Overwater bungalows in the Caribbean
While it’s true that the Caribbean has about a dozen resorts with overwater bungalows of one form or another, none (so far) are exactly in the style of the famous resorts on Bora Bora or in the Maldives. The Caribbean doesn’t have the right sort of volcanic islands where it’s safe to build luxury bungalows on stilts over turquoise lagoons, but it does have some wonderful alternatives.
The closest in style are those at the Rosewood Mayakoba Resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, where they have 18 huge overwater suites (each with a private pool) out over their inland mangrove lagoon. There are some others in the luxury category, but most of the rest are eco-friendly diving resorts on islands off the coast of Central America.
If you are primarily interested in going to a beachfront resort in the Caribbean, then you’ll be far better off and get excellent value by starting with this list of cheapest all-inclusive Caribbean destinations, and finding a great package deal.
- Overwater bungalows in the South Pacific
- Overwater bungalows in Bora Bora
- Water villas in the Maldives
However, if you are looking for a remote and unusual room that is located directly over the water in the Caribbean, check out your choices below.
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- Overwater bungalows: 18
- Total rooms/suites: 128
Located in a special compound near Playa del Carmen (40 miles south of Cancun), the Rosewood Mayakoba Resort has 18 Deluxe Overwater Suites perched above its mangrove lagoon. Each of these suites is nearly 1,000 square feet, and comes with a heated plunge pool and a wide array of modern luxury amenities.
Definitely the closest thing to the “honeymoon style” overwater bungalows in the Caribbean, this resort also has oceanview rooms and other luxury suites, and it’s one of the highest rated in all of Mexico. Better still, the location is less than an hour away from the Cancun Airport, so it’s far more convenient to reach than any of its competitors.
- Low season online specials from US$938 per night
- High season online specials from US$1,708 per night
>>>More information about the Rosewood Mayakoba
- Overwater bungalows: 6
- Total rooms/suites: 6
Featuring just 6 overwater bungalows plus two restaurants and a spa, the Coral Lodge is a boutique resort in a secluded part of the San Blas Islands in Panama. The bare-bones and eco-friendly approach means there is no TVs or internet here, so a distraction-free vacation is nearly guaranteed.
The resort also offers “romance packages” and several other extras, so this is still quite luxurious. The Coral Lodge also is great value, with perhaps the cheapest overwater bungalows in the world. There’s great diving and snorkeling, as well as horseback riding nearby, so this could be a perfect choice for the right people.
- Low season online specials from US$345 per night
- High season online specials from US$398 per night
>>>More information about the Coral Lodge
- Overwater bungalows: 9
- Total rooms/suites: 9
Another eco-hotel, the Punta Caracol Acqua-Lodge consists only of 9 overwater bungalows stretching out from an island near Panama. The bungalows are fairly large, and are powered by solar panels only, so there is no television or entertainment system. Breakfast and dinner is included in the room rate as well, so this is an affordable all-inclusive-style resort.
Here you’ll find excellent snorkeling plus a wide variety of boat trips, including visits to Indian communities nearby. If you are looking for an interesting and beautiful eco-friendly resort in Central America, the Punta Caracol Acqua-Lodge should fit the bill perfectly.
- Low season online specials from US$350 per night
- High season online specials from US$427 per night
>>>More information about the Punta Caracol Acqua-Lodge
- Overwater bungalows: 6
- Total rooms/suites: 9
Located just a short boat ride away from the main town on Bocas del Toro in Panama, the Eclypse de Mar Resort has 6 overwater bungalows, two of which are Honeymoon Suites. Rooms here are more basic than you’d find at the 4- and 5-star resorts in Bora Bora, but the price is also much lower as well, and the list of water sports and other activities is long.
This is considered an eco-resort so there’s no air conditioning and not much in the way of in-room entertainment, but there are ceiling fans and one of the few glass windows in the floor to observe the sea life below. Those looking for an overwater bungalow and great diving and snorkeling in the Caribbean should find the Eclypse de Mar to be good value.
- Low season online specials from US$275 per night
- High season online specials from US$275 per night
>>>More information about the Eclypse de Mar Aqua Lodge – Bocas del Toro, Panama
- Overwater bungalows: 10
- Total rooms/suites: 56
An all-inclusive hotel on Roatan Island just off Honduras, Anthony’s Key Resort offers 10 overwater bungalows that are perched barely off the edge of a small private island that comprises a large part of the complex. Anyone looking for a room over a clear water lagoon won’t find it here, but this hotel could be ideal for those looking for an active vacation in an interesting and remote location.
There are no televisions in the rooms, but there is air conditioning and many other modern conveniences, and a long list of included activities and excursions. Considering the reasonable price, this resort could be great value for many.
- Low season online specials from US$580 per night
- High season online specials from US$580 per night
>>>More information about the Anthony’s Key Resort
- Overwater bungalows: 16
- Total rooms/suites: 26
Another small resort that operates an on all-inclusive basis, the CoCo View Resort off Roatan Island is all about scuba diving, and its most popular packages include a surprisingly affordable upgrade to all-inclusive diving. Guests who sign up for that plan get two boat-diving sessions per day, plus unlimited 24/7 shore diving, all in an area famous for excellent underwater scenery.
Their 16 overwater bungalows are in structures containing either 2 or 4 units, so this may not be an ideal honeymoon hotel, unless the bride and groom are both fanatical about diving, which then it could be perfect. There’s also an active clubhouse with nightly entertainment so the guests do tend to mingle here rather than keep to themselves like they do in many other resorts.
- Low season online specials from US$390 per night
- High season online specials from US$458 per night
>>>More information about the CoCo View Resort – Honduras
- Overwater bungalows: 4
- Total rooms/suites: 6
Packages at this all-inclusive resort highlight either diving or fishing, and it appears that most guests come specifically for one or both of those activities. The Mango Creek Lodge has 4 overwater bungalows plus two lodge rooms on the mainland. This is yet another basic resort that is nothing like a fancy chain hotel in the South Pacific, but is still very popular for people who want an active vacation and a gorgeous setting.
All room packages include all meals and even alcohol, plus the activities prescribed in the specific package, making this an excellent value resort for the right people. With only 6 total rooms it’s obvious that you’ll get quite a bit of attention, and the service here get high all-around marks.
- Low season online specials from US$425 per night
- High season online specials from US$425 per night
>>>More information about the Mango Creek Lodge – Roatan, Honduras
- Overwater bungalows: 6
- Total rooms/suites: 10
Located on a private island 9 miles from Dangriga in Belize, the Thatch Caye Resort is probably the closest thing to a Maldives-style complex anywhere in the Western Hemisphere. The all-inclusive resort has 5 overwater cabanas which are perched just over the water’s edge, plus one huge Family Suite comprised of 2 bedroom cabanas and 1 living room/kitchenette cabana.
The resort has only 10 rooms in total so the entire island never has more than 24 guests at any given time. The service is excellent and the food gets high marks as well. Those with larger groups can rent out the entire island for a bit over US$3,000 per day all-inclusive, which could be excellent value for 10 to 12 active couples.
- Low season online specials from US$588 per night
- High season online specials from US$706 per night
>>>More information about the Thatch Caye Resort – Belize
- Overwater bungalows: 6
- Total rooms/suites: 12
Just a short boat ride from Belize City itself, St. George’s Caye Resort is located on a mostly private island. Six of their 12 bungalows are located on a semi-circular pier, so they are over the water but also bunched together as well. This resort works on a mostly all-inclusive basis, with all food and even unlimited rum punch included in the room rate, making it quite a good value when those are factored in.
The location is just off the enormous Belize Reef, so the diving and snorkeling are excellent, but St. George’s Caye is also a couples resort, restricting guests to 15 and up, so it’s popular with honeymoon couples as well. This place gets fabulous reviews so it’s clear that most guests are extremely happy with what they get.
- Low season online specials from US$380 per night
- High season online specials from US$380 per night
>>>More information about the St. George’s Caye Resort – Belize
- Overwater cabins: 8
- Total rooms/suites: Unsure
While it calls itself a resort, most guests describe Glover’s Atoll as a private-island campground that has 8 overwater cabins as well. It’s located in a great diving and fishing area and it’s very cheap compared to any other “resort” on this list, but it’s cheap for a reason.
Having no electricity at all in the cabins, plus a shared bathroom on the island, means that staying here really is a camping experience, so it’s not a good fit for many people. Reading online reviews from past guests shows that some love the place but many feel the service (or complete lack of it) has ruined their trip even when they had camping in mind.
- Low season online specials from US$96 per night
- High season online specials from US$96 per night
>>>More information about the Glover’s Atoll Resort – Belize
- Overwater bungalows: 1
- Total rooms/suites: 7
Cayo Espanto, which is located just off Ambergris Caye in Belize, bills itself as a “private island resort.” There are only 7 total villas and suites, including exactly one overwater bungalow, and unusually, the overwater room is the smallest and cheapest accommodation here, even at over US$1,000 per night.
This is pure luxury, including a private butler for each suite among the many other amenities. And you can actually do the private island thing here, as they offer packages to rent the whole place out for one flat fee. Anyone looking for a large and luxurious overwater bungalow in the Caribbean should be happy here if they can afford it.
- Low season online specials from US$1,977 per night
- High season online specials from US$2,101 per night
>>>More information about the Cayo Espanto Resort
- Overwater bungalows: 68
- Total rooms/suites: 250
If you open the definition of “overwater bungalows” to include a resort that has up to 6 rooms per bungalow, then the Hotel Melia Cayo Coco is the cheapest overwater bungalow resort in the world. Its 68 rooms are in 18 structures over its inland lagoon, just steps from the beach.
At least it offers great value, with very affordable rates in spite of an all-inclusive pricing scheme. It’s a bit dated, to say the least, but if you are legally able to go to Cuba then this might suit your needs well.
- Low season online specials from US$252 per night
- High season online specials from US$374 per night
>>>More information about the Hotel Meliá Cayo Coco – Cuba
Turks and Caicos
- Overwater suites: 28
- Total rooms/suites: 40
The Amanyara Resort in the Turks and Caicos Islands doesn’t technically have overwater bungalows, but it’s included here as they are the closest thing that exists in the main part of the Caribbean east of Florida. The Amanyara is a super-luxury resort with 28 villas that are perched over gentle ponds, just steps from the ocean.
This is a very expensive resort that offers privacy in addition to the best of the best, so it’s not for most of us, but it is stunning and a fine place to dream about staying.
- Low season online specials from US$1,647 per night
- High season online specials from US$2,074 per night
>>>More information about the Amanyara Resort Turks and Caicos
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It’s also worth noting that the price range from one Caribbean destination to another can be huge so if you want to find the most affordable islands or the most exclusive islands you might want to see a list of Caribbean islands by price.
Caribbean overwater bungalow resorts that aren’t open
Sandals Grande St. Lucia – This famous all-inclusive resort is building 26 overwater bungalows around its private island just off St. Lucia, scheduled to break ground in early 2013 and open later in 2014. Curiously, they are billing them as “the Caribbean’s first overwater bungalows,” so perhaps their definition of ‘Caribbean’ is more limited than ours or the general public’s. Sandals is also reportedly planning on opening overwater bungalows at its Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay, Jamaica resort as well, though information on those is limited as construction permits have yet to be granted as of February, 2012.
Dellis Cay, Turks and Caicos – This is a luxury development that is partly built as of 2011, and it will/should have 7 proper overwater bungalows, but it appears to have run out of funding and its future is in doubt. If and when it opens we’ll add it here.
9 Beaches Resort, Bermuda – This resort in Bermuda features 13 overwater bungalows, but the entire place closed in late 2010 for a “one-year renovation,” which then was scheduled for reopening in 2012, but the latest news says it won’t open again until “late summer of 2015.” We’ll be covering it when it reopens.
Treasure Cove, Belize – Evidently this was a luxury resort that began its planning stage in 2006, with a fancy website the following year, but quick research indicates that as of mid 2011 they have yet to even break ground, in spite of the fact that the website leads visitors to believe the resort is already open. As of early 2012 the website itself appears to be completely offline, which is yet another major warning sign. This is somewhere between a overly ambitious crushed dream and an investment scam, so don’t look to be booking a room anytime soon.
Top photo courtesy of Timothy Wildey on Flickr