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Ever since the first overwater bungalow resort was built half a century ago, they have come to define the ultimate romantic tropical getaway.
Overwater villas are the next best thing to a private tropical island of your own – a luxury, rustic-chic bungalow suspended right over top of jewel-toned seas. It brings out the primal human in us all, and activates every romantic instinct.
The originals in French Polynesia were inspired by the makeshift, thatched-roof overwater huts made by local fishermen to work on their catch and boats in the shade. A trio of American entrepreneurs hoping to develop a resort on a property on Ra'iātea that had a rocky waterfront - but no beach - got sudden inspiration and voila! The world’s first overwater bungalow resort. Even the first resort, with no TV or phones even, was rustic compared with today’s versions that can be extravagantly luxurious, it allowed guests to feel embraced by the sea surrounding them. The bungalows featured a clear, plexiglass ‘window’ in the floor to the ocean below, with lights to attract marine life which they nicknamed, ‘Tahitian television’.
The original overwater bungalow resort is no longer, but it inspired a trend that swept the South Pacific and from there, some of the most exotic places in the world.
Other French Polynesian islands, like Tahiti and Bora Bora, are now world-famous for the overwater villa lifestyle that tops many newlyweds’ lists of dream honeymoons.
We suggest: the Four Seasons Bora Bora
You really feel like you are escaping the world when you travel to the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, where a private yacht whisks you across vivid, South Pacific waters from tiny Bora Bora’s airport to the resort, where you’re greeted in true Polynesian style with a h a traditional flower lei and escorted to your private overwater villa.
Above: Moeava de Rosemont / Four Seasons
Top: Andre Klotz/ Four Seasons
Some come with their own plunge pools or spacious decks for your own private access to the turquoise lagoon waters. Inspired by a traditional Polynesian village, with thatched roof-design, and décor and furnishings that celebrate by the island's natural beauty, from from the teak-wood furnishings, to textile patterns derived from traditional body tattoos, to the Mother of Pearl accents in the lighting fixtures, the villas are made to close the rest of the world away.
Your meals can be delivered by canoe for perfect seclusion, or you can join diving and snorkeling expeditions, and the rest of the resort on land.
The Four Seasons Bora Bora has even designed ‘A Meal You'll Always Remember’ for a very special night. You and your beloved board a canoe to a private white-sand motu, where you are greeted with Champagne followed by a personalized dinner for two as the sun sets into the water. Romantic meals may also be arranged on a private section of the resort beach or in your bungalow.
They may have been invented in the South Pacific, but 50 years later, some estimate of the nearly 200 romantic, overwater bungalow resorts in the world, two-thirds are now in the Maldives.
Possibly even more exotic, almost exactly on the opposite side of the planet from North America, the Maldives is a thousand-mile long atoll covered in sandbars begging to be explored in barefoot luxury and experienced in overwater villas.
It puts new meaning into being immersed in the local natural beauty. The pristine waters of the Maldives are epic, surrounding one of the world's most romantic, remote and legendary tropical eco paradise destinations.
We suggest: Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is a pioneering resort located in one of the Maldives' best diving and snorkeling locations. It melds harmoniously with the environment, flowing from island to its overwater villas.
What makes this resort stand out from other overwater villa resorts in the Maldives is that, in addition to overwater villas, the resort also boasts the first underwater restaurant 16 feet below the surface, and the first undersea residence.
Conrad Hotels & Resorts
It’s an extraordinary way for up to 9 guests to experience of one of the world's most breathtaking marine environments. Specialized aquarium technology was used to create the 2-story villa, consisting of an over-water space, and a spiral staircase to an underwater suite more than 16 feet below sea level with a king size bedroom, living room, and bathing area under a dome with 180-degree views of the ocean.
Sleeping in an undersea dome is an almost surreal vacation, but the overwater part of the villa above is unforgettable, too, complete with space for a butler and private security, an ocean-facing bathtub, bar and dining area with a deck facing the sunset, and another deck with an infinity pool facing sunrise.
Conrad Hotels & Resorts
Consciously-designed villas and suites, from ultra-private beach villas nestled amongst the rich tropical landscape with direct beach access, to overwater villas ranging from private and romantic, to expansive for an extended group of family or friends, complete with sundecks, hot tubs steps into the sea, spa treatment rooms and more, provide the iconic Maldives vacation.
Luckily you don’t have to fly around the world to live the dream in tropical, overwater romantic luxury.
We suggest: Sandals Royal Caribbean, Montego Bay, Jamaica
Couples-only Sandals built the Caribbean's first all-inclusive overwater bungalows, finally overcoming the barriers of tides and hurricane construction that had kept the romantic trend from expanding here already.
Sandals Royal Caribbean’s secluded villas are just off the resort's private island with private water taxi service. Picture glass floors, butler service, private infinity pools and outdoor soaking tub for two or hammocks over the water where you can dangle your toes and absorb the sun, extended outdoor decks and outdoor showers that blur the line between indoor and outdoor luxury living.
Your romantic overwater Caribbean experience at this resort is all-inclusive, with fine dining at 8 restaurants and wine and spirits at 5 bars, including swim-up, and stocked bars in every room, with watersports, landsports, entertainment, and for Butler and Club Sandals guests, even private, luxury-vehicle airport transfers. Plus exchange privileges and all amenities and inclusions with 2 nearby Sandals – it's like having 3 resorts in one!
Valentine's Day – or every day – is the best day to dream of an overwater holiday with your sweetheart.
Images courtesy their respective resorts.
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