All-inclusive overwater bungalow resorts and how they work
I've written a longer explanation of all-inclusive overwater bungalow resorts, but this seems to be an extremely common question so I've decided to offer a short and simple explanation that should help people find exactly what they are looking for more quickly.
It's no secret that these overwater bungalow and water villa resorts are expensive, so it appears that many people are very interested in knowing almost exactly how much the holiday will cost before they choose a resort. This is understandable and wise since prices for meals and drinks range from high to outrageous and many of these places.
How to find and choose an all-inclusive overwater bungalow resort
- Choose the area you want to visit
- Pick a resort in that area
- Check for online deals that include all meals (and sometimes drinks)
It's really that easy. In fact, almost every overwater bungalow or water villa resort in the world operates on an all-inclusive basis for the most part. There are now over 125 of these resorts around the world, and only a few don't offer this as the main option, so choose a resort and research the options after that.
Activities included at virtually every one of these resorts
Since almost all of these resorts boast extremely secluded locations, they have little choice but to provide a long list of activities and recreation possibilities, and most of them are included in the room price.
Typically, all “non-motorized” water activities are included in the room price, which usually means anything from snorkeling equipment to sea-kayaking to sailing to wind-surfing, as long as the guest can do the activities by themselves. You'll also get free use of the swimming pools, beaches, tennis courts, board games, and whatever else is on hand.
Usually all motorized activities are charged extra. This means things like Jet-skis, fishing trips, sunset cruises, and anything involving resort staff being there the whole time will incur an extra fee. This makes sense since no one should want to subsidize expensive activities for others if they aren't planning on doing them themselves.
How food options usually work at these resorts
When you go to book online at any of these resorts you'll usually be shown a discount that includes the room, most activities, and breakfast. Most resorts will also have an option at a higher price that includes lunch and dinner as well. These options usually provide good value, even if they add, say, US$80 per day per person, because the a la carte food at the resorts tends to be quite expensive. Unless you plan on eating light at almost every meal, the full-board plan will usually save you money compared to ordering off the menu.
Some of these resorts, particularly those in the Maldives, actually include alcohol and other drinks in the price for the all-inclusive option. Not surprisingly, the usually means middle-shelf spirits, beer, and non-premium wines, but it can obviously be a pretty good deal for couples who like to drink more than one or two per day.
Food costs are an issue due to the remoteness of these resorts
It's worth mentioning that the majority of these resorts have a captive audience. In the Maldives in particular, every single resort is on a private island, and only a few offer access to another resort, which they also own.
In Bora Bora and elsewhere in the South Pacific, some of the resorts have restaurants nearby, though in most cases those are also quite expensive. Really, it's only for the two overwater bungalow resorts in Tahiti where you might hop in a taxi and for a reasonable price end up at a cheaper restaurant in Pape'ete.
With this in mind, it's important to realize that you're daily food costs will be quite high, mostly because it's expensive for the resorts to get fresh food to these remote places. Choosing the all-inclusive meal option is a good idea to avoid sticker shock at what you might spend otherwise.
Finding deals on all-inclusive packages
It's true that some traditional travel agents can offer special package deals, but increasingly the best deals are found online since commissions are much lower. The best thing to do is just pick the resort that interests you and check for the dates you want. In many cases you'll find that big discounts are available online, especially for stays of 5 nights or longer.
If you don't see a discount at one resort then check another. If you are visiting during high season then discounts might be harder to find, but even then you'll usually find at least one or two places offering special deals.
Once you click into the resort you are interested in, you'll usually see multiple options for each room, with one being an all-inclusive meal plan.
Bora Bora overwater bungalow resorts – This is where you'll find the greatest number 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.
Tahiti overwater bungalow resorts – There are only two such resorts on the main island of 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 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 7 resorts in the Caribbean that have overwater rooms of one type or another.
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.
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.