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From the Maldives to Bora Bora, it’s hard to resist the allure of luxurious overwater bungalows. Everything about these floating accommodations screams off-the-grid and romantic, a true once-in-a-lifetime bucket list experience. Boasting traditional thatched roofs, outdoor showers and stunning panoramic views of the sparkling crystal-clear waters, these luxury resorts are the epitome of paradise. Overwater bungalows ensure that you’ll be just steps away from glistening waters, enveloped in the ultimate vacation paradise. There are many to be found throughout the South Pacific and the Maldives, but they pop up in some places you’d probably never expect too, like Switzerland.
No matter what you’re idea of the perfect overwater bungalow, you’re likely to find it on this list. If you’ve ever dreamed of staying in a tropical ocean villa situated off the coast of a remote island, read on to discover the world’s most luxurious overwater bungalows.
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This 5-star, adults-only property sits on a small private island, capturing the romance of the South Pacific with its powdery white sand beaches and turquoise lagoon. It preserves the distinctly Fijian culture in its luxury overwater bungalows, called “bures,” all designed using traditional Fijian architecture and built with materials native to the region. Step right into the ocean from your private balcony, where you’re situated on top of the vibrant coral reef. With sprawling ceilings and a mix of natural materials with modern elements, this resort is a luxury 5- star oasis for couples. There are lots of romantic extras too, like outdoor showers and private plunge pools. In addition to relaxing in the pristine environment, you’ll have access to unforgettable sailing excursions, outstanding snorkeling and windsurfing, while the tranquil spa is perfect for a Fijian-style massage and beauty treatment.
Located on Bora Bora, French Polynesia’s most famous island, the Four Seasons Bora Bora is a five-pearl resort filled to the brim with romantic appeal. From honeymooners to families, a variety of travelers come here to experience the incredible beauty of the island and its crystalline lagoon. A secluded and exclusive resort, you’ll have stunning views of Mt. Otemanu in one of the 115 overwater and beachfront bungalows designed with the Polynesian decor. Walls are made of volcanic stone, while the thatched-roof spaces are decorated with teak and timber furnishings along with mother-of-pearl accents. You can rest your head on the room’s king-size bed after soaking in the luxury two-person tub with mountain views or end your day on your private balcony with a ladder that leads to the water. You’re spoiled for choice in where you want to take a dip, as you’ll find a breathtaking infinity pool near a beautiful beach and protected lagoon. If you can tear yourself away from your bungalow, you can enjoy outings on the resort’s catamaran or unwind at the spa, where the treatments incorporating local ingredients like vanilla can be enjoyed while surrounded by breathtaking lush tropical valley views. Four different onsite restaurants serve magnificently prepared food, like the Arri Moana, known for its amazing Polynesian and French cuisine, in addition to a kid’s club.
Widely considered to be the top resort in the Maldives, Gili Lankanfushi is truly one of the best on Earth. In 2018 it was named Top Five In the World by TripAdvisor’s Traveller’s Choice Awards, and it continues to allure with 45 overwater villas stretched over a sparkling lagoon. Known for its unpretentious luxury, guests are encourage to enjoy it in bare feet by removing their shoes the moment they get on the boat from the airport. Accommodations are simple, yet the spacious overwater bungalows have outdoor decks with some of the most impressive views imaginable. Relaxation is the word here, and you can be sure that stress will melt away the moment you arrive, with your own personal butler, Mr. Friday, ready to take care of your each and every need. If you’re looking for adventure, you’ll find a range of activities too, including fantastic scuba diving. Free daily yoga, use of bamboo bicycles and a variety of other water sports.
The Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort sits on a small island in the Tikehau Attoll northwest of Tahiti and features 24 overwater bungalows. Choose a premium overwater bungalow or suite and you’ll enjoy direct access to the water. All are designed in true Polynesian style with thatched roofs made from coconut palms, and materials like teak, bamboo and local wood. If you book an overwater suite, you’ll be able to look through the glass floor to gaze at the thousands of fish in the stunning lagoon. The resort’s Poreho Restaurant serves up fresh European and Polynesia cuisine, while the lavish spa sits within a gorgeous beach bungalow and offers signature treatments incorporating the use of only natural products such as monoi oil massages, coconut pulp and sand powder body scrubs, and mineral-rich seaweed wraps.
For a very different overwater bungalow experience, Hotel Palafitte’s bungalows are built on stilts over Lake Neuchatel in the Three Lakes Region of Switzerland. The unique hotel bills itself as Europe’s only overwater accommodation, and offers luxury amenities along with those awe-inspiring lake views. All the lakeside rooms are staggered so that they have an unobstructed view of the water, no matter where you happen to be, even if it’s the bathtub, yet you’ll still have plenty of privacy as none have direct views of other rooms. Morning sunrises are particularly spectacular, and when the moon shimmers on the lake with the alps in the distance, you’ll know you’ve come to a very special place. The common area of the boutique hotel includes a full-service restaurant which boasts a seasonal menu with the freshest local ingredients., while available activities include sailing winery tours, hiking and more.
Situated on a private island 400 miles southwest of Tahiti, this is the only resort in the Cook Islands with overwater bungalows that offer direct access to the magnificent lagoon where the panoramic vistas are extraordinary. Guests get to experience some of the most glorious sunsets, when the lagoon is transformed into a blaze of yellows, reds, pinks and oranges that dance across its surface. There are champagne-colored beaches for strolling and a host of other outdoor activities, including kayaking, snorkeling and motu walking, or wading through the shallow, clear waters between islets. Island Nights features a lively show focused on Cook Islands culture, dancing, singing and drumming, while the Flying Boat Beach Bar & Grill serves fresh, innovative cuisine with more breathtaking views across the lagoon.
The Pangkor Laut Resort sits on a private island three miles of Malaysia’s west coast. It features sea villas that are perched atop stilts over the sea, which has an unusually striking green color due to the abundance of surrounding vegetation. Each one includes a balcony, deck chairs and oversized tubs that open onto the water. Tropical jungle, covering 80 percent of the island, rocky outcrops and the gorgeous beach of Emerald Bay, help complete this truly magical environment. If you want to explore the surrounding area, the resort can arrange excursions to a restored Dutch fort and the Fu Lin Kong Temple, a Chinese Taoist temple built into the hillside. The resort’s Spa Village offers the ultimate way to relax after a day of exploration., with treatments based on romance, detoxification, relaxation and stress reduction, rejuvenation and longevity. Offerings include a couples’ spa experience in the secluded Belian Spa Pavilion with its own outdoor whirlpool, yoga pavilion, nap gazebo, steam room and private treatment area.
Located on a private island in the Maldives, AYADA Maldives is an opulent 5-star property with a luxury Turkish theme. Thatched roof water villas and suites include a private splash pool on the terrace in addition to a separate living room and a butler service. Known for its lush surroundings, guests of AYADA Maldives will be greeted with tropical greenery and pristine coral reefs where they might spot a dolphin pod or two. Six on-site restaurants serve up gourmet cuisine, while guests can unwind at the infinity beachfront pool, Turkish Hammam with plunge pools and a massive spa treatment area with eight treatment villas, a steam room and sauna. Water sports are abundant while snorkeling and diving the area are the most popular outdoor activities.
Set in the North Ari Atoll of the Maldives, Constance Halaveli is a tropical paradise nestled in the Indian Ocean. Boasting a combination of crystal clear waters and soft sands, the backdrop of green foliage sets the tone for this luxury resort. Here guests will find 57 luxury overwater bungalows with spacious rooms, built with natural materials to blend into the gorgeous surroundings. A lush spa sits on stilts over the lagoon and offers guests a range of relaxing treatments using organic products, while those who are more adventurous might enjoy swimming, snorkeling or diving through the diverse and colorful marine life surrounding the resort. Three restaurants and bars refuel guests for another day of adventure, serving up an array of fine dining and exclusive wine pairings.
Spread across the Emboodhu Finolhu Island on one of the biggest lagoons in the Maldives, Taj Exotica Resort & Spa is one of the best in the world. Combining top-notch gourmet food and a romantic atmosphere, Taj Exotica Resort & Spa offers thatched-roof overwater bungalows with personal butlers, private pools and soaking tubs with ocean views. Set alongside a picturesque beach, dine on fresh seafood at one of the many on-site restaurants or sip on a refreshing cocktail while watching an awe-inspiring view of the Indian Ocean sunsets. Spend your days choosing from one of the resort’s daily excursions, such a romantic sunset cruise, and end your day at the Taj Spa where you’ll find a menu filled with rejuvenating massages and body scrubs.
A luxury tropical escape in French Polynesia, InterContinental Bora Bora Resort Thalasso Spa is nestled between a dreamy bright blue lagoon and the South Pacific. Offering guests a 5-star experience, here you’ll discover spacious Tahitian-style overwater bungalows with stunning views. In addition to the picturesque accommodation, the resort is popular for it’s world-renown Thalasso Spa that offers 43,000 square feet of luxury and blends oceanic elements into every one of its rituals overlooking Mt. Otemanu, with hydrotherapy pools and private gardens. Focused on providing a tranquil ambiance, guests can also unwind at the resort’s gorgeous infinity pool and beach or dine on a variety of international cuisine at the on-site restaurants.
Set deep in the Indian Ocean in the Laamu Atoll, Six Senses Laamu is one of the most remote properties in the Maldives. The effort to reach the resort is worth it, as guests will be met with a perfect backdrop of overwater villas and a palm-fringed paradise. Offering guests decadent amenities and services, here you’re encouraged to soak in the natural surroundings and disconnect by indulging in a day filled with world-class snorkeling, catamaran sailing and a picnic lunch on a deserted island. Guests are assigned a butler to ensure they have a memorable experience, while a variety of on-site eateries and bars offer fresh seafood and refreshing drinks that pair perfectly with the nightly show of colors during sunset.
This tiny four-acre private island is home to Cayo Espanto, can be accessednwith just a short boat ride from the mainland of Belize. It features just seven villas, and Casa Ventanas is built right over the water off a 150-foot-long dock that’s surrounded on all sides of the Caribbean – it even has a glass-paneled floor which reveals the fish that swim right underneath. The entire island can be rented if you want to enjoy it all to yourself, though, with so few rooms, there’s really no need to worry about crowds. As soon as you step onto the island, get ready for some serious pampering. The entire staff, including your butler, personal dive master and personal staff will be there at the dock there to greet you.
Avid diving enthusiasts should look no further than this private island resort. It sits within a 465-square-mile Marine Protected Area that’s surrounded by an 18,000-square-mile shark and manta sanctuary, hidden deep in an archipelago of uninhabited islands. It’s over 100 miles from the closest port, and 12 miles by boat from the nearest village, but the journey to get there is well-worth the effort. Guests stay in extravagant overwater bungalows referred to as Water Cottages, and can dive, or snorkel, right around the pilings. Each of the cottages include hammocks that were built right into cabanas, and have steps leading down to the sea. Even the resort’s dive center is built on stilts – and there are three guided dives offered each day, including excursions after dark or at sunset.