Luxury, comfort and peace — three things that make for the perfect vacation, or four, if you add an overwater villa to the wish list.
Most overwater villas or bungalows offer these three for a perfect vacation, along with picture-perfect views. These villas are designed with comfort in mind and provide luxurious amenities and services. Imagine waking up to the sight of the turquoise waters as far as the eye can see. So, here are a few of the world’s best overwater villas — from the Maldives to Mexico — you can bookmark for your next vacation.
Overwater villas to add to your bucket list:
Sandals Royal Caribbean, Jamaica
There is so much beauty and luxury at Sandals Royal Caribbean at Montego Bay that you and your partner would want to spend your entire life here. Who wouldn’t want to wake up to the sight of the vast Caribbean Sea with its turquoise waters from a comfy king-size double bed in any of the majestic overwater villas? An infinity pool, a hammock suspended over the water, sun deck, outdoor shower, water taxi, and personal butler trained with the Guild of Professional Butlers for the entire duration of your stay are just some of the specialities of the villas. Each suite has In each suite, a portion of the floor has transparent glass that lets you see the sea beneath your feet. All overwater accommodations are on the private offshore island of this adults-only resort.
There are nine restaurants, each of which is dedicated to a specific type of cuisine such as Indian, Thai, Italian, French, Caribbean and English. You’ll have access to an unlimited supply of premium liquors, including Robert Mondavi Twin Oaks wines. Among the many activities you can enjoy are paddleboarding, kayaking, snorkelling, and PADI-certified scuba diving.
St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, Tahiti
Measuring at least 1,500 square feet in area, the overwater villas in St. Regis Bora Bora Resort are the largest in South Pacific. This breathtaking French Polynesian island is a popular celebrity vacation destination, which means that you have a good chance of spotting Hollywood film personalities, musicians and even supermodels.
One look at the azure waters of Bora Bora’s famous lagoon is enough to make you feel you are in paradise. You can straightaway dive into the alluring waters from the platform of your overwater villa, each of which has glass viewing panels cut into the floor to let you see tropical fish directly beneath. There are different types of villas for your stay, from the simple Overwater Superior to the two-bedroom Overwater Royal Otemanu. The latter is among those from where you get the best view of the nearby Mount Otemanu, one of the two peaks of an extinct volcano that sits in the middle of the lagoon and is a prime highlight of the tropical island.
To satiate your adventurous sides, you can go snorkelling at the reef or simply amble about on the beaches. For a special experience, swim with the tropical fish amid the corals of the resort’s private Lagoonarium — a protected underwater sanctuary. In the centre of the Lagoonarium is the Iridium Spa, a 13,000 square-foot facility on an island of its own where you can experience the finest therapeutic treatment of both Polynesian and Asian types.
Bawah Reserve, Indonesia
Vacation feels start the moment you take off for this destination in the remote Anambas Archipelago. The only way to reach this pristine piece of natural wonderland is by seaplane. From the air, the view of the sparkling waters surrounding the lush green islands as you approach this secluded paradise is unforgettable.
Bawah Reserve is around 300 kilometres northeast of Singapore. It is known for its blue lagoons, coral reefs and white sands. There are 11 overwater bungalows, each measuring 1130 square feet and offering the best view of the entire lagoon, all the way to the outer islands. Six of them are positioned to give the most perfect view of the sunrise while any of the remaining five are best for sunset photography which will definitely get you those Instagram likes. Sit with a drink at the private verandah or climb down the steps from the sundeck right into the lagoon. Don’t forget to pick the snorkelling equipment that is provided for your use. You can also explore the lagoon in a transparent kayak and sail past your bungalow.
The resort has six islands, 13 private beaches and 100 hectares of primary forest for your exploration. There are two restaurants and two bars, but you can enjoy the dishes and drinks practically anywhere on the islands as well as in your bungalow. Food is made from ingredients grown in Bawah’s own garden. As for adventures, try stand-up paddleboarding, catamaran sailing, take a yacht trip, go on a hiking trail through the forest or scuba diving. If you don’t want to do any of that, take an Indonesian cooking class, art class or batic making, or learn more about marine conservation carried out here. Whatever you do, Bawah Reserve guarantees a stay the two of you won’t forget.
Likuliku Lagoon Resort, Fiji
Likuliku means “calm waters” in English and the tranquillity here truly befits the name. The resort is for adults only and located on the island of Malolo in Fiji. The overwater villas, which are called “bure” in the local language, are designed in traditional Fijian architectural style while incorporating luxurious modern touches. Residents will appreciate the perfection of the hand-carved wooden window pelmets and the hand-woven “magi magi” (woven coconut husk) art.
Likuliku Lagoon Resort claims to be the first and only Fijian resort with overwater bures in a protected marine sanctuary. There are 10 such buildings, which stand over the coral reef with private balconies leading to the ocean. You will certainly be charmed by the feeling of solitude that hangs in the air.
You can choose stand-up paddleboarding, windsurfing, jet-skiing, sailing or kayaking from the list of many water activities that change daily. Both land and sea tours in and around the surrounding Mamanuca Islands are also conducted. You can not only snorkel in the waters of the lagoon but also in other nearby waters of the islands. Surfers can enjoy tours to acclaimed areas in the southern part of the Malolo Barrier Reef. There are special walking trails as well, which include a vantage point known as Jona’s Lookout for a spectacular view of the resort and the South Pacific. Nature-lovers should take the personalised trip to the resort’s Iguana sanctuary where you can learn about how the species are being protected here. Explore the local villages of Yaro and Solevu and see how indigenous landowners live on the islands. An untouched private island known as Mociu Island can be accessed only by the residents of the resort and by invitation. You can have a picnic, go snorkelling and watch the sunrise on this island.
Rosewood Mayakoba, Mexico
The white sand of Riviera Maya, glittering lagoons and enchanting mangrove forests come together to form this oasis in the Yucatan Peninsula. Among the numerous types of residential accommodations that you can rent here is the Delux Overwater Lagoon Suite — a one-of-a-kind creation, half of which sits directly on the emerald waters. Overlooking the mangroves, this suite will make for an ideal choice for honeymooners or even adult couples looking to spend some time away.
There is a lounge terrace with a heated plunge pool, an outdoor garden shower in the luxurious bathroom and a facility for boat docking. The one-bedroom suite has a king-size bed and furnishings that are a mix of tradition and modernity. You will have access to butler service and the finest amenities that the resort provides. There are over 25 restaurants within the Mayakoba resort complex that serve delicacies from all over the world.
A unique experience for you at this place will be a round of golf at Mayakoba’s El Camaleón. Designed by Greg Norman, it is the first PGA Tour Golf Course in Latin America. But if golf is not your idea of fun, take a hike or bike ride through the four kilometres of nature trails that wind all around the resort. And if water is all that you love, you can thank the Mayakoba Dive & Water Sports Center for an unforgettable diving experience in the world’s second-largest barrier reef.
Don’t miss the cenotes — natural sinkholes formed millions of years ago that lead to underground fresh waterways. The cenotes were of spiritual significance to the Mayans, and you can explore these geological wonders.
Cheval Blanc Randheli, Maldives
The Maldives is home to around two-thirds of all of the overwater bungalows in the world. You will find an island resort with water villas, as the buildings are called here, in whichever direction you go. Each is more beautiful than the other. So why pick Cheval Blanc Randheli at Noonu Atoll? Two of the reasons are — Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) is the owner, and its villas are designed by the legendary Jean-Michel Gathy, renowned for his high-end luxury hotel designs. With such illustrious credentials, no wonder A-list celebrities pick this place when they vacation in the Maldives. And perhaps this is why Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, spent some private days here in 2014.
There is one private island and multiple types of villas, most of which are either fully or partially over the water. The minimum size of the villas is 2,580 square feet. Not just a masterpiece in design, every corner showcases contemporary luxury. You will be amazed at the ceilings, texture of the wall, and the colour of furnishings; the villas can easily compete with the costliest penthouses in the world if such a comparison was ever to be made.
If you book the Water Villa, you will be staying in a plush suite completely over the glistening waters that are part of the Indian Ocean. Other than the majestic bedroom, there is a double dressing room and a grand bathroom with an indoor and outdoor rain shower. The lounge is next to a 12.5-metre-long infinity pool for your personal. Cheval Blanc Randheli Island Chic amenities are provided in all villas.
Staying at Randheli will also be as much a discovery of food for you two as it will be of each other’s hearts. There are five restaurants, each dedicated to a specific cuisine from around the world. Of the three bars, do visit the Wine Museum & Cigar Lounge is a must for some rare vintages from the old and new worlds. All your wellness needs can be taken care of at Cheval Blanc Spa, or you can visit the Hair Spa by renowned Parisian hairstylist Leonor Greyl.
Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia
This pristine private island is located in the Koh Rong Archipelago, reachable by a speedboat from Sihanoukville Port. There are three types of overwater villas in Song Saa — one-bedroom, two-bedroom and the Royal Villa, which is the largest. Besides all the usual luxuries, you get a kitchenette with a full refrigerator and espresso machine, a Mojito-making station and an indoor dining facility for up to 12 people. Also, after a swim in the Gulf of Thailand, which you can directly dive into from your villa, you can return for a rain shower available both indoor and outdoor.
The resort takes pride in its sustainable measures and designs amidst the tropical vegetation of the island that it aims to conserve. Structures have been built by locals using reclaimed timber and materials, and then decorated with local art. Wood from old fishing boats has been used for the floors and beams beside the decks. Even the furniture in the villas is made from re-purposed materials.
Enjoy delicious cuisine at any of the two dining areas — the Vista Bar & Restaurant or the Driftwood, a picture-worthy shack on the beach serving drinks from morning to late night. Song Saa serves vegan and vegetarian dishes, too. Ingredients are locally sourced, including the Kampot pepper that gives the dishes a unique flavour.
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This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Hong Kong.