Book One of These Overwater Bungalows for Your Next Tropical Getaway

Best Overwater Bungalows
Photo: Courtesy of Punta Caracol

Imagine falling asleep to a fresh, salty breeze while listening to the waves rolling right outside—or underneath—your bedroom. With the ocean just steps from where you’ll sleep, these overwater bungalow resorts are as close to the water as you can be without actually getting wet. Often located in some of the most remote parts of the world, these villas and bungalows seem to float over the planet's most attractive lakes, lagoons, and seas. Each property, whether it's on a popular stretch of Playa del Carmen in Mexico or the largest lake in Switzerland, has taken a unique approach to their overwater rooms and suites. Sometimes, they're thatched-roof structures that float, held together by ropes; occasionally, they're two-story cabanas with dramatic canopy beds. If what you're really seeking from your next getaway is a chance to unwind, your best bet is getting as close to a body of water as possible—and these overwater bungalows will ensure a quick transition to island time. So don't limit your overwater experience to just one massage in a waterfront spa, or a romantic dinner on the shore (though you should do those things, too). Bedding down on the ocean (or lagoon, or lake) is perhaps the world's most immersive beach vacation. Even if you're not planning to book an overwater bungalow vacation, consider these photos a daily dose of wanderlust.

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Four Seasons Resort in Bora Bora

Best Overwater Bungalows
Courtesy of The Four Seasons Bora Bora

There's no better way to explore this French Polynesian island's crystal-blue lagoons than by booking one of the Four Seasons resort's overwater bungalows. Thatched roofs and volcanic stone walls set the vibe, and some of their bungalow suites even have private plunge pools. In keeping with the theme, guests can reserve the on-site Kahala Spa Suite, which straddles a lagoon and boasts views of Mount Otemanu.

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Song Saa in Cambodia

Best Overwater Bungalows
Courtesy of Song Saa

“Song Saa” is Khmer for “The Sweethearts,” and this resort in Cambodia is fittingly one of the most romantic on the list. The resort spans two islands, which are connected by a beautiful footbridge, and overlooks marine waters filled with tropical fish, turtles, and seahorses. Select a spacious 1 or 2-bedroom overwater villas with a glass-bottomed lounge.

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Rosewood Mayakobá in the Riviera Maya

Best Overwater Bungalows
Courtesy of Rosewood Mayakoba

A World's Best resort south of Cancun, rooms here hover on the edge of a freshwater lagoon. While the property is popular with couples, it's kid-friendly, too. The whole family can take participate in scavenger hunt or cookie-making classes, though adults will love the tequila bar. Even the most basic accommodations come with an in-room welcome tequila and features like outdoor showers and rooftop terraces.

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Cocoa Island by COMO in the Maldives

Best Overwater Bungalows
Courtesy of COMO Cocoa Island

One of our favorite resorts for spa experiences in the Maldives, the COMO Cocoa Island Resort, has 33 upscale overwater bungalows. Book one of eight split-level Dhoni Suites, which seem to float, boat-like, over the lagoon. Take advantage of the resort's complimentary sunrise and sunset yoga classes, as well as inclusive aquatic therapy sessions.

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Cayo Espanto in Belize

Best Overwater Bungalows
Courtesy of Cayo Espanto

At Cayo Espanto in Belize, three miles from San Pedro, there is a one-bedroom villa with custom furnishings, turquoise shutters, and a canopy bed hovering over the Western Caribbean. We recommend scheduling at least one hot stone massage and seaweed scrub in the privacy of your overwater accommodations.

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Hôtel Palafitte in Switzerland

Best Overwater Bungalows
Courtesy of Hotel Palafitte

Notably the only hotel in Europe set on stilts, Hôtel Palafitte is suspended over Lake Neuchâtel. Reserve a Lake Pavilion for direct access to the water from your private terrace. For dinner, head to the Restaurant Terrace, an overwater pavilion serving local specialties like boar cheek stew and smoked gravelax.

07 of 14

Pangkor Laut Resort in Malaysia

Best Overwater Bungalows
Courtesy of Pangkor Laut Resort

At the Pangkor Laut Resort in Malaysia, guests can choose between hilltop jungle stays or upscale villas over the sea. Stilted Sea Villas are connected by wooden walkways, while the standalone Spa Villas are exceptionally private.

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Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa in French Polynesia

Best Overwater Bungalows
Courtesy of Hilton Moores Lagoon Resort

In addition to overwater suites, the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort possesses the only overwater bar in French Polynesia. If you can pry yourself away from the water views, request a guided tour of the heart-shaped island, and take full advantage of the resort's vacation planners. They'll help you plan your trip in detail before you arrive (think: swimming with stingrays and 4x4 safari tours).

09 of 14

Le Meridien Bora Bora in French Polynesia

Best Overwater Bungalows
Courtesy of Le Meridien Hotels & Resorts

Home to the Bora Bora turtle center, Le Méridien Bora Bora offers Polynesian-style overwater bungalows with local handicrafts set on a private lagoon. Don't miss a romantic, sunset boat ride in one of the resort's traditional pirogues.

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Sofitel Moorea La Ora Beach Resort in Moorea

Best Overwater Bungalows
Courtesy of Sofitel Moorea La Ora

At Sofitel Moorea La Ora Beach Resort, the overwater bungalows have a very special draw: illuminated glass portholes cut into the floor. Guests love watching the sea life at night. other highlights include private terraces, rainfall showers, and modern decor.

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Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort in French Polynesia

Best Overwater Bungalows
Courtesy of Tikehau Pearl Resort

Nestled in a private coconut grove, Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort offers 24 overwater bungalows, all of which sport coconut palm niau thatched roofs, private decks, and glass-bottomed floors. If you tire of sunning on the pink-sand beaches, there's always swimming in the infinity pool or snorkeling in the lagoon.

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One & Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives

Best Overwater Bungalows
Courtesy of One & Only Resorts

Many of the property's high-end villas hover over the lagoon, but are tastefully tropical: coconut-shell sconces, bamboo arches. Days are best spent on one of 12 secluded beaches, or in one of the spa's overwater treatment rooms. Come nightfall, take to a hammock for the uninterrupted stargazing.

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Likuliku Lagoon Resort in Fiji

Best Overwater Bungalows
Courtesy of Likuliku Lagoon Resort

Book one of Likuliku's over-water bures, all of which feature detailed woodwork and separate bath pavilions. At this marine sanctuary, snorkeling and diving are two highlights. Guests can also take picnic lunches to Mana Sandbank, a stretch of land only accessible during mid or high tide.

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Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge in Panama

Best Overwater Bungalows
Courtesy of Punta Caracol

These rustic, overwater bungalows are two stories high, with canopy beds on the top level. Because there are only nine cabanas, the retreat in on-the-verge Bocas del Toro feels extremely intimate. Rumor has it that dolphins swim past the property and wave at visitors.

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