What could be more soothing and dreamy than drifting off to sleep completely surrounded by the gentle sounds of the sea? When you awake and slowly clamor out your warm cocoon to begin a new day, you find clear blue skies above you and the warm azure lagoon, with its many colorful fish swimming below you. This is a luxury beyond a beachfront villa. You’re in a bungalow built on stilts and perched directly over the water. You are both Robinson Crusoe and Jacque Cousteau all at once.
As far as accommodations go, overwater bungalows are the height of luxury and a bucket list item for many travelers. For honeymooners, it’s the ultimate desire. Merely looking at photos of huts with straw thatched roofs built over turquoise-colored water, instills a feeling of romance, excitement and indulgence.
Overwater bungalows were first built in French Polynesia, a building concept used there for many generations. It wasn’t until the early 1970s however, when then Hotel Bora Bora, built their first luxurious overwater bungalows, that this distinctive style of accommodation attracted attention, particularly with well-heeled and affluent travelers.
Tahiti, Bora Bora and Maldives tend to be the locales that come to mind when considering overwater villas and bungalows, but with their incredible popularity and luxurious offerings, they can now be found at unique locations around the world. Check out these 10 overwater bungalows or villas, that are anywhere but in the South Pacific or Maldives. Some are closer to you than you might think.
10 Golden Palm Tree Resort and Spa, Malaysia -- $270
The villas at this resort were designed specifically with families in mind. They are spacious and offer superb holiday accommodations. Watch TV together in the lounge, then take a plunge right off your private terrace deck and into the tropical water beneath. Each villa comes with a queen size bed plus additional twin beds, two bathrooms, LCD television, high speed internet and spectacular sea views. They accommodate 2 adults and 2 children, and have rates starting at $270 per room per night, which makes it incredibly appealing for anyone wishing to indulge the family in an out-of-the-ordinary experience.
9 KC Resort and Overwater Villas, Thailand -- $385
Built on stilts above a private infinity edge pool, this luxury collection of Bora Bora style villas have cozy cabin interiors with deluxe designer details. The teak wood and other natural materials used in the construction of these villas, create a warm and inviting hideaway complete with first-class amenities and elegant furnishings.
While relaxing in your sea-view lounge, look through the glass floor panel through to the inviting turquoise pool below. Step down from your spacious balcony to your private infinity-edge pool that merges with the beautiful aquamarine sea. With rates starting at just $385 per night, this may not be your typical overwater bungalow but it’s stunning just the same.
8 El Nido Lagen Island Resort, Philippines -- $577
This resort, located in northern Palawan, Philippines, is nestled between a lush four-hectare forest and a calm, shallow lagoon. It’s an ideal destination for those seeking a relaxing holiday in a private and tranquil island setting. Lagen Island offers eighteen Water Cottages built on stilts above the water and connected by a boardwalk. Activities include snorkeling at the house reef among hundreds of fish species, kayaking around the island discovering hidden caves amidst the limestone cliffs, hiking and bird-watching through nature trails, which pass through the forest and end in a private cove. Rates start at $577 per night and include all meals. If you are in the learning mood, attend the educational presentations during the Be Green Cocktail Hour, which is the best time to learn anything new, I say.
7 Hotel Palafitte, Switzerland -- $610
This is Europe’s only luxury hotel built over the water. Hotel Palafitte, is built on stilts over Lake Neuchatel, and perfects the overwater bungalow experience in pure Swiss style and opulence.
Hotel Palafitte, offers forty luxury pavilions with breathtaking views of the lake and the Alps, with twenty four of them built directly on the lake. All feature a private terrace with direct access to the lake. Spring nightly rates start at $610 with breakfast included.
6 Misool Eco Resort, Raja Ampat, Indonesia -- $1100
Set on a private Indonesian island, this exclusive dive resort and conservation center, is a tropical hideaway, just south of the equator, surrounded by powder-white beaches and some of the world’s richest coral reefs. If you’re into diving, this is the place to be. With a maximum capacity of just 32 guests in eight ‘rustically luxurious’ water cottages, and a staff to guest ratio of 3 to 1, this resort is known for its excellent and attentive service.
When you're not diving, kick back on your veranda's hammock, or use the stairs leading right into the lagoon for a refreshing dip before a scrumptious dinner. Deluxe villa accommodations are $1100 per night, including meals.
5 Rosewood Mayakoba, Mexico -- $1275
Rosewood Mayakoba beckons guests in search of the ultimate escape. This 1600-acre resort sits along a mile‐long arc of white Caribbean sand, just north of the picturesque waterfront town of Playa del Carmen. It’s an oasis of luxury offering eighteen deluxe overwater suites perched above its mangrove lagoon.
Appearing to float along the water's edge, the deluxe overwater villas, all with king size beds, gracefully extends over the resort's lagoons and features a terrace with plunge pool, bathroom with outdoor garden shower and views of the lagoon. Rates start at $1275 per night. For the eco-conscience, you’ll be happy to know the resort was built to abide by the highest of eco-standards, offering indulgence with earth-friendly awareness.
4 Cayo Espanto, Belize -- $1595
Cayo Espanto, located just off Ambergris Caye in Belize, is a “private island resort.” There are seven villas and suites, but only one over-water bungalow, known as Casa Ventanas. Rates start at $1595 per night. A stay here is pure luxury, and among the many amenities, includes a private butler.
Surrounded on all sides by the beautiful, turquoise blue Caribbean Sea, Casa Ventanas also features a glass observation section in the floor, which is a picture perfect window into the exotic water world that is Belize. This is privacy and opulence at its finest.
3 Anantara, Dubai, The Palm Resort and Spa – $1675
Leave the world behind and step into a picturesque one bedroom villa, the first of its kind in the middle east. Gracefully poised over the tranquil waters of the Arabian Gulf, these villas are the epitome of luxury. Wake to a leisurely breakfast served in your villa, then unwind by the infinity pool or on the soft sands.
Watch as the sun sets over the horizon, while you enjoy a private dining experience on your villa deck or relax in the over-sized bathtub, while gazing out over the endless panorama. A select number of Over Water Villas also feature a unique glass viewing panel set in the floor, offering new perspectives into the world beneath the ocean. This is exactly what we expect out of Dubai. Rates start at $1675 per night.
2 Pangkor Laut Resort, Malaysia--$1975
Pangkor Laut, one of the world’s premier resorts, is a privately owned island located three miles off the West Coast of Malaysia along the Straits of Malacca. With secluded bays curled around pristine beaches, evening skies woven with color, and a deep sense of serenity reserved, accommodations here are a combination of luxury and natural beauty. Nature is respected, almost revered, and it rewards visitors in ways that simply need to be experienced.
For $1975 per night, enjoy a Signature Sea Villa standing elegantly on stilts above playful waves. From your wide-veranda perched above the sea you can contemplate the majesty of a sunrise or the tranquility of a sunset. Let’s not forget dinning, where only the finest local ingredients are used to create memorable gastronomical experiences.
1 Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia --$3211
A secluded seascape, just 35 minutes by boat from the port of Sihanoukville, Song Saa is an idyllic paradise in the warm sapphire waters of the Gulf of Thailand. This is Cambodia’s first luxury private island resort. Song Saa is spread across two islands which are connected by a footbridge over a marine reserve.
Luxuries at this resort include private infinity pools, outdoor showers and twin bathtubs. Step into the ocean from your private balcony, or watch the sunset from the pool. An deluxe overwater villa starts at $3211 per night, which includes all food, house wines, spirits, beers, WI-FI and boat transfers.
There is also a wellness center on the property, just waiting for you to spoil yourself in a Buddhist-inspired treatment. It's peaceful and zen experience all wrapped up in one incredible location.