There's good and bad news for those looking for all-inclusive overwater bungalow and water villa resorts, depending on which part of the world you live in. The bad news for many people is that there are no all-inclusive Bora Bora, Moorea, or Tahiti resorts that include all meals and alcohol in the room rate. Everything else is good news because most activities and services are indeed included in the room rate.

However, if you can get to the Maldives, which is home to most of the world's overwater, all-inclusive, private villa resorts, you'll have plenty of excellent options that include meals, alcohol, and even premium alcohol in some cases. Just south of India, the Maldives is quite a long way from the western US and Canada, but for those in the east, it's at least as close as the South Pacific.

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How all-inclusive works at most resorts

Of the 130+ overwater bungalow resorts in the world, about 35 of them operate exclusively as all-inclusive, meaning every guest gets meals, drinks (usually including alcohol), and most activities included in the room price. Interestingly, most of these are among the cheaper resorts in each area, so they are ideal for those looking for value on lower budgets. Most of these are in the Maldives, with none in the South Pacific.


Most overwater resorts include everything but alcohol and some food

With only a very few exceptions, every one of these resorts is located on a private island or a secluded section of a barely-populated island. For this reason, most guests tend to eat all their meals and use the daytime activities at the resort itself, so it’s most efficient for everyone to have most, if not all, of these things included in one price.

 

Most resorts include:

 

  • Breakfast, usually with options for lunch and dinner as well
  • Snorkeling equipment
  • All non-motorized water sports like sailing, and sea kayaks
  • Classes, parties, and other regular special events

Finding an all-inclusive overwater bungalow resort

If you are looking for an overwater villa perched over a turquoise lagoon that comes with all meals and alcohol, then you are almost certainly going to want to go to the Maldives. This small island chain has over 80 private-island resorts that feature water villas and about 20 of these are run on an all-inclusive basis. About ten to twenty more operate mostly on half-board or full-board plans, and many of these also have deals that include alcohol as well.

 

Best Maldives all-inclusive overwater villa resorts
Cheapest Maldives all-inclusive overwater villa resorts

South Pacific

Bora Bora overwater bungalow resorts – This is where you’ll find the greatest number of Bora Bora all-inclusive resorts in the South Pacific and perhaps the most beautiful overwater bungalows in the world.

 

Moorea overwater bungalow resorts – This island just off Tahiti has five excellent resorts with overwater bungalows. Moorea resorts’ all-inclusive packages are suitable for a range of budgets, with glamorous and more simple options.

 

Tahiti overwater bungalow resorts – There are only two such all-inclusive resorts on Tahiti, both of which are rather large, and quite affordable.

 

South Pacific overwater bungalow resorts – Spread through the rest of the South Pacific you’ll find about 10 more all-inclusive private villa resorts that range from cheap to ultra-luxurious.


Caribbean and Central America

Caribbean overwater bungalow resorts – While they aren’t the types set over clear-water lagoons, there are about a dozen resorts in the Caribbean that have overwater rooms of one type or another. Many of these resorts do operate on an all-inclusive basis, although they are mostly “eco-resorts” with few amenities and are usually focused on scuba diving.


Asia

Maldives water villa resorts – This group of islands just southwest of India is home to about two-thirds of the world’s overwater bungalows (called “water villas” here) spread through over 75 resorts. It’s fast and easy to reach from Europe, but quite a long haul from North America. See our list of the best all-inclusive Maldives resorts as well as the cheapest all-inclusive Maldives resorts to narrow your search down a bit.

 

Asia water villa resorts – There are a number of other resorts in Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines that could be ideal if they are convenient to reach.


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  1. Hi Roger,

    If my budget is 500 usd / day and planning to visit Maldives in low season (August). Which would be your hands down suggestion for a over water villa? Snorkelling and Beach are priority.

    Thanks.

    1. Vignesh,

      You’ll get very good snorkeling and great beaches at pretty much every overwater villa resort in the Maldives. It’s hard to pick one place because some really great resorts will offer promotions for certain dates if they aren’t very full yet. If I were you I’d put in your travel dates and check the cheaper places to find the one that sounds best to you. It’s kind of hard to believe, but nearly every one of those resorts is fantastic. -Roger

  2. Hello! Looking for a lovely resort in the Maldives for our family of 4. One caveat is that my child has many food allergies, so the ability to make his food safely and from scratch is a must. I know many all-inclusives have the standard western holiday foods, which generally doesn’t work for us. What would you recommend? We are looking at around $1000USD per day, but happy to pay a little more if it gives us the personal level of service we require. Thank you!

    1. Shiva,

      That does sound like a tricky situation. Unfortunately I’m not aware of a single Maldives resort that allows guests to cook for themselves from scratch. On your budget you should be able to find a place with a very good kitchen and chef staff, so perhaps you could contact the resort to work with them? But I’m not aware of any resorts that have anything more than a microwave oven and a mini fridge. Sorry about that. -Roger

  3. Hi Roger,
    We are two families, each with two adults and an 11 year old child, heading to Maldives in April. We’ve been recommended to go to Smartline Eriyadu. Is it one that you have ever recommended?
    There’s too much choice!

    1. Colette,

      I agree that is seems like there is too much choice in the Maldives, and it’s made more difficult that every resort looks amazing. Smartline Eriyadu doesn’t have water villas so I know almost nothing about it since this website is all about overwater rooms. But it does look nice for a smaller resort in the lower price category. If you don’t want a water villa that place could work well. Best of luck with this. -Roger

  4. Hi Roger,
    What would you recommend for first timers in Maldives with an 18 months old toddler? We don’t necessarily need a water villa but do prefer a nice relaxing beach villa near blue waters. Budget is maybe USD600 per night.

    1. Rose,

      I wish I could help you with this one, but I’m not a parent and I don’t really know the unique things that an 18-month-old requires. Nearly all of these Maldives private-island resorts have beach villas that are quite private and don’t share walls with other villas. I’d think you’d want one like that so you’ve got plenty of great choices. The resorts on the article above are resorts that specifically cater to families, so they’d be great places to start looking. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. -Roger

  5. Hi Roger,
    Am looking for stay suggestions for a group of 2 adults and 3 kids (ages 12-16) for November for 3-5 nights. We are keen to try out maximum activities and would like to stay in a water villa. Also, availability of Indian vegetarian food will be preferred. Budget is about USD 2000 for entire stay for all inclusive option.

    1. Anat,

      Nearly all of the Maldives water villa resorts allow 3 guests per room, and almost every villa has a fold-out bed. So just check for the resort you like best and then check their policy. You shouldn’t have any trouble. -Roger

  6. Hi Roger,
    So much choice I need your advice please!
    My husband and I have been to Maldives a few times but now thinking if taking our 3 teenage daughters with us so looking for a more teenage friendly as opposed to couply resort. They’re not into kids/teenage clubs, organised activities etc. Into water sports, snorkelling etc. Would like water bungalows although not sure how this will work possibly 2?!

    Thanks in advance

    1. Laine,

      One challenge is that most Maldives resorts only allow 3 guests per water villa, and a few allow 4 guests, but none allow more than that except for the 2-bedroom units, which start at around US$2,500 per night. So you’ll need 2 water villas, or perhaps 1 water villa and one island room.

      If you don’t need “family” facilities such as Kids Clubs, you should probably just search among the larger resorts for good deals on your travel dates. The larger resorts typically have many more water sports and activities. I often recommend Meeru Island, which is the largest, but it’s such a large island that it feels half empty even when it’s full. They have more facilities than any other resort, including a small golf course and several pools. Best of luck with this. -Roger

  7. Hi Roger, need a help here. Planning to go to Maldives in mid-end Dec. A family of 6, 4 kids (14, 12, 7 and 4). We really want to experience water villa and look for where 6 of us can be in 1 villa. Any suggestion and advice are greatly appreciated.Thanks

    1. Sinta,

      Sorry for the slow response, but I was on a trip. Unfortunately, the most you can fit into a standard water villa in the Maldives is 4 people, and most limit it to 3 people. Many of them don’t even allow younger children in the water villas at all because the piers don’t have hand railings and the terraces for the villas don’t either. A handful of the super-luxury water villa resorts have 2-bedroom units, but those start at around US$3,000 per night. So your best and cheapest option would be to get 2 normal water villas at a more affordable resort. With your situation with 4 children that may not be ideal, of course. Sorry the news isn’t better. -Roger

  8. How is the drinking water in the Maldives? Strange question, I know, but when we vacation in Mexico and have to be ever vigilant about avoiding ice cubes and tap water, and when I travel to India for work and worry about pathogens in water and food, it’s EXHAUSTING. I’m hatching a plan to take a big trip with my family, but I don’t have the energy to police my kids on what they eat/drink etc.

    1. Kristen,

      The tap water at most Maldives resorts gets shipped onto the island and fed into the system. From everything I’ve heard, it’s actually drinkable for the most part, unlike most other places in Asia. However, I think pretty much all resorts not only recommend that you drink bottled water, but they typically leave a couple bottles in each room each day. You can also buy more from a little store on each island, or pay a higher price if you drink additional bottles out of the minibar. Obviously it depends on the resort, but my experience is that safe bottled drinking water is always a fairly reasonable price in places where tap water isn’t perfectly potable.

      Overall you will be very impressed with the Maldives, at least once you get to one of the private-island resorts. The standards of hygiene and that sort of thing are much better than you’d typically get in Thailand, for example. Have a wonderful trip. -Roger

  9. Roger, my question is slightly different. I have a family of 5 (2 boys – college and 1 daughter – HS). We are exploring the Maldives from a trip to Dubai. So far, so good. And from your answers, I got most of my lodging questions answered. The issue is then getting to Africa. Flights out of Male appear challenging. If we were trying to get to either Narobi or Capetown from Male, are we somewhat kidding ourselves or am I missing anything?

  10. Hi Roger,
    You seem to be quite an expert so wanted to ask for your opinion!
    We (My wife, 2 year old ,9 months old and I) are planning to spend 3-4 nights in the Maldives towards end of March/April.
    1- Would the weather be OK then?
    2- Is a beach villa "safer" for our toddler – Ideally we would want a water villa.
    3- Is it better to take a full board option?
    Any recommendation from your end would be highly appreciated! (I checked the lists of Family resort AND the water villas for 4 that you published which I found very useful).
    Thank you in advance!
    Gabriel

    1. Gabriel,

      Sorry for the slow response, but I was moving.

      1. The weather in the Maldives is pretty much perfect and identical all year long, except that June can be a bit rainy. Otherwise it’s warm every day and every night, and the rain storms tend to last no more than 30 minutes at a time.

      2. Many resorts won’t even book young children in a water villa, although some will if you sign a waiver. They all have a heavy sliding glass door or other heavy door to get out to the deck, so as long as the 2-year-old isn’t able to open that on their own, you should be okay. The decks do usually have one fully open side, so you’d want to have strict supervision when the kids are out on the deck. The walkways to reach the villas are usually without rails as well, so you do need to be careful.

      3. Most resorts include breakfast in the room rate. The full-board option would include a buffet lunch and dinner, so it really depends on what the rates are with or without that. Food in the Maldives is not cheap. In an a la carte restaurant at one of these resorts you’d be paying at least US$20 or so for lunch and probably US$30 for dinner for the adults. So for a couple, those meals will add about US$100 per day to the cost. If the full-board option is cheaper than that, it’s a good deal.

      I don’t have any specific recommendations for water villa resorts for families with young children. And again, many places won’t even allow them in the water villas. You might even consider an island villa for part of the stay and a water villa for only one or two nights, so you can experience it without having to worry the whole trip. Sorry I can’t be of more help on this. -Roger

  11. Hi Roger:
    I’m looking at spending about 4 days in Maldives – have been researching and viewing all the different resorts with 4 star and higher water villas. I’m a widower and this will be my first solo vacation, my planned dates are: mid December or mid January. Is one time better than the other weather wise and price wise?
    I just want a quite get away with a great spa. I’m also a strict vegetarian – will I have issues with food variety and I don’t drink alcohol?
    Is it good to take an all inclusive option, because I understand the meal are rather expensive? Can you recommend 3 places that fit what I’m looking for and my max budget is upto $700/night.
    I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.
    Jay

    1. Jay,

      December and January are the same for the weather, and as long as you avoid the Christmas and New Year’s weeks, the rates should be similar as well. I’d guess that mid December would be a bit cheaper because many people don’t go until after the holidays.

      As someone who doesn’t drink alcohol, I’d suggest a full board resort or just paying as you go. The all-inclusive resorts typically add about US$100 per room just for alcohol to their rates.

      There are two lists on this article about the cheapest Maldives all-inclusives. The first list are the best of the all-inclusive resorts, while the list below that is of the full-board places that offer all-inclusive options. I think any of the ones on that bottom list would be great, including Meeru Island and Veligandu, which I recommend often.

      The Maldives gets many vegetarian guests, from Europe and also from India. Many of the workers there are from India as well, so they are obviously very familiar with veg cooking. As long as you choose one of the larger resorts, with at least 80 or so total villas (including island villas), I’m sure you’d have many veg options at every meal. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  12. Hi Roger,
    I’m looking to plan a family trip with 6 adults and a 9 month old. We’re looking into the over water bungalos but are open to other suggestions. Do you know if there are overwater bungalos that accommodate 6 adults but also allow for a baby? Also which area would you recommend for the best budgeted spot with those accomodations? Any chance any of them are all-inclusive? Thanks

    1. Tiffany,

      Unfortunately, nearly all of these overwater villas are designed for 2 adults each. Most have one kingsize bed, almost most also have a sofa-bed in the living room area. A few of them offer twin beds instead of a kingsize. Only a few resorts actually allow up to 4 adult guests in one villa. For 6 adults you’d need to book at least 2 water villas, and maybe 3. There are a few resorts that offer 2-bedroom or 3-bedroom water villas, but those villas are literally starting at over US$3,000 per night, so getting 2 or 3 villas elsewhere is much cheaper.

      Here is an overview for where overwater bungalows are located and the kinds of resorts in each place. There are many all-inclusives in the Maldives, but not in most other areas. Let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

  13. Hi Roger, need some advice – we are a family of 4 (2 teens aged 14 and 16). Do you know of any resorts that allow for all 4 of us to stay in 1 room? Advanced thanks.

  14. Im searching for a budgetted vacay with my husband and baby girl.
    It is for our first honeymoon. Im looking for a water villa with a private pool, preferly all inclusive at 1000 US$/night or lower.
    Im located in Canada.. taking in conscidiration that US rate is pretty high right now..
    Please helpp! I appreciate it.

    1. Stephanie,

      One challenge would be that flying 3 people to the Maldives from Canada will cost about US$1,200 per person and take a bit over 24 hours each way. And then once you get to the Maldives Airport, you’ll have to pay from US$150 to US$500 per person to get to your resort. It’s an amazing place, but so is Moorea and Bora Bora, and if you don’t have a huge budget it may not be worth the long and expensive trip to get there.

      And the next challenge is that there are no overwater bungalows with pools in Bora Bora or Moorea, except for the deluxe suites that start at around US$2,000 per night. If you are okay using one of the wonderful public swimming pools at the high-end resorts in the South Pacific, you can get an overwater bungalow starting around US$600 per night. They don’t do all-inclusive in Bora Bora or Moorea, so you would have to pay for drinks and at least one or two of your meals each day.

      You’d think that someone willing to spend US$1,000 per night would be able to get almost anything they desired, but there are so few of these resorts and all of them are far from you, so it’s just not that easy yet. In a couple years they will open a new resort in Panama that seems to have what you are after. Until then, you’ll have to compromise something. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  15. Anybody been to Maldives with teenagers. I am looking for a preferably over water bungalow that can sleep entire family, 2 adults and 2 teenage girls. Anything around $1000 a night. If not over water, recommend any place for a family of 4.

  16. These places are a dream come true…so beautiful and as close to heaven as one can get. I just wish I had the dough to pay for it.. beautiful.. Thanks for sharing.