
Privacy and Seclusion
Overwater bungalows are renowned for their secluded locations, offering the utmost privacy during your stay.
Ensure that the resort or property offers a sense of exclusivity and tranquillity. Your bungalow should include a private deck that allows you to relax and enjoy the surroundings in peace — and without hundreds of other tourists milling about.
Size and Amenities
Decide whether you want to stay at a larger resort with a variety of amenities or if you’d prefer a more isolated, intimate experience.
In the bungalow itself, look for spacious accommodations that provide ample living space, a comfortable bed, and luxurious furnishings. Features such as a private pool, outdoor shower, direct access to the water, and a glass-bottom floor will enhance your experience.
Easy Water Access
One of the main attractions of overwater bungalows is the ability to access the water directly from your accommodation.
Make sure the bungalow provides easy access for swimming, snorkelling, or other water activities. Ideally, you can step out of your room and dive right into the water!
On-Site Facilities and Activities
Research the resort or property to see what types of facilities and activities are available. This can include spa services, fine dining options, water sports, snorkelling or diving excursions, and cultural experiences.
Choose a destination that offers activities that align with your interests. You’ll also want to check if the property is family-friendly or adult-only, depending on your preferences and who you’re travelling with.
Service and Hospitality
Read recent reviews and feedback regarding the service and hospitality provided by the resort. Friendly and attentive staff will greatly enhance your overall experience.
Sustainability and Environmental Considerations
If you’re conscious of sustainability and environmental practices, consider resorts that prioritize eco-friendly initiatives. These might include coral reef conservation, waste management, or renewable energy.
Overwater bungalows are often associated with luxury, and some properties come with a very high price tag. However, there are some lower-budget options as well, which we’ll consider later.
For now, determine your personal budget and consider the overall value you expect from your stay. Remember to account for additional costs such as meals, activities, and transportation.
Keep in mind that some resorts may be all-inclusive while others are a la carte, meaning you’ll pay extra for different amenities and experiences.
With these considerations in mind, let’s do some virtual travelling to the world’s best destinations for overwater bungalows.
Overwater Bungalows in Moorea and Raiatea
Did you know that the first overwater bungalows opened on the French Polynesian islands of Moorea and Raiatea?
These stunning islands have everything you could want in a tropical paradise — except for one thing. Because there were no sandy beaches, the American investors had a brilliant idea to build their “hotel” as individual bungalows right over the water.
The original Bali Hai resort opened in 1963, and the rest is history. It was an instant sensation, attracting celebrities and holidaymakers from around the world.
Now the idea has spread to tropical destinations across the globe, but if you want to see where it all began, consider booking your stay somewhere in the Society Islands. These islands are less travelled than nearby Bora Bora or Tahiti, offering a more quiet and intimate experience.
- Bali Hai Raiatea
- Le Tahaa Island Resort & Spa
- Vahine Private Island Resort
- Sofitel Kia Ora Moorea Beach Resort
- Manava Beach Resort & Spa Moorea
- Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa
Overwater Bungalows in Bora Bora
Also located within French Polynesia, Bora Bora is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful islands in the world. It boasts iconic overwater bungalows surrounded by vibrant coral reefs and breathtaking lagoons.
If you want to enjoy watersports, you’ll have no shortage of options to choose from. Jetskiing, scuba diving, fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and more await starry-eyed travellers.
Because of its popularity, Bora Bora is one of the more expensive options on our list. If it’s within your budget, though, you certainly won’t be disappointed with your stay.
- The St Regis Bora Bora
- Four Seasons Bora Bora
- Conrad Bora Bora Nui
- Le Bora Bora, Relais & Châteaux, Vaitape
- Le Meridien Bora Bora
- Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island
Other On-the-Water Bungalows in the South Pacific
Bora Bora gets a lot of the glory, but there are a staggering 118 different islands and atolls that make up French Polynesia!
There’s the largest chain of islands known as Tahiti, many of which are uninhabited. Then there are the steep, volcanic mountains of the Marquesas, which are as wild and rugged as the horses that roam freely on their shores. There are also the distant Austral islands, one of the best locations on the planet for whale watching.
Of course, there are hundreds of islands that belong to other nations too, such as Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, and the Cook Islands.
For a truly unique bungalow experience, consider staying on one of these beautiful islands located throughout the South Pacific.
- Laucala, Fiji
- Likuliku Lagoon Resort, Fiji
- Intercontinental Tahiti Resort, Tahiti
- Le Tikehau Resorts, Tahiti
- Aitutaki Lagoon Private Island Resort, Cook Islands
- Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu
- Coconuts Beach Club, Samoa
- L’Escapade Island Resort Noumea, New Caledonia
Overwater Bungalows in the Maldives
We’ve had fun exploring options in the Pacific, but let’s journey west to the Indian Ocean and one of the most popular destinations for overwater bungalows — the Maldives.
Located just off the southern tip of India, the Maldives offer the idyllic tropical setting perfect for babymoons, honeymoons, or just a relaxing vacation. The warm waters are crystal clear and teeming with marine life, from manta rays and dolphins to colourful coral reefs.
On land, you’ll enjoy pristine white sand beaches, fresh seafood dinners, and an eclectic mix of Asian and African cultures.
If this sounds like your slice of tropical heaven, you can’t go wrong with a stay at a bungalow on the water in the Maldives.
- Joy Island Resort
- Sun Siyam Iru Fushi
- Coco Bodu Hithi, North Male Atoll
- The Standard, Huruvalhi Maldives
- Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa
- JOALI, Muravandhoo Island Raa Atoll
- Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
- Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi
- Jumeirah Vittaveli, Maldives
- One&Only Reethi Rah, Maldives
Overwater Bungalows in the Caribbean
If you can’t swing a trip to the South Pacific or the Indian Ocean, don’t worry! You can find some phenomenal bungalows in the beautiful turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.
Mexico is a hotspot for overwater bungalows, especially the resorts around Cancun, Palafitos, Playa del Carmen, and Cozumel. You’ll also find great offerings in Jamaica, Antigua, St Lucian, and other islands dotted around the Caribbean.
The weather is always hot and sunny, making the Caribbean an ideal destination any time of year. You can spend your days relaxing on the water or exploring thick tropical jungles teeming with wildlife.
Some of the most popular dishes in the world come from this region, too, from tacos and burritos to jerk chicken, rice and beans, and seafood fritters. And let’s not forget the margaritas, rum runners, and pina coladas either!
- Aruba Ocean Villas, Aruba
- Sandals Grande St Lucian
- Royalton Antigua Resort, Antigua
- Rosewood Mayakoba, Mexico
- El Dorado, Palafitos, Mexico
- Sandals Southcoast Jamaica
- St George’s Caye, Belize
- Cayo Espanto, Belize
- Palafitos Overwater Bungalows, Cancun
- Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
- Sweet Bocas, Isla Colón, Panama
Other Destinations for Bungalows on the Water
You might automatically picture pristine tropical waters and hot sunshine, but not all overwater bungalows are located near the equator.
You’ll find stunning accommodations scattered throughout parts of Asia, Europe, and yes, even the United Kingdom!
For a unique travel experience that still includes an overwater bungalow, check out one of these interesting destinations.
- Constance Prince Maurice, Mauritius
- The Hanging Gardens of Bali, Indonesia
- Clawford Lakes Resort and Spa, Devon, England
- Anantara The Palm Resort, Dubai
- Six Senses, Ninh Van Bay, Vietnam
- Hotel Palafitte, Switzerland
- Stella Island Resort, Greece
- Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia
Bonus: Budget Options for Overwater Bungalows
Are you feeling inspired to travel to one of these incredible destinations and stay in your own overwater bungalow?
You might feel less inspired when you see the price tag attached to some of the higher-end resorts, especially in the most popular places like Bora Bora or the Maldives.
Does this mean you have to give up your bucket list dream of sleeping above the lapping waves?
Not at all! In fact, there are many beautiful resorts that offer the same overwater experience for a fraction of the price you’d pay at luxury properties.
For a gorgeous bungalow that won’t break the bank, consider one of these affordable resort options.
Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge, Panama
Rustic overwater villas, candlelit dinners, and daily boat excursions? Yes, please!
This charming resort on Colon Island in Panama is not only an affordable choice for families and honeymooners, but it’s also incredibly eco-friendly.
Lina Point, Ambergris Caye, Belize
Located in San Pedro on the Belizean island of Ambergris Caye, this surprisingly affordable option has all the amenities you could want on a tropical holiday.
Think oceanfront infinity pools, world-class fishing, cave tubing, and the chance to tour ancient Mayan ruins. Each bungalow also includes an “aquarium” window on the floor to enjoy the sealife below!
Koro Sun Resort, Fiji
If you thought Fiji was outside your budget, think again. The idyllic setting of Koro Sun Resort features a private blue lagoon surrounded by lush mountainous rainforest.
Unlike some of the other resorts in Fiji, you can find great deals on rooms and meal plans, especially if you book well in advance. And once you’re there, you’ll enjoy unlimited access to snorkelling, kayaking, trekking, and everything else the island has to offer.
Lexis Hibiscus, Port Dickson, Malaysia
This large 5-star Malaysian resort offers one of the most affordable bungalow experiences anywhere in the world. Located in the Malacca Strait just south of Kuala Lumpur, the resort offers a luxury experience for less than $200/night.
Each bungalow comes with its own private splash pool and a view of the sea. While you won’t enjoy the seclusion factor of a remote Pacific island, you’ll still enjoy the resort’s fantastic amenities and delicious local food offerings.
Find Your Dream Bungalow on the Water
Can you hear the waves lapping gently against your bungalow? Are you ready to step out of your room and dive into the clearest waters you’ve ever seen?
As we’ve discussed, there are fantastic options for overwater bungalows to suit every budget and personal preference.
So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and get ready to set sail to the South Pacific, the Caribbean, or one of the other amazing destinations on our list!
Did this article help you find the perfect bungalow on the water? Check out this post next for a list of happy tropical songs to add to your holiday playlist.