If we asked you to imagine ‘tropical, luxury accommodation’ there is no doubt that you’d conjure an image of overwater villas positioned above unfathomably turquoise ocean. We’ve all seen the photos…yup, you know the ones. Once you get over the fact that “yes, the water is actually that colour” most of us follow it up with “there’s no way I could afford that”. We’ve done some digging and – mic drop moment – there ARE affordable overwater bungalows but of course there’s also the ones that are 100% IIWL (if i win lotto), which are still fun to look at! Here are our top picks of overwater accommodation around the world:
Diamonds Thudufushi, Maldives (Cover Image)
We decided to lead with the best rather than leave it to last! 99.9% of people have ‘the Maldives’ right at the top of their travel bucket list, and with good reason. Most of the 26 islands are surrounded by coral atolls – you’ve got world-class snorkelling literally at your doorstep. Diamonds Thudufushi’s white, hamptons-style villas and all-inclusive accommodation set it apart from the competition. Evvvvverything is included: canoeing, kayaking, snorkelling, yoga, dining at five restaurants as well as two bars with standard alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The resort is big on attention to detail right down to the MAC laptop in each villa that are pre-loaded with the latest movies and music. Winning.
Per night (all-inclusive): $1,008 – $2,835. Click here for more details.
El Nido Miniloc Island Resort, Philippines
Nestled in the hollow of rainforest covered cliffs, this resort is nothing short of magical. Although it’s a bit of a trek to get to El Nido you’ll be rewarded with a boutique experience (there are just 50 rooms), rustic, thatched-roofed villas AND an ‘eco-discovery’ theme with loads of complimentary water sports and tours – a fab holiday for families. Most online booking systems (expedia, booking.com etc) have a full board option so all meals are included, which makes it ripper value for your pennies.
Per night: $634 – $990. Click here for more details.
4 Rivers Floating Lodge, Cambodia
A stay on the Tatai river is the perfect opportunity to ditch your phone and laptop (no wi-fi, gasp!) and get into the jungle. The eco-lodge is a biodiversity hotspot and offers a load of activities from jungle trekking to kayaking. It’s a perfect location for nature lovers with the chance to spot wildlife such as leopards and sun bears.
Per night: $283 – $377. Click here for more details.
Sandals Royal Caribbean, Montego Bay, Jamaica
Holy moly it doesn’t get much better than this…we kid you not. The hotel’s all-inclusive overwater villas opened in December 2016 (surprisingly, the first of their kind in the Caribbean) and boast expansive decks with infinity pools, glass panel in the floor so you don’t even need to dive in to check out the marine life, and drum roll, it’s couples-only (perfect for honeymooning some alone time!). What you won’t expect are comforts that are a nod to the resort’s British heritage including a full-blown British pub, afternoon tea, crochet, and resident peacocks doing the rounds.
Per night: $658 – $1,750. Click here for more details.
Float House River Kwai, Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Casual luxury is what you’ll get from the thai-folk-style villas on Thailand’s River Kwai. With just 30 villas, each with their own private sun deck; and a scenic open-air restaurant, you’re guaranteed a tranquil escape but with creature comforts such as wi-fi and TV. Outside of the villa there’s loads to do for outdoorsy types such a kayaking, swimming, trekking, and adventuring through the Lawa caves (200m away).
Per night: $176 – $390. Click here for more details.
Four Seasons Resort, Bora Bora, French Polynesia
An overwater accommodation list wouldn’t be complete without a nod to Bora Bora’s jaw-dropping Four Seasons Resort. You can take a dip directly into the lagoon or in your own private plunge pool. Don’t feel like swimming? You can get a facial, pedi, mani, massage…the works, from the onsite spa. And the snorkelling? Well, the lagoon sanctuary is pretty much the entire setting from Finding Nemo with clownfish, sting rays, damsel fish…you name it. It’s no wonder that the resort has topped Bora Bora’s top hotel’s list countless times over.
Per night: $1,370 – $3,625. Click here for more details.