7 Gorgeous Overwater Bungalow Resorts Near the U.S.
Overwater bungalows just a two-hour flight from the U.S.? Thanks to a wave of exciting new developments in Mexico and the Caribbean, that exciting daydream is now a reality. Honeymooners, get planning!
Rosewood Mayakoba, Mexico
It's a honeymooner’s life at the luxurious Rosewood Mayakoba, a tranquil five-star escape in Mexico’s Riviera Maya known for its excellent spa, upscale restaurants, and setting along a mile-long beach and interior mangrove. All of its 128 suites feature gorgeous rich-wood furniture and private plunge pools—but it’s the deluxe overwater lagoon suites you’ll want to spring for. They’re not stilted, per se, but they add sundecks, outdoor garden showers, and swim-up access from the lagoon to the mix. (The mezcal upon arrival doesn’t hurt, either.)
El Dorado Palafitos, Maroma Beach, Mexico
The travel world turned upside down when El Dorado Maroma by Karisma debuted their stilted Palafitos in 2016—the first overwater bungalows to hit Mexico. As an adults-only all-inclusive resort, you can expect all the romantic perks: outdoor showers, 24-hour butlers, private infinity plunge pools, glass floor panels where you can watch schools of fish swirl below. Unlike their South Pacific counterparts, these bungalows took design cues from their home country’s Aztec roots: look out for furniture made from local Zapote wood and white granite and authentic prints and fabrics.
Sandals Royal Caribbean, Jamaica
Hot on the heels of El Dorado came Sandals Royal Caribbean, whose five new overwater bungalows reset the luxury bar in Jamaica’s Montego Bay. What you’ll find: floating decks with personal hammocks that double as living rooms, soaking tubs for two, infinity pools, and private water taxis that whisk you to and from the main resort on your own time.
Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge, Panama
Some might say the nine cabanas at Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge are a little too rustic for the high rate (they’re simple, with limited electricity and no air conditioning), but it’s hard to put a price tag on this level of privacy. You’re out there—a 30-minute from boat ride from the nearest town, Almirante, in Bocas del Toro—but once you arrive, everything is taken care of, from free snorkel and kayak gear for exploring the shallow Caribbean waters (home to stingrays and dolphins) to breakfast and three-course dinners and on-shore excursions, helpfully arranged by the staff.
Thatch Caye Resort, Belize
New openings in the Caribbean and Mexico might have stolen the limelight recently, but Thatch Caye, a private-island hideaway nine miles off the coast of Belize, has been in the overwater bungalow game for years. Over-the-top luxury resort this is not, but if you're looking to get back to nature and off the grid, you won't find a more magical place to do it. Everything, including the five overwater bungalows (tricked out with hammocks, private baths, and bamboo ceilings), is run by wind and solar power, and dinners at the restaurant are served communally—the perfect way to cap off an afternoon snorkeling the world’s second-largest barrier reef.
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Sandals South Coast, Jamaica
The 12 overwater bungalows at Sandals South Coast, on Jamaica’s northwestern coast, are new for 2018 and couldn’t be more romantic. (In fact, they’re even arranged in the formation of a heart!) Butler service is a given: here, they arrange welcome cocktails, dining reservations, and can even unpack your luggage and press your clothes). Decks are private and tricked out with day beds, catamaran net hammocks, and outdoor showers and soaking tubs. And yes, the mini-bar is included (how often do you get to pour Glenfiddich 12 Year and Hendricks Gin gratis?)
Sandals Grande St. Lucian, St. Lucia
Further down the Caribbean belt, in breezy St. Lucia, couples-only Sandals Grande St. Lucian recently introduced nine of its own over-the-water villas with the same inclusive luxuries. We’re talking see-through glass floors overlooking the water, butler service (don’t you deserve breakfast in bed?), overwater hammocks, and free reign of the resort’s mile-long beach—but with the added perk of wining and dining at sister resorts Sandals Regency La Toc and Sandals Halcyon (if you ever tire of your own digs) included in your rate.
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