Overwater bungalows in the South Pacific
Except for the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, there are more overwater bungalows in the South Pacific than anywhere else in the world. If you’ve seen photographs of wooden bungalows lined up over crystal-clear lagoon water, most likely they were in Bora Bora, which is home to most of the 5-star overwater bungalow resorts in the region.
There are also excellent resorts featuring overwater bungalows in Moorea Island, which is very close to Tahiti, and there are two large resorts with these rooms on Tahiti itself. Those tend to be the easiest to reach, and offer good value, but there are remote and romantic overwater resorts in other parts of the South Pacific as well.
- Overwater bungalows in Bora Bora – The best clearwater lagoons
- Overwater bungalows in Moorea – Five deluxe resorts on stilts
- Overwater bungalows in Tahiti – Two affordable large resorts
For other locations in the South Pacific, the resorts are listed below.
Moderate (starting up to US$600)
- Overwater bungalows: 9
- Total rooms/suites: 28
Among the smallest and oldest overwater bungalow resorts in the South Pacific, the Raiatea Hawaiki Nui Hotel is located on Raiatea Island, very close to La Taha’a and Bora Bora. The 9 overwater bungalows are the cheapest in the South Pacific, and among the cheapest in the world.
The diving near the resort is quite good, and its lone restaurant rarely disappoints, but otherwise this is more or less a 2-star resort with limited facilities and “relaxed” service. The rooms themselves don’t come with air conditioning, though the ceiling fan should be enough for most people most times of the year.
- Overwater bungalows: 6 (being built)
- Total rooms/suites: 26
Until the 2009 storm, the Coconuts Beach Resort featured the only two overwater bungalows on Samoa, but they were destroyed and it took up until September 2012 to begin rebuilding. The good news is that they are building 6 new overwater bungalows, which should be ready to book sometime later in 2013.
This moderately priced 3-star resort is popular with Australians and Kiwis, partly for the boutique size and personalized service. Once you arrive there are many free activities and equipment available, as well as free beverages in the bungalow’s mini-bar. If Samoa is convenient for you then Coconuts Beach Club is worth checking out.
- Overwater bungalows: 24
- Total rooms/suites: 37
With an extremely remote location in French Polynesia, the overwater bungalows at the Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort don’t get many accidental visitors, but reaching the island is easy enough, and the remote location is a big part of the appeal for many. The 24 overwater bungalows here come in two sizes, with the largest ones being some of the largest in the region, and the smaller ones still being good sized and offering great value.
There are many water sports and activities available, but this is more of a couples resort, especially popular with honeymooners. With only 36 rooms and a full-service 5-star spa on location, this is an ideal place to get away from it all.
- Overwater bungalows: 25
- Total rooms/suites: 69
Located just southwest of the often-forgotten island of New Caledonia (just east of Australia and north of New Zealand) is the L’Escapade Island Resort Noumea, which features 25 water villas plus 44 beach rooms. Its location so far from Tahiti makes it very popular with Australians and Kiwis, who can arrive on cheap direct flights, as well as Japanese package tourists, but it’s quite out of the way for everyone else.
Formerly called the Coral Palms Island Resort, this is a small and relaxed destination that offers good value, though doesn’t have a sterling reputation for fast or attentive service.
- Overwater bungalows: 17
- Total rooms/suites: 41
The only overwater bungalow resort on the remote Huahine Island, which is just southwest of Bora Bora, the Huahine Te Tiare Beach Resort is a moderately priced facility with 17 overwater bungalows that are all quite large and feature a Jacuzzi tub. The remoteness is part of the appeal here, and there isn’t an endless list of water sports available, but there are plenty of excursions and interesting things to see on this small island.
With only 41 rooms in total, this has a boutique resort feel, with a gorgeous location set in a scenic bay. Those looking for a moderately priced small and remote resort for a honeymoon or romantic getaway should be quite happy here.
- Overwater bungalows: 19
- Total rooms/suites: 40
Another extremely remote resort, the Manihi Pearl Beach Resort is located in the distant Manihi Atoll, which has a population of under 1,000 and its largest industry is pearl farming. While it does take a 90-minute flight from Tahiti, once landed you’ll be taken to the resort from the airport on a golf cart, so the travel time is shorter than many resorts in Bora Bora.
There are 19 overwater bungalows in this small resort, which is run by the reliable Pearl Resorts group. It offers good value and reasonable rates considering the features and activities available. It’s popular with honeymooners as well as families, but it’s small and private enough that both groups should feel comfortable.
Luxury (starting from US$600 to US$900)
- Overwater bungalows: 8
- Total rooms/suites: 37
Located in the Cook Islands, making it popular with those from New Zealand in particular, the Aitutaki Lagoon Resort and Spa is a boutique resort featuring 8 overwater bungalows that are very large and well appointed. This is one of the properties that closely associates itself with its South Pacific location, so the experience feels both authentic and paradise-like.
There is a long list of water sports and other activities, plus four restaurants and a full-service spa, so each guest in the 37-total bungalows and suites gets plenty of attention and has far more choices than you’d expect at such a small resort.
Super luxury (starting from over US$900)
- Overwater bungalows: 3
- Total rooms/suites: 9
Located on a tiny private island just off Taha’a, not far from Bora Bora, the Vahine Island Private Island Resort is one of the most intimate resorts in the South Pacific, featuring 3 overwater bungalows along with 6 other beach villas. Each overwater bungalow is large, and each features an aquarium table that allows guests to look directly into the lagoon below.
In spite of its small size, there are many activities available, including a long list of themed excurions. And while there is no dedicated spa at this resort, there are massages available in the rooms, so honeymoon couples can get pampered in luxury in a secluded paradise.
- Overwater bungalows: 10
- Total rooms/suites: 45
With a remote location near Fiji, the Likuliku Lagoon Resort is a 5-star hotel with 10 large overwater bungalows in addition to 35 beach villas and suites. Very popular with the honeymoon crowd, this resort is all about luxury, and the food is exceptional, but there are plenty of water sports and activities available for the active set.
The spa here is one of the finest in the South Pacific, located up on a hill overlooking the lagoon. Those interested in Polynesian culture will be very welcome here, as this luxury resort carries that theme throughout.
Family resorts with prices yet to be published
- Overwater bungalows: 10
- Total rooms/suites: 148
Formerly known as the Le Meridian Hotel and Palms Casino, the Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu is undergoing major renovations in mid 2011 to update the whole facility. The 10 Overwater Lagoon Villas won’t be ready again until at least September, 2011.
This is a large resort with a long list of available activities, nearly all of which are included free in the price. It’s also only a short ride to the main town of Port Vila so guests have many more options than just the single restaurant at the resort.
Starting at US$436 per night
- Overwater bungalows: 4
- Total rooms/suites: 142
Located next door to the Holiday Inn Resort, the Warwick Port Vila also has a pleasant location on Erakor Lagoon. There are only 4 overwater bungalows here, and those are actually perched just off the shore of a small peninsula jutting out into the lagoon, so they aren’t the traditional style found in Bora Bora or Moorea.
With 142 total rooms, this is another large resort that caters to families and groups, and might not be ideal for honeymoon couples. There are all-inclusive meal plans available and prices are quite reasonable so this could be an ideal choice for those seeking an active holiday in the South Pacific with overwater flare.
Starting at US$663 per night
Top photo by vgm8383 on Flickr