From Remote Pacific Islands To The South China Sea, These Nature Immersive Bungalows Offer A Private Paradise
By Nubia Duvall Wilson
Vacationing in a villa never gets old, but if you’re looking for an upgraded experience, an overwater bungalow will not disappoint. Often found at resorts in the Caribbean and southern hemisphere, these “floating suites” bring the ocean to your doorstep and provide unobstructed views of surrounding nature. The following accommodations offer a range of styles, amenities, and price points for the discerning world traveler who wants his or her own private piece of heaven.
Known as the “Pearl of the Pacific,” the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort is located on Motu Piti Aau, with striking views of Mount Otemanu. Newly opened in December of this year, it offers four Brando Overwater Suites that are perfect for those seeking privacy, featuring contemporary décor with traditional Polynesian design touches. They each measure 3,465 square feet and include a 1,162 square foot terrace area, a private 200 square foot outdoor pool adjacent to a sundeck with lounge chairs, and direct access to the lagoon. A freshwater shower is also located on the sundeck.
The Brando is available in one or two master bedroom layouts, each with a plush king size bed (or twin beds on request) that face a large picture window and overlook the lagoon and the island. The two baths feature separate showers and window facing double tubs, double washbasins, and a complimentary range of luxury amenities. It can accommodate up to six persons, with a maximum of four adults and two children using the sofa bed.
Start your day with breakfast, served via canoe delivered directly to your bungalow and served on the deck of the villa. Then visit the Lagoonarium to get to know the regional sea creatures before going down to the beach. This on property protected habitat houses a coral nursery and a myriad of fish, nurtured and maintained by a team of marine biologists. Experience “Thalassotherapy” (the use of seawater in wellness treatments) at the Deep Ocean Spa (the first of its kind in the South Pacific), which promotes skin healing. Starting rate for a Brando Overwater Suite is $827 per night.
Set on the volcanic cliffs of Pristine Cove overlooking the Caribbean Sea, Rockhouse, two miles west of Negril, gets its name from its rocky surroundings, which wrap the hotel in total seclusion. Guests experience the privacy of standalone villas that literally dangle over the sea, complete with wraparound balconies and open air showers. The design is rustic chic, with lots of raw materials, stone, and thatched roofs. The destination has become a vacation hotspot for celebs such as Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin, and Rita Ora.
There are two types of villas situated over the water at Rockhouse: premiums are the larger, and provide sunset facing views, while standard villas offer views of Pristine Cove. When guests check in, they receive a printed “Passport” with a series of experiential challenges designed to promote wellness and encourage exploring the beauty and culture of Jamaica. Guests collect stamps for activities completed that can be redeemed for restaurant and spa credit. In addition to fitness challenges like yoga on the rocks and snorkeling, there are Jamaican cooking and painting classes as well as a “Digital Detox” challenge, where guests check their cell phone at the front desk for a minimum of 24 hours to truly disconnect (there are no TVs or phones at the resort).
The hotel is home to three dining establishments: the romantic Rockhouse Restaurant; authentic Jamaican home cooking at Pushcart Restaurant & Rum Bar, and the Pool Grill & Bar, where guests savor jerk chicken and fun frozen cocktail variations. The restaurants and the organic juice/smoothie bar feature local and seasonal ingredients, including produce grown in the hotel’s organic garden, located on the property. The starting rate for a Premium Villa is $550 per night.
Nestled on Gaya Island’s crescent Malohom Bay, off the coast of Sabah, this resort mixes nature and luxury. A member of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts Lifestyle Collection, the hotel and its 52 overwater villas boast vistas of the South China Sea, mangrove forest, or tropical jungle. At its heart is the on site Marine Ecology Research Centre (the only of its kind on an island resort) that propagates endangered species like giant clams as well as coral reefs.
The most luxurious accommodation is Palm Villa, which is 1,650 square feet and features a glass floor that allows guests to admire the sea from inside. A stairway at the private balcony leads directly to the ocean, or opt for a dip in the plunge pool on the deck. The 1,100 square foot Rainforest Villa faces green rolling hills of dense tropical forest and offers a cool jungle breeze.
Outdoor activities include jungle trekking and scuba diving or snorkeling in the surrounding waters to interact with wildlife like starfishes, crabs, and local fish. Equipment is provided free of charge, and includes kayaks and paddle boards. Dining venues offer local and international cuisine, while The Echo Wellness Spa presents an array of relaxing and rejuvenating treatments that incorporate indigenous plants, oils, and other ingredients. Try the two hour Mountain Escape II treatment that combines an authentic Malay massage (Urut) with a thermal Moor Mud wrap rich in minerals to heal and rejuvenate the skin. Starting rate for a standard villa is $300 per night.
Part of the distinguished Leading Hotels of the World, Laucala Island and its 25 Fijian styled villas are set amid coconut plantations, aside deserted beaches, or atop the island’s volcanic mountains. Overlooking fertile coral reefs and jungle is the Overwater Villa, a two bedroom, 3,000 square foot residence that floats over the emerald green lagoon. Features across its two levels include expansive terraces with a hot tub and large private pool (which was carved directly into the rocks of the shore), a living room, dining room, and self standing tubs with ocean views. When guests arrive, they are transferred to the island’s main jetty area, where a private yacht awaits to transfer them to their villas. They can use the wooden pathway extending from their villa to access the main facilities, but if [Travel] they prefer to be transferred back and forth via the yacht, then this can be arranged as well.
Resort amenities include a Deep Flight Super Falcon submarine for underwater explorations, an 18 hole championship golf course, tennis courts, and five restaurants and lounges that feature farm to table cuisine. The island’s Water Sports Centre is home to a fleet of 14 boats, including the Riviera Open Fly bridge model for game fishing, Dragon sailboats, and traditional Fijian outriggers ideal for sunset cruises or archipelago discovery. The Centre also offers windsurfing, kitesurfing, kayaking, and jet skiing. Arguably the best way to explore Fiji’s marine splendor is by snorkeling and diving to get up close and personal with hawksbill turtles and angel sh.
At the full service spa, there is a garden where herbs, spices, flowers, and fruits are picked to create Laucala’s four signature scents: Molikaro (native citrus), Wainimate (medicinal herbs), Senikau (tropical blooms), and Qele (indigenous roots, woods, and spices). Each is incorporated into the facility’s organic lotions and massage oils. Guests are encouraged to become further involved in the experience through the Spa Garden, where an interactive display informs about Fiji’s tropical bounty. They can also pick their own ingredients (including vanilla, lemongrass, cinnamon, nutmeg, coffee, ylang ylang, pepper, and ginger) and create a personally designed essential oil, soap, or lotion in the Spa Kitchen’s coconut press.
Equestrian lovers will be keen to explore Laucala’s beaches, plantations, and wilderness via one of the eight Fijian horses at the resort. Guided walking tours lead to far flung corners of the island, with arranged visits to a Cultural Village showcasing Fijian arts, crafts, and other traditions, as well as Laucala’s organic farms and gardens. Traveling families will appreciate the Kids Club, which offers educational and fun activities for children of all ages, managed by a trained staff. Starting rate for the Overwater Bungalow is $8,800 per night for up to four adults, all inclusive of food, beverage, wine, activities, and one 90 minute spa treatment per person.