• Sherryann Charlton

Where in the world can you vacation in a bungalow built over the water?

Does the notion of an “overwater bungalow” strike your fancy? It’s exactly what it sounds like – a residence built not next to, but atop, the ocean itself. Once an innovation of French Polynesia, the Maldives have taken up this unique art form and perfected it. And perfect is how it will feel to spend a night in one of these beauties. Below the floorboards, the Indian Ocean surges in gentle swells against the posts that hold your bungalow up – and keep you dry! Let’s book your perfect bungalow!


The concept actually originated in French Polynesia over fifty years ago. But the Maldives took up the art form, fine-tuned it, and perfected it into a form of serene bliss unknown elsewhere on the planet. These days, overwater bungalows in the Indian Ocean far outnumber those built in the territory of France. So save your “Mercis” and "Excusez-mois”. The Maldives – actually a former British colony – is where you want to go!

The overwater bungalows in the Maldives –


floating on the clearest, most serene ocean that you’ve ever seen – are nothing trivial or small. More than resorts, one could call these complexes overwater villas! Ranging from 1,200 to more than 5,000 square feet, they’re as large as many American homes, and far more comfortable and relaxing.

No stay in the Maldives is complete without a night in one of these marvels – and, ideally, a week or more. Let’s take a gander of some of the tiny nation’s best overwater homes:



The Park Sunset Ocean Pool Villa at Park Hyatt Maldives, Hadahaa is a perfect place to get out on the water to snorkel or dive. It’s easy when you’re already right over the ocean! From your villa, you’ll get no city view, and not even palm trees. Just the perfect blue ocean and perfect blue sky. The villas – at just over 1200 square feet – have a stunning glass-walled bathroom and an infinity pool.




Or, if you’re looking for a place to bring the kids, try the Water Retreat at Soneva Jani Because here there’s a water slide. Dumping straight out into the ocean that’s right beneath you. And the living spaces are huge (from one-bedroom suites at 4,477 square feet, to four bedrooms at a gargantuan 13,196 square feet). It’s an ideal spot for a family break!

At the Muraka, at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, the bungalows aren’t just over-the-water. This unique residence contains – in addition to the usual – an underwater living space, encased by a curved acrylic dome. Sixteen feet beneath the surface of the ocean, it’s not for the timid, but it’s an experience that will flutter any thrill-seeker’s heart.


If you’re looking for a lot of space, try the Overwater Pool Villa at Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas. At over 2,800 square feet, these villas are designed for you to be able to spread out and relax. Soak in an infinity pool or a glass-bottomed bathtub, or take trips out to the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that surrounds the resort. And spend some time looking down, with a snorkel, or up, with binoculars at night, from the only overwater observatory in the Maldives.



Lastly, if the words “all-inclusive” get your heart racing, you have to check out the Over-the-Water Villa Sunrise at Club Med Finolhu Villas. All meals, drinks and most activities are included. And these fun diversions range from sailing lessons and trapeze school to yoga and beach volley. In this villa, you can’t go wrong!



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