From Bora Bora to the Maldives, Fiji to Mauritius, Vietnam to Tahiti, Mexico, Cambodia, Malasia, and more...They can be found almost anywhere there is calm, clear water and warm weather. We've all seen the pictures, and they are envy-inducing. Based on feedback from clients and my own experience, it seems you either love them or hate them. Have you stayed in one? I'd love to hear your thoughts - drop a comment below. Are you dreaming of staying in one? I'm rounding up a list of pros and cons to help you decide if an overwater bungalow is a good fit for your next vacation.
Front Row Seats
This may seem like an obvious feature to point out, but having guaranteed lounge chairs with prime location and views is definitely a pro! Most properties have sunning areas right on the bungalow. I do enjoy relaxing with a view of the water. Plus it’s easy access to all of you “stuff” you brought on vacation with you! Just walk up a few stairs back to your bungalow and grab what you need.
Private Swim Platform
When I was little, I loved the swim platform on the back of our 1932 Matthews Cruiser. I could jump in and out of Lake Erie for hours! For those of us that are still a kid-at-heart, you can jump off the bungalow's swim platform to your heart’s desire. No need to worry about splashing your neighbors or disrupting their tanning session. Who doesn't love spending hours jumping, cannonballing and diving right into the ocean from just outside of your room? You really feel like you have your own private slice of ocean in front of you.
Guaranteed Room with a View
Obviously, you are guaranteed to have a room with a view as well as a balcony! It so nice to enjoy morning coffee and cocktails from the privacy of your own room. I love the seclusion of not worrying about who could see in the room either. Additionally, there is no noise from other guests. All you hear is the calming sounds of the ocean around you. It also gets really dark at night because they are secluded with no light pollution from other properties. Star gazing is incredible!
Insane Sunset Views
Pro Tip: ask your travel advisor to recommend properties with sunset views - they don't all have them, and/or not all of the rooms face west. Before kids, I was a total morning person. Now, I don't need to wake up with the sun (because I am usually already awake, thanks kids). Who doesn't love enjoying a bottle of champagne together with your honey while watching the setting sun light up the sky? It’s such a romantic setting to enjoy while on a couple’s trip!
I have yet to see an overwater bungalow hotel that is not in a picturesque, tropical setting! Not only do you get a front-row ocean view, but the areas around the property are stunning and worth the time to leave the villa to get a look. Or not. Up to you!
Limited Dining Options
Many, not all, of the hotels the offer overwater bungalows are on secluded islands or spits of land. What this means is that there are not many, if any, restaurants off-property or which are easy accessible. In my experience, the resort restaurants can be pricey - in fact, a client called me and was upset at the price of Veuve Cliquot at her resort. On a remote island. In the middle of the Pacific. There is a price to get food, drink and more to a remote destination. For this reason, I typically recommend limiting your stay to 4-5 nights max so you can get the relaxation you need but also get a chance to try another destination or property. In general, I recommend also adding a few nights stay in another part of the area that is closer to "civilization", like a town with more dining options or simply more things to do.
Can Get Bora-Boring
For many of the same reasons outlined above, the activities can suffer the same fate. Since many of these resorts are in secluded areas, there typically aren’t many activities outside your standard water options. For some, this is fine. When you do get a break and get to getaway as a couple, sometimes all you want to do is relax and recharge. Overwater bungalow resorts make you feel like you've escaped. However, I have heard complaints about this from some couples stating they were “bored” and felt stuck on the islands. This is something I really dig into with my clients who are looking for a remote, tropical resort.
Remote but Not Totally Secluded
The bungalows generally have no rooms directly in front of another but your neighbors to the side aren’t that far. You will see other guests in the ocean and on their balconies. The bungalows are built in a curvilinear pattern into the ocean rather than a straight line therefore, you do see guests on their balconies to your left and right. But then again, there are times you will be the only ones outdoors.
Overwater bungalows are 100% envy-inducing; I find them to be perfectly romantic when traveling as a couple, needing a luxury experience and seeking overall a great way to disconnect from the office and use your vacation days. If you are considering a stay at one, do it! If you are concerned with any of the cons on this list, consider just going for a few days. This way you can experience these over-water villas without committing to a full week. Your trusted travel advisor will help you plan the logistics of getting to and from the remote resort and maybe adding on more experiences to fine-tune the vacation to your exact dream.
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Olivia loves hotels and is passionate about the transformative power of travel. She started Nash Travel Management because her goal is to make your bucket list come alive! She is one of fewer than 250 agents worldwide who is a certified Virtuoso Wanderlist Advisor and is a charter member of Virtuoso's Sustainability Community. Olivia holds degrees from The Ohio State University, New York University and an MBA in Marketing and Strategy from Vanderbilt University. She, her husband, and two daughters reside in Nashville.