When dreaming of a luxe vacation in the Maldives, an overwater bungalow likely comes to mind immediately. After all, how much more secluded can you get than a private bungalow in the middle of the ocean on a small remote island? However, we know from experience that some overwater bungalows aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. The Maldives isn’t cheap, and it would be a shame if your vacation was ruined because of below-par accommodations. Like we always say, you can’t return a bad vacation, so here is our list of the best overwater bungalows in the Maldives.
Editor's note: Save these amazing bungalows for later! Some resorts may be closed or have limited amenities. Note that the Maldives were open (with restrictions) to U.S. tourists at the time of publication, but this is subject to change. Always follow all local laws around travel during the pandemic.
It’s no surprise that one of the Maldives’ best resorts boasts some of the top overwater bungalows in the archipelago. In fact, Gili Lankanfushi only has overwater villas — all massive with a rustic-luxe aesthetic. Most of the resort’s 46 overwater accommodations are Villa Suites, located off one of three jetties. Each one sports an open-air living room, direct lagoon access, a rooftop dining deck, a terrace sundeck, and top-notch amenities like Bose sound systems and stocked minibars. Even better are the seven Crusoe Residences. These huge, stand-alone villas are only accessible by pontoon boat and feature noteworthy amenities like personal boats, direct ocean access off the shower, and hammocks just off the private sundeck. All villas are constructed from wood, feature upscale furniture and decor, and have an eco-friendly design that minimizes the need for air-conditioning and electric lights.
The Ocean Pool Villas at Kandolhu are not easy to forget. These residence-style overwater bungalows sport sleek and chic decor plus thoughtful, five-star features like well-stocked minibars, personal wine bars, soft towels, multi-country adapters, and in-room iPads. However, the highlight is the fully glassed-in bathrooms that offer an indoor/outdoor feeling and stunning overwater views. Private infinity plunge pools and a spacious wooden deck also sweeten the scene.
The Water Villas at Summer Island Maldives are perfect for anyone who wants their own semi-private slice of the resort’s gorgeous lagoon area and house reef. Located just off the main island via a boardwalk jetty, all villas feature a contemporary style, stocked minibars, floor cutouts in the sitting room (so you can steal a glimpse of the underwater world right from your couch), and a ladder with direct water access off the terrace. The villas are either facing east or west, giving guests uninterrupted views of the sunset or sunrise. Bathrooms have walk-in rain showers, separate soaking tubs, and windows with some lagoon views.
4. W Maldives
The edgy and hip design of the W brand extends all the way to the Maldives, though there are a few touches that give the overwater villas at W Maldives their own personality. In addition to standard in-room amenities like Bose sound systems, Bliss bathroom products, and overstocked minibars, some villas have features that help you take advantage of your position over the water. For example, the Spectacular Ocean Oasis and Fabulous Lagoon Oasis rooms have glass-bottom showers, while the Ocean Haven Suite sports a wraparound deck and two large panels of glass flooring.
With overwater bungalows that have direct lagoon access and private pools, this luxury resort offers the best of both worlds. The local palapa-style architecture blends with upscale decor to create a space that feels both relaxing and luxurious without being pretentious. The property is designed to take advantage of the overwater location, with picture windows, beds facing the private sundeck, and even a cutout in the sitting area where you can watch the waves roll by right under your feet. Air-conditioning, Nespresso machines, minibars, and spa-like bathrooms are great additions to the view.
The overwater villas at Constance Halaveli measure in at 1,076 square feet and have a great, secluded vibe. The palapa-style design gives the villas extra island vibes, though you can expect upscale decor, vaulted ceilings, wooden floors, and spacious bathrooms inside. Outdoor furnished terraces have chic infinity plunge pools and direct ladder access to the lagoon. The Water Villas can be a bit of a walk from the main facilities of the island, though they are equipped with air-conditioning, minibars, and other five-star conveniences.
There are two types of overwater villas at Constance Moofushi, but both are loaded up with air-conditioning, stocked minibars, outdoor decks, free Wi-Fi, and Mac minis. All overwater bungalows are stilted above the turquoise lagoon and feature upscale island decor that incorporates rope, wood, and ocean motifs. Large wooden terrace areas have sun loungers, chairs, and shade. Standard Water Villas have privacy walls, though their location leaves them open to interruptions from the occasional swimmer in the lagoon. Senior Water Villas have more privacy, are larger, and boast extras like private soaking tubs off the terrace and direct lagoon access.
8. Velassaru Maldives
Velassaru’s overwater bungalows and villas have a chic look that includes high vaulted ceilings, sexy dark wood, and contemporary furniture. These units also have awesome tropical touches, like polished coconut shell accents, palapa roofs, and folding glass panel doors that open out onto the terrace. You’ll also find open-plan bathrooms stocked with L’Occitane products in the Water Villas and personal infinity pools out on the terrace of the Water Bungalows.
Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa has a few different overwater room types. Leading the pack is the Water Suite, a two-bedroom presidential suite (nearly twice the size of a regular water villa) with a private infinity-edge plunge pool and a massive deck overlooking the ocean. Inside, you’ll find an upscale tropical style featuring wood vaulted ceilings, polished wood floors, and sophisticated furniture. Extra perks include access to the island clubhouse and its exclusive happy hours, mixers, an additional pool, and sweeping views. Bonus: It’s located a quick, 30-minute speedboat ride from the airport.
All three overwater villa categories at Dusit Thani Maldives have their own private plunge pool. They also feature thatched roofs, minimalist white decor with occasional pops of color, hardwood floors, and a fantastic island vacation vibe. Bathrooms are luxe with separate soaking tubs, rainfall showers, and Molton Brown bath products, while in-room amenities include Nespresso machines and minibars with wine chillers. Interiors are spacious and the terraces are large, outfitted with sunbeds, cabanas, walkways with direct water access, and plenty of room to throw down a picnic or do some yoga — all with the views of the glittering lagoon.
The Water Villas at Maafushivaru are the most popular places to stay, though many will argue that there’s not a bad room on the island. Each Water Villa is perfectly placed with either an east- or west-facing position, making for remarkable sunrise or sunset views through the large picture windows or right out on the private terrace. You’ll also get a spacious, contemporary bedroom, separate changing area, and bathroom that features a walk-in shower, VOYA bath products, and a separate soaking tub that overlooks the deck.
The Water Villas at Diamonds Thudufushi boast a contemporary European feel, thanks to their all-white and minimalist decor. The Jacuzzi Water Villas take the resort’s standard Water Villas up a notch by adding — you guessed it — a personal whirlpool out on the lagoon-facing terrace. All Water Villas have gorgeous wood parquet floors, a four-poster bed, iMac computers loaded with music and movies, a small corner bar, and luxe bathrooms. A big perk here is the massive outdoor terrace, which has both covered and open sections, a dining table, sunbeds, and steps with direct lagoon access.
There are four different types of overwater villas at Adaaran Prestige Vadoo — Sunrise, Sunset, Japanese, and Honeymoon — and each one has their own draw. For example, the Honeymoon Villas have extra perks like dual-level decks and a more private location, though all overwater villas feature a bamboo fence for privacy. Each villa is equipped with an outdoor wooden deck offering direct water access, a cushy daybed, a pair of sun loungers, and an infinity plunge pool. A king-sized platform bed, an outdoor jetted tub that connects to the bathroom, a stocked minibar, and a free bottle of bubbly round out the offerings.
14. Coco Bodu Hithi
There are 100 individual villas (44 on sand; 66 over water) at this luxury resort, and the overwater options are the most popular. We particularly love the Escape Water Villas for their flexible design. Each unit is encased in floor-to-ceiling glass panels that can be opened up or partitioned into sections as you see fit. There’s also a gorgeous outdoor terrace with a personal infinity plunge pool and a two-person, deep soaking tub overlooking the lagoon. Additional thoughtful touches include Nespresso machines, free sparkling wine and fruit on arrival, disposable cameras, and flip-flops. Plus, the house reef is right under your feet.
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