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South Sea dreams: Bures and overwater bungalows in Fiji

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South Sea dreams: Bures and overwater bungalows in Fiji

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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.

We’re overwater bungalow junkies.

We’ve stayed in overwater bungalows in Bora Bora and in Bocas del Toro (at Punta Caracol Aqua Lodge). And it was just as wonderful to stay at some bungalows over the water in Fiji.

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 perfectly suited to Fiji.

Contents: Fiji overwater villas

Fijian bures – The perfect design!

Outrigger Fiji – First 5-star resort in Fiji with modern Fiji bungalows

Ancient Fijian villages

Fiji overwater bungalows

Overwater bungalows in Fiji (like these at Likuliku Lagoon Resort) offer a special stay
Fiji bures built over the water (like these at Likuliku Lagoon Resort) offer a special stay

Fijian bures

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?

Traditional Fijian bures
A village with traditional Fijian bures

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.

Modern Fiji bungalows by the sea at the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort
These modern Fiji bungalows at the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort look similar to traditional Fijian bures – but they’re way more deluxe!

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.)

Recommended reading: Cruising Fiji, it’s all about snorkeling, kava and secluded beaches when cruising Fiji!

Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort

Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort: The first 5 star resort in Fiji
Keen on swimming in this pool at the Fiji Outrigger 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.

Bures at the Outrigger in Fiji are nestled in the resort's gardens
Bures at the Outrigger are nestled in the resort’s gardens

(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.

Fijian bures
Plantation bures at the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort

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.

A very tropical-looking bathroom in an Outrigger bure

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.

A beach bure with painted tapa-lined ceiling (Credit: Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort)

Outrigger Fiji Resort

Check rates and availability here

Ancient Fijian villages

Early villages in Fiji (a nation of 322 islands) were laid out according to rigid traditional rules.

This little Fijian boy in a tree captured our hearts on a visit to a Fijian village

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.

Read next: If you want swank, these private pool suites around the world are the cat’s meow!

Overwater Fiji bungalows

Likuliku Lagoon Resort was the first luxury Fiji resort with over the water villas
Likuliku Lagoon Resort was the first luxury Fiji resort with over the water villas

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

Overwater bures in Fiji
Likuliku’s overwater bures are built over a sparkling turquoise lagoon

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.)

You can snorkel all day – or just chill on your overwater bungalow’s deck

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.

Overwater bungalows in Fiji at Likuliku Lagoon Resort
We loved slipping right into the water from our bungalow to snorkel in the lagoon

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.

A couple snorkels near our Likuliku overwater bungalow
A couple snorkels near our Likuliku overwater bungalow

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!

We saw so many colorful reef fish snorkeling in the Likuliku lagoon - even baby reef sharks!
We saw so many colorful reef fish snorkeling in the Likuliku lagoon – even baby reef sharks!

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.

Inside our overwater Fijian bure at Likuliku Lagoon Resort

Likuliku’s Fiji bures on the beach

If you can’t stay in an overwater bure, don’t fret. Likiliku Lagoon’s other 35 beachfront bures are pretty special too. They feature outdoor showers.

The “deluxe beachfront bures” have personal plunge pools too.

Staff at Likuliku are lovely and warm – such nice people!

Likuliku Lagoon Resort, Fiji

Location:  Malolo Island (Mamanuca Islands)

Number of overwater bures:  10

More information:  See Likuliku Lagoon Resort’s website

To book:  You may find the lowest rates on Booking.com

2) Koro Sun Resort Fiji

Fiji's Koro Sun resort has 15 bures that jut out into the water
Fiji’s Koro Sun resort has 15 bures that jut out into the water

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.

An Edgewater bure at Koro Sun
An Edgewater bure at Koro Sun

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.

Inside an Edgewater Pool bure

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.

A banana leaf body wrap treatment at Koro Sun's Rainforest Spa
A banana leaf body wrap treatment at Koro Sun’s Rainforest Spa

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.

Fiji Koro Sun Resort

Location:  Vanua Levu

Number of overwater bures:  15

More information:  See the Koro Sun Resort website

To book:  You may find the lowest rates on Booking.com

3) Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay

Touch down from your international flight, and you can pretty quickly be in one of these Fiji overwater bungalows
Touch down from your international flight, and you can pretty quickly be in one of these Fiji overwater bungalows

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).

The Marriott's overwater villas in Fiji are cocoons of serenity
The Marriott’s overwater villas in Fiji are cocoons of serenity

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.

Okay, so there's no fish to see, but the Marriott's bungalows on the water in Fiji still look appealing, don't they?
There may be no fish to see, but these bungalows on the water in Fiji still look appealing, don’t they?

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.

And if you can't snag an overwater bure at Marriott's Momi Beach, you can maybe get into a lagoon bure
If you can’t snag an overwater bure at Marriott’s Momi Beach, try for a lagoon bure on the beach

Fiji Momi Bay Resort 

Location:  Viti Levu

Number of overwater bures:  22

More information:  See the Fiji Marriott’s website

To book:  You may find the lowest rates on Booking.com

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.

Musket Cove Island Resort offers a relaxed Fiji vacation
Musket Cove Island Resort offers a relaxed Fiji vacation

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.

Inside a Fiji beach bure at Musket Cove
Inside a Fiji beach bure at Musket Cove

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.

Scuba diving at Musket Cove Island Resort
Scuba diving on a trip from Musket Cove Island Resort

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!

Musket Cove Island Resort, Fiji

Location:  Malolo Island (Mamanuca Islands)

Number of overwater bures:  6

More information:  See Musket Cove’s website

To book:  You may find the lowest rates on Booking.com

What to pack for your Fiiji trip?

1) Mask and snorkel | To ensure your snorkel mask fits well, you may want to bring your own. This wide-view clear mask by Cressi (a top Italian maker) gets great reviews. Or check out these full-face snorkel masks.

2) Snorkel skin | The sun is hot in Fiji. Protect your skin when snorkeling, swimming and kayaking with a full-body skin, which you wear over your swimsuit. It’s thin, breathable and fast-drying. Ladies – check out this sassy sport skin which has a bit of pizzazz.

3) Cute and comfy sandals | Do your tootsies a favor and check out these fab travel sandals for both men and women that we’ve sussed out!

4) Good camera | You won’t want to miss those great beach shots or pics of the overwater bungalows! We love our Sony A600 mirrorless camera – it’s small enough to throw in your purse or backpack, but it takes awesome photos.

5) Beach gear | Flattering bathing suit? Big-brimmed sun hat? Good sunglasses? (We’re a fan of Ray-Bans). Roomy beach bag for your sunscreen, water bottles, books and perhaps a towel or two? You’ll need these for the beach and pool.

As an Amazon associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Ready to book your trip to Fiji?

See the following helpful services:

Our Travel Resources Guide | Get airline booking tips! Discover great travel, tour and car rental companies! Read useful trip planning info!

Booking.com | Score a “wow” hotel (or at least a decent one).

Vrbo | Get your own apartment or beach cottage in Fiji, instead of a hotel.

GetYourGuide | Check out local Fiji tours.

Our Travel Shop | Find the best travel gear and beach clothes.

Pssst! If you make a booking or purchase through our site, we’ll earn a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks!

Overwater bungalows in Fiji

Get more beach vacation ideas!

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Photo credits: 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


About the authors:
Janice and George Mucalov

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George are the owners and founders of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, luxury hotel reviews, insanely useful travel tips and more!

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Becky Padmore

Friday 18th of October 2013

Very envious would love to visit one day, it looks very beautiful! Love your photos as always.

Janice and George

Friday 18th of October 2013

We loved Fiji, especially the smaller islands - great scuba diving, beaching and making like Robinson Crusoe (the luxury version :-). Hope you get to visit...

Dariece

Friday 18th of October 2013

Wow! This place looks stunning. I love all of the photos, but especially the one of the boy in the tree, that's a great shot :)

Happy Travels!

Janice and George

Friday 18th of October 2013

That little boy was a natural model! Thanks for commenting...

Jennifer

Thursday 17th of October 2013

We stayed in an over water bungalow in the Maldives and I absolutely loved it! Listening to the water underneath you at night and being able to swim right off your deck...heaven!

Janice and George

Thursday 17th of October 2013

Over-water bungalows are quite special, aren't they! Now the Maldives is a destination we'd luv to visit one day... And stay in an over-water bungalow, of course :-).

Kathryn

Thursday 17th of October 2013

Have to agree with you on the over water bures. They look wonderful And that's a cracking shot of the boy in the tree - gorgeous!

Janice and George

Thursday 17th of October 2013

The over-water bures were so handy. We spent all our time in the water snorkeling over the reef - so we'd snorkel for a bit, then climb up the ladder to our bure (rinsing off with the fresh-water shower on the deck), read or get some sun or eat, then climb back down into the water for more snorkeling time. It was quite heavenly...

Irene S. Levine

Tuesday 15th of October 2013

What lovely places to stay!

Janice and George

Tuesday 15th of October 2013

We loved the over-water bures at LikuLiku! We've now stayed in overwater bures on Bora Bora too (also special).

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