want to stay in an overwater bungalow or a water villa, you most likely are going to want to head to either the South Pacific (Bora BoraMooreaTahiti etc) or the Maldives, which is just southwest of India. There are nearly 30 resorts with overwater bungalows in the South Pacific , and over 75 with water villas (as they are usually called there) in the Maldives. Between these two places you'll find literally ALL of the best overwater resorts in the world.

In many ways these two destinations are quite similar, but in many other ways they are very different. We'll discuss all of this below so you can choose which is the best destination for you.

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Getting there

This is the biggest factor for sure so we’ll start with it. Simply put, if you are in or near North America then the South Pacific is MUCH closer and cheaper to reach, but if you are in or near Europe then the Maldives is MUCH closer and cheaper to reach.


We discuss the specifics of getting to Bora Bora and getting to the Maldives in greater depth, but the short version is that (unless you are lucky enough to live in Australia or New Zealand) to reach the South Pacific you’ll be taking an overnight flight from Los Angeles to Tahiti as part of it. This is true whether you start out in London or in San Francisco. So if you are starting in London you’ll be flying to Los Angeles and then to Tahiti and then to Bora Bora or the final destination of your choice.


Similarly, to reach the Maldives you’ll almost certainly be taking an overnight flight from somewhere in Europe to change planes in the Middle East (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar) and then onto the Maldives Airport. The frustrating thing for Americans is that there seem to be no available flights that start in Los Angeles and connect through, say, Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur and then onto the Maldives. So even if you live in Los Angeles you’ll be flying almost 60% of the way around the world to reach the Maldives.

The climate

The Maldives is spread over the tropics, with a few resorts even a bit below the equator. The South Pacific islands with overwater bungalows are all a bit below the equator, so the climate in all of them is very similar. There is a rainy season and a dry season in both regions, but it will be sunny most of the time in rainy season and it will rain some days during the dry season. Honestly, there isn’t much difference, and by going in the off-season you can save a lot of money.


The dry season in the South Pacific runs from June through October and in the Maldives it runs from December through April. This means that it’s “dry season” in one of these areas for 10 months a year, so if that is important to you then it might be worth going that extra leg to reach the other one. It also means low-season prices are in effect all year round at one or the other as well.


A quick word of warning: It’s quite humid everywhere in the Tropics all year, even during the “dry season.” Many people are a bit uncomfortable on their first day there, especially those who’ve flown in from somewhere cold or very dry, but almost everyone feels much better starting on the second day. Plan on this in advance and you’ll cope with it better knowing that it gets better quickly.


The scenery

The most striking difference between the two is that the Maldives (consisting of hundreds of small islands) is as flat as a pancake, and the South Pacific islands all have gorgeous volcanic mountains at their center. The highest point anywhere in the Maldives is only 2 meters above sea level, so all of these island resorts are decorated with palm trees and sandy beaches, but nothing else.


In the South Pacific the most beautiful and dramatic island is Bora Bora, with Moorea not far behind. Tahiti looks rather plain compared to those two, but some of the other remote islands with overwater bungalows are lovely.


See where they are located on this overwater bungalow resorts in the South Pacific map.

The cost of the bungalows and villas

Another difference between the two is that there is a much wider range of prices at Maldives resorts. At the bottom end you have all-inclusive resorts that are a bit on the basic side that start around US$300 per night (all resorts price in US dollars, by the way). And further up the scale the Maldives has really nice resorts starting well under US$500 per night, all the way up to the premiere resorts that don’t have any rooms under US$1,500 per night.


In the South Pacific there are a couple of places under the US$400 per night mark, but honestly the ones you want to stay in start at just under US$600 per night and go up from there. Even at the high end, like at the St. Regis Bora Bora Resort you can get an amazing overwater villa for around US$1,100.


So in other words, the Maldives caters far more to lower budgets, and those cheaper resorts are still fantastic by most standards. The Maldives also has a handful of super-exclusive resorts that are far more expensive than anything in the South Pacific.

9 thoughts on "Why you don’t need a travel agent for a perfect Maldives water villa holiday"

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  1. Without a travel agent you are on your own!!! a total misconception
    that agents are a lot more expensive than online. What happens if something goes wrong the computer wont help but an agent will –
    do a bit more research to the original writer and i only hope you
    never need assistance apart from a computer to get you out of a situation!!!!!

    1. Roz,

      If I was a travel agent I’m sure I’d feel the same way. But the fact is that things don’t go wrong very often and even when they do it’s usually easy to fix as long as you deal with legit companies and resorts. For someone who has an extremely low risk tolerance travel agents are probably a great idea. For everyone else, it’s probably not worth it. -Roger

  2. There is so much more to a travel agent than just booking the trip. Yesterday I spend 1/2 my day changing a client’s flights and hotel reservations because her son suddenly got sick during the trip. Last weekend I had 2 sets of clients miss their flights so I spent my time accommodating and reassuring them, while they relaxed at the airport lounge. When a traveler is on vacation, unexpected things can happen. Emergencies can arise. A travel agent can handle all of this for them, so they can focus on their sick child, or whatever the case may be. "In all fairness", you are right. They may not NEED a travel agent for the booking process, but when the unexpected arises, they will need us then! And as the others have said, pricing is almost always the same whether you book online, or with an agent. We also have access to most all the same hotels as online…. plus the extra consortia perks, as Gabrielle mentioned.

  3. I have to agree with others that this article is just not true of what Travel Professionals truly offer a client. Most Travel Professionals don’t charge planning and booking fees. They often offer a low price guarantee and price match if they need to. Many Travel Professionals who do charge a planning or booking fee often apply it towards your balance and/or the tips and money they save you are far more than any planning or booking fee they may charge.

    Booking through a website (just a computer and not a true travel professional) is not a great option. Nobody is asking you the right questions to fit you to the best resorts/flights or council you on the merits of this and that because it’s a computer…..You can’t just go by the pretty pictures on the internet. We say "The Internet is for looking and not booking"

    Each resort has a different vibe, you need to be personally matched to the best accommodations out there that will fit you both because there are so many resort/flight/room choices out there and they’re not all the same or even good. There’s much to think about and consider when picking the right destination, travel dates-weather, resorts/flights/rooms.

    The question that you should ask yourself is, "Why would you take a chance on your Travel Investment and not call a Travel Professional" One whose actually been to the destination with hands on advice? A real reputable Travel Professional wants to talk to you or at least email you and not just put a website out there for you to self-book on while they try to make money on you while they sleep with website bookings that they’re making full commission on, that’s what they don’t want to tell you.

    Trying to talk potential clients out of booking with real Travel Professionals when you’re acting as an "absent" travel agent on a website and doing very little for the client in reality is ironic.
    I feel like this website/article attacks true Travel Professionals in an underhanded way so I will speak the real truth here.

    There are many Travel Professionals who highly specialize in Over Water Bungalows throughout the world, they’ve been to many of these resorts themselves so they have value in their knowledge and have professional relationships with resort owners, management and ground operators. Travel Professionals provide a wonderful service to you and that’s what its truly all about besides offering you some of the lowest prices with price drop guarantees and a host of many other perks!

    1. Heather,

      If I was a travel agent I’m sure I’d feel the same way you do. The point of the article is that savvy travelers (not necessarily first-time travelers) CAN book a Maldives holiday online and still get the exact same VIP experience that other visitors get. Websites like Agoda also book far more resorts than any offline travel agent does, so consumers get more choice. And many resorts do in fact offer lower prices when you book online.

      Some travelers are fussy and require hand-holding and make mistakes and want to make changes. It’s great that you are there for those types of travelers. But there is also a misconception that you NEED to use an offline travel agent to book a Maldives holiday and that’s definitely not true. Thanks for your passion and for all the help you give to those who need you. -Roger

  4. Hi there,
    With respect, I find the information in this article to be largely untrue. Travel agents work with all resorts (and even some B & B’s). They also have buying power and can secure better rates than what is seen online in a lot of cases. I think there is a real misconception out there from people who have only really ever booked online but really, there is a missed value, both monetary and experiential that goes with booking online. Also, many agents are part of a consortium that for example, will provide complimentary meals, complimentary nights, etc, whereas booking online you don’t get these kinds of things. Just my 2 cents anyway!

  5. disagree most of it!, i’ve always secured better deals from travel agents in the UK. Some of them offer upgrades, lounge access which were helpful. And most importantly we need ATOL protection for our whole booking which is only provided by the UK tour operators. This protects our flights all transfers and the resort booking. In any emergency we have the ATOL protection to bail us out.
    If you are not a fussy customer who wouldn’t mind ending up in a room that don’t wish to be, then booking from any other source is fine.
    Anyways, these are my thoughts. Hope you will publish this.

    1. Ryan,

      You make some good points and I guess each person has their own risk tolerance level. These days it’s common for purchases on many Visas and Mastercards to automatically have this kind of coverage, and you can buy travel insurance to cover it as well. Still, many people prefer a traditional high-street travel agent. My main point is that you don’t NEED a travel agent to book an ideal Maldives holiday because the online booking process is now so well organized and you don’t need any hand-holding once you land. Thanks for the comments. -Roger