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21 Overwater Bungalows That Are Truly Like Heaven on Earth

The only thing that can make turquoise waters paired with sun and sand even more of a paradise are these villas that let you experience all three without having to set foot outside of your own private accommodations.

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Overwater bungalows in the MaldivesAnna Karsten/Shutterstock

A true escape

What if you could get away from it all, including the land? Imagine enjoying your morning coffee as dolphins frolic around you or elephants bathe themselves in the warmth of the rising sun. At night, there will nothing to block the colors of the sun as they spread across the infinity of the sky. Perhaps you’ll take it in from the waters of your own private plunge pool. Whether you’re planning your future vacation or just daydreaming, all this, and more is possible in these incredible overwater bungalows.

Song Saa Private Island in Cambodiavia tripadvisor.com

Song Saa Private Island in Cambodia

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The overwater bungalows at Song Saa Private Island in Cambodia live in harmony with their surroundings. Built from driftwood and reclaimed materials from old fishing boats, the bungalows feature touches like private pools, private decks with sunbeds, and indoor/outdoor showers while the interiors are appointed with furnishings and decor crafted by local artisans. You’ll enjoy views of old-growth rain forests, pristine beaches of white sand, and reefs swimming with colorful, tropical fish. The resort itself offers an infinity swimming pool, restaurant, spa, yoga, kayaking, and scuba diving. Speaking of pools, you’ll want to take a dip into these 10 most gorgeous infinity pools around the world.

Four Seasons Resort in Bora Boravia tripadvisor.com

Four Seasons Resort in Bora Bora

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The rugged Mount Otemanu looms above the jaw-droppingly beautiful Four Seasons Resort in Bora Bora, where the thatch-roofed overwater bungalows feature indigenous artwork, incredible views of the lagoon or the mountain, and ladders leading down to the water. The service here is top-notch with small touches like chilled towels and fresh fruit available at the infinity pool. The resort specializes in arranging individualized excursions including private dinners on small islands, art experiences, spa treatments, and snorkeling tours. Take a look at more of the world’s most luxurious hotels and resorts.

Constance Prince Maurice in Mauritiusvia tripadvisor.com

Constance Prince Maurice in Mauritius

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Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean 1,200 miles off the coast of Africa. It’s famous for an incredibly diverse landscape, which includes gorgeous beaches, reefs, rainforests, waterfalls, and gorges. The villas on stilts at Constance Prince Maurice combine luxurious amenities like indoor and outdoor baths, premium linens, impeccable decor, and modern touches like wifi, satellite television, and Nespresso machines with privacy, serenity, and the type of unspoiled views that make you feel like the only one in the world. They also offer a spa, two golf courses, incredible restaurants, and diving expeditions for all skill levels. Speaking of diving, these are 20 of the most incredible underwater photos ever taken.

Thatch Caye, A Muyono Resort in Belizevia tripadvisor.com

Thatch Caye, A Muyono Resort in Belize

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Thatch Caye in beautiful Belize is the perfect getaway from anyone who wants an unforgettable vacation filled with adventure, beauty, with eco-friendly sustainability. The majority of the power for Thatch Caye is generated by the sun and the wind and single-use plastic, including straws, cups, and utensils, is banned here. The water for their sinks and showers comes from rain and desalinated saltwater. The resort is on a small island limited to 30 guests at a time. Meals are served family-style and staff arrange excursions for snorkeling, fishing, diving, or visiting the mainland. The views from the cabanas are so beautiful, however, that many guests have a hard time tearing themselves away from swinging from hammocks on private porches. Belize also made our list of the 12 best islands for retirement.

Rosewood Mayakoba in Mexicovia tripadvisor.com

Rosewood Mayakoba in Mexico

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Located south of Cancun in the quaint village of Playa Del Carmen, Rosewood Mayakoba is built among a series of serene lagoons and surrounded by the leafy greens of the tropical mangrove jungle. The design is modern and sleek and intentionally blends into its surroundings. The cabanas boast spoil-you-rotten amenities like butler service, a welcome bottle of Mexican Mezcal, rain showers, private docks, and private plunge pools. Guests can pick between views of the ocean, lagoon, or beach. If that’s not enough, you can pamper yourself at the spa, golf, or indulge yourself in one of the properties world-class restaurants. It’s the kind of destination you’ll want to return to time and time again, just like these 11 popular Mexican destinations you’ll want to visit.

Chobe Water Villas in Namibiavia tripadvisor.com

Chobe Water Villas in Namibia

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The views of the Chobe Water Villas in Nambia are among the most unique in the world. Located in the place where two rivers converge and 50,000 elephants call the area home. Two phenomenal activities per day are included in your room rate including game drives through national parks and safari river cruises. There’s no need to leave your villa to the sights though. The villas have views of both wetland and bushland sanctuaries spanning the Chobe River, Sedudu Island, and Chobe National Park across the river. The restaurant’s dishes are so beautiful they’d be too perfect to eat if they weren’t so delicious. A stay here is truly a once in a lifetime experience. Until you can get there in person, enjoy these stunning photos of elephants in the wild.

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay in Vietnamvia tripadvisor.com

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay in Vietnam

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The Six Senses Ninh Van Bay in Vietnam has it all: sweeping views of the East Vietnam Sea, towering rock formations, white-sand beaches, and views of mountainous jungles. Take in the views in your private pool, sun yourself on your private deck or garden, and end the day soaking in a hand-crafted wooden tub. Dine on local fare including succulent lobsters and the sweet meat of King Prawns. Enjoy water sports, authentic Vietnamese cooking classes, and cruises in wooden boats. As soon as you come home you’ll start planning your next trip. Vietnam is gaining popularity among tourists—it’s one of the travel spots you haven’t heard of…yet.

Manava Beach And Spa Resort Moorea in Tahitivia tripadvisor.com

Manava Beach and Spa Resort Moorea in Tahiti

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Manava Beach and Spa Resort Moorea in Tahiti take its commitment to the environment seriously. The resort has established its own coral nursery where corals have a protected, natural setting to regenerate and grow. The overwater bungalows feature large sundecks and glass tables in which you can view underwater wildlife from the inside. There are two bars, an incredible restaurant, and a spa in which to relax away all your cares. You’ll also enjoy the largest infinity pool on the island and lagoons and reefs full of vivid tropical fish. Avoid these 9 travel mistakes to have the best vacation ever.

Overwater-BungalowsCourtesy Gili Lankanfushi

Gili Lankanfushi in the Maldives

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This incredible spot, filled with overwater bungalows, is currently closed but is set to reopen on September 1. Located in the North Malé Atoll, just a 20-minute speedboat ride from Malé, Gili Lankanfushi is the epitome of an island paradise. The property boasts 45 villas—all overwater—that feature open-air living spaces, roof terraces, and decks leading directly into the lagoon below. Amazingly, the largest overwater villa in the Maldives is located at this property and has four bedrooms, a private open-air cinema, spa, air-conditioned gymnasium, infinity pool, and a two-story waterslide, directly into the lagoon. If you’d rather stay close to home, check out these amazing island vacations you can take within the United States.

Meeru Island Resort and Spa, Maldivesvia tripadvisor.com

Meeru Island Resort and Spa, Maldives

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Another Maldives’ paradise is Meeru Island. Located about 15-and-a-half miles from Gili Lankanfushi, Meeru Island has everything from a water sports center to garden views to glow parties. These overwater bungalows are not as minimalist as some of these others, so they’re a great place for families and visitors of all ages, perhaps rather than a totally checked-out, tranquil couples’ retreat. But make no mistake, those water villas are plenty peaceful! Sadly, the Maldives are among the islands that might disappear in the next 80 years.

Overwater-BungalowsCourtesy One And Only ReethiRah

Water Villas at One&Only Reethi Rah

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The Maldives must just be the place to be when it comes to overwater bungalows. The One&Only Reethi Rah in North Malé Atoll is all about privacy: They offer overwater bungalows along a four-mile stretch that includes 12 powder-soft sand beaches. From the iconic Water Villas, you can sleep and even bathe with views of crystal blue waters or lounge outside in one of the wraparound hammocks that allows you to hover right over the lagoon. The Maldives is famous for incredible beaches including this beach that glows in the dark and is incredibly magical to see.

Overwater-BungalowsCourtesy Conrad Bora Bora Nui

Conrad Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa

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The stunning hotel in French Polynesia has all the makings of the dreamiest honeymoon. Sitting along Bora Bora’s longest stretch of white-sand beach, some overwater villas dot the shore. But the creme de la creme of bungalows is the Presidential Overwater Villa, the region’s first two-story overwater bungalow. At over 3,000 square feet, you get two bedrooms, a living room, well-being room, personal pool, whirlpool, and sundeck. It’s the definition of heaven. Brush up on these 9 etiquette rules you should know about tipping before you travel the world.

Overwater-BungalowsCouretsy Manta Resort

The Manta Resort in Tanzania

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Why rent just your average overwater bungalow when you can have your own private floating island? That’s exactly what the Manta Resort offers their one-of-a-kind underwater room villa. The three-level bungalow is perched in the middle of the sea where a boat will drop you off at the start of your stay. You can lounge in one of the many rooms, but the best spot of all in the floating suite’s bedroom located 13 feet under the water’s surface. Yes, you can watch fish swim past while you fall asleep. Here are some affordable island rentals—and yes, you get the entire island.

Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge, Panamavia tripadvisor.com

Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge, Panama

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These charming pastel-green overwater bungalows are as tranquil as it gets. In addition to being a slice of paradise where you can have your own private terrace and see frolicking dolphins, Punta Caracol also strives to be extremely sustainable and environmentally conscious. Everything from the solar panels to the pollutant-free sewage treatment strives to create as minimal an impact on the environment as possible so that people can continue to enjoy the natural beauty for decades to come. Find out where to go for the best all-inclusive vacations around the world.

Overwater-BungalowsCourtesy Sandals Jamaica

Sandals South Coast in Jamaica

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There’s no better way to experience the beauty of the Caribbean Sea than staying in the Over the Water Honeymoon Butler Bungalow. These floating palaces completely embrace the stunning natural backdrop with views from the bedroom, bathroom, and private sundeck. You can even bathe in the outdoor soaking tub without prying eyes or watch fish swim beneath your feet through your see-through floor. Oh yeah, and you get a dedicated butler to cater to your every need.

Overwater-BungalowsCourtesy Casa Ventanas

Cayo Espanto in Belize

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You might never see a guest during your entire visit to this private island in Belize. The intimate property only has seven villas total, with Casa Ventanas being the only overwater bungalow. The one-bedroom suite is at the end of a dock and surrounded entirely by crystal blue water. You can see the sunset while lying in bed or sea life bustling below your glass-bottom floor in the living room. Belize is also home to one of the tropical islands you should visit over the holidays.

Overwater-BungalowsCourtesy Matt Stroshane/Disney Villas

Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows in Orlando, Florida

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Who says you have to travel outside the United States for an incredible overwater villa experience? Right in the heart of Orlando, Florida you can have a taste of Bora Bora at Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows. The two-bedroom overwater bungalows have everything you’d expect from an exotic getaway including a private deck, individual plunge pool, kitchen, and views of the Seven Seas Lagoon and Magic Kingdom Park. This resort is closed until October 3, which gives you the perfect amount of time to start planning your trip. Did you know that Disney has its own private island, too?

Overwater-BungalowsCourtesy Hamilton Lund Photography/Likuliku

Likuliku Lagoon Resort in Fiji

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It doesn’t get better than a five-star resort on a small private island. That is until you add luxurious overwater bungalows called “bures.” With stunning Fijian decor, you can jump straight into the ocean from your private balcony perched over a coral reef. You can even lounge in your tub while taking in the ocean views. If you get bored in your little oasis, hop on over to one of the restaurants, spa, or gym for a break.

Sofitel-Moorea-la-Ora-Beach-Resort-Hotel-in-French-Polynesia-via tripadvisor.com

Sofitel Moorea la Ora Beach Resort Hotel in French Polynesia

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Located a little ways from mainland Tahiti, this paradise boasts 113 overwater bungalows. You can experience the chic decadence of French-style cheese and wine with the vibrant culture of Moorea. And if an overnight stay is a little much, or if you’re taking a more varied vacation in that general area, there are day passes available.

Overwater-BungalowsCourtesy Las Lagunas Boutique Hotel

Las Lagunas Boutique Hotel in Guatemala

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Just because there’s no ocean doesn’t mean you can’t have an overwater bungalow. At Las Lagunas Boutique Hotel they have villas perched over a beautiful lake surrounded by ancient Mayan ruins. Each bungalow offers total seclusion, but the Waterfront Master Suites make you feel as if you’re just floating in the jungle. Take in the views from your bed, private deck, or outdoor dining veranda.

Overwater-BungalowsCourtesy Hotel Palafitte Switzerland

Hotel Palafitte in Switzerland

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Overwater villas aren’t confined to tropical locales. Hotel Palafitte created an architectural masterpiece when they unveiled their modern 26 over-lake bungalows built on stilts. You can still partake in water activities like boating and kayaking, but won’t see any coral reefs. Not to worry though because the delicious food, sunsets, and Swiss landscape views certainly make up for it. Read on for more incredible island escapes that are worth checking out for your next vacation.

Jordi Lippe-McGraw
Jordi Lippe-McGraw is a contributing writer for RD.com's travel and entertainment sections and former Entertainment Director for Life & Style, In Touch and Closer Weekly for six years. As a lifestyle reporter/editor for over a decade, she's written for various outlets including The New York Times, Travel+ Leisure, and Vogue, and has appeared on TODAY, MSNBC, and E. She's also traveled to over 30 countries, including Antarctica while five months pregnant. Follow her in Instagram @jordimcgraw and Twitter @jordilippe.
Tamara Gane
Tamara Gane is a regular contributor to Reader's Digest covering travel, lifestyle, history, and culture. Her work has also appeared in The Washington Post, NPR, Al Jazeera, Wine Enthusiast, Lonely Planet, HuffPost Food, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @TamaraGane