7 Stunning Overwater Bungalows Worth the Splurge, from the Maldives to Jamaica

These gorgeous overwater bungalows make perfect dream vacation spots for families and couples.
Emerald Maldives Resort and Spa (Photo: Emerald Maldives)
Photo: Emerald Maldives Resort and Spa

Fly above The Maldives in a seaplane and you’d be forgiven for thinking that the whole of the Indian Ocean is dotted with glamorous overwater bungalows hovering above sand-rimmed micro islands. But while some of the world’s most gorgeous overwater bungalows do call this region home, the Indian Ocean is far from the only spot on earth where you can enjoy these kinds of Instagram-fabulous vacation accommodations. 

The first overwater bungalows in the world were built in the Islands of Tahiti in 1967, and these days you can find this fabulous trend as far and wide as Jamaica, Belize, Bora Bora, and even Sweden. Here are seven stunning overwater bungalows all around the world that make perfect dream vacation spots for families and couples.

Gorgeous Overwater Bungalows for Families and Couples

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1. Emerald Maldives Resort and Spa

Fasmendhoo, The Maldives

Overwater bungalows at Emerald Maldives Resort and Spa (Photo: Emerald Maldives)
The Emerald Maldives Resort and Spa offers an ultra-luxe overwater bungalow experience (Photo: Emerald Maldives)

Balancing a team of trained sommeliers and a robust kids’ club with secluded water play area, Emerald Maldives Resort and Spa in The Maldives hits all the right notes for families seeking an elegant overwater bungalow experience in a refined but unstuffy environment. 

All meals, wines, cocktails, beers, and non-motorized water sports are included in the cost of your stay. You’ll also be able to communicate via WhatsApp with a villa host for all your extra requests and desires, and a complimentary photo shoot and 6×10 print are part of the deal, too. 

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With cool air conditioning, island-wide Wi-Fi, a massive bathroom and bedroom, walk-in closet, and large overwater deck with step-down access into the Indian Ocean, there isn’t a more luxurious resort with overwater bungalows anywhere on the planet. The nearby Emerald Faarufushi Resort and Spa (opened in 2022) also offers family overwater bungalows.

2. Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Sunset at Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort's overwater bungalows (Photo: The Palm Dubai)
For the ultimate in family bonding, catch the sunset from Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort’s overwater bungalows (Photo: The Palm Dubai)

Featuring the only overwater bungalows in the Middle East, Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort is the kind of rare resort where families can enjoy mornings on a private terrace with nothing but crystal clear water between you and a stunning sunrise. 

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Inside each of the elegant 1,140-square-foot overwater bungalows is a luxurious bathtub and rain shower, plus glass floor panels for supreme ocean viewing. When you’re ready to hit the town, a personal villa host can help you arrange all your dining and entertainment while in Dubai. Options include soaring high in the Burj Khalifa or getting down low on the floor with adoptable kitties and a cup of hot tea at the Ailuromania Cat Cafe.

3. Sandals Royal Caribbean

Montego Bay, Jamaica

Room view from the overwater bungalows at Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay, Jamaica (Photo: Sandals Resorts)
The romantic overwater bungalows at Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay, Jamaica, are the perfect splurge for couples looking for a a kids-free getaway (Photo: Sandals Resorts)

If floating water hammocks for two and glass floors for private tropical fish peeping sounds like heaven, then the Sandals Royal Caribbean in Jamaica is calling. Designed for romance (so make it a couples getaway and leave the kids), these Jamaica all-inclusive overwater bungalows form a heart around the wooden boardwalk extending over the turquoise Caribbean sea.

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Each one offers an expansive patio with a two-person soaking tub, outdoor shower, suspended patio with swim-up platform, and an overwater hammock. Also included in these once-in-a-lifetime Caribbean overwater bungalows is personalized butler service, 24-hour in-room dining, and a private water taxi to take you to and from the mainland. 

4. Tobacco Caye Paradise

North Point, Tobacco Caye, Belize

Aerial view of the overwater bungalows at Tobacco Caye (Photo: Duarte Dellarole)
Tobacco Caye’s gorgeous bungalows are sustainable and off-the-grid (Photo: Duarte Dellarole)

Sustainable and off-the-grid, the gorgeous overwater bungalows at Tobacco Caye Paradise are colorfully painted and disconnected from the world, making them the perfect spot to relax and recharge. Located on a five-acre islet stuffed with swaying palm trees, Tobacco Caye is a part of a 17,878-acre marine wonderland for divers, snorkelers, and kayakers. The population here is only 30 people and there are no TVs on the little islet.

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Overlooking the Belize Barrier Reef, these overwater villas are shabby chic to the max, rustic and comfortable but not extravagant, with lounge chairs and a hammock on private decks to watch giant stingrays swim below. Delicious Belizean meals are shared in the dining hall, and the property is a true eco-dream because it collects rainwater, generates its own electricity from solar power, and provides filtered water to refill your own reusable water bottles. 

5. Arctic Bath

Harads, Sweden

Arctic Bath in Sweden has a different take on luxury overwater bungalows (Photo: Arctic Bath)
Arctic Bath in Sweden embraces Scandinavian culture with its take on luxury overwater bungalows (Photo: Arctic Bath)

If you’re like Elsa from Frozen and the cold never bothered you anyway, head to the remote and cozy overwater bungalows of Artic Bath in the Swedish Lapland. Decorated and designed to bring the natural world inside, with contemporary Scandinavian textiles and architecture, this truly magical spot is a dream destination for experiencing the Northern Lights—and the healing ritual of a cold bath and sauna at the spa.

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Free-floating and over water in the summertime, these architectural wonders become a part of the frozen Lule River in the cold of winter, when night reigns supreme and the colors of Aurora Borealis dance overhead. Each floating cabin has heated floors and a pellet stove, a double bed, bathroom with shower, air-conditioning, minibar, and spa bar, and is connected to the wider world via Wi-Fi.

6. Bawah Reserve

Bawah Island, Riau Islands, Indonesia

Jetty view from treetops at dusk (Photo: Bawah Reserve)
Gorgeous views and complimentary spa services come standard in the overwater bungalows at Bawah Reserve in Indonesia (Photo: Bawah Reserve)

Accessible by ironwood walkways, the massive overwater bungalows at Bawah Reserve in Indonesia have vistas over the lagoon and outer islands that seem tailor made for Instagram. An air-conditioned interior splashed with aqua seascapes and jungle murals is also a delight for the senses, but the money shot is when you step outside onto your private verandah and open-air sundeck, then head down to the warm tropical waters below. 

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During your stay, you’ll enjoy one complimentary spa service per person per day, and plenty of free activities, like kayaking to 13 different beaches. Staying here has more positives than just slowing you down and connecting you to nature, too. You will also be contributing to the Bawah Anambas Foundation, supporting 45,000 people living across 200 Anambas islands through marine conversation, education, and financial help. 

7. The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Aerial view of Mont Otemanu and the St Regis Resort Bora-Bora (Photo: Shutterstock)
Aerial view of Mont Otemanu and the St Regis Resort Bora-Bora (Photo: Shutterstock)

Few destinations on Earth carry the aspirational weight of Bora Bora. At the luxurious yet thoroughly family-friendly overwater bungalows of the St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, the thatched-roof rooms evoke authentic and picturesque Polynesian vibes. And from your bungalow you’ll have easy access to the South Pacific paradise, including a protected sanctuary called Lagoonarium that’s a perfect spot for snorkeling in calm waters.

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The resort’s complimentary kids club offers supervised childcare activities for kids ages five to 12 in a colorful indoor playroom. For everyone, there’s free-to-use non-motorized water sports equipment, including a Hobie Cat. And don’t miss the exciting AquaSafari, where you can wear a special helmet that allows you to breathe underwater while walking with a guide to spot marine life.

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Jeff Bogle
Jeff Bogle is a dad of two teen daughters, an Iris Award-winning photographer, avid traveler, music lover, and English football fanatic who has written about parenting, family life, travel, food, culture, and more for The Washington Post, Parents Magazine, FamilyVacationist, Fodor’s, Good Housekeeping, Reader’s Digest, and PBS among other publications. Jeff is also the publisher and editor-in-chief of Stanchion, a quarterly print literary and photography magazine. He lives in the East Village neighborhood of New York City with his wife, one remarkable rescue pitbull, and four cats.