These Are the Dreamiest Overwater Bungalows on Earth
Let’s face it, we could use a little escapism right about now. Though flying is pretty much off the table, that doesn’t mean we can’t armchair travel to far-off lands. And what better place to mentally get away from it all than at some gorgeous overwater bungalows on a remote island? To help fuel your wanderlust, we’ve found the most serene seaside abodes, where you can dream about sipping poolside cocktails, lounging on palm tree-fringed beaches, and jumping into crystal-clear cobalt water right off your private deck. And when you do feel safe to take to the skies again, these oceanfront resorts will be there waiting for you. For more tropical paradises where you can actually take a vacation, check out the 17 Stunning Islands That Americans Are Allowed to Visit Now.
1. Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi
The brand new Waldorf Astoria knows how to arrive in style. When you touch down in the Maldives, a gleaming yacht will pick you up and personally transport you to this off-shore oasis. With 122 villas spread across three private islands, there are lots of options to choose from. But the secluded Stella Maris Villas—nestled in the middle of the cerulean sea—are the way to go. These modernist glass bungalows feature all the opulence you’d expect from this high-end brand (think: marble bathrooms, rich textiles, and a classy European interior design). However, they shine in all of the excess perks, including a massive outdoor lap pool, two overwater hammocks, and a spiral staircase that leads to an upstairs deck with an infinity hot tub, grilling station, and dining area. And if you opt for a resort restaurant, Terra is an otherworldly experience where you can eat in a nest-like bamboo treehouse overlooking the ocean.
2. Heritance Aarah, the Maldives
If you dream of living like a rockstar, Heritance Aarah delivers in spades. The luxury retreat in the Maldives has an array of accommodations, but the splurge-worthy ocean suites go above and beyond your wildest expectations. The 1,700-square-foot, two-story overwater bungalows feature a second-floor bedroom with an en-suite bathroom and balcony perfect for curling up with your morning cup of coffee. Yet, the royal treatment is on the main level, where the plush L-shaped sofa frames a glass floorboard with tropical fish swimming underneath and floor-to-ceiling windows, which lead to a deck with an infinity pool and swinging daybed. Next to the living room is an even larger bathroom with a deep tub that opens onto the deck, so you can soak with a view of the sea. And for more ethereal resorts, check out the 17 Most Exotic Off-the-Grid Hotels in the World.
3. Kudadoo Maldives
This adults-only private island is a pioneer on many fronts: It’s the first solar-powered resort in the Maldives, and one of very few to offer a completely all-inclusive experience. Kudadoo is home to only 15 overwater bungalows—and this privacy is why A-listers like Naomi Campbell have discreetly checked in. Each Japanese-inspired abode, designed by Yuji Yamazaki Architecture, is done up in rich cedar wood and granite, with a sprawling bedroom and sliding glass walls that open up to an equally massive outdoor living room. When you’re not wading into the crystalline water off your deck or having your personal butler deliver a floating breakfast right to your plunge pool, you could be sipping your way through the property’s exclusive wine and cheese cellar, where the champagne collection is hand-picked by the bottle, or relaxing in the spa’s Himalayan salt chamber, the only one in the entire country.
4. Raffles Maldives Meradhoo
In a world where social distancing is key, there’s no safer place than on an island all to yourself. And for a whopping $1 million, you can buy out the entire Raffles Meradhoo resort for five days. Sure, the price tag is extreme, but just imagine being flown in on a private jet then having 21 luxurious beach and overwater villas for you and your crew. Now that is truly an off-the-grid getaway. Oh, and let’s not forget, there’s also unlimited access to spa treatments (aromatherapy massages, anyone?) and a marine butler, who can arrange diving expeditions at the two on-site coral reefs or dolphin-spotting cruises on the resort’s elegant yacht. The concierge team can also set up astronomer-led stargazing sessions, sunset concerts, and castaway picnics on a deserted island nearby. And if you want to relocate for good, check out the 7 Breathtaking Islands That Will Pay You to Move.
5. JW Marriott Maldives
Don’t underestimate this Marriott. Though the JW may sound like another cookie-cutter international hotel, its new Maldives outpost is anything but. The intricate architecture of the overwater bungalows evokes the shape of a dhoni, a traditional Maldivian fishing boat, and the slanted beams of the thatch roofs are reminiscent of a white heron dipping its head into the turquoise sea. Beyond their striking façades, the villas have endless amounts of space, starting at 2,520 square feet. The private pools, wooden sunbathing decks, and spot-on sunset views are worthy amenities as well.
6. Baglioni Resort, Italy
If the Amalfi Coast had a love child with the Maldives, it would be the Baglioni Resort. This gem from the eponymous Italian hospitality group is the definition of la dolce vita, with 96 villas designed by Cassina, a sleek Riva speedboat for moonlight cruises, and a signature beachfront restaurant that serves up specials like seafood tagliatelle, which you can eat with your toes in the sand. And that’s not to mention the palatial Presidential Villa, a three-bedroom, 7,212-square-foot overwater bungalow that looks like it’s straight out of a James Bond film.
7. Pullman Maldives Maamutaa
The Pullman Maamutaa resort has an array of jaw-dropping overwater bungalows in the Gaafu Alifu Atoll. Yet, you’d be surprised to find that some have a secret: underwater bedrooms. Yes, that’s right, you can sleep with the fish in these two-bedroom aqua villas submerged in the Maldives’ largest lagoon. Here, turtles, dolphins, and sharks swim around the coral reefs just outside your fishbowl window. And when you want some fresh air aboveground, you can splash around in your private pool, wash off in the open-air shower, or explore the island’s 47 acres of lush mangroves, natural lakes, and powdery white beaches. And for more tranquil atolls closer to home, check out the 13 Secret Islands in the U.S. You Never Knew Existed.
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