The brilliant idea of over-water hotel suites was first initiated in the 1960s and they have since become synonymous with romantic luxury. Whether you’re looking for a honeymoon, anniversary or just a romantic getaway, they’ve likely crossed your mind. Tropical islands, turquoise blue waters, incredible sea life, and jaw-dropping sunsets – these bungalows live up to their hype! But which overwater bungalow destination is right for you?
Where you choose to have your overwater bungalow experience depends on what kind of vacation you are looking for and what kind of traveler you are! We’ve created a quick-comparison table to help accentuate the big-picture differences.
This is just the first glance. If you really want to dive into the details of what makes each location magical keep reading below. Or just reach out to us!
What can I expect from an OWB?
Overwater bungalows (OWBs) or overwater villas are essentially hotel suites built on stilts over the calm water of a lagoon in an atoll or a small island. Typically, the rooms are connected by a wooden walkway that leads out from the main beach. Depending on which destination and which resort you choose, you’ll find some differences between them but there are a few things that you can expect no matter where you go:
Seclusion & Privacy: With only a handful of neighbors, it’s easy to enjoy a feeling of privacy and exclusivity at an overwater bungalow resort. With access to the lagoon from your terrace, plus a personal jacuzzi or plunge pool, and an uninterrupted view of the sea, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into your own private oasis.
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Snorkeling & Diving: Since the overwater bungalows are often built near coral reefs you can expect some availability of snorkeling (and/or diving) just feet from your front door. But the amount and quality of sea life under your OWB does vary by destination and resort, so be sure to ask about this if it’s important to you.
Resort-like Amenities: In addition to your own private space in the bungalow, you’ll have access to all the typical resort amenities — including restaurants, pools, spa treatments, room service, and sometimes even a private butler!
A window under the sea: Most overwater bungalows have a glass panel in the floor with a light so you can watch the marine life underneath your bungalow from inside the room. You don’t have to get wet to see the fish!
A View: You are guaranteed a room with a view and personal ocean-front loungers! It’s easy to stay connected to the beach and the water when the sea is under your feet!
(Photo Credit: Meagan & Cameron via Shared Adventures Travel)
An overwater bungalow will always give you a connection to the water like none other, a sense of romantic seclusion and luxury amenities. Now, where should you go to get this incredible experience?
If relaxing on a soft white sand beach or chilling on the terrace with a good book and your feet trailing in the water is your idea of a perfect vacation, then the Maldives are for you. The focus of these islands is one word: Relaxation.
Located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, this collection of islands is perfect for overwater bungalows. Flat, with plenty of white-sand beaches that give off desert island vibes, you can count on a wide uninterrupted view of the sea. Since many of these resorts are on their own private islands, you won’t do too much external adventuring.
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The Maldives are home to two-thirds of the world’s overwater bungalows. This gives you a huge range of styles to choose from. From simple, rustic, budget-friendly options to huge luxury villas with a waterslide! The sky is the limit in the Maldives. More options also means more types of travelers — you can expect to find a mix of honeymooners, families, and groups at these resorts.
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The Caribbean & Mexico
Brand new to the game, the Caribbean and Mexico have recently started to offer a few overwater bungalows. Now you can have everything you already love about the Caribbean or Mexico plus those perfect Instagram pics. You’ll be able to hop on a flight in the morning and have a piña colada in your hand by dinner!
The overwater bungalows are attached to already existing resorts so along with a few more neighbors comes all the amenities, beaches, and facilities the resort usually provides. Overwater bungalows in this area are also more likely to come with private butler service!
(Photo Credit: Juan Jose via Unsplash)
Long stretches of beach mean long romantic walks are always available and you’ll have a good balance of peaceful relaxation and outside excursions or adventures. While you’ll save money on the flight, the bungalows themselves are every bit as expensive as their far-flung counterparts. So if you’re looking for the experience (and the photo opportunities) but are more budget-conscious, we recommend a split-stay. Stay a few nights in the resort’s beach-front suites and end the trip with a few nights in the overwater bungalow.
The original, the quintessential, and (some would say) the best. Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora were the first islands to have overwater bungalows and they continue to improve and expand today. With exteriors in the style of traditional Tahitian huts, but with all the modern luxuries of a sleek hotel inside, these overwater bungalows will give you a classic overwater experience. But don’t just take it from us — clients Meagan and Cameron recently celebrated their honeymoon in Moorea and called it “the definition of paradise!”
The French Polynesian Islands formed from volcanic activity, which resulted in a stunning and varied landscape. Some islands (like Moorea) feature lush green mountains rising out of the sea. Others (like Bora Bora) are atolls with a ring of tiny islands surrounding a placid lagoon. Most visitors island-hop to at least two different locations to get the best and broadest experience.
(Photo Credit: Meagan and Cameron via Shared Adventures Travel)
If you’re ready to fine-tune which OWB resort is a perfect match for you and your partner let us know! There are only about 200 OWB resorts in the world, so if you’re excited to try this incredible, romantic, one-of-a-kind experience we recommend planning well in advance!