Where to stay in Fiji? Most visitors prefer to bed down in Fijian bures – traditional palm-roofed bungalows.
The ultimate Polynesian fantasy? A stay in one of the dreamy overwater bungalows in Fiji.
Overwater bungalows in Fiji
There are four Fiji island resorts with overwater villas. And we’ll get to those in a jiff.
But let’s first talk about why Fijian bures are the perfect design.
The ancient Fijians were on to something when they built their bures – traditional palm-roofed bungalows.
It makes you wonder…
Had they foreseen the coming of modern luxury resorts in Fiji, modeled on their early villages with Fijian bures – but tweaked for today’s visitors?
Bures or bungalows in Fiji are not only more picturesque and spacious than your usual hotel room. But they’re cleverly designed to be energy-efficient too.
Typically spaced wide apart for privacy, resort bures in Fiji are built with plenty of louvered windows to catch the ocean breezes. Ceilings of these Fiji bungalows also typically soar as high as 20 feet to ensure the construction remains cool.
In the cooler winter months (July and August), you can even be comfortable sleeping in a bure without air-conditioning. (Most 5 star Fiji resorts have air-conditioning though.)
Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort
Consider the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort, the first 5 star hotel in Fiji.
Located on the main island of Viti Levu, we found it lovely to stay here for a few days to get over jet lag after our long international flight to Fiji. (The resort is about a 45-minute to one-hour’s drive from the Nadi International Airport.)
The Outrigger’s most popular room type is the traditional Fijian bure.
There are 47 bures (including enormous two-bedroom family digs) scattered about the resort’s plantation gardens and along the beach, in addition to 207 hotel rooms.
Not only are the bure ceilings high, they’re beautifully decorated too.
Look up at the vaulted ceiling in an Outrigger bure, which is lined with tapa cloth hand-made from local mulberry bark and painted with traditional Fijian designs. You’ll see it’s both artistic and functional.
Ancient Fijian villages
Early villages in Fiji (a nation of 322 islands) were laid out according to rigid traditional rules.
In pre-Christian Fiji, the tallest bure served as the temple of ancestor worship (the bure kalou).
The bure kalou at most of Fiji’s modern island resorts also takes on a communal use, but usually as a dining room, lounge and social center.
The second-tallest bure was the chief’s home, built on an elevated platform in the center of the village to honor his rank.
Family bures fanned out from here, their foundations built progressively lower to the ground as the outer limits of the village were reached – the less one’s status, the smaller, lower in height and further away one’s bure was.
Overwater Fiji bungalows
But all good designs can be improved upon.
And so in a contemporary twist, four Fiji resorts have upped the bure’s wow factor by suspending some of their bungalows over water.
1) Likuliku Lagoon Resort
The adults-only Likuliku Lagoon Resort built ten of its 45 thatch-roofed bures over a colorful coral reef.
(Huge ecological studies were done first to ensure the bures could be safely built over the water with little impact to the environment.)
The ultra-luxe overwater sanctuaries provide a novel experience.
Reef gazing anyone?
While nibbling on your afternoon delivery of canapés, you can peer down through two large glass panels in the polished hardwood floor at the lime-and-violet parrotfish and baby reef sharks swimming underneath.
Another long looking glass behind the his-and-hers bathroom sinks provides you with an additional colorful marine show while brushing your teeth.
Best of all?
As noted by Likuliku Lagoon Resort reviews, the key attraction to these particular overwater bures in Fiji is climbing down the steps from the deck of your bure, directly into the water, to snorkel along the coral reef.
One day, we pretty well spent the whole day snorkeling – just coming up to shower for a meal, before dipping down underwater again.
The snorkeling really was that fabulous!
Add that to modern creature comforts like air conditioning, wireless internet access and flat screen TV’s. And you have the recipe for the best overwater bungalows in Fiji.
No doubt the ancient Fijians would be proud.
2) Koro Sun Resort Fiji
Set on a beautiful coral-filled bay, with lush rainforest as a backdrop, Koro Sun Resort Fiji offers an off-the-beaten-path escape on the less-visited Vanua Levu island.
Of its 50 air-conditioned rooms, eight (called Edgewater bures) are partially over the water in the resort’s adults-only area.
Each porch has a private beach area with a ladder offering direct access into the lagoon.
There are also seven new Edgewater Pool bures (580 square feet in size). They have private plunge pools and ladders leading down from their private decks into the water.
A tandem kayak is tied to your deck so you can paddle around the lagoon.
What to do in Fiji at the Koro Sun?
Complimentary use of bicycles are included in your stay to get around and explore the island. The resort’s Rainforest Spa offers treatments ranging from Polynesian massages to papaya facials to banana-leaf body wraps.
If you’re a scuba diver, you’ll want to book a day trip to the Namena Marine Reserve. Find world-class diving there just off the coast of Vanua Levu.
Bottom line? A 4 star resort, Koro Sun offers relatively affordable Fiji overwater bungalows.
3) Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay
You don’t even have to leave the main island now to stay in an overwater Fiji bungalow.
The Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay opened in 2017 on Viti Levu. (Like the Outrigger resort above, it’s about a 45-minute to one-hour’s drive from the Nadi airport.)
And 22 of its 200 rooms are over-the-water villas (for adults only).
Minimalist in décor, these light and bright lagoon bures sport king beds and free-standing bathtubs.
While they’re lovely, the water isn’t as inviting as what you find in the further-away outer islands. And there’s no coral or fish to see either.
But the resort compensates with two pools, one an adults-only pool.
And prices for the Marriott’s overwater bungalows aren’t as high as Likuliku Lagoon’s rates.
4) Musket Cove Island Resort
Okay, this resort doesn’t have true over-the-water bungalows in Fiji.
But they come somewhat close to being over-the-water villas. Six of Musket Cove’s 55 bures perch at the water’s edge of an inland lagoon canal (called “lagoon bures”).
Your private deck extends out into the water, giving you that feeling of being over the water.
Family-friendly (except for the lagoon and beachfront bures, which are adults-only), the 4 star Musket Cove Island Resort is on the same island as Likuliku Lagoon Resort.
It fronts a shallow beach that is swimmable, except at low-tide, when the water rolls out. Kayking and stand-up paddleboards are free, as are daily snorkeling trips.
A general store by the lobby is a hit – you can buy deli items, fresh baked goods, drinks and snacks. Nibble when you want and cut down on restaurant costs too!
Photos 6, 7, 10, 12, 14, 15, 18 and 19 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | Photo 1 Fiji Marriott | Remaining photos courtesy the respective Fiji resorts