June 12, 2024

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19 Top Overwater Bungalows Around the World

19 Top Overwater Bungalows Around the World

Providing a unique and (typically) private setting, overwater bungalows around the world offer romantic retreats and plenty of Instagram-worthy vistas. Whether you’re planning a bucket list trip, an epic proposal, a honeymoon or a couples retreat, overwater bungalows boast one-of-a-kind amenities and exclusive settings you can’t find elsewhere.

While most overwater bungalows are adults-only or have age requirements, some options are family-friendly. When looking for the perfect overwater bungalow for your vacation style, consider how far you’re willing to travel, if you are comfortable taking a boat to your resort and if you’d like a private pool on your terrace.

To make the planning easier, U.S. News compiled this list of the world’s top overwater bungalows based on expert experience, traveler reviews and extensive editor research.

Aruba Ocean Villas: Savaneta, Aruba

Best for: Couples and honeymooners
Top perk: Outdoor beds and overwater dining

The adults-only Aruba Ocean Villas is located in Savaneta – the historic old capital of Aruba, on the southwest coast of the island. The sustainable and locally owned boutique resort offers the only overwater villas in Aruba. Each of the property’s 13 beach and overwater villas has its own unique styling, including some with Jacuzzi tubs, open-air showers and dining areas.

One of the resort’s overwater villa options, the Lou Lou, features a covered outdoor Jacuzzi and a palapa lounge. The Isla Alistaire villa, where recent honeymooners enjoyed the sunset views, includes indoor and outdoor sleeping areas, plus a private pool and double cabanas. The Dushi Sue has a spacious interior, as well as a large patio with beach chairs, daybeds and a hammock, while the Penthouse Villa Sophia is outfitted with a handmade artist-designed custom tub, a king-sized canopy bed with built-in air conditioning, and a private outdoor palapa with an outdoor bed to sleep on.

Guests can dine at The Old Man and The Sea, a romantic Hemingway-inspired restaurant with an overwater cabana. Beachside dining is also available, and the Toteki Beach Bar whips up signature cocktails. For recreation, visitors can use kayaks, paddleboards and snorkeling gear; chill out on beach; or book a relaxing massage in an open-air palapa.

Royalton Antigua, An Autograph Collection All-Inclusive Resort & Casino: Five Islands Village, Antigua

19 Top Overwater Bungalows Around the World

(Courtesy of Royalton Antigua, An Autograph Collection All-Inclusive Resort & Casino)

Best for: Couples and honeymooners
Top perk: All-inclusive with butler service

Set along St. John’s Deep Bay, the Royalton Antigua is an all-inclusive resort with six overwater bungalows, in addition to the property’s 294 suites. Each of the adults-only overwater bungalows is furnished with natural wood and has a swim-out infinity plunge pool, an overwater hammock and a king-sized bed. Butler service is included, and adults can relax within their private sanctuary while soaking in the in-suite Jacuzzi, eating in the dining room or watching marine life through the living room’s glass floor. Recent travelers raved about the butler service and the ability to enjoy the water views from within your own bungalow.

While the overwater bungalows are for adults only, the Royalton Antigua is a family-friendly Caribbean resort. The Antigua resort has three swimming pools, a spa and a casino. The all-inclusive rates cover unlimited reservation-free dining at eight restaurants, alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages at five bars, water sports equipment to use, supervised kids and teen clubs, instructor-led fitness classes, and daily entertainment.

St. George’s Caye Resort: St. George’s Caye, Belize

Aerial of arc of bungalows at St. George's Caye Resort in Belize

(Courtesy of St. George’s Caye Resort)

Best for: Couples and honeymooners
Top perk: All-inclusive that’s close to an international airport and Mayan ruins

St. George’s Caye Resort is an adults-only all-inclusive resort situated 7 miles off the coast of Belize, surrounded by the Caribbean Sea. Reachable by boat, the resort offers an island setting with access to Belize’s jungle activities and Mayan ruins as well. The property’s six overwater cabanas are set along a half-moon-shaped sunset dock and furnished with Belizean hardwood ceilings, air conditioning and minifridges; plus, each has a private porch with a hammock. Many recent guests say this property is a hidden gem because of its secluded and intimate setting, personalized service, and delicious food.

Guests arrive at the resort via a 20-minute van ride from the international airport, followed by a 20-minute boat ride. Round-trip transfers are part of the all-inclusive rates, which also cover daily breakfast, lunch and a four-course dinner; juice and water with meals; and daily coffee, tea and juice delivered to your cabana each morning. What’s more, guests receive a complimentary rum punch daily, unlimited use of water activities equipment (including kayaks, snorkeling gear and paddleboards), in-pool scuba lessons and 24/7 pool access.

Sandals South Coast: White House, Jamaica

Interior of overwater bungalow (bed facing water) at Sandals South Coast in White House, Jamaica

(Courtesy of Sandals Resorts)

Best for: Destination weddings and honeymoons
Top perk: Bungalows include an outdoor terrace with a soaking tub and lounge chairs

For the couple seeking a complete over-the-water experience, Sandals South Coast not only offers overwater bungalows, but it also has an overwater wedding chapel and overwater bar. Recently married couples said their wedding here exceeded their expectations, due to the staff. This popular wedding and honeymoon destination is located along 2 miles of shoreline on the south coast of Jamaica.

The all-inclusive resort’s overwater bungalows are set along an elevated heart-shaped pathway and feature butler service, hardwood floors with glass panels to view the sea and custom king-sized beds. Each bungalow’s spa-style bathroom has a walk-in rain shower along with double sinks, and the outdoor terrace features a lounge area, an outdoor shower, a two-person soaking tub and an over-the-water hammock.

Outside the accommodations, guests can go scuba diving, ride in a glass-bottom boat, go kayaking or snorkeling, or learn how to water-ski. There are also three beachfront pools, tennis courts and evening entertainment, as well as an on-site spa and fitness center. All-inclusive rates at this property cover unlimited dining at nine restaurants, premium liquor at seven bars (including a swim-up location), a stocked bar in every room, airport transfers and more.

Sandals Grande St. Lucian: Gros-Islet, St. Lucia

Table, chairs and tub on patio of overwater bungalow at Sandals Grande St. Lucian in Gros-Islet, St. Lucia

(Courtesy of Sandals Resorts)

Best for: Destination weddings and honeymoons
Top perk: Overwater wedding chapel

Couples looking for an awe-inspiring destination wedding venue should consider Sandals Grande St. Lucian, which boasts an over-the-water wedding chapel with panoramic views. What’s more, the all-inclusive property has overwater accommodations where couples can relax and toast to their future together.

Perched above the Caribbean Sea, each bungalow has hardwood floors with lit glass panels to see the marine life below at any time, vaulted ceilings, and a custom king-sized bed with luxe linens. The bathroom has a walk-in rain shower and dual sinks, while the sun deck is equipped with an outdoor shower, a table and chairs, a soaking tub for two, and a hammock to soak in the view. The villa includes butler service, which recent couples rave about and say made their trip extra special.

Beyond the bungalow, couples can enjoy the St. Lucia resort’s all-inclusive amenities, such as unlimited dining at 12 restaurants, unlimited premium liquor at seven bars (including swim-up locations), greens fees at the Greg Norman-designed golf course, and PADI-certified scuba diving and snorkeling equipment. You’ll also get access to multiple pools, tennis courts and the fitness center. Round-trip airport transfers are included, and guests can enjoy amenities at two nearby Sandals locations as well.

El Dorado Maroma: Playa del Carmen, Mexico

View through plant of overwater bungalows at El Dorado Maroma in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

(Courtesy of El Dorado Maroma)

Best for: Couples and honeymooners
Top perk: All-inclusive with outdoor showers

Located along the coast between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, the all-inclusive El Dorado Maroma offers 30 overwater bungalows, called palafitos. From full butler service to in-bungalow daily breakfasts, the Palafitos-Overwater Bungalows perched above the aqua waters of Maroma Beach provide an indulgent experience.

The overwater bungalows at this top beach resort have glass-bottom floors, which travelers point as a highlight, noting you can see stingrays, sea stars and fish. The accommodations also feature indoor hot tubs for two, outdoor showers, and oversized decks with private infinity pools and ladders that offer direct ocean access. Palafitos guests can also enjoy drinks and gourmet light bites before dinner, and can request customized beach picnics.

Visitors can dine at the Overwater Grill & Wine Bar, which features two glass-floor dining rooms and panoramic views. The resort’s all-inclusive rates cover all meals; 24-hour room service; and a premium selection of cocktails, wine and beer. Also included are daily activity programs, live shows, use of nonmotorized water sports equipment, cooking lessons, tequila tastings and guacamole demonstrations.

Rosewood Mayakoba: Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Best for: Ultra-luxurious honeymoons and couples retreats
Top perk: Butler service and plunge pool

The 620-acre Rosewood Mayakoba sits where the mangroves meet the coast on the Yucatan Peninsula and provides an ultra-luxe setting with deluxe overwater lagoon suites. Guests are transferred from Cancun International Airport (about 30 miles north) to the Riviera Maya luxury resort via a private chauffeured SUV, and greeted with an in-villa mezcal welcome drink.

Suspended over the lagoon, each villa offers butler service, a daily fresh fruit bowl, a king-sized bed, a walk-in closet and a luxury bathroom with an outdoor garden shower. Travelers who have stayed in the villa say the service is impeccable, and the outdoor lounge terrace with a heated plunge pool is a highlight of the experience.

Beyond the villas, this resort just north of Playa del Carmen is a leader in sustainable tourism. Wellness experiences, a signature spa with sensory rituals and apothecary treatments, a fitness center, and multiple pools are a few of Rosewood Mayakoba’s standout perks. Finally, the property’s eight restaurants highlight Mexico’s regional cuisine, international culinary dishes and sensorial experiences.

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island: Maldives

Chairs on patio of overwater bungalow at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

(Courtesy of Conrad Maldives Rangali Island)

Best for: Couples and families
Top perk: Underwater dining and the option to spend the night under the ocean

While some villas provide an over-the-water experience, at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island travelers can book The Muraka – a two-level residence with a submerged master bedroom – to spend the night 16 feet under the water.

The bedroom is set in a 180-degree curved acrylic dome and includes a bathroom with floor-to-ceiling windows and 24-hour butler service. The upper level is an exclusive residence suspended above the water with two additional bedrooms, a bathroom with an ocean view tub, and a spacious outdoor terrace with a private infinity pool. If you want to dine under the sea, book a table at Ithaa, the resort’s award-winning underwater restaurant that serves fusion cuisine, fine wines and island cocktails.

The twin-island Maldives resort also has three distinct land and overwater villa areas situated around the atoll. The Conrad Maldives offers a selection of adults-only villas, in addition to the family-friendly section of accommodations. Set on stilts, water villas have thatched roofs, lounge areas with lagoon views, bathrooms with rain showers and separate tubs, and private sun decks with lounge areas and water access. Travelers rave about the setting, the service and the villas, with some guests making return visits and others saying a stay here is an idyllic once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Jumeirah Maldives Olhahali Island: North Malé Atoll, Maldives

Best for: Families and groups
Top perk: Family-focused amenities including baby gear available for use

This all-villa resort – formerly known as LUX* North Malé Atoll – features contemporary architecture and offers both romantic overwater accommodations for couples and family-friendly villas for all ages. Each villa has an enclosed living and lounge area, an indoor and outdoor shower, and an outdoor terrace with a private infinity pool. Recent travelers rave about the service and how much they enjoyed the entire experience, noting the array of wildlife like dolphins, sharks, rays and fish.

The family-friendly property has a kids club with supervised beachside activities for little ones, programs for young teens, cinematic experiences on the beach (or private movie viewings can be arranged with your butler), beachside tennis and a variety of water sports equipment available to use – such as canoes and stand-up paddleboards. Meanwhile, adults can hit the 24-hour fitness center or check out the Talise Spa’s therapeutic treatments. Dining options here include floating breakfasts in your own private pool, Peruvian and Japanese fusion cuisine at Kayto, or Greek dishes at Shimmers beach club.

Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora: Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Aerial of Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora with mountain in the background

(Courtesy of Four Seasons Bora Bora)

Best for: Families and couples
Top perk: Private lagoon with biologist-led experiences

Showcasing views of Mount Otemanu, this family-friendly property offers a luxurious setting with a mix of land villas and overwater bungalows. Reachable via boat transfer from the Bora Bora airport, this property has a private lagoon with biologist-led experiences, a full-service spa with Polynesian treatments and Mediterranean cuisine at Arii Moana.

Featuring Polynesian artwork and traditional teak furnishings, the overwater bungalow suites at the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora have either a plunge pool or a spacious patio for a private over-the-water sanctuary.

“We loved our overwater bungalow at the Four Seasons Bora Bora for its large soaking tub, comfortable king bed and expansive deck with stunning views of Mount Otemanu,” says freelance travel writer and U.S. News contributor Holly Johnson. She adds that the dining was pricey, but spectacular. Johnson also discovered that the further out from the shore you go, the faster the current flows. “While we did have stunning views from our bungalow, we couldn’t float or relax in the water below at all,” she reflected. “I noticed travelers with bungalows closer to the shore were able to stand and float in the perfectly clear water next to their room. I would have loved that.”

InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa: Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Overwater bungalow living room with see-through coffee table at InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa

(Courtesy of InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa)

Best for: Couples and families
Top perk: Thalasso spa with glass-floor overwater treatment rooms

Combining Polynesian traditions with sustainable practices, the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa is located on a motu (islet) and reachable only by boat from the Bora Bora airport. Once there, couples and families will find theme nights, casual beachside dining and upscale cuisine.

The property has 88 overwater suites and villas, each with a king-sized bed, a sitting area with a glass coffee table showcasing views of the fish and water below, and a bathroom with a separate shower and soaking tub. There’s also a private terrace that features an outdoor shower, lounge furniture and direct water access.

Leilani Osmundson, digital producer for the Travel team at U.S. News, chose the resort for her honeymoon. “My favorite feature of the bungalow was the ability to stare at the gorgeous turquoise waters of Bora Bora at every turn; the bedroom and bathroom had enormous windows, and the coffee table in the living room area was made of glass so that we could see straight through to the water below.” She also appreciated that the bungalows were quiet and spaced far enough apart for privacy.

Conrad Bora Bora Nui: Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Overwater bungalows of Conrad Bora Bora Nui at sunset

(Courtesy of Hilton)

Best for: Couples and families
Top perk: Fine dining and overwater sushi restaurant

Upon arrival via boat from Bora Bora’s airport, guests are greeted with a welcome drink and a tour of the resort. Situated on a private cove on Motu To’opua, the property offers a secluded setting with a mix of land villas and overwater bungalows. The resort draws a mix of honeymooners and couples thanks to its adults-only overwater bungalows, in addition to the kids club and activity programs like lei making and beachside ukulele lessons. What’s more, the resort’s hilltop wedding chapel features floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the sea.

There are several overwater bungalow options, ranging from king villas (with either a built-in hammock or a plunge pool) to the two-story presidential overwater villa. Each has a plush king-sized bed that looks directly out to the water and a spa-inspired bathroom with an extra-large soaking tub and separate rainfall shower, as well as a dining table, a lounge area, Bluetooth speakers throughout and a spacious terrace with direct water access.

One thing that resort guests say sets this property apart is its dining options, though you will want to make reservations for dinners prior to your arrival. The French cuisine at Iriatai blends innovative island flavors with classic dishes, Banyan showcases chef-prepared Chinese cuisine, Tamure Beach Grill offers Polynesian fare, and the Upa Upa Bar is a must-visit for sushi and cocktails in an overwater setting.

InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa: Tahiti, French Polynesia

Overwater bungalow living room of InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa

(Courtesy of InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa)

Best for: Families
Top perk: Lagoonarium where guests can learn about reef environments

Situated on the island of Tahiti, less than 2 miles from French Polynesia’s Faa’a International Airport, the InterContinental Tahiti Resort & Spa is an ideal choice for travelers looking to explore the island, or for those using Tahiti as a gateway to the country’s smaller islands, including Moorea and Bora Bora. This tropical resort combines traditional Polynesian design and culture with luxury accommodations and overwater bungalows, along with a spa, cultural demonstrations, two freshwater infinity pools and a natural aquarium lagoon.

Recently renovated, the property’s family-friendly overwater bungalows and villas have spa-inspired bathrooms with soaking tubs, separate sleeping and lounge areas, flat-screen TVs, minifridges. Another top-notch feature is the spacious outdoor decks with direct lagoon access and amazing sunset views, according to recent guests.

Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa: Moorea, French Polynesia

Aerial of Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa

(Courtesy of Hilton)

Best for: Couples and honeymooners
Top perk: Overwater dining

The Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa is an eco-friendly destination nestled on the island of Moorea, a short boat or plane ride from Tahiti. The property is home to the island’s only overwater restaurant – Toatea Bar & Creperie – where travelers can savor French crepes while watching the lagoon sharks and fish below.

The resort’s overwater Polynesian-style bungalows (set over the crystal-clear water of the Pacific Ocean) each have a king-sized bed, a glass floor panel with views of the exotic marine life below, and a marble bathroom with a separate claw-foot tub and shower. Each villa also features a private sun deck with lounge chairs and direct lagoon access, which allows travelers to snorkel in the water surrounding their bungalow.

Resort guests can enjoy the lagoon-style pool, head to the tennis courts for a match or do yoga at the fitness center. The full-service spa has a variety of treatments available, and those looking to explore the island beyond the resort can book four-wheel-drive tours, snorkeling with stingray excursions and more.

Likuliku Lagoon Resort: Malolo Island, Fiji

Best for: Couples and honeymooners
Top perk: A taste of Fijian culture with all-inclusive rates

Likuliku Lagoon Resort is an adults-only wilderness retreat on the southeast coast of Malolo Island with authentic overwater bures. It’s set amid a protected marine sanctuary and reachable by water taxi or helicopter. There are 10 overwater bures at the resort, each infused with natural elements and local woodwork and fabrics, blending Fijian cultural values and traditional architecture.

Each accommodation includes a king-sized bed (which can be separated into two twin beds) with a pillow menu, a bathroom with separate soaking tub and shower, and an outdoor deck with sun loungers and patio furniture. What’s more, a chef’s canape plate and freshly baked cookies are delivered daily.

Resort guests can book a spa treatment; snorkel, kayak or go stand-up paddleboarding; take a picnic to the property’s private island; or swim in the infinity pool. The room rates include all meals (alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks cost extra), a welcome refreshment and lei upon arrival, a sarong, bottled water, a Friday night cocktail party, and use of nonmotorized water sports equipment.

Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay: Nadi, Fiji

Aerial of overwater bungalows of Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay

(Courtesy of Marriott International)

Best for: Couples
Top perk: All-inclusive options and close to international airport

Offering the only overwater bungalows on the mainland of Fiji, this resort is an ideal option for travelers who prefer to be closer to an international airport. All of the property’s adults-only bures have private staircases for direct lagoon access, along with luxurious accommodations (including king-sized beds), lounge spaces with espresso machines, premium bathrooms and private terraces. Recent overwater bungalow guests say the rooms are well-appointed and the service is exceptional. They recommend booking a couples massage and partaking in resort experiences like the fish feedings and snorkeling.

Beyond the overwater bungalows, the resort has beaches on the lagoon, three pools, a spa and oceanfront restaurants. For those seeking an all-inclusive experience, select resort packages include daily breakfast, lunch, dinner and beverages.

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort: Orlando, Florida

Close-up of Moana artwork at guest room inside Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

(Kent Phillips/Courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort)

Best for: Families
Top perk: Close access to Walt Disney World parks

For an overwater experience within the continental United States, head to Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows within the Walt Disney World Resort. Set on the south shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon, the Polynesian-inspired overwater villas have room to sleep up to eight adults. Travelers recommend the space for families, noting that the privacy and close proximity to Magic Kingdom are ideal. Each bungalow is equipped with one king-sized bed, one queen-sized bed, one queen-sized pull-down bed and two single pull-down beds, plus a kitchen and a private deck with a plunge pool.

Within the South Pacific-themed resort, guests have access to two pools, campfire activities, motorized boat rentals, fishing and volleyball. For dining, the property’s various options include Capt. Cook’s, serving American and Polynesian classics for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as ‘Ohana, the Kona Café and the Tambu Lounge.

Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Interior of overwater bungalow of Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort

(Paul Thuysbaert/Courtesy of Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort)

Best for: Couples
Top perk: Close to Dubai’s attractions and shopping

Set on the palm-shaped human-made island of Palm Jumeirah, Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort offers Thai-style luxury and about 1,300 feet of private shoreline along the Arabian Gulf. The resort is home to the only overwater villas in the United Arab Emirates. Each of the one-bedroom overwater villas has a king-sized bed, a soaking tub with water views and a host to create a personalized stay. Recent travelers raved about the customized and attentive service of the villa hosts, as well as the glass panel in the floor, noting that with the lighting you can see marine life below at any time of the day.

While at the Dubai property, resorts guests can swim in three temperature-controlled lagoons, partake in water sports or go on a long-tail boat experience. The Anantara Spa offers an array of treatments (ranging from Asian to Arabic) and rituals for rejuvenation. For dining, Mekong dishes out traditional Asian cuisine, Bushman’s Restaurant & Bar offers an upscale Aussie menu, Qamar serves regional specialties and Helios specializes in Mediterranean plates.

Song Saa Private Island: Koh Rong, Cambodia

Infinity pool on deck of overwater bungalow at Song Saa Private Island in Koh Rong, Cambodia

(Courtesy of Song Saa Private Island)

Best for: Eco-conscious couples and families
Top perk: Eco-friendly construction and sustainability programs

Song Saa Private Island is an eco-friendly resort built with local materials by local artisans and designed with a deep connection to the environment in mind. With the resort offering barefoot luxury, shoes here are always optional. Located in Cambodia’s Koh Rong Archipelago, the property is reachable via a 45-minute boat ride from Sihanoukville Port, which is less than 20 miles northwest of Sihanoukville International Airport.

The overwater bungalows at Song Saa Private Island were built with reclaimed timber and each includes a lounge area, a writing desk, a king-sized bed, a stocked minibar, a 40-inch flat-screen TV and a Bose surround sound system. The twin-vanity bathroom has an oversized sunken bathtub, and there’s an outdoor shower on the sun deck. The patio features a private pool, a daybed and direct ocean access for fully immersing yourself in the natural setting. Travelers say the resort is a slice of paradise and the overwater bungalows are private and comfortable.

The property also boasts an infinity pool, a spa and a private white sand beach, as well as ecological and cultural programs. Complimentary activities here include island safaris, morning yoga and sea kayaking. The culinary experience at the two on-site restaurants and bars is based on seasonal ingredients and incorporates locally sourced ingredients.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Rachael Hood is a senior travel editor with a love for one-of-a-kind hotel settings. She has a lifetime of experience finding just the right hotel room for her trip and believes that a hotel choice can make or break a vacation. To curate this list of the best overwater bungalows, she used her own experience spending her honeymoon at Conrad Bora Bora Nui, along with her research expertise and luxury hotel background.

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