An overwater bungalow is a honeymooner’s dream, but it can cost $1,000 or more per night. That kind of price tag can be a traveler’s nightmare. Fortunately, cheap overwater bungalows exist, and as resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean become bolder and more adventurous, these bungalows are also popping up closer to home.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to give up hope on your dream vacation to the South Pacific. Affordable overwater bungalows that cost half as much as the more expensive options can be found in destinations from Mexico to the Maldives, and they’re definitely not lacking in luxury and privacy.
Intercontinental Tahiti Resort & Spa – Tahiti
Of the 265 rooms that make up this 32-acre Tahitian retreat, located along a pristine lagoon, only 31 are overwater bungalows. The villas feature comfy beds, marble bathrooms and unimpeded views of the neighboring island of Moorea; they’re also the most affordable overwater bungalows in French Polynesia. Turn up the romance with a sunset cruise, or take a small boat to a nearby motu (islet) for a private five-course dinner. Weekends bring the island’s best showcase for traditional dance by Les Grands Ballets de Tahiti troupe.
Olhuveli Beach and Spa Resort – Maldives
Set along the Maldives’ South Malé Atoll, this resort is a virtual Garden of Eden encompassing towering palms, powdery beaches and a peaceful lagoon with 60 stilted bungalows. All villas feature private sun decks with vistas that stretch for miles. Up the ante by booking a Jacuzzi villa for an open-air hot tub on an expansive terrace. Rest up at the holistic Sun Spa with an Ayurvedic or Balinese couples massage before embarking on a thrilling night dive to view whale sharks, dolphins and manta rays. Or enjoy some alone time on your deck with a five-course wine-pairing dinner served by your personal waiter.
El Nido Lagen Island Resort – Philippines
The western Philippines archipelago of Palawan isn’t well known to U.S. travelers, but it won’t stay that way. The 18 water cottages at this eco-chic resort along Bacuit Bay are nestled on a strip of sand where lush jungle meets sparkling lagoon. Active couples can kayak to the island’s hidden caves, hike through the rainforest or snorkel right off of their cottage’s sun deck. Want something more sedentary? Wile away the days on quiet beaches, or get pampered at the traditional Filipino-style spa. Still, the most perfect honeymoon time might just be spent alone on the veranda of your bungalow, perfect for sunbathing, stargazing or snuggling.
Hotel Desconocido – Mexico
One hundred acres of beaches, lagoons and organic gardens make up this resort (which means “little unknown hotel” in Spanish), located south of Puerto Vallarta at the end of a peninsula boasting a UNESCO World Heritage-recognized wildlife estuary. But it’s in Hotelito’s 27 thatch palafitos, poised over a lagoon, that couples will likely spend most of their time. These breezy, affordable overwater bungalows feature hand-painted tiles and canopy beds carved from guayabillo wood. Brightly painted rowboats serve as your means for exploring the property’s watery landscape — home to pelicans, frigates and sea turtles — as well as its 40-mile white-sand beach. Come dusk, the solar-powered villas and grounds are lit with hundreds of candles and blazing tiki torches, giving every evening a romantic glow.
Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge – Panama
Seclusion is key at this nine-bungalow eco-resort located just off the shores of Panama’s Isla Colon in the Bocas del Toro archipelago. Colorful villas feature thatch roofs, hammocks strung on wraparound terraces, and stairs leading to the Caribbean. A low-key vibe prevails throughout these cheap overwater bungalows, from the beachfront candlelit restaurant to the solar panels that power the property. Those looking for adventure can snorkel or kayak the mile-long coral reef, or explore the nearby rainforest to mingle with friendly sloths and indigenous scarlet red frogs.