Lonely Planet Writer

These villas in the Maldives have slides to take you right into the water

A luxury resort in the Maldives is sure to appeal to the child in all of us – as the incredible overwater villas feature slides that guests can take straight down and into a shimmering blue lagoon.

The villa in the Maldives has its own slide. Image by Mohamed Aryf

Soneva Jani, a resort that opened just over a year ago in the Maldives, is built around the 150-acre island of Medhufaru. There are 24 water villas and one island village in a 5.6km lagoon, which is one of the largest in the Maldives.

Each one includes a 13-metre private pool on the outdoor deck, where lucky guests can relax as they look out over the lagoon. If getting straight in the crystal clear ocean is more appealing, then you can hop on the amazing slides that take you down into the water.

This retreat features a waterslide straight into the ocean. Image by Stevie Mann

Since Soneva Jani has a focus on preserving the eco-system, the pools use seawater with UV filtration and the villas are built over the floor of the lagoon so there is no damage to the reef.  If you want to admire the complex ecosystem below, the overwater villas also have three different glass-bottomed areas so you can check out views of the water from all angles.

Enjoy a pool while you look out on the ocean. Image by Stevie Mann

For anyone looking up, the master bedrooms even have retractable roofs that make stargazing easy and enjoyable. The resort also features the first overwater observatory in the Maldives, where guests can go and learn more about the skies with the help of the resident astronomer.

An overview of the villa, which features a pool and a waterslide. Image by Jack Brown

If you want to sneak in a bit of culture, the resort also provides the first open-air overwater cinema in the Maldives, so you can hang out on the beach and check out some new and classic cinema. To help protect nesting turtles and wildlife, guests can listen to the film with Bluetooth headphones.

Where were overwater bungalows invented?

Travellers looking to stay in classic overwater bungalows generally head to the South Pacific. That’s because they were first conceived in the 1960s in Tahiti. Three Americans from California, Hugh Kelley, Muk McCallum and Jay Carlisle, moved there and opened hotels. But that lack of sandy beaches on Raiatea led them to come up with a plan to create rooms that would bring guests right to the water.

Where can I stay in an overwater villa?

While overwater bungalows are synonymous with relaxing vacations in the South Pacific, more and more places around the world are building them. Mexico’s first overwater bungalows opened back in 2016 and they are also a staple around the Maldives.

Where can I stay in an underwater villa?

Travellers looking for something even more incredible than a vacation over water can try the first “undersea residence” at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. The Muraka suite has a private living space over the water, as well as a living space and bedroom five metres underwater.