5 of the best oceanside villas

Mamole Tree House, Nihi Sumba, Indonesia

There’s nothing quite like sleeping by the sea. But what sensational seaside escape should you book for your next getaway? CATHERINE FAIRWEATHER turns beachcomber to bring you the very best


MAMOLE TREE HOUSE Nihi Sumba, Indonesia

This three-bedroom villa, designed around the enormous trunk of an ironwood tree, is designed in the Nihi Sumba resort’s spirit of sustainable, rustic luxury. Built out of indigenous natural materials, such as bamboo and alang-alang grass, it’s open to breezes and the sounds of birds and lapping waves. The pointy-roofed, conical-stilted villas connected by a bamboo bridge certainly have a storybook fantasy charm that draws the regulars. But nothing can compete with the extraordinary views of the Indian Ocean’s foaming surf and the beach, deserted mostly, except when the locals go rock-pooling or foraging for seaweed and starfish. Book through Ampersand Travel

EL COYOL Lake Nicaragua, Nicaragua

This is your own private tropical island, with boatman and docks, yoga platforms, an infinity pool and attentive staff. One of 365 islands created by an explosion from the nearby Mombacho volcano some 20,000 years ago, Lake Nicaragua is a vast freshwater inland sea with tides whipped up by mercurial winds and harboring a rich variety of wildlife. The English owners’ minimalist style at El Coyol is peaceful and comfortable, with four bedrooms dividing the property into two houses. You can paddle canoes to the local café, Pirata, for a change of scene, or go further afield to the mainland, where you can admire the lava flow of Masaya, swim in warm volcanic lakes and explore the markets of Granada and the Pueblos Blancos. Book through Real Latin America

Minimalist, airy and light, El Coyol provides a total escape on the vast waters of Lake Nicaragua
Savor Aonagi’s architecture and cool forest views over the Seto Inland Sea

AONAGI Matsuyama, Japan

This lofty, seven-suite modern structure, built high on a forested mountain overlooking the islands of the Seto Inland Sea, is part sensational private retreat, part art installation and part architectural wonder. Designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando, staying here is about experiencing the beauty of the ever-changing ocean light through the prism of the surrounding bodies of water: sea, pools and waterfalls. Inspired by the architect’s brilliant Chichu museum on the nearby Art Island of Naoshima, Aonagi is just a few hours’ drive away and is the obvious next port of call. Where else in the world would you actually get to sleep in an art museum? Works by artists like Rieko Kawabe and Frank Stella hang in the library above the jade-colored pool table, giving Aonagi a unique identity. Book through Discover Shikoku!


The vast jagged mountain backdrop of the Musandam Peninsula dwarfs the schooner, Dhahab, as its glides between Oman’s desert fjords, called khors, that fan out along the Strait of Hormuz. Its double decks and roomy, light-filled cabins are immediately relaxing with their bleached wood and linen ‘barefoot’ aesthetic; a low-key, organic design that is very much in the Six Senses mold. The celebrated 10-year-old beach resort in Zighy Bay, from where you lift anchor at the start of the trip, manages Dhahab and provides a support crew that includes massage therapists who are ferried deck-side at your whim. Book through Scott Dunn

Drift through Oman’s dramatic desert fjords on your own luxurious private schooner


The views are the star of the show here: beyond the huge, whitewashed wraparound terrace of this sensational new Sicilian villa, a rocky limestone promontory frames an emerald sea. With five en-suite bedrooms that open onto the fabled view and a terrace laid out with beanbag loungers and daybeds, this Modernist abode is a bit of a find from owners The Thinking Traveller. There are indoor and outdoor dining rooms and an alfresco kitchen complete with pizza oven (well, this is Sicily). The icing on the cake is that Ai Faraglioni is easy to get to – only 45 minutes from Palermo airport – yet private and secure behind a walled estate. Book through The Thinking Traveller

Al Faraglioni offers luxurious Sicilian charm and Mediterranean alfresco life