Overwater bungalows in Malaysia
Most of the world's overwater bungalows and water villas are located in the Maldives, which is just southwest of India, but more resorts are opening every year around the world. Malaysia now has six overwater resorts of its own, which is the third most in the world behind the Maldives and Bora Bora.
Even more impressively, Malaysia now boasts what is by far the largest overwater bungalow resort in the world, with an amazing 392 overwater rooms just off the coast south of the Kuala Lumpur Airport. Three of the six Malaysian resorts are actually just off Borneo Island and they are completely dedicated to scuba diving, so honeymooners and romantic couples have two main choices on the Malaysian mainland.
There are other overwater resorts in Asia, including a few in the Philippines, one in Indonesia, and a couple that take a non-traditional approach to the style in Thailand. But honestly, if you don't have your heart already set on Malaysia then you should seriously look into the overwater bungalow resorts in the Maldives. There you'll find over 80 private-island resorts, ranging from cheap all-inclusives to ultra-posh boutique resorts with sky-high prices to match.
Overwater bungalows in Malaysia
- Water villas: 392
- Total rooms/suites: 392
Opened in spring of 2011, the AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort (formerly known as the Golden Palms Resort) is by far the largest overwater hotel complex in the world, featuring 392 overwater villas ranging from modest to enormous. The best feature of this place is likely its location just south of the Kuala Lumpur Airport, making it incredibly easy for people from all over Asia to arrive on a cheap flight and check into their overwater room only an hour or two later.
This resort complex features 5 restaurants and 2 bars, and it originally opened as an all-inclusive with much higher prices, but starting in 2012 it changed to a la carte pricing. The overwater bungalows are now among the cheapest in the world, though it's worth mentioning that reviews aren't great and they don't allow outside food into the hotel so you have to eat at their restaurants or go quite a distance away.
- Water villas: 45
- Total rooms/suites: 142
If you want a boutique-style private island resort in the Maldives style but don't want to leave Malaysia then the Pangkor Laut is perfect for you. Probably not well suited to family holidays, this is a deluxe 5-star resort that caters to honeymooners and others on romantic holidays.
There are 45 water villas that are all good sized, including two suites that are huge. There's a first-class spa plus a long list of water sports and other activities, but this is an island resort best suited to relaxation. One of the best features is that the resort itself only occupies a small portion of the island so guests can go off to private areas to explore or find secret beaches of their own.
- Water villas: 47
- Total rooms/suites: 350
With a rather remote location on the western edge of Langkawi Island near Malaysia's northern tip, the Berjaya Langkawi Resort has 47 overwater villas to go along with 303 rainforest suites and villas on the island itself. This is a 5-star property with excellent service and 9 restaurants, lounges, and bars from which to choose.
The resort offers scuba diving, snorkeling, and a long list of additional water sports, plus a fantastic spa and many on-land activities. The unique location also offers many interesting excursions to nearby islands and other sights, as well as fishing and other recreational adventures. For the luxury set looking for something interesting in Malaysia, this is a solid choice that offers good value.
- Low season online specials from US$299 per night
- High season online specials from US$369 per night
- Water villas: 15
- Total rooms/suites: 15
The Mabul Water Bungalows is one of the overwater resorts that is very close to the world-famous Sipadan Island dive site, which is its best feature. The 15 water villas here are large and comfortable, but nearly visitors come here for the excellent diving in the area, so the rooms don't have as much attention to detail as Maldives resorts.
The prices are quite high for the facilities themselves, but packages that include all the diving are evidently easy to find with travel agents and such. Also, the location is a bit remote for anyone who isn't a fanatical diver, but this area has such a reputation among the scuba set that it continues to be popular anyway.
- Water villas: 45
- Total rooms/suites: 45
In the same area and category as the Mabul Island Resort mentioned above, the Sipadan Water Village is also much larger, featuring 45 water cottages in four different size categories. This is another resort that is all about the diving and prices are quite high at the rack rate, so you'd be advised to negotiate a package that includes the diving for far better value.
There are a few more luxury amenities at this resort, but the list of other available activities is fairly short. Many packages include all transportation , which is very helpful since it takes quite a few steps to reach this place unless you are already on the island of Borneo.
- Water villas: 30
- Total rooms/suites: Not sure
On a different island a bit to the north of the two resorts mentioned above, the Pom Pom Island Resort is also known for its diving and not much else. There's another small hotel nearby, but otherwise it's basically a private island.
Information for this resort is difficult to find so it appears that they do most of their business with just a few travel agencies that specialize in diving packages. It seems to be a good option for those wanting to dive the famous spots nearby, but hard to tell much more about the place.