As you start your overwater bungalow and villa research, you'll quickly notice that there are dozens of overwater resorts around the entire world. This is great as it grants people from different regions access to a villa that isn't too terribly far away. If you reside somewhere in North America, particularly speaking, the US and Canada, then you'll note that there aren't any overwater resorts along the vast stretches of coastline. However, there is one within the state of Florida. The Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows is located in Orlando and is a solid choice for families who plan on visiting the area and parks.

If you're looking for a true over the water experience, then you'll want to venture to the South Pacific, the Caribbean, or the Caribbean coast of Central America.

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Overwater bungalows nearest to the US and Canada

Those of you who live in the western region of the US and Canada will find that the closest overwater bungalows and water villas are situated around the South Pacific, which is an extremely popular region to visit. Because of the region’s beauty, colorful coral reefs, fresh sea food, and friendly locals, you’ll find yourself surrounded by lots of visitors from around the world who have decided to spend their yearly vacation on one of the islands.

Overwater bungalows in the South Pacific

Because there are over 2 dozen overwater resorts within and spread throughout the South Pacific, we’ve gone ahead and created separate lists for each region in order help you narrow down your search.


Overwater bungalows in the Caribbean

Currently, you’ll be able to find a lot of different overwater resorts within the Caribbean, in varying price ranges. This is great for those who rather not fly halfway around the world from the US. In fact, there are now 21 different overwater resorts to select from. To summarize, here are 4 overwater resorts within the Caribbean that really stand out and impress in every way:

Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort – Montego Bay, Jamaica

The Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort is a big hit in the overwater community and serves as an adult only resort. With 17 overwater bungalows outfitted with the best of the best, including a private pool and jacuzzi, if you’ve got the money, you’re sure to have a fantastic time here. This resort is also very easy to reach. All you have to do is fly into the Sangster International Airport from Florida or elsewhere. Once you land in Montego Bay you’ll then take the resort’s private shuttle to the resort which is a mere 10 minutes away.

>More information about the Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort – Montego Bay, Jamaica

Sandals South Coast Resort – Jamaica

Also located on the island of Jamaica, the Sandals South Coast Resort houses 12 large overwater bungalows. These rooms are a crowd pleaser with room service, a soaking tub that fits two guests, and stunning views of the ocean. Though the nightly rates for this resort are on the high side and won’t fit into everyone’s budget, guests feel that the resort is well worth the money. To reach this resort, you’ll fly into the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay and then take a taxi about an hour or so south.

>More information about the Sandals South Coast Resort – Jamaica

Sandals Grande St. Lucian Resort – Saint Lucia

The one and only overwater bungalow resort that currently calls Saint Lucia home, the Sandals Grande St. Lucian Resort is a high ticket item, and one that draws those with deep pockets. The 9 Honeymoon Butler Bungalows provide guests with air conditioning, a personal butler that comes with 24 hour room service, Wi-Fi, and a glass floor cutout that grants you viewing access to the underwater world without having to actually get into the water. You’ll also find that this resort is very easy to reach. First you’ll fly into the Hewanorra International Airport before being picked up by the resort’s free airport transfer.

>More information about the Sandals Grande St. Lucian Resort – Saint Lucia

Rosewood Mayakoba – Playa del Carmen, Mexico

The Rosewood Mayakoba houses 18 Deluxe Overwater Lagoon Suites in addition to the land based rooms. The overwater rooms here feature a heated plunge pool, a private terrace, Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and 24 hour room service. In order to reach this resort, you’ll first fly into Cancun International Airport before taking a taxi, shuttle, or your own rental car to the resort, which is situated roughly an hour away. Rates here tend to stay under US$1,500 per night throughout the entire year.

>More information about the Rosewood Mayakoba – Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Overwater bungalows in Central America

If the idea of traveling to Central America for an overwater resort adventure, you’ll be happy to note that there are some resorts to choose from. If you like the idea of traveling to Central America for an overwater experience, you’re in luck as there’s actually a nice amount of accommodations to choose from, and we’ve listed a few of them below. As you’ll see, these resorts do vary quite a bit when it comes to features and nightly rates, making it so that you can find one that fits your budget the best.


When looking at the list below, you’ll want to note that the list is in order of resorts that are generally the fastest to reach to the longest to reach after landing in the country. Some resorts are more isolated than others, which requires more of a journey to reach them.

Cosmic Crab Resort – Panama

At this particular resort, you’ll find 6 overwater cabins with each featuring Wi-Fi, air conditioning, an orthopedic mattress, and a private bathroom. You’ll also find a restaurant, a playground, and a outdoor pool. This is all impressive as the nightly rate starts out at only US$89. Once you have flown into Panama City, you’ll then fly into the airport at Bocas del Toro (which takes about an hour). A water taxi to the resort adds just a few minutes of travel.

>More information about the Cosmic Crab Resort – Panama

Mango Creek Lodge – Roatan, Honduras

Known for their fishing and diving resort packages, the Mango Creek Lodge grants guests extremely basic rooms that aren’t much to talk about. However, if you are outside enjoying nature most of the time, this won’t be an issue. With that said, expect to pay rates of about US$400 per night and up. After flying into the Roatan International Airport, you’ll have roughly another hour of travel.

>More information about the Mango Creek Lodge – Roatan, Honduras

St. George’s Caye Resort – Belize

The St. George’s Caye Resort offers 6 overwater rooms with a starting nightly rate that’s lower than most overwater resorts. At this resort you’ll also find lots of things to do, including kayaking and snorkeling. Even though there are three steps to get to the resort, you’ll won’t have to devote a full day to traveling after you land at the Belize City International Airport but rather an hour or so.

>More information about the St. George’s Caye Resort – Belize

Wailidup Hotel – Panama

At this resort, you’ll find a restaurant, a few land based rooms, and 6 overwater bungalows. The nightly rates here do vary a bit, and you’ll have to contact the lodge for the most up to date pricing. After flying into Panama City’s international airport, you’ll then want to be prepared to take about an hour to reach the lodge.

>More information about the Wailidup Hotel – Panama

Punta Caracol Acqua - Lodge – Panama

A simple resort, the Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge offers guests nightly rates that aren’t as high as most overwater resorts. The nightly rate here includes breakfast and dinner, along with snorkeling equipment. You’ll want to note that there isn’t a spa here, or any treatments, but in-room massages are available. Expect over an hour of added transport time after arriving at the international airport in Panama City.

>More information about the Punta Caracol Acqua – Lodge – Panama

Yandup Island Lodge – Panama

The Yandup Island Lodge serves the adventurous crowd very well. Here you won’t find a wide array of amenities, and the rooms are on the basic side. You will however, find lots of fantastic snorkeling and tours that will take you to nearby islands. To reach this resort, you’ll find that it takes a bit of time. After flying into Panama City, you’ll then take a domestic flight, which takes about an hour, before reaching the lodge.

>More information about the Yandup Island Lodge – Panama

Azul Paradise Resort – Panama

A small resort that only houses overwater bungalows, this one is great for those seeking to enjoy and partake in lots of snorkeling. Guests will also find that each room grants them a private deck, snorkeling gear to use during your entire stay, a glass floor bottom, and a private bathroom. After landing in Panama City, you’ll want to plan for about 2 hours or less of travel.

>More information about the Azul Paradise Resort – Panama

Urraca Private Island Eco Lodge – Panama

An eco lodge where children under the age of 13 are not welcomed, the Urraca Private Island Eco Lodge offers 6 rooms that are situated on stilts over the water. You won’t find much in the rooms, but you will find Wi-Fi, a private deck, and stairs that lead into the water below. Because of the age restrictions, this is a solid choice for honeymooners that have a tighter budget. Before booking, you’ll want to make sure you know that there are several steps to reach the lodge, which can take a few hours after landing in Panama.

>More information about the Urraca Private Island Eco Lodge – Panama

El Faro del Colibri – Bocas del Toro, Panama

This resort is a great option for budget travelers who like the idea of spending most of their time in nature. Rooms here come with basic cable and Wi-Fi, but not much else, but that’s to be expected at a resort with such a low nightly rate. This resort also takes a while to reach after you land in Panama. That’s because you’ll have to take a domestic flight, a bus, and then a ferry. Expect it to take a few hours.

>More information about the El Faro del Colibri – Bocas del Toro, Panama

The best overwater bungalows in the world

There are literally dozens and dozens of overwater resorts within the Maldives. You’ll also find a great selection of different water villas that come in three different price ranges, some that cater to honeymooners, some to families and groups, and others that cater to those with a very large bank account.



Top photo credit: Jan Arendtsz on Flickr

14 thoughts on "Overwater villa holidays: How to begin planning yours"

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  1. My family and I live in Asia and we are looking for a trip to anywhere with water bungalows and hopefully clear, turqoise water with snorkelling and water activities available, and is also budget friendly if possible. We are two adults and one child who is a little over 17. Are there any suggestions or recommendations? Thank you

  2. I am looking to plan a family vacation that is budget friendly. I would love to stay in an overwater hut. Can you tell me the best and most reasonable place to stay with a family the kids are 12 & 16

    1. Kris,

      Since you aren’t even sure which part of the world you want to visit, I’d recommend starting with this list of the world’s cheapest overwater resorts on our other site. Most of those resorts only allow 3 guests per room, even though almost all of them have a pull-out couch in addition to a king bed. You might find some good choices in Central America or in Asia other than the Maldives. And of course it really depends on where you are starting from because the cost of flights could cancel out any savings from a cheaper resort. I hope that helps and I’m happy to help with other questions if you have them. -Roger

  3. I would like to attend an over water bungalow resort for me and about 7 of my closest friends to celebrate my 45th Birthday. As most resorts are for honeymooners, are there single friendly resorts that can accommodate a "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" week long celebration. We live on the East coast and realize we will have to fly West for all the bungalows you have described above. All feedback is appreciated to guide me in the planning phrase.

    1. Kim,

      That sounds like a lot of fun. You won’t find many resorts that are great options for “solo” travelers, but groups of singles will fit in with many other groups there. Most of the resorts in Bora Bora and Moorea allow 3 guests per bungalow, and they all have a sleeper sofa in them for that purpose (most don’t allow 4 guests per room though). So if two of your group are okay sleeping on a pull-out couch then you can get by with 3 bungalows.

      It’s true that many of the guests at these resorts will be honeymoon couples or anniversary couples, but there are also families with older children and multi-generational groups. I think your group would have fun at just about any of those resorts, but I’d probably focus on one that has some nightlife each evening such as a band or DJ. Some of the smaller resorts only have a beach bar and it’ll mostly be couples in those. Long story short, I think I’d look at one of the larger resorts on Moorea or Bora Bora or even Tahiti. The places with at least 100 total rooms (including beach and garden bungalows) should also have plenty of things to keep you happy and a diverse clientele.

      If your budget can handle a bit over US$2,000 per night you might even consider one of the Sandals resorts on Jamaica because the flights will be so much shorter and cheaper. The overwater bungalows there are huge (I just toured both resorts recently) and the nearby beach rooms are really wonderful there as well. The beach rooms start at around US$500 per night, but they are premium all-inclusive with even many activities included so they would be really fun for a group. In other words, maybe you could get 1 (or 2) overwater bungalows and a couple of beach rooms, and take turns in each? And you could mostly hang out in the overwater bungalow during the day, which is plenty big enough for everyone. When you add in the cost of flights and all that time flying to Los Angeles and to Tahiti then the Jamaica plan could look even better. Also you have to factor in the cost of meals and drinks and activities. In the South Pacific the room includes breakfast, but everything else is extra, while in Jamaica it’s ALL included in the price. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

  4. My wife and I will be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. It would be wonderful to stay at an over water bungalow.

    Is Tahiti, Bora Bora gay-friendly islands? Are any island more friendly than others?

    1. Merchel,

      Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora are all part of French Polynesia, and the French culture there is quite strong. With that in mind, I’d expect that the islands and the resorts in particular would be quite LGBT-friendly. I don’t recall seeing anything in particular that stood out when I’ve been there, but I have a strong hunch that the resorts are all very progressive with that sort of thing. The island people seem to be quite open minded, and French people are famously tolerant. I wish I could give you more certainty. Best of luck with this. -Roger

  5. I am trying to plan our 10 year wedding anniversary. We are both pretty easy to please regarding vacations.

    I do know that my wife would really love to stay at an over water Bungalow for this trip.

    We would be traveling from Wichita, KS to Bora Bora or somewhere similar.(hopefully if price is right).

    I have browsed a bit and can’t find much for our budget (around $3-4k per person). Obviously I would love to be on the low end of my budget and save as much as possible.

    If not in Bora Bora, we would be okay with over water bungalow’s elsewhere.

    Travel dates would be leaving August 26th and Returning September 2nd (can go 1 day either way if needed).

    1. Michael,

      We are simply an online guide to overwater bungalows and not a travel agency. You’ll find the best deals online for these resorts. You can usually get better value in Moorea, which is another gorgeous island right off Tahiti itself. The room rates are a bit lower and transportation is faster and cheaper as well. If you have any specific questions just let us know. -Roger

  6. We our planning our honeymoon and live near San Francisco. We’d love to go to an amazing bungalow but the issue is we have only around 7 days for our trip, so the long flights really eat into our time. Is there an island you recommend we go to which is easy to reach from SFO? Thanks!

    1. Andrew,

      From San Francisco the closest overwater bungalows are in Tahiti, which is only a couple hours farther than Hawaii. It looks like you’d have to fly down to LAX first, as that’s where all the flights to Tahiti start. There are two resorts not far from the Tahiti Airport that offer overwater bungalows. Those resorts are pretty nice, but there are 4 nicer ones on Moorea, which is a 5-minute flight or one-hour ferry ride from Tahiti. If you are going all that way, it’s probably worth going to Moorea, as it’s also a much prettier island than Tahiti itself. Bora Bora is a 60-minute flight from Tahiti, and it has even more options. Those islands are so gorgeous and wonderful that I think it’s worth the flight, even for a week. Best of luck with this. -Roger

  7. Hi
    We live at the Gold Coast, Australia so can fly out of here or Brisbane. For our 20 year wedding anniversary in April we want to stay at an overwater bungalow – this will probably be a one-off so I want it to be in the clearest water with white sand so that the swimming and hopefully snorkelling is great. Maybe even some other water activities like sailboarding nearby? What do you recommend also considering ease of getting there? Thanks!

    1. Margo,

      There are actually a few resorts in the South Pacific that aren’t far from you, including one in New Caledonia. Have a look at our list of resorts in the South Pacific for more details. The next closest to you are in the Philippines and Malaysia. You can find those under the Asia tab on the top of this page.

      But really you’ll find the best affordable resorts in the Maldives, which has 80 different overwater hotels, each on its own island. Click on the Maldives tab for all of that information. And of course Bora Bora, which also isn’t too far from you, has many of the world’s best overwater resorts if price isn’t a major factor. Best of luck and let me know if I can help more. -Roger