Last Updated on January 27, 2020 by

Have you always dreamt of staying in an overwater bungalow in Maldives? Here’s our experience. Hint: It was just as amazing as we imagined!

staying in an overwater bungalow maldives

With clear skies overhead and the shimmering aqua mint water beneath my feet, I’m sitting on the deck of our overwater bungalow, looking out to the sea that seems to sparkle in different shades of blue. The sound of the lapping waves is hypnotizing and the gentle sea breeze is slowly lulling me to sleep. I take in the 360-degree panorama around me and let out a blissful sigh.

This is Maldives. And it’s even more beautiful than I’d imagined.

Island Life in the Maldives

We knew we’d arrived somewhere special even before our plane landed. The view of Maldives from above was spectacular: Little atolls rose from the dark blue water like droplets of turquoise pearls, in different shapes and sizes. There were hundreds, if not thousands of them, scattered randomly all over the Indian Ocean. It was as if Mother Earth had sprinkled a handful of sapphire gems into the sea and created this nation of atolls.

Landing at Male Airport, I was surprised to find that the terminal building surrounded by azure waters. After a quick speedboat ride to Furanafushi island, we were whisked away to the reception by the warm and friendly staff who greeted us by our first names and handed us fresh fruit punch — it was as though we’d arrived on our very own private island.

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Staying in An Overwater Bungalow in Maldives — What It’s Like

Staying on Furanafushi Island

Furanafushi island is a small, private island, run by an exclusive property, Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort. Located in the North Male Atoll just 15 minutes away from the airport, the resort is one of the most accessible and popular hotels in the country. We chose this island for many reasons: great location near the capital city, excellent reviews from other travelers, and a well-established reputation as one of the first resorts to open in the Maldives.

On Furanafushi, our days were spent lazy on the beach, collecting shells, or chilling out on the big, comfortable beachfront day beds where Baby Kaleya would be lulled to sleep by the sea breeze. Some days, we would head out on scuba diving or island-hopping boat trips; other days we would grab our snorkeling masks and swim in the lagoon right beneath our water bungalow.

The sea surrounding North Male Atoll is home to some of the most biodiverse systems in the world: with expansive coral gardens and a huge abundance of tropical marine species. We would easily spot puffer fish, lion fish and black tipped shark steps away from our room.

Evenings were even more magical as we dined under the stars with the sand between our feet. With several restaurants to choose from, we would feast on traditional Maldivian fish curry on one night and savor tender, fall-off-the-bones lamb shank the next. Some evenings we sat casually on the beach in our flipflops with mojito in hand, while others we dressed to the nines and savored champagne at the club lounge.

It was pure bliss simply being here, enjoying this laid back island life.


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in bliss overwater bungalow maldives

Not Your Average Resort

Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort isn’t your typical five-star chain hotel. It’s a private island resort, which means there’s no other establishment on the island besides the hotel, and only hotel guests are allowed on the island. And despite the luxurious furnishing and facilities, there’s a casual, laidback vibe and a barefoot policy here.

Nature is the main theme here: Hundreds of coconut trees line the beach and lagoon, while colorful frangipani and bright red hibiscus add splashes of colors to the greenery. The sounds of birds singing echo through the banyan trees and the smell of lush tropical foliage constantly fills the air. Hummingbirds and dragonflies flutter above the trees, lime-green lizards skutter on land while under water, manta rays and rainbow fish roam freely.

Architecture wise, the resort oozes an exotic, tropical flair and a elegant design. The resort buildings blend seamlessly into the surroundings using natural elements like thatched roofs, natural hardwood furnishing, timber blinds, indigo blue linen that matches perfectly with the turquoise Indian Ocean. To add a touch of modern feel, it also features stylish outdoor furniture, brightly-colored textiles, abstract lighting and contemporary paintings.

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Modern meets tropical flair - overwater bungalow maldives

Our Experience in an Overwater Bungalow in the Maldives

All of the 176 rooms, suites, villas and water bungalows are tastefully designed with a fusion of rustic beach resort flair and modern, minimalistic style. The slick lines and modern amenities definitely provide the standards you would expect in a five-star hotel.

Every single one the resort’s suites and villas face the water whether they are looking out to the Indian Ocean or the lagoon, so expect to wake up to a beautiful view of the sea and be mere steps away from the beach. There are eight different categories of guest rooms, although all of them feature the Sheraton Sweet Sleeper™ bed, a daybed, 40” LCD TV, CD player, electronic safe, tea and coffee making facilities and plush bathroom robe and slippers.


READ MORE: Things to Know Before Visiting Maldives


Little Kaleya enjoying the big queen bed - overwater bungalow maldives

Sheraton Maldives kindly invited us to stay at two different types of room: the beachfront cottage and the water bungalow. At our beachfront cottage, we were literally five steps away from the main beach (which is almost always empty) and our private terrace was a great place to hang out and take in the views while the baby snoozed in her cot.

We loved the size of the room and its high vaulted ceiling as well as its proximity to the restaurants. Our favorite feature of the cottage was probably the enormous outdoor bathroom that gave us the freedom to shower out in the open but in the privacy of our own space.

The enormous open bath in our beachfront cottage

Alberto and I had wanted to stay in a overwater bungalow for the longest time (we’ve stayed in many cool places – from a yurt to a cave hotel and an igloo) and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Built on stilts over the lagoon, the water bungalow stands dreamily over the shallow coral lagoon. Floor-to-ceiling balcony doors in the bedroom open up to the outdoor deck, where a small stairway leads right into the sea. 

The first thing I saw every morning when I opened my eyes was the beautiful spearmint sea. Even the bathroom has a view of the Indian Ocean – definitely the most spectacular panorama I’ve seen in a bathroom. The bungalow is smaller than the beachfront cottage but the view and the fact that you’re sleeping above water definitely make up for it.

The water bungalows at Sheraton Maldives

Beyond the Room

At Sheraton Maldives, there’s plenty of outdoor lounging space, especially at the Anchorage Bar overlooking the main beach and water sports center. This slick bar functions as a beach club by day and a cocktail lounge area by night. We loved hanging out on one of the enormous daybeds here, as they’re perched right next to the sea (great for a dip!) and big enough for us to lazy with Baby Kaleya.

In the evenings, we would head over to the resort’s main pool, which is located next to Anchorage Bar. It’s surprisingly small considering how many rooms there are at the resort, but again, the pool was never crowded even though the hotel was pretty full.

Daybed at Anchorage Bar

The resort’s main key feature is the Shine Spa, perfect for those who are hoping to completely unwind. It’s actually located on its own island, connected to Furanafushi by a walkway. The therapy rooms are all facing the sea, with wide doors that open out to the private beach. Spa guests also have access to the private pool (the women’s pool is separated from the men’s pool). I had a soothing time listening to the sound of the waves while having a relaxing shoulder and head massage.

The Shine Spa on its own island

In terms of dining facilities, there are plenty of options here on the island. Sheraton Maldives has seven restaurants and lounge bars on the island with flavors for every taste. Feast is their buffet restaurant with resort-style decor and a daily international breakfast and dinner spread. Baan Thai is the elegant dining spot to go to when you’re craving some southeast Asian fare.

Sea Salt is possibly the most intimate and elegant restaurant on the island, serving up fresh from the sea food prepared at the live cooking stations. We had an outrageously good seafood platter chocked full of fresh tuna, seabass, octopus, crab and even lobster, paired with a crisp white wine. Our favorite restaurant of them all is Sand Coast which offers casual, al fresco dining right on the beach. Its menu has a great mix of Maldvian, Chinese and Western cuisine – I highly recommend the lamb shank and coconut sambal.

An excellent meal at Sand Coast

Getting Out and About

On Furanafushi island, there is a lot to do besides just beach bumming. The resort’s water sports center organizes plenty of activities on a daily basis, from snorkeling excursions and fishing trips to dolphin cruises and capital city tours. We went on a sunset cruise to see dolphins, and actually saw more than a dozen of them.

Spinner dolphins live here in their tens of thousands and they have a regular daily routine: feeding offshore at night, coming into the atolls in the early morning, and leaving again for the open ocean in the late afternoon. This dependable schedule means that it is very easy to spot them on sunset cruises in the evenings. While nothing with wildlife can be absolutely guaranteed, my guide says that they see dolphins almost 99% of the time.

Sunset dolphin cruise

Besides that, we also went on a tour of Male, the capital city of Maldives. The three-hour excursion was enough to give us a glimpse of the city, learn a bit about their culture, and even pick up some souvenirs. Our knowledgable guide brought us around the biggest mosque in Male, the oldest landmark in the city, and took us to the fish market and let us sample some local snacks. Each activity organized by the water sports center takes 2-3 hours and costs $50-70. Check here for the full list of activities.

As avid divers, we’d always wanted to go scuba diving in Maldives. The area where Furanafushi is located was one of the first to be discovered for its scuba diving delights and it comprises some of the oldest and most popular sites in the Maldives. According to our dive master, the northern atolls tend to have healthier reefs and better macro life, whilst the southern atolls have more sharks.

There are around 40 dive sites around Sheraton Maldives alone. The dive center at Sheraton Maldives organizes dives as well as open-water courses and rescue courses. Each dive costs US$97 (including equipment) and they can be booked directly with the hotel. For more info, head on their website for more details.

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Seeing a turtle on our scuba dive - overwater bungalow maldives

Conclusion

It’s pretty obvious we loved our time at Sheraton Maldives. The island turned out to be even dreamier than we’d imagined and staying at the water bungalow was definitely a special experience. Before coming to the Maldives, we were worried that we would get bored just beach bumming and not doing much, but the array of activities here really surprised us. The different variety of food we had every day also spiced up our tastebuds and made our time there even more fun.

Besides the spectacular setting and beautiful design, what I liked most about Sheraton Maldives is that it never felt crowded. We knew the resort was pretty full, based on all the guests we saw at breakfast. But other than that we never really saw anyone around. The beaches and pools were almost empty all the time and we felt like we had the place to ourselves everywhere we went. That definitely made it all the more exclusive.

The water just steps away - overwater bungalow maldives

If I had to pick out things I didn’t like about the resort, it would have to be the proximity of other islands around it. The main beach of the island faces Male which is pretty far out but you can still see the constructions. On the lagoon side, you can see another islet that seems to be a fishing industrial area, although it’s again rather far away. In other words, the island is surrounded by civilization and it doesn’t exactly give you the feeling of being castaway. It may be a good thing though, especially for those who don’t like to feel like they’re in a remote area far from the rest of the world.

That said, we had an excellent time at the Sheraton Maldives kicking back and completely soaking up island life. Everything went exactly the way we wanted – but the island surprised us with even more than we’d asked for. It felt like a true escape and it gave us the opportunity to reconnect with each other and with the natural surroundings.

The next time we come back to the Maldives, I know where we’ll be staying for sure.



To give you a better idea, here’s a video of our stay at Sheraton Maldives:

 


More Information

How to get there:

The only international airport in the Maldives is Male Ibrahim Nasir International Airport. Numerous airlines fly there directly from Europe and other parts of Asia. Our flight from Singapore to Male cost only US$320 return on Tigerair.

Find cheap flights to Maldives.

Sheraton Maldives provides a mandatory speedboat transfer for all arrivals, and the transfer service is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The cost for the combined roundtrip transfer service from/to the airport is US$136 per person.

Hotel Rates:

Daily rates at Sheraton Maldives range from US$375 for a deluxe room to US$1,200 for a water suite. Our beachfront cottage is priced at US$565 per night and water bungalow US$625 per night. These rates include breakfast at Feast Restaurant.

Check their latest rates here.

Read their Tripadvisor reviews.


Disclaimer: Our stay was made possible by Sheraton Maldives, but all opinions expressed above are my own.

 

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