Over water, under budget

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In an over-water bungalow, your room won't be oceanfront, it'll be on-ocean — often right over reefs and usually at a steep price (we're talking close to a grand a night). But here are a few properties that put the "low" back in bungalow. Low room rates, that is.

It's not every day that you get to stay on the fringe of hallowed ground. Raiatea, about 120 miles northwest of Tahiti, is a venerated island: In the past, kings from neighboring islands would meet here to discuss matters of state, and its Mount Temehani has been called the Polynesian Mount Olympus. On the island's northeast coast, the Raiatea Hawaiki Nui Hotel offers garden and lagoon bungalows plus those of the over-water variety; the over-water bungalows have viewing windows in their floors. When the sun sets, fish are attracted to the lights that gently glow beneath the bungalows; you'll likely see triggerfish, parrotfish and butterfly fish decorating the coral below. If you want to get even closer to the marine life, just slip into the ocean from your private terrace. Over-water bungalow rates from $380. pearlresorts.com

$355 Canvas-sided Paradise Pier Cabanas sit on stilts over the water at Bermuda's 9 Beaches. Over-water rates from $355, including breakfast. 9beaches.com

$285 The Punta Caracol Acqua-Lodge on Islá Colon in Panama's Bocas del Toro archipelago has brightly colored, thatch-roofed cabins. Rates from $285, including breakfast and dinner. puntacaracol.com