Up until late 2016, the Caribbean only had overwater “eco-resorts” to offer, but as of now there are three luxurious “honeymoon-style” overwater bungalow resorts. There are still about a dozen of the more basic resorts that cater primarily to divers and adventure travelers, and all of them are listed below.
Those interested in the glamorous bungalows found mainly in Bora Bora and the Maldives will want to focus on the top three properties on the list below. The Sandals Royal Caribbean All Inclusive has 17 of the finest overwater villas in the world, including personal butler service, which opened in late 2016. Far more affordable are the 30 overwater bungalows not far south of Cancun at the El Dorado Maroma Resort.
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.
The first truly “honeymoon style” overwater bungalows in the Caribbean finally opened in December, 2016 at this ultra-luxurious Sandals all-inclusive resort. Each of the 17 overwater bungalows come with a private pool, Jacuzzi, glass floors, and a personal butler. Because of all of the luxuries found in each and every room, you’ll find that this resort is one of the finest resorts in the Caribbean, with room rates to match.
Situated only a few minutes away from the airport in Montego Bay, this resort offers close access to activities and attractions outside of its walls along with a free shuttle to and from the airport, making travel even easier. Reviews also support the fact that this resort is a great choice for those seeking a tropical overwater escape without having to fly around the world to reach it. It should be noted that room rates are higher than those listed below for stays that are only 1 or 2 nights in length.
Another beautiful Sandals resort located on the island of Jamaica, the Sandals South Coast Resort offers 12 beautiful overwater bungalows for guests to enjoy. Guests here will find 2 miles of white sand beach to enjoy along with a wide selection of water sports, including the famed sport of snorkeling and scuba diving.
You’ll also find an on-site spa, various restaurants and bars and much more. It should be noted that this resort operates on an all-inclusive basis, meaning that food and beverages are included in the nightly rate, along with use of the resort’s water sport equipment. It should be noted that room rates are higher than those listed below for stays that are only 1 or 2 nights in length.
The first of its kind on the island, the Sandals Grande St. Lucian Resort is an oasis for those seeking an overwater villa vacation without having to travel to the South Pacific. Here guests will find themselves immersed in luxury from beginning to end, from their room to the spa to each and every dining option. Within each overwater villa, you’ll find a glass floor panel for viewing underwater sea life from the comfort of your chair, a private soaking tub and little extras such as the resort’s pillow menu and a refrigerator stocked with water, soda and juice selections.
Once you’ve decided to venture outside of your room, you’ll find several different restaurant and bar choices with each offering something a little bit different from the next, a beautiful spa that caters with treatments for both men and women and a large selection of fun and exciting water sports. These range from snorkeling and scuba diving to paddle boarding and hydrobikes. It should be noted that room rates are higher than those listed below for stays that are only 1 or 2 nights in length.
Since there are only a total of 38 overwater bungalows on the popular Caribbean islands, and they’ve all been built since 2017, they are EXTREMELY popular and quite expensive. Even if you can afford them you usually have to book at least 6 or more months in advance for popular times. Don’t be surprised if you find no availability for your dates, although it’s worth a try.
On the other hand, Sandals provides an excellent product and is arguably the finest all-inclusive resort chain in the Caribbean. Many of their other room categories are amazing and some even are incorporated into an almost-private pool, so they are a good substitute for many people.
After having visited all three resorts I thought it would be helpful to compare and contrast them to help people confidently choose the right one for their needs.
If you’re in the market for an all-inclusive vacation, then you’ll want to look into the Royalton Antigua Resort and Spa. This resort offers all rooms, land based and ocean based, on an all-inclusive basis. This means that you’ll find food is included with your stay. Another thing that should be noted, is that every single one of the overwater rooms is available on a no children policy.
This means that you won’t find any children staying in the overwater bungalows, which is great for adults who are vacationing with the intention of enjoying peace and quiet, alongside honeymooners who rather not be surrounded by children. They are however, allowed in the land based rooms.
Sitting pretty on the Atlantic coast of Mexico in the Riviera Maya region, the El Dorado Maroma resort houses both land locked and over the water rooms, creating quite the selection for guests. Here guests will find 30 overwater bungalows to choose from as well as 128 land rooms of varying sizes. Each of the overwater rooms however, offer each visitor a private deck, stairs that lead directly into the ocean below, a large bedroom with a glass floor cutout and a jacuzzi for two.
Overwater rooms are also adult only, granting even more privacy and relaxation to those seeking it. Along with each room, guests will find a long list of restaurants, bars, activities and resort wide amenities to keep you busy and delighted during your stay. There’s also a nicely appointed spa onsite offering a range of treatments and massages that focus on traditional Mayan herbal practices. Reviews are very positive with many guests happily returning for another visit.
A large resort that’s already a hit with visitors to the Playa del Carmen area, the Banyan Tree Mayakoba Resort is currently updating its property with more amenities, dining options, and the addition of 6 overwater rooms that impress with 2 living levels. These levels are outfitted with a bedroom, bathroom, two seating areas, a small kitchenette, and floor to ceiling views of the water outside. You’ll also find a heated plunge pool and natural greenery.
The rest of the resort showcases lots of activities and amenities that range from kayaking, jogging, snorkeling, and scuba diving to the resort’s spa, the golf school, and archery classes. If you love trying new dishes while on vacation, you’ll be pleased to learn of the many different restaurants and bars on-site that cater with a wide variety of dishes to select from and experiment with.
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 until 2016, 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.
Currently not yet opened, but set to open in 2021, the Viceroy Bocas del Toro Resort in Panama is being designed as a honeymoon oasis with an eco-friendly twist. Here you’ll find overwater rooms in addition to land based suites, all of which offer luxury to their guests. The overwater rooms will each have their own private plunge pool along with a private deck and a set of stairs that leads directly into the ocean below.
On land, visitors will find multiple dining and drink options, bird watching, eco-tours, bicycle rentals, white sand beaches,and a spa that impresses with rejuvenation pools and a tropical setting. In the ocean guests will have access to world class snorkeling and scuba diving, along with paddle boarding, fishing (including deep sea fishing), sailing, and surfing.>More information about the Viceroy Bocas del Toro – Panama
On the small side, the Cosmic Crab Resort, formally known as the Careening Cay Resort, features a total of 12 rooms, 6 of which reside over the water. The resort also plays host to over 6 acres of gardens and greenery with a lush jungle backdrop. In addition, guests will find themselves privy to 600 feet of waterfront.
The 6 overwater rooms may be on the small side, but they are tastefully decorated with bits of Caribbean fare here and there, crafting the perfect Caribbean vibe. Each room also comes with Wi-Fi and air conditioning, which comes in handy during those hot summer days. If you love playing in the water, you’ll also find that there are several different types of water sports to enjoy.
Providing a close to nature vacation, the Yandup Island Lodge is a small resort featuring a total of 10 rooms, 6 of which are situated over the lagoon. Each room features double or single beds, a private bathroom, 24 hour electricity (powered by solar panels), a mosquito net and a 360 degree view from a private balcony with hammocks to enjoy that view from.
The resort also features an over the water dining room serving local seafood, fish and more. If you’re the adventurous type, which is who this resort crates to, you’ll find plenty to do with fishing, snorkeling, canoeing and rainforest hiking. You’ll also have the chance to meet the locals and learn more about their sustainable practices and their pride for living off the land.
Found just off of the Caribbean coast of Panama on a small private island, the Walilup Hotel is an eco friendly option that allows guests the chance to experience Panama’s wildlife and natural environment up close and personal. The rooms here are very basic, and you won’t find any spa on-site, but you will find lots of freshly caught seafood and fish.
In each room however, you will find a bed, fan, and a private bathroom. You’ll also enjoy your very own personal terrace that provides unhindered views of the ocean around you. Tours to the neighboring islands are a guest favorite here.
Showcasing 6 overwater rooms, the El Faro del Colibri Resort offers a decent stay for those on a tight budget. Here you’ll find rooms that include hot water, a TV, beach towels for use the entire stay, Wi-Fi, and a small fridge.
You’ll also note that there’s an on-site restaurant, along with more options close by. When looking into this resort, it’s wise to know that this is one of the resorts where a little travel is necessary to reach it. In fact, this seclusion is one of the main reasons guests choose this resort over other similar options.
As the name implies, the Urraca Private Island Eco Lodge is an eco resort that focuses on monkey encounters and snorkeling adventures. In addition to the lodge’s resident rescue monkeys that you can freely interact with, guests here will find 6 overwater bungalows that offer Wi-Fi, a fan, a private deck that faces out toward the water, and stairs that lead directly into it.
You’ll also find a restaurant, a bar, and a few outdoor activities to partake in, including snorkeling, kayaking, and volleyball. Rates here start off under the US$200 mark, making this a good choice for those who have a small budget.
Eco-friendly in nature and located on the Caribbean side of Panama, the Azul Paradise Resort caters to those looking for an earthy experience over the water where one will be able to enjoy the beautiful ocean everyday of their stay without having to pay high nightly rates. Guests also get the luxury of choosing either an all inclusive stay or one that include 3 meals a day, making it so that your can further personalize your vacation.
Rooms here include a private wooden deck, air conditioning, a private bathroom, a glass floor cutout, wooden floors throughout and snorkel gear to enjoy any time you please. Guests will also find a garden to roam, water sports to partake in and dolphin tours. Once you slip into relaxation mode, the on-site spa is yours to enjoy with the option of massages or facials. Reviews are strong, making this resort a great choice for the money.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Packages at this all-inclusive resort include non-motorized water sports, and you can add on diving or fishing, which are both very popular here. 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.
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 3 bedroom cabanas.
The resort has only 15 rooms in total so the entire island never has more than 30 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 US$9,950 per day all-inclusive, which could be excellent value for 10 to 12 active couples.
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 rum punch (one per day, per guest) 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.
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.
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.
An impressively large resort featuring a 450 foot tall guitar hotel, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is one for the record books. Here you’ll find an impossibly long list of amenities, entertainment options, and dining selections, making it hard to run out of things to do and see, as well as enjoy. Some things to look forward to are the entertainment options that include in-house concerts and the resort’s on-site spa that not only caters to singles, but couples as well with private couple suites.
In addition to the amenities, those looking for a ‘Bora Bora experience’ will find one at the resort’s overwater villas, which make up part of the 13.5 acre waterscape. These villas range in size, but each and everyone features a plunge pool, a private deck, and a personal butler service.>More information about the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Orlando, in case you aren’t familiar with it, is in the center of Florida, so this resort obviously isn’t really in the Caribbean. Still, it’s definitely worth including here because these are the first proper “honeymoon style” overwater bungalows in the region. Open only since April, 2015, the Disney Polynesian Resort has 20 huge overwater bungalows built into a lagoon that is directly opposite the Magic Kingdom Park. There are 360 studio rooms as well, so this is yet another large resort complex that is within the enormous Disney grounds that are actually about 10 miles southwest of Orlando itself.
The bad news for most of us is that these overwater bungalows are among the most expensive in the world, at least based on the quoted rates at opening. We might see some discounts as time goes on, but these 1,600 square foot bungalows will always be expensive and some people will certainly pay. Even the other rooms at this resort start at close to US$500 per night, so this is a luxury hotel with a perfect location for anyone visiting the Disney parks in Florida.
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 one of the cheapest overwater bungalow resorts 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.
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.
The first of its kind on Aruba, this small resort caters with 3 land villas that sit on the beach and 2 overwater rooms. You’ll also find an on-site restaurant and great snorkeling right at the resort. In fact, this location is a great choice for those who are seeking an ocean filled vacation. You’ll also find that this location is better suited to those seeking privacy and even romance as you won’t find yourself running into the masses of tourists that visit Aruba yearly.
Each of the 2 overwater rooms come complete with a queen size or a king size bed, a Bose sound system, air conditioning, hot water, a wine cooler and fridge, a private deck and daily maid service. Overwater rooms here start at around US$789 a night.>More information about the Aruba Ocean Villas – Aruba
Dellis Cay, Turks and Caicos
This is a luxury development that is partly built as of 2018 and has been for years, and 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 that never happened. We’ll be covering it when and if 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 late 2018 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