9 Reasons to Vacation in Overwater Bungalows

In the Maldives and Bora Bora, overwater bungalows take coastal living up a notch.

by Caroline McCoy

With endless ocean views and private bungalow excursions, a vacation in Bora Bora is a relaxing respite.

“Staying on the water” takes on a literal meaning for guests of Four Seasons resorts in Bora Bora and the Maldives, where hotel rooms come in the form of thatched-roof villas standing on stilts over placid seas. Step inside one of these iconic bungalows, and you’ll find breezy indoor-outdoor spaces, overwater hammocks, private plunge pools, floor windows for watching marine life and views that seem to go on forever.

What else makes a stay on the water so wondrous? We turned to a few of our guests, who documented their overwater-bungalow stays on Instagram, to find out.

The walk to your room is stunning

A photo posted by Whitney Kaye (@whitneykaye_) on

No elevators or confusing corridors here. At Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, wooden boardwalks stretch into the Pacific Ocean, connecting white-sand beaches to private one-, two- and three-bedroom villas. With the stunning backdrop of towering Mount Otemanu, it’s no wonder the walk inspires guests to capture its beauty.

Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora

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Exploring requires little more than a swimsuit

A photo posted by LAUREN BULLEN (@gypsea_lust) on

The best way to explore Bora Bora and the Maldives is by water, and overwater bungalows offer prime access, as Lauren Bullen (@gypsea_lust) found during her stay at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru. Encounter wildlife while snorkelling, swimming, kayaking or paddleboarding in the restful waters around your villa. Surfers can head farther afield to find excellent waves, while sailors and kitesurfers search for perfect breezes.

Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru

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Your neighbours are always up for a visit

A photo posted by Karina Sell (@kawalk_) on

Bora Bora’s barrier reef and coral gardens make it one of the most diverse marine ecosystems on the planet. Sea turtles, rays and colourful reef fish inhabit the waters that surround the bungalows at Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora. Many of them make their way to the Resort’s Lagoon Sanctuary, which serves as a critical research and conservation point for marine biologists, as well as a prime snorkelling spot for guests. Avid traveller and Four Seasons guest Karina Sell (@kawalk_) jumped in for a visit.

The UNESCO-protected waters of Baa Atoll, in the Maldives, are also ecologically diverse, with the largest known population of manta rays in the world and a significant coral reef system. This video from Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa offers a glimpse of the sights you’ll behold when accompanying one of our instructors on a dive.

Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa

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Four Seasons Maldives Private Island Voavah is the world’s first exclusive-use UNESCO retreat. At each Maldivian resort, you’ll find hawksbill sea turtles, manta rays, dolphins and other marine animals swimming around your overwater villa.

The view from your back yard is endless

A photo posted by JACK MORRIS (@doyoutravel) on

Shades of blue stretch for miles in the Maldives, as world traveller and photographer Jack Morris discovered during his recent trip to Landaa Giraavaru. Water villas at each of the three Maldivian Four Seasons properties offer technicolour views of the Indian Ocean, from sunrise to sunset. In Bora Bora, towering Mount Otemanu, turquoise waters and quiet lagoons are best appreciated from the deck or private plunge pool of an overwater bungalow.

Your morning dip is steps away

A photo posted by Vacation Dweller (@chris1cal) on

Wake up. Jump in. When you’re living on some of the world’s most beautiful water, there’s no better way to start the day. Instagrammer @chris1cal captured a morning plunge into the lagoon in Bora Bora. The mood in his photo: Pure joy.

Breakfast arrives by boat

A photo posted by Shelly Strazis (@shellystrazis) on

Overwater bungalows in Bora Bora and the Maldives are accessed by wooden walkways, but occasionally visitors come by boat. When you order the Canoe Breakfast at Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, your morning meal arrives ceremoniously in a Polynesian canoe. While your table is set with fresh flowers, hop aboard for a short paddle around the lagoon. Photographer Shelly Strazis captured the ritual and wrote, “You better wake up on the sunny side when room service paddles up to your bungalow!”

Clear, warm waters make for kid-friendly fun

A photo posted by AMBER FILLERUP CLARK (@amberfillerup) on

Even the youngest travellers can enjoy the watery worlds of Bora Bora and the Maldives, thanks to the vibrant oceans and lagoons that surround each villa. In Bora Bora, overwater bungalows are equipped with glass floor panels for a glimpse of the marine life swimming below, and parents can take young kids into the Resort’s tranquil lagoon to get an even closer look.

Blogger Amber Fillerup Clark accompanied her young son into the shallows, where he met a school of butterfly fish. Older children can get more hands-on with their aquatic neighbours, through Kids For All Seasons programmes and marine conservation projects.

You can relax anytime, anywhere

A photo posted by Lesley • The Road Les Traveled (@lesleyannemurphy) on

Spending the day in your hotel room isn’t a travel faux pas, when that hotel room is an overwater bungalow. Plunge pools, wide decks, overwater hammocks and steps that lead straight into the ocean are just a few of the features that make relaxing in your room an authentically local experience. Take in a day of sea breezes and water exploration, and get a front-row view of the sunset, all without leaving your villa. Just ask travel blogger Lesley Murphy, who found a quiet place to float not far from her overwater bungalow at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa.

Ultimate privacy comes with limitless views

Opening in late 2016, Four Seasons Maldives Private Island at Voavah is all yours to discover. The seven-bedroom resort features water and beach villas, along with a private luxury yacht and your own personal staff. Spa services, sailing, boating, diving, surfing and snorkelling are all within easy reach, and the Indian Ocean views are exclusively yours to enjoy. What’s missing? Everyone else.

A photo posted by Paul Pearce (@pearce78) on

In Kuda Huraa, Landaa Giraavaru and Bora Bora, privacy is easy to come by in the stand-alone overwater bungalows. Traveller Paul Pearce documented his quiet morning, surrounded by little more than water, at Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora.