The 10 Best Overwater Bungalows of 2020

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Overwater bungalow

Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora 

When you imagine a tropical vacation, what comes to mind? For us, it’s an overwater bungalow, a thing of beauty from both a design and scenic perspective. French Polynesia—well, more specifically three Californians in this paradisiacal place—may have invented the iconic structure, 50 years ago, but today you can find them all over the globe. From the Maldives to Vietnam, these are the picturesque “floating” properties that belong on your honeymoon shortlist.

Best Luxury: Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora (Bora Bora, French Polynesia)

Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora

 Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora

With its brilliant blue waters, swaying palms, sandy shores, and magnificent views of Mount Otemanu, the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora in French Polynesia ranks among the most idyllic destinations on the planet. The sheer majesty of the environments is remarkably matched by the luxurious lagoon-side accommodations.

What’s more, the beloved property recently debuted eight new overwater bungalows and made enhancements to its existing suites. Prepare to be blown away by the ultra-comfy beds, artisanal bath amenities, oversized soaking tubs, and wooden decks that hover above the turquoise tides. Discerning travelers will also appreciate the dedication to five-star service, doting staff, and twice-daily housekeeping.

Best for Celeb Sightings: Cheval Blanc Randheli (Maldives)

Cheval Blanc Randheli

Cheval Blanc Randheli

Curious where A-listers go to slip away from the limelight and decompress? Famous faces consistently flock to Cheval Blanc Randheli in the Maldives. Owned by LVMH—purveyors of prestige brands like Louis Vuitton and Moët & Chandon—and the handiwork of architect Jean-Michel Gathy, this lavish celeb-favored hideaway corners the market on exclusivity and contemporary luxury.

Fitted with sumptuous linens, sculptural art pieces, and over-the-top amenities, the spacious standalone villas (the smallest is a whopping 2,600 square feet) have welcomed everyone from Hollywood stars to royals (ahem, Prince William and Kate Middleton). Besides shacking up in style, guests enjoy transfers in a customized seaplane, personal butler service, indulgent Guerlain treatments at the Cheval Blanc Spa, and haute cuisine prepared by a Michelin-starred chef.

Best Remote Getaway: Bawah Reserve (Indonesia)

Bawah Reserve

Bawah Reserve

For travelers looking to get away from it all, a far-flung location and off-the-grid ambiance are major selling points. That’s exactly what you’ll find at Bawah Reserve. Tucked away in the remote splendor of Indonesia’s Anambas Archipelago—and reachable only by seaplane—this private island retreat offers serenity and seclusion.

With untrammeled white-sand beaches, cerulean lagoons, and lush vegetation at every turn, a sojourn at Bawah Reserve really feels like a true escape. Blissful quietude, outdoor adventures (think: kayaking, snorkeling, sailing, and hiking), and rustic-chic digs add to the fantasy of it all. Overwater suites boast canopied King-sized beds, outdoor showers, sundecks, and stairs that lead directly into the glistening shallows. Put your phone on airplane mode because this property and, of course, your spouse deserve your full attention.

Best for Pampering: The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort (Maldives)

The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort

The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort

Characterized by posh pampering, refined ambiance, and plenty of leisurely pursuits, The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort leads the charge in that oh-so-necessary leave-your-stress-behind sort of indulgence. A soothing palette of cream and cobalt sets the tone for relaxation in the overwater bungalows. Sea breezes and sensational vistas of the Indian Ocean are best enjoyed while tossing back a glass of bubbly in your private plunge pool. And the legendary St. Regis butler service means someone will be at your beck and call 24 hours a day. So, you won’t have to worry about anything at all.

As if all that weren’t enough, The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort is also home to one of the most romantic spas in the world. We definitely recommend taking advantage of the tension-melting massages, glow-getting facials, and skin-smoothing body scrubs.  

Best for Romance: Six Senses Ninh Van Bay (Vietnam)

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay

Still working to build its credit as a bonafide honeymoon hotspot, Vietnam is steadily developing a reputation for romance and rich heritage. At the Six Senses Ninh Van Bay, enticing design meets an intimate atmosphere and otherworldly beauty. Surrounded by mountains, rock formations, and golden sands, the sought-after resort brims with scenic grandeur. It’s hard to believe anything could possibly compete with such gorgeous environs, and yet the bungalows teetering on the edge of the shimmering bay do just that.

Plunge pools, hand-crafted wooden tubs, and ocean views take center stage in some of the sexiest villas we've ever seen. Motivation to leave the room comes in the form of tempting pastimes, whether it’s sharing special moments on a boat ride, learning how to cook delicious local dishes, or relishing traditional Vietnamese spa rituals.

Best in Mexico: Rosewood Mayakoba (Riviera Maya, Mexico)

Rosewood Mayakoba

 Rosewood Mayakoba

Mexico probably isn’t the first place you’d envision stumbling across overwater bungalows. That’s fine by us, because it might up our chances of snagging a reservation at the Rosewood Mayakoba. Nestled among mangrove forests and sparkling lagoons on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, this Riviera Maya gem is unparalleled in its devotion to celebrating Mexico’s deep-rooted traditions in a thoughtful way.

Suspended over the shimmering inlet, open-plan suites honor the landscape with eco-conscious building techniques, indigenous materials, and bespoke furnishings. Simply put: the Rosewood Mayakoba promises a peaceful, immersive, and luxurious stay amidst natural pageantry. If you have your heart set on a south-of-the-border sojourn after exchanging vows, it would be a major mistake to go anywhere else.

Best Eco-Friendly: Song Saa Private Island (Cambodia)

Song Saa Private Island

Song Saa Private Island

A bastion of unspoiled wilderness in Cambodia's Koh Rong Archipelago, Song Saa Private Island has all the hallmarks of a sustainable resort. Known for its mindful eco-conscious design, this luxury seaside property emphasizes holistic wellbeing and oneness with the planet. An unwavering commitment to Mother Earth is seamlessly interwoven with plush perks and bespoke programming, resulting in a stellar guest experience. It’s a slice of paradise that truly values carefree vacations and conservation.

Overwater villas are constructed using reclaimed timber and meticulously decorated with upcycled elements like driftwood benches. No matter what you choose to do, nature is front and center. Swimming pools face the sparkling Gulf of Thailand. Rehabilitated reefs once again buzz with colorful marine life. Cute critters scamper past on the rainforest hiking trails. Bonus: The Buddhist-driven spa concept embraces healing therapies, organic botanical products, and outdoor sanctuaries. 

Best for Lake Lovers: Hotel Palafitte (Monruz, Switzerland)

Hotel Palafitte

Hotel Palafitte

Aiming to tack on a few extra days of bucolic pleasure to your city-centric, post-wedding trip to Europe? Shattering the common misconception that overwater bungalows only exist in tropical locales such as the Maldives, Bora Bora, and Fiji, Hotel Palafitte is situated in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel (also known as the birthplace of absinthe). In fact, the utterly unique property has the distinction of being the only hotel in Europe built on stilts—a design inspired by the remains of ancient structures discovered nearby. We can’t imagine a more magical way to start the day than waking at sunrise, drinking a fresh-brewed cup of coffee in your individual pavilion while staring at the Alps, and taking a dip in the crystal-clear waters of Lake Neuchâtel. 

Best for Adventure: Laucala Island Resort (Fiji)

Laucala Island Resort

Laucala Island Resort

Laucala Island Resort is über-popular among the recently betrothed—and it’s easy to see why. Positioned off the northeast coast of Taveuni, this storied refuge has a seductively secluded setting that makes it ideal for some post-wedding alone time with your sweetie. Once there, honeymooners have the option to partake in a plethora of exhilarating activities. Aquatic adventurers can try outrigger canoeing, windsurfing, kayaking, jet-skiing, scuba diving, snorkeling, and game fishing. Don’t forget land-based excursions like rainforest treks, golf, and horseback riding. Plus, we’re legitimately head-over-heels crazy about the solo overwater villa. The perfect place to kick back after an action-packed day, the dazzling Fijian dwelling is equipped with multiple decks, a large infinity pool, outdoor showers, and a private jetty for yacht trips.  

Best for Zen: Constance Prince Maurice (Mauritius)

Constance Prince Maurice

Constance Prince Maurice

It’s not uncommon for newlyweds to need a little help finding zen after the ongoing stress of wedding planning. Perched on the placid east coast of Mauritius, Constance Prince Maurice is a respite of halcyon that blends high-end trappings, gracious hospitality, and a tranquil mindset. What could be more serene than snoozing feet above the waves? Suites elevated on stilts—the brainchild of architect Jean-Marc Eynaud and interior decorator David Edwards—flaunt feng shui-influenced interiors and textiles in warm Mauritian hues. The genius of the harmonious design comes to life through the positioning of the elegant furnishings. (For example, the bed sits high to allow for the flow of Qi energy.) Such a euphoric sense of calm extends well beyond the accommodations. Couples can unwind on the pristine beaches or book experiences like sunset cruises, wine tastings, and couples massages at the Sisley spa.

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