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The Absolute BEST Overwater Bungalow Resorts in the Maldives

Nothing screams "paradise" like the Maldives, a 26-atoll chain of islands known for its sparkling turquoise waters, sugar-white beaches, and, of course, dreamy overwater bungalow resorts. We found 14 Maldives resorts worthy of your dream romantic escape.

Senior Editor, Jetsetter | @lindseytravels |

See recent posts by Lindsey Olander

Exterior pool at Shangri-La's Villingili Resort

Shangri-La's Villingili Resort

Recognize this 132-villa gem? The Bachelorette: Season 14′s final episode was filmed at this private Maldives resort. There are overwater bungalows, of course, but also treetop aeries overlooking palm-lined beaches and winding trails, where guests can take bicycles out for a spin. Shangri-La is renowned for its attention to Asian wellness, and you’ll find it at the Chi spa, where the order of the afternoon should be a cucumber-and-honey body wrap or Philippine Hilot massage using warm coconut oil and banana leaves. Up for a bigger adventure? Go on a dolphin cruise, head out for a round of nine-hole golf, or charter the resort’s own yacht for exploring the nearby islands, home to tiny villages and a defunct Air Force base.

RELATED: The World’s Most Romantic Island Getaways


Taj Coral Reef Resort & Spa

Spread out over Hembadhu Island in the North Malé Atoll, Taj Coral Reef Resort & Spa is a laid-back take on five-star luxury, with an eye towards showcasing the area’s natural beauty. The beds in each one of its 62 thatch-roof villas are perfectly positioned to watch the sunset, there’s a moon deck for stargazing, and guests spend time between meals wreck diving, spying coral reefs by submarine, getting an aerial view from a seaplane, night fishing, participating in the daily sting-ray feeding, or simply soaking in the moment during an Indian-inspired massage at the Jiva Spa.


LUX* South Ari Atoll

A top-to-toe overhaul by Bangkok-based P49 Deesign studio transformed this 193-pavilion resort into a beach-chic retreat, now with signature over-water villas each with their own private infinity pool. Honeymooners will especially dig the three Temptation Pool Water Villas, which feature twin showers and direct lagoon access. Here, you won’t lack for dining options—there are five restaurants spanning everything from Japanese to Middle Eastern—but our favorite feature might be the monthly expert-led workshops on watercolor painting, travel photography, or meditation.

RELATED: 18 Swoon-Worthy Overwater Bungalows


Niyama Private Islands Maldives

This sister resort to the brand’s more buttoned-up Huvafen Fushi property is perfect for young parents with one-year-olds, toddlers, or teenagers in tow. On the roster: an activity-filled kid’s club complete with a sandy playground and water park; a game center with Xboxes, a movie screening room, and a golf simulator; and an eye-popping underwater restaurant that hosts wine tastings and glow parties. Adults will have just as much fun thanks to chartered sails on a dhoni (a traditional Maldivian fishing boat), private snorkeling excursions, a marine biology lab where you can adopt coral, and 48 versatile villas that can house anywhere from two to 14 guests.

Pool at Velassaru Maldives
People swimming in front of bungalows at Velassaru Maldives

Velassaru Maldives

While Velassaru might not be the remotest of Maldives resorts (Malé is never out of sight), it still feels like a blissful escape thanks to a cool, Ibiza-like design aesthetic (i.e. white-on-white everything) and direct water access from stilted villas as luxurious as any other of the country’s award-winning resorts. Join the rest of the barefoot guests at the beachfront Fen Bar for a tropical cocktail (or two) before heading out to explore, be it on a visit to Maldivian dolphin feeding grounds or night snorkeling to spot sleeping fish or moray eels.

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island at night
Bedroom at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

Those who prefer quantity above all else would do well by the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, whose 150 villas and—count ‘em—seven restaurants take up two separate islands connected by a footbridge. You won’t go wrong with any of the room options here: beach villas are bright and breezy, with sunken baths and private courtyards, stilted water villas have direct ocean access, and retreat water villas (the most exclusive option) come with their own Jacuzzi and treatment room when you just can’t drag yourself to the spa. The biggest hotel highlight, however, is the Undersea Restaurant, an eye-popping space 16 feet below the water’s surface where fine European cuisine is served while schools of fish swirl all around.


Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort

While Anantara Dhigu is just a short speedboat ride from Malé and the airport, its surrounded by a tranquil lagoon teeming with marine life like puffer fish and reef sharks. You’ll find every typical-to-the-Maldives amenity at the resort—minimalist over-water bungalows, freshwater plunge pools, beachside yoga, a glass-floored spa, endless watersports—but with the added bonus of sharing restaurant access and facilities with its sister property, Anantara Veli, just a neighboring island away.

Beach at Cheval Blanc Randheli
bathroom at Cheval Blanc Randheli

Cheval Blanc Randheli

You might recognize the tasteful eye of designer Jean-Michel Gathy (the man behind the One&Only Reethi Rah and the Chedi Muscat, among others) at this second branch of prestigious French brand Cheval Blanc. Every detail in its 45 cathedral-roofed, chic beach villas has been poured over, and onsite extras include all-white rentable bicycles, a Havilland seaplane (which transfers guests to and from Malé), and rattan-ceilinged Guerlain spa, reachable by dhoni. But be warned: after an indulgent facial and massage, followed by the nine-course tasting menu at Le 1947 restaurant, you might never want to return to real life.

Living room at Soneva Jani
Pool and hot tub at Soneva Jani

Soneva Jani

One of the best Maldives resorts is more than twice as large as its sister resort, Soneva Fushi, which means guests get more amenities to while away their hours in paradise. Take the 25 villas—all ultra-spacious sanctuaries, some with open-air bathrooms, overwater swings, and slides leading to the ocean from second-floor terraces. At the heart of it all is the clubhouse, where you can spend your days relaxing by the pool, bellying up to the juice bar, listening to live musicians, or taking a yoga class. JS Tip: Fans of the Soneva brand will be happy to note that its beloved Cinema Paradiso returns for nighttime screenings paired with popcorn under the stars.

Outdoor bathtub at Baros Maldives
Boat in front of Baros Maldives

Baros Maldives

The pristine North Malé Atoll is overflowing with resorts, one as beautiful as the next, but the 85-villa Baros Maldives stands out among the pack. There’s the incredible cuisine and, thanks to a position over a pristine coral reef and the archipelago’s first dive center, some of the best diving in all of the Maldives. Manta rays, turtles, blue-striped snapper are common passersby, and the Eco Dive Center offers courses on ecology and conservation. For even more time on the water (or just an excuse to up the romance), book a trip on Nooma, the resort’s own dhoni, which takes couples out on champagne sunset cruises or visits to a “black coral” reef.


Six Senses Laamu

You don’t normally associate surfing with the Maldives—unless you’re talking about this Six Senses, the only resort on the southern Laamu Atoll which is known for its Yin Yang reef break just offshore. Private plunge pools have been added to the villas, and there’s a swimming pool with sunken seating. Not that you’ll be spending much time in it, thanks to a wave of activities (paddle-boarding, catamaran sailing, wakeboarding) that get you out into the real thing. The property is very environmentally-conscious, which means making use of natural ventilation and low thatched roofs, but this is Six Senses after all, so if it’s luxury you’ve come for, they’ll deliver it in spades.

Jumeirah Vittaveli - Private Ocean Retreat with Slide - living room
Jumeirah Vittaveli - Main Pool

Photos courtesy of Jumeirah Group


Jumeirah Vittaveli

Gorgeous seaplane rides aside, sometimes an extra flight is too much to suffer after the long-haul journey to Malé. Thankfully, Jumeirah Vittaveli is just a short catamaran ride away. Inspired by villages in the area, this resort consists of traditional thatched and coral-clad villas all situated around the island’s sugar-white beach. Our favorite rooms are the “Private Ocean Retreats”—freestanding villas accessible only by boat that feature outdoor sand decks, overwater hammocks, and water slides (oh yes) that get you from your upstairs balcony to the lagoon in seconds. But don’t spend too much time pruning in your infinity pool: this Jumeirah knows how to plan an experience, be it a beachside dinner by candlelight or snorkeling to nearby shipwrecks.

Private pool at Jumeirah Vittaveli
Bedroom at Jumeirah Vittaveli

The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort

The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort is everything you’d want in a far-flung island escape—except perhaps for the price tag. But you get what you pay for: take your pick between 33 on-land and 44 overwater villas, each with their own private pools and signature white-glove butler service. The property’s crown jewels are the John Jacob Astor Estate, the largest overwater villa in the Maldives at 16,000-plus square feet, and the country’s largest recreational area, which includes an anti-gravity yoga studio, a beauty salon, and an Observatory Tower where you can take in unrivaled views of the sea and sky.

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Milaidhoo Island Maldives

This Maldives resort makes good on its promise of “barefoot luxury” with an informal, laid-back approach to hospitality and unparalleled access to the Baa Atoll, a protected UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Located on a tiny 13-acre island, the resort’s 50 over-water and garden villas are designed using natural and local materials, and each come with their own freshwater infinity pools. There are also three restaurants and a stilted spa—but where Milaidhoo shines is the opportunity guests have to immerse themselves in Maldivian life (joining a fisherman on his daily rounds, foraging with the head chef, or paying a visit to nearby Hanifaru Bay, home to the largest groupings of manta rays in the world).

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