4 Rivers Floating Lodge in Cambodia// © 2015 Creative Commons user eytonz
Feature image (above): Reethi Beach Resort in the Maldives // © 2015 Creative Commons user sackerman519
If you’re like many travelers, you’ve wanted to try out an overwater bungalow since you found out they were a place where people actually could stay. The trouble is — they’re expensive. Even articles about “Budget Overwater Bungalows” list places that start in the $300 to $500 range per night, and that’s before you pay for meals at these often remote locations.
But there is hope. A few locations throughout the globe offer access to these idyllic accommodation experiences at prices lower than a chain hotel in Chicago, London or Sydney. Here are five of our favorites.
4 Rivers Floating Lodge (Cambodia)
“Overwater” doesn’t always mean over sea water. The piers under these simple, comfortable cabins rest in the waters of the Tatai River, about halfway between Phnom Penh and Bangkok. Starting in the $200 range (with breakfast included), it’s among the best deals you can find for this kind of vacation. The lodge is in the jungle and is billed as an eco-resort with plenty of trekking and opportunities to view wildlife. Don’t miss river kayaking up to the famed Tatai Waterfalls.
PRO TIP: Bring insect repellant. The property provides mosquito nets, but non-sleeping hours can get buggy.
Avillion Port Dickson (Malaysia)
Set in Port Dickson, about halfway between Kuala Lumpur and Melaka (also known as Malacca) on Malaysia’s west coast, Avillion Port Dickson is incredibly posh for its low nightly price tag. Enjoy a nature walk, a “pet farm” with a daily feeding time for the kids and a complex assortment of great swimming pools. The beach is less than a 5-minute walk away.
PRO TIP: Book a Premium Water Chalet for the best possible sea view.
CoCo View Resort (Honduras)
It’s harder to find lower prices for overwater bungalows once you leave Southeast Asia. But, off Roatan Island, you can book stays at this diving mecca for just over $200 per night, inclusive of two boat-diving sessions per day plus unlimited all-day and all-night shore diving. During “Value Season” (end of August until early January), prices drop further. Rooms are clean and authentic, and the dive sites include natural and sunken locations for all skill levels.
PRO TIP: Plan to make new friends at the nightly clubhouse gathering, where you can share tips and diving stories over reasonably priced drinks.
Reethi Beach Resort (Maldives)
No article about overwater bungalows would be complete without a stop at the Maldives, despite the four-figure nightly price tags of the region’s most-renowned resorts. Reethi Beach Resort offers semi-detached villas (sharing one wall, two per structure) for as low as around $200 a night in the low season (generally May through November). All-inclusive packages can stretch your dollars even further.
Like most such destinations in the Maldives, you have a full suite of options when you arrive, ranging from catamaran rides and windsurfing to disco dancing and lounging under an umbrella.
PRO TIP: If you like to drink on vacation, get the alcohol-inclusive package and enjoy limitless mai tais or cold beers.
Telunas Resort (Indonesia)
You’re not paying for convenient location at this rustic destination. It’s an hour by ferry, then two hours by small boat, to reach a collection of simple-but-sturdy-and-clean cabins on piers next to a pristine beach — and pretty much nothing else. Meals are included in the under-$200 price, with reasonable fees for add-on adventures such as jungle trekking. Free nightly activities include a marshmallow roast at a beach bonfire.
PRO TIP: An extremely family-friendly staff makes Telunas great for a trip with kids.