All-Inclusive Resorts Hotels water Sea outdoor Coast Nature vacation Ocean caribbean Beach bay Resort Island islet screenshot Lagoon terrain cape cove Water park shore

The Best Overwater Bungalow Resorts in the Caribbean (Yes, They Exist!)

The coveted overwater bungalow resort experience is no longer exclusive to that far-off paradise we know as the South Pacific. Now, a wave of new properties in the Caribbean, each with their own collection of stilted villas, is changing the hotel game.

Senior Editor, Jetsetter | @lindseytravels |

See recent posts by Lindsey Olander

Overwater bungalow-style retreats have long remained exclusive to the waters of exotic, far-flung idylls like Tahiti, Bora Bora, and the Maldives. Granted, the region is gorgeous—the stuff of honeymoon dreams—but the multiple long-haul flights you have to take to get to these isolated islands? Not so glamorous. At long last, the experience we’ve been pining for is finally getting closer to home.

Hotels sky outdoor water shore Sea Sunset morning vacation Beach Ocean evening Coast dusk River dawn bay sunrise
Hotels indoor room floor property window building ceiling estate interior design restaurant Resort furniture several
Hotels sky water outdoor scene Sea pier vacation Ocean vehicle swimming pool Resort overlooking day
Hotels sky water outdoor Nature Beach landform geographical feature shore body of water Coast Sea Ocean caribbean vacation bay cape Lagoon sand islet wind wave Island

The first overwater bungalows to debut close to home? The Palafitos at El Dorado Maroma by Karisma, on a sunny stretch along Mexico’s Riviera Maya. This adults-only resort took design inspiration from the country’s Aztec roots (whose ancestral communities built their homes over Lake Texcoco in the capital city of Tenochtitlán). Each “palafito” is set on stilts over the Caribbean Sea and features furniture made from local Zapote wood and Mexican white granite, along with thatched palapa-style roofs and glass floor panels where you can spy native fish darting by.

All that space (800 square feet, to be exact) allows for roomy outdoor showers and plenty of nooks for enjoying your 24-hour room service and premium drinks (part of the all-inclusive rate).

All-Inclusive Resorts Hotels water Sea outdoor Coast Nature vacation Ocean caribbean Beach bay Resort Island islet screenshot Lagoon terrain cape cove Water park shore
Hotels sky Sea vacation Ocean Beach vehicle Coast Resort bay furniture
All-Inclusive Resorts Hotels Trip Ideas water leisure swimming pool caribbean vacation Resort Sea estate Beach Villa furniture
All-Inclusive Resorts caribbean Hotels indoor bed wall ceiling room floor property estate window Bedroom Suite real estate cottage home hotel living room Resort interior design Villa furniture decorated

Photos courtesy of Sandals Resorts

Further east, Sandals, that adults-only all-inclusive resort machine, is starting to make its own mark. Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort recently debuted five overwater bungalows off Jamaica’s Montego Bay, each with floating decks that double as living rooms, infinity pools, soaking tubs for two, private butlers and water taxis for getting to and from the resort. All is yours to enjoy if you can ever take yourself away from your personal hammock, which hangs suspended over the water. One warning: if you’re expecting to score the same kind of deal Sandals properties are typically known for, think again. These bungalows cost upwards of $1,000 a night.

Down in St. Lucia, Sandals Grande St. Lucian has introduced nine of its own over-the-water villas with the same inclusive luxuries (including lit glass floors that allow for ocean peeping any time of day). And 12 new bungalows will soon be added to Sandals South Coast, on Jamaica’s northwestern coast, this November.

Beach Eco Fitness Hotels Ocean Outdoor Activities Resort Sport water sky outdoor Sea blue caribbean horizon vacation Island wind wave water sport bay vehicle islet cape Lagoon wave clouds swimming shore day
Eco Exterior Grounds Hotels Resort tree outdoor palm botany tropics rainforest Jungle arecales plant palm family vacation walkway estate Garden caribbean botanical garden area shade

Thatch Caye Resort, a nature-lover’s paradise nine miles off the coast of south-central Belize, has been in the overwater bungalow game for a few years now, but has flown relatively under the radar. This private-island hideaway offers off-the-grid luxury with an eco-conscious spin. Everything is run by solar and wind power, including the five overwater bungalows (complete with private baths, decks with hammocks, and ceilings made from bamboo) and the restaurant, which hosts communal dinners—a perfect ending to days spent snorkeling the world’s second-largest barrier reef.

Hotels indoor window Living sofa room floor table ceiling property living room home hardwood porch interior design estate wood outdoor structure real estate furniture cottage Design window covering Villa area
Hotels Romance outdoor water tree sky reflection River body of water morning evening Lake season waterway reflecting pool autumn estate Canal landscape sunlight dusk flower traveling
Hotels indoor window ceiling room Living property estate Resort real estate Villa furniture interior design living room home condominium outdoor structure porch cottage backyard eco hotel wood overlooking
Hotels water sky outdoor Beach shore Sea Ocean body of water horizon caribbean vacation Coast Nature bay tropics sunlight cape Island Lagoon swimming sandy day
Design Editors Picks Elegant Honeymoon Hotels Island Luxury Luxury Travel Romance Trip Ideas Waterfront water sky outdoor Nature Sea Coast shore Ocean Beach vacation bay cove archipelago islet cape Lagoon terrain caribbean tower wave promontory swimming day

Are you more in the mood for over-the-top luxury? Not to fret. While it may not have overwater bungalows in the traditional sense, Amanyara, on the western shore of Providenciales, in Turks and Caicos, offers the next best thing: 28 pagoda-style villas perched right on the edge of tranquil ponds, mere steps from the ocean. Done up in Aman’s signature Asian-inspired style—Indonesian teak, sloping ceilings, rattan armchairs—and far removed from the buzz of Grace Bay, this is tranquility in its purest form.

Hotels sky outdoor Coast Sea horizon shore body of water aerial photography Ocean vacation bay Beach landscape cape Nature plant panorama tree hillside
Hotels water sky outdoor scene vacation estate house Resort swimming pool Sea overlooking day several

Photos courtesy of Viceroy Hotels and Resorts

So what’s next? As they say, good things come to those who wait. Viceroy Bocas del Toro, projected to open by 2020 on Panama’s Caribbean coast, is poised to be the most luxurious of all Caribbean overwater bungalows. The 42 dreamy villas will spread out across 457 acres and will be accessible only by boat.

What to Wear in the Caribbean

For info on these editor-selected items, click to visit the seller’s site. Things you buy may earn us a commission.

Want more?



All products are independently selected by our writers and editors. If you buy something through our links, Jetsetter may earn an affiliate commission.