The World’s 20 Best Overwater Bungalows

  • The World’s 20 Best Overwater Bungalows

    These trendy and super-luxe oceanfront escapes make for an incredible getaway.

    There are many ways to escape and enjoy nature—whether on top of the Alps or at the foot of a volcano—but one way that seems to be on everyone’s travel bucket list is staying at an overwater bungalow. These rooms, perched above bodies of water, allow guests to experience nature uniquely by waking up and falling asleep to the sound of the waters below your private quarters. Often these elevated bungalows are found on the white sand beaches of the Maldives, Fiji, and French Polynesia, yet this list of the world’s very best overwater bungalows features surprising spots including Mexico, Switzerland, and Cambodia. With various amenities on offer from plunge pools to rooms with glass bottoms, and even floating breakfasts, check into the top overwater bungalows in the world.

    The St. Regis Bora Bora

  • Song Saa Private Island

    WHERE: Koh Ouen and Koh Bong, Cambodia

    This resort, which opened in 2011, is spread over two islets in Cambodia’s Koh Rong archipelago, which are connected by a footbridge. Come here for total privacy, as Song Saa Private Island is the only resort in the archipelago. The bungalows feature indoor and outdoor showers, private pools, and uninterrupted views of the sea. Song Saa also has impressive green credentials: Driftwood and recycled timber from old Cambodian fishing boats were incorporated into the villas’ design and furniture.



  • Cocoa Island by COMO

    WHERE: Maldives

    Although there are plenty of beautiful overwater resorts in the Maldives, what makes Cocoa Island by COMO stand out is its design. Instead of the traditional thatched roof bungalow, guest rooms are built to look like traditional dhoni boats. All overwater suites have private sundecks with loungers, and guests can enjoy the services of Cocoa Island’s butlers, who tackle everything from arranging romantic dinners to giving guided snorkeling tours.


    COMO Hotels and Resorts

  • Cayo Espanto

    WHERE: Belize

    This four-acre private island resort has only seven villas, and those looking for total privacy can rent the entire island. One Cayo Espanto villa, the Casa Ventanas, is built over the water, located off a 150-foot-long dock, and surrounded on all sides by the Caribbean Sea. Guests can relax on sun loungers at the end of their dock, where a private dinner can also be served.

    Cayo Espanto

  • Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora

    WHERE: Bora Bora, French Polynesia

    Bora Bora is often described as one of the most beautiful spots on earth, but the Four Seasons Bora Bora kicks it up a notch, featuring 108 overwater bungalows perched on stilts above a private lagoon. The largest ones have private plunge pools and ladders leading down to the water. In late 2019, the resort completed its overwater renovations where six plunge pools were added to existing overwater suites, bringing the total of overwater accommodations with pools to 27. Guests who feel motivated to leave their villas can unwind at the spa, where treatments incorporate local ingredients like vanilla.

    Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora

  • Rosewood Mayakoba

    WHERE: Playa del Carmen, Mexico

    The Rosewood Mayakoba is spread over 1,600 acres of beach and jungle, connected by a series of freshwater lagoons. The hotel is located just south of Cancún, but guests won’t find a spring breaker in sight. While all guest rooms have a contemporary design, the Deluxe Overwater Lagoon Suite sits above the resort’s lagoon and comes with its own deck, private plunge pool, and outdoor garden shower. Book one of the property’s eight new wellness suites each with a private salt-therapy pool, meditation pavilion, reflexology fountain, in-shower aromatherapy, and a “wellbeing” butler to help curate a personalized stay.


    courtesy of Rosewood Mayakoba

  • Hotel Palafitte

    WHERE: Neuchâtel, Switzerland

    Billing itself as Europe’s only overwater accommodation, the Hôtel Palafitte‘s bungalows are built on stilts over Lake Neuchâtel. With an industrial-modernist look, the rooms resemble shipping containers, and some of them have ladders leading down to the lake.


    Hôtel Palafitte

  • Pangkor Laut Resort

    WHERE: Malaysia

    Located off the coast of Malaysia in the Straits of Malacca, Pangkor Laut Resort offers a mix of overwater and garden bungalows. The Sea Villas are built on stilts above the water, which has an unusual green hue thanks to the abundance of surrounding vegetation, and feature large balconies and bathtubs with seaside views. You’ll feel like you’ve escaped to quite literally the middle of nowhere, as about 80% of the island is undeveloped jungle.


    Pangkor Laut Resort

  • InterContinental Bora Bora Resort and Thalasso Spa

    WHERE: Bora Bora, French Polynesia

    This resort is nestled between Motu Piti Aau, a coral island on a barrier reef, and can only be accessed by boat. All of the InterContinental Bora Bora‘s overwater villas have a spacious shaded terrace, loungers, and a private pontoon for sunbathing. Go big or go home, and opt for the over-the-top Villa Teremoana Suite, which debuted in December 2017. The over the top suite sleeps eight and features 3,465-square-feet of indoor space (two master bedrooms), plus multiple sundecks and bathtubs with views of the ocean. Even the resort’s wedding chapel has a glass-bottomed aisle, where couples can spot fish while saying “I do.”

    InterContinental Bora Bora & Thalasso Spa

  • COMO Maalifushi, Maldives

    WHERE: Maldives

    The only resort in the Maldives’ Thaa Aoll, this COMO property is perfect for families and couples as well as those adventure seekers (read: surfers and divers). Located in the archipelago’s southern islands, the resort offers two-bedroom water villas that include an outdoor shower and a secluded sundeck with a plunge pool.

    COMO Hotels and Resorts

  • Hoshinoya Bali

    WHERE: Bali

    Nestled in a jungle setting, these bungalows technically stretch the definition of “overwater” but fit the idea with access to swimmable water. The villas are connected with three canal-like pools accessible only via the private rooms. Blending Japanese aesthetics with Balinese culture, the resort’s design was also inspired by Hindu temples.


    Courtesy of Hoshino Resorts

  • John Jacob Astor Estate at The St. Regis Maldives

    WHERE: Maldives

    We had to include this property as the John Jacob Astor Estate boasts the largest three-bedroom overwater villa in the Maldives. Spanning two floors and covering 16,500-square-feet, the expansive estate sleeps 10 and includes the usual butler service, Olympic-sized infinity pool, and more amenities but the real draw are the extras—a private fitness center, mini theater, three private spa suites, a large kitchen, and two butler rooms for guests who travel with their staff.



    The St. Regis Maldives Resort

  • El Dorado Maroma by Karisma, Mexico

    WHERE: Carretera Cancún – Tulum

    Experience unobstructed ocean views in Mexico at this Riviera Maya property. The overwater bungalows, called Palafitos, have glass bottom floors, a 24-hour butler, outdoor shower, private deck with an infinity pool—all the trimmings you’d typically find in a South Pacific overwater bungalow, even thatched palm leaf roofs.



  • St. Regis Bora Bora

    WHERE: Bora Bora

    The 44-acre resort has the largest overwater villas in Bora Bora. All villas at the St. Regis Bora Bora have 24-hour butler service, terraces, outdoor showers, and a glass panel floor inside to see fish swimming at your feet. Enjoy one-of-a-kind perks like the Jean-Georges restaurant and a spa nestled on its own private island, plus check out the resort’s Lagoonarium packed with marine life.

    The St. Regis Bora Bora

  • Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, Vietnam

    WHERE: Ninh Vân, Vietnam

    Sitting on a bay and set within the unique rock formations with a backdrop of green mountains, this property is truly one of a kind. Each villa includes a garden terrace or sundeck, but some even have direct access to the ocean. Opt for a Rock Pool Villa or Water Pool Villa to have the closest rooms to the water with wooden steps that lead directly to the sea. Located on the eastern end of the bay, these villas are the ultimate privacy. There’s a yoga pavilion, fitness room, salon, and detox and advanced oxygen treatments available for guests. Dine at one of the property’s restaurants, including a six-course waterfront tasting menu at Dining by the Rocks, or take a 20-minute boat ride to nearby Nha Trang City.

    Six Senses Ninh Van Bay

  • JOALI Maldives

    WHERE: Maldives

    The Maldives’ first art-immersive hotel offers guests experiential and sustainable art pieces created in collaboration with local artisans and artists to support the local community. The art studio and gallery at JOALI hosts guest artists such as Misha Kahn, Christ Wolston, Nacho Carbonell, Studio Glithero, Dough Johnson, Porky Hefer, and more, who create interactive art and nature-inspired collections. Check into the 10,665-square-foot three-bedroom ocean residence with two infinity pools, with private spa and sauna rooms overlooking the water and other plush in-suite amenities including an art collection, on-call Dhoni (boat), outdoor garden shower, and a private “jadugar” aka “magician” as a butler.


    Courtesy of JOALI Maldives

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