There was a time when overwater bungalows were exclusive to Tahiti and the Maldives. If you live on the west coast of the United States, traveling to Tahiti is an 8-hour flight — a bit of a trek, but still doable. Those in the UK can fly to Maldives in about 13 hours. But to fly to either location from the east coast or Midwestern United States is definitely a haul, requiring about two weeks of hard-earned vacation time. Thankfully there’s an easier (and quicker) choice: overwater bungalows in the Caribbean.
With options on several Caribbean islands, you can hop on a direct flight from many North American cities in the morning, and be relaxing with a cocktail in hand by lunch. Depending on your travel style, there’s an overwater bungalow in the Caribbean to suit your needs. Panama and Honduras offer overwater bungalows on the more affordable side, plus travel packages suitable for divers and snorkelers. Belize offers a high-end private-island resort with overwater bungalow accommodations — including a personal butler — ideal for honeymoons and romantic getaways. Or, if you’re looking for all-inclusive overwater bungalows in the Caribbean, you’ll find them in Jamaica, St. Lucia and Riviera Maya, Mexico. No matter which resort you choose, you’re sure to have a great time, all while checking off the “stay in an overwater bungalow” item from your travel wish list.
Sandals Royal Caribbean, Montego Bay — Jamaica
Touted as the Caribbean’s first all-inclusive overwater bungalows, Sandals Royal Caribbean, Montego Bay features many of the same amenities as their Tahitian inspiration — glass floors, private butlers, over-the-water hammocks, infinity pools and outdoor showers — so you won’t have to fly halfway around the world to check the bungalow experience off your bucket list.
Rosewood Mayakoba — Riviera Maya, Mexico
There’s a reason Mayakoba is known as the “Venice of Mexico.” This resort community features a network of canals linking its mangrove forests and lagoons, and Rosewood Mayakoba delivers a South Pacific vibe with its luxurious deluxe overwater lagoon suites. These one-bedroom suites feature a plunge pool and garden shower, as well as a lounge terrace that overlook the incredible emerald lagoons.
From the on-site dining to the extensive list of amenities offered in the deluxe overwater lagoon suites, Rosewood Mayakoba is an ideal overwater bungalow experience for couples looking to stay closer to the U.S.
Thatch Caye All-Inclusive Private Island Resort – Belize
With a capacity of just 30 guests, Thatch Caye Resort offers a truly unique experience that forgoes modern amenities in favor of making friends in a private island setting. Located on the Belize Barrier Reef, Thatch Caye Resort’s Premier Overwater Bungalows offer incredible views from private patios, featuring relaxing hammocks and one-of-a-kind access to unparalleled snorkeling and scuba diving.
El Dorado Maroma, a Beachfront Resort, by Karisma — Riviera Maya, Mexico
The adults-only, all-inclusive overwater Palafitos at El Dorado Maroma, a Beachfront Resort, by Karisma are easily accessible via a nonstop flight to Cancun and boast the same amenities you’d find in a Tahitian bungalow. Bonus: Your personal butler can arrange a private picnic on Maroma Beach, one of Travel Channel’s top 10 beaches in the world.
Sandals South Coast — Jamaica
Everything about Sandals South Coast is the epitome of the overwater bungalow experience, from the heart-shaped layout of the luxurious overwater suites to the resort’s overwater bar, Latitudes. Even the chapel is overwater, offering a free wedding to couples staying for three nights or longer.
Guests will enjoy unlimited dining at nine restaurants and cocktails and snacks at seven bars. The two-mile stretch of beach allows for a variety of water-based activities, including snorkeling, scuba diving and paddle boarding, among others.
CoCo View Resort – Honduras
Travelers looking for both overwater bungalows and a “tropical dive paradise” will never want to leave the CoCo View Resort on Roatan’s south shore. Located next to the world’s second largest coral reef, this popular resort offers divers of all ages and experience levels thrilling dive packages and experiences, especially in the “Front Yard,” where they can get up close with a 140-foot wreck.
The resort’s four overwater bungalows are private and ideal for couples, with two of them offering king beds and the other two featuring one queen and one double. The private porches feature hammocks for post-diving rest and relaxation.
Viceroy Bocas del Toro — Panama
Set to open in 2021, Viceroy Bocas del Toro Panama will feature 42 overwater bungalows with private plunge pools set on 457 acres of coastline. A quick trip from Panama City, choose to arrive at the resort by boat, seaplane or helicopter. We suggest the seaplane for a James Bond-esque entrance. 3 miles of beaches, rainforest zip-lining and snorkeling will round out your Caribbean overwater bungalow experience.
Sandals Grande St. Lucian – St. Lucia
The Over-the-Water Honeymoon Butler Bungalows at Sandals Grande St. Lucian are so committed to the overwater experience that they feature glass panels on the floor, so the Caribbean Sea never leaves your sight. Beyond the water, these luxury bungalows were designed with an emphasis on privacy, boasting outdoor patios with sun decks, showers and bistro sets for two. As if that’s not enough, tranquility soaking tubs and overwater hammocks are also included for when guests aren’t climbing the Pitons or visiting the Caribbean’s only drive-in volcano.
Anthony’s Key Resort – Honduras
For more than 50 years, this popular island resort has offered an overwater bungalow experience that promotes Roatan’s authenticity and beauty over all. Anthony’s Key Resort offers adventure in paradise in addition to peaceful privacy, with guests having access to everything from the scuba school to rest and relaxation at the Ixora Spa.
Overwater and hillside bungalows are spread out across this 11-acre property. The Key Deluxe overwater bungalows offer ample space and private decks for enjoying the surrounding waters, while the Key Superior bungalows are better suited for families and groups.
Cayo Espanto — Belize
With six traditional villas and just one overwater bungalow, Cayo Espanto offers the ultimate in privacy. Located at the end of a 150-foot dock that stretches from the four-acre island, Casa Ventanas ensures that during your stay, you’ll only see one other person: your butler. Meals are served on the bungalow’s deck, and if days spent snorkeling has left you with some knots, a masseuse will come to your bungalow to help work them out — massage table and all.
Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge – Panama
Just getting to Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge on Bocas del Toro can be its own adventure, but once you arrive you’ll be treated to the ultimate experience of peace and comfort. Punta Caracol’s nine overwater bungalows were built using “ancient crafty construction techniques,” including wooden stilts and frames with palm leaf roofs, and the intent was to bring guests closer to nature. As such, the private terraces provide views of unforgettable sunsets, as well as the marine life of the Caribbean Sea.
Punta Caracol offers three types of two-story bungalows – the Punta Caracol, Luna and Master Suites – and while each suite offers something different, the overall experience will provide a lasting impression of the entire region.