Where are overwater bungalows and water villas?
It's happened to all of us. We see a photo of an overwater bungalow (or a water villa, as they are called in much of the world) and we immediately daydream about spending a holiday in one ourselves. There's something both romantic and private about these hotel rooms, which is one reason that they are incredibly popular for honeymoons and anniversary trips.
One complication is that overwater bungalows are found in only a few parts of the world, almost all of which are a long way from the people who'd like to stay in them.
This site is your ultimate guide to everything having to do with overwater bungalows and water villas, and below we'll cover everywhere that they can be found. All told, there are around 5,000 overwater bungalows in the world, and new resorts are opening every year.
Where to find overwater bungalows and water villas
This island nation located just southwest of India is home to about two-thirds of all the water villas (as they are known here) in the world, spread among over 75 resorts. Nearly all these resorts are located on their own small private island, spread through the many atolls (circular groups of lagoon islands).
Unlike the volcanic islands of the South Pacific, every island in the Maldives is completely flat, so the scenery will be of the beach, the resort itself, the lagoon below, and the wide-open seas. Nevertheless, the area is considered to be one of the most beautiful and pristine on earth, and there are dozens of 5-star water villa resorts in addition to some more modest complexes.
The Maldives are especially popular with Europeans, as it's easy to get nonstop flights from many larger cities on the continent.
>>>Maldives water villas
This small and stunningly beautiful island is a 50-minute flight northwest from Tahiti, and it's home to more overwater bungalows than anywhere outside of the Maldives. There are 9 deluxe resorts featuring these rooms on Bora Bora, plus another one that is on nearby Taha'a Island, and reached through Bora Bora.
Part of the Society Islands group, Bora Bora is very popular with Americans and Canadians, but it's also common to find Europeans here as well. All the overwater resorts here at 4-star and above, so it's not ideal for the budget-minded traveler, but for those who can afford it, things don't get any better.
>>>Bora Bora overwater bungalow hotels
Located only 9 miles from Tahiti itself, Moorea is a slightly smaller and arguably more beautiful island that's home to five overwater bungalow resorts. Since all flights into the South Pacific use Tahiti as a hub, it's especially convenient since Moorea is only a 10-minute flight away, or reached by a ferry in less than an hour if you are in the Tahitian capital of Pape'ete.
Again, there are only 4-star and above resorts in Moorea, so none of them could be considered inexpensive, but the resorts and location are so desirable that they stay fairly full all year round. Romantic couples make up a large percentage of the guests, but a few resorts are quite family friendly as well.
>>>Moorea overwater bungalow hotels
There are exactly two overwater bungalow resorts located on Tahiti itself, and both are large international chain hotels that lack some of the privacy and exclusiveness of the others here. However, the bungalows here are among the most affordable in the region, so they remain popular with those on tighter budgets.
Another good reason to stay in a resort on Tahiti Island is that many of the flights from North America arrive late at night or leave very early in the morning. Since the planes and ferries to the other islands only operate during the day, it's often necessary to stay one night in Tahiti at the beginning or end of your trip whether you want to or not. Fortunately, both overwater resorts here are near the airport, but not too near.
>>>Tahiti overwater bungalow hotels
Elsewhere in the South Pacific
There are 10 more overwater bungalow resorts scattered on other islands throughout this region, including one on Fiji and one on Samoa. Most of the others are on smaller islands, including several that are near Bora Bora and part of the Society Islands chain.
There are some cheaper overwater bungalow options in this group, along with some 5-star resorts that compare with any in the world. Since it's common for honeymooners to stay at two or more resorts on one trip, it could be worth looking into one of these to increase variety.
>>>South Pacific overwater bungalow hotels
Unfortunately, there are none of the dreamy resorts in the Caribbean, at least if you want a private bungalow perched on stilts above a crystal-clear lagoon. There are, however, 10 resorts that are very close to the lagoon style, and since they are within easy reach of so many people they are worth looking in to.
One in particular is an amazing overwater residence at a private-island resort in Belize, and another has 5-star villas placed over serene ponds near a beach in Turks and Caicos. The other three are just off Panama and Honduras, and are quite reasonably priced as long as you are okay with an eco-resort rather than a 5-star luxury hotel.
>>>Caribbean overwater bungalow hotels
Elsewhere in Asia and the Indian Ocean
The Philippines has three water villa resorts that are all run by the small El Nido hotel chain, each set in a beautiful cove of a different island in the same area. There's also one beautiful water villa resort just off Malaysia, which is an excellent value and similar to some of the better Maldives resorts, plus a few others elsewhere in Malaysia.
The island of Phuket in southern Thailand has one overwater resort, though technically the villas are set at the edge of a man-made lagoon in the center of a large resort, so it's not quite the same thing. There are other resorts in Indonesia and elsewhere in Thailand, although they aren't exactly like the others. Lastly, there's one water villa resort on the island of Mauritius, which is near Madagascar off the coast of southern Africa.
>>>Asia water villas
>>>Mauritius water villas