Today (October 13, 2014): Top 10 most beautiful overwater bungalows in the world (outside the Maldives and French Polynesia).
A stay inside a lush tropical bungalow nestled over a beautiful stretch of ocean or lagoon is high up the Bucket list of most discerning travelers and/or honeymooners. Indeed, it is hard to top an island getaway experience, with bungalow style rooms perched above pristine water where a dip in the warm sea waters is literally outside your door. And while the top resorts in the Maldives and their counterparts in French Polynesia are the world’s best destination for ultra-luxurious overwater villas, there are some alternatives to be found outside these ultimate Bounty Islands. I hereby present you my top 10 list of the best resorts with overwater villas, located outside the Maldives and French Polynesia.
There is more information below the slide show. Think I missed one? Share your favorite overwater villa in the comments section, or take my poll below!
Featuring 40 total pavilions, 24 of which are on stilts out over a Swiss lake, the Hotel Palafitte is the first and only overwater-bungalow resort in all of Europe. The Hotel Palafitte is located in the town of Neuchâtel-Monruz in the northwest corner of Switzerland, overlooking Lake Neuchâtel. It’s close to Bern and Lausanne, and a bit farther from Basel and Zurich. This is a 5-star Superior hotel with luxurious features and amenities, plus an excellent restaurant. Each room comes equipped with its own computer and the main feature of the hotel itself appears to be a pair of high-tech meeting rooms, so this overwater bungalow resort is obviously popular with business groups and for retreats, but it’s also praised for its gorgeous location and even the honeymoon crowd seems to approve.
- Hotel website: Hotel Palafitte
One of the finest and most luxurious resorts in Mauritius, the Constance Le Prince Maurice consists of 89 rooms and suites, 11 of which could be considered overwater bungalows, though it’s worth noting that they are located over a fish sanctuary so there is no swimming directly beneath the units. All rooms are luxurious, and there is a very long list of free activities (including free golf) so the luxury price tag reflects a better value than it might first seem. Even though there are facilities and activities for children and families, this is a remote 5-star resort, so it’s best suited to honeymoons and other romantic couples getaways. The setting is beautiful and the service is 5-star standard, though with a French leaning, so Francophones will feel even more comfortable.
- Hotel website: Constance Le Prince Maurice
- Other top 10 accolades: Constance Le Prince Maurice also features in my top 10 list of best luxury resorts in Mauritius.
Welcome to one of the most luxurious Caribbean hideaways, managed by the world’s most exclusive hotel brand! Set on the beautiful island of Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands, Amanyara is a secluded haven embracing the best elements of the Caribbean. Bordering the pristine reefs of Northwest Point Marine National Park, acclaimed for some of the world’s best wall and reef diving, the ultraluxurious resort is blessed with crystal clear turquoise water and a powder-white beach (with some rocky parts). Amanyara doesn’t offer the traditional overwater bungalows like you see in the South Pacific and the Maldives, but it does have some overwater pavilions that are perched over private ponds, plus the best of everything for those who can afford a resort in the super-luxury category (although the real stars here are the ocean front villas).
- Hotel website: Amanyara
- Other top 10 accolades: Amanyara also features in my top 10 lists of the most luxurious resorts in the Caribbean, the best Aman hotels in the world, the most amazing beach resorts in the world and the world’s most expensive hotels.
- Tip: enjoy exclusive VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade on arrival, daily continental breakfast, one a la carte lunch for 2 persons, early check-in and late check-out).
- Review: click here to read my review of Amanyara.
Misool Eco Resort is an exclusive dive resort and conservation centre located in remote southern Raja Ampat, Indonesia. Our private resort island is nestled deep in an archipelago of uninhabited islands, in the very epicentre of marine biodiversity. Not a single tree was felled to create. It was built entirely of driftwood and naturally fallen timbers milled on site in the presence of cockatoos, parrots, baby sharks, and sea turtles. Surrounding Misool are some of the richest reefs on Earth, in the waters of the Coral Triangle region. When you’re not diving, you can read a book on your verandah’s hammock or soak in the tropical vibe while showering in a Balinese-style bathroom that opens up to the sky. The eight rustically luxurious Water Cottages are located just steps from the Dive Centre and restaurant and are built on stilts over the water.
- Hotel website: Misool Eco Resort
It is difficult to imagine getting any closer to nature than this. Each of the nine exclusive two-story cabins at Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge is built upon stilts perched atop the Caribbean Sea, and filled with bright, whimsical furnishings. The lush tropical sounds and scents of Panama’s remarkable Bocas del Toro archipelago are all-encompassing, and waft freely through your room. Take a canoe tour, snorkel over the reef, hike the rainforest, or visit untouched beaches before you sit down for an early dinner of lobster and fresh, local veg under a palm leaf roof. After, step off your private veranda and immerse yourself in the warm, clear emerald waters that surround you.
- Hotel website: Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge
Nestled between a lush four-hectare forest and a calm, shallow lagoon, Lagen Island in El Nido, Northern Palawan, is an ideal destination for those seeking a relaxing holiday in a private and tranquil island. The resort offers a magnificent view of Bacuit Bay and the El Nido sunset. The surrounding forest and the breathtaking limestone cliffs are natural attractions that also serve as a sanctuary for a diverse variety of birds and mammals. Here, guests can observe and delight in wildlife flourishing in their natural habitat. The 18 water villas here, built on stilts above the water, are beautifully appointed using local materials, and are ideal for honeymooners.
- Hotel website: El Nido Lagen Island Resort
Pangkor Laut is a privately owned island located three miles off the West Coast of Malaysia along the Straits of Malacca. This piece of paradise has been 2 million years in the making, and here you will find one of the world’s premier resorts nestling in the shade of forest giants as old as the land. You will find no other resorts – just secluded bays curled around pristine beaches, evening skies woven with colour, and a deep sense of serenity reserved exclusively for our guests. A combination of luxury, natural beauty and age-old wilderness woven together to produce an environment where peace and magically memorable moments are the currency. The 45 Signature Sea Villas stand elegantly on stilts above playful waves, while the Garden and Hill Villas place you within a few steps of nature’s abundance.
- Hotel website: Pangkor Laut Resort
- Tip: enjoy exclusive VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade on arrival, daily continental breakfast, and $100 USD spa credit).
Located three miles from San Pedro in the calm waters of the Western Caribbean, off the coast of Belize, the private island resort Cayo Espanto is truly a spectacular and private vacation retreat. There are only 7 total villas and suites, including exactly one overwater bungalow (Casa Ventanas), and unusually, the overwater room is the smallest and cheapest accommodation here, even at over US$1,000 per night. Surrounded on all sides by the beautiful, turquoise blue Caribbean Sea, Casa Ventanas is a picture perfect window into the exotic water, with sea life swimming right past or under the bungalow. In addition, Cayo Espanto’s master culinary artists prepare the most succulent dishes with the freshest tropical ingredients in the world.
- Hotel website: Cayo Espanto
Surrounded by emerald jungle, Rosewood Mayakoba is a Riviera Maya resort that defines a private world of rare luxury and refined beauty. Inspired by Mayan traditions, this 1600-acre resort enclave sits along a mile‐long arc of white Caribbean sand, nestled just north of the picturesque waterfront town of Playa del Carmen. Designed to blend harmony with natural landscapes, Rosewood Mayakoba is an oasis of luxury offering 128 suites with private plunge pools, rooftop sundecks, garden showers, individual docks and the finest modern design and details. The 18 deluxe overwater suites are enormous and perched above a mangrove lagoon near the sea.
- Hotel website: Rosewood Mayakoba
- Other top 10 accolades: Rosewood Mayakoba also features in my top 10 list of the world’s best luxury resorts with private plunge pools.
- Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD spa credit).
Opened at the end of 2011, the Song Saa Private Island Resort immediately joined the ranks of the finest resorts in all of Asia. With 9 Overwater Villas in addition to 18 Garden and Beach Villas, this is pure 5-star-plus luxury that you might not expect in Cambodia. Certainly not cheap, the resort operates on an all-inclusive basis for all guests, including extras like free laundry service, so it’s a better value than it might otherwise seem. The Overwater Villas here are all huge and each has a private pool out on the deck, and all the super-luxury amenities you’d want as well. Even so early in its life, the Song Saa has earned a reputation for impeccable service and excellent cuisine. This hotel is easily on the level of some of the finest in the Maldives, and it’s easier to reach for most people in Asia as well.
- Hotel website: Song Saa Private Island
- Other top 10 accolades: Song Saa Private Island also features in my top 10 lists of the world’s best honeymoon resorts and the most astonishing beach retreats in Asia.
- Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, 1 bottle of Champagne on arrival, and one 60 minute massage or a Discover Scuba session per adult once during stay).