Sandals Overwater Bungalows: Which is the best resort for you?
So you've decided to book one of Sandals' amazing Caribbean overwater bungalows? Congratulations on being ready to book a romantic trip of a lifetime! As of 2019 Sandals has three excellent resorts that offer overwater bungalows and each is quite different so it's important to choose the one that fits your needs the best.
I've been fortunate enough to visit all three Sandals overwater bungalows resorts and tour the bungalows as well, so I thought it would be helpful to discuss the pros and cons of each of them to help people decide with confidence. Each of the resorts is among the finest all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, so you'd be extremely happy at any of them, but they each have strengths that the others don't have.
- 1 Sandals has overwater bungalows at these 3 resorts
- 2 The Sandals experience in a nutshell
- 3 Which Sandals overwater bungalow location is best for you?
Sandals has overwater bungalows at these 3 resorts
Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort – Montego Bay, Jamaica
- 5 Over the Water Private Island Butler Villas with Infinity Pool
- 12 Over-the-Water Private Island Butler Honeymoon Bungalows
This is said to be the most premium of Sandals' 7 resorts in Jamaica, and it's the only resort that offers overwater bungalows with an infinity pool of their own. The location close to Montego Bay airport has pluses and minuses.
Sandals South Coast Resort – Jamaica
- 12 Over-the-Water Honeymoon Butler Bungalows
This resort is more isolated near the southwest corner of Jamaica and it's on the largest property of the three. The shuttle ride from Montego Bay airport takes about 90 minutes each way, although transportation is always included in the Sandals room rate.
Sandals Grande St. Lucian Resort – Saint Lucia
- 9 Over-the-Water Honeymoon Butler Bungalows
Located on the fairly remote Caribbean island of St. Lucia, this resort is much farther from the United States, although it's marginally closer to Europe. The stunning resort location is near the northern tip of St. Lucia, while the main airport is near the southern tip, making for an (included) shuttle ride of about 90 minutes each way.
The Sandals experience in a nutshell
If this might be your first Sandals stay it's worth doing a quick rundown of what makes this resort chain so special. Sandals operates 16 all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, including 7 on Jamaica alone. They also operate 3 Beaches Resorts, which is their family-oriented brand that is otherwise extremely similar.
Sandals takes all-inclusive to a new level
Unlike nearly all of the all-inclusive chain hotels in the Caribbean, Sandals advertises itself as “Luxury Included” meaning that almost everything is included in the basic room rate, including nearly all activities. Most resorts offer “all-inclusive” beers along with certain wines and spirits, and then charge more for premium beers, wines, and cocktails. Most resorts also charge extra for snorkeling and other beach equipment, while in Sandals it's all included for everyone.
Sandals resorts are not cheap
As you'd expect from a luxury all-inclusive resort chain with some of the Caribbean's most beautiful beach locations, Sandals resorts are not cheap and not a good choice for those looking for a budget Caribbean all-inclusive vacation. The normal rooms at these Sandals resorts start at around US$500 per night for two people with everything included, and the overwater bungalows start at around US$2,200 per night.
Which Sandals overwater bungalow location is best for you?
Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort in Montego Bay
The primary advantages of this resort are that it's the only one to have the infinity-pool overwater bungalows, and that it's by far the closest to the airport and the fastest to reach. Starting from the US or Canada you can be in your overwater bungalow at this resort about two hours sooner than at Sandals South Coast, and that can be helpful for a shorter stay.
The disadvantages are that it's a smaller resort that is rather close to the end of the runway by the Montego Bay airport. You WILL hear planes taking off several times per hour during daylight hours, and it's fairly loud. On the other hand, the planes are in the air and out of the area so quickly that the sound only lasts about 5 seconds each time. It's amazing how quickly you can get used to this, and also keep in mind that this is Sandals' most premium resort in all of Jamaica.
Overwater bungalows location
The overwater bungalows here are located on an exclusive private island across the lagoon from the main resort, accessible by a short ferry ride that goes frequently. There is also a restaurant and beach bar on this island so it feels very special and guests can spend the whole day here if they prefer.
This resort also offers the best swimming under the overwater bungalows and it will remind guests of Bora Bora or the Maldives.
Sandals South Coast Resort in Jamaica
If you've got the extra 90 minutes (each way) for the shuttle ride to Sandals South Coast it's probably worth it. This resort is on a sprawling piece of prime beach property in a quiet area of Jamaica. It feels much more like a luxury beach resort being away from the airport like it is. Personally, I prefer this resort to the Royal Caribbean because it's so spread out and feels more relaxed.
The disadvantages of Sandals South Coast are that the 90-minute shuttle ride can feel long after a long flight, and the drive through the hills in the center of Jamaica isn't as scenic or pleasant as it could be.
Overwater bungalows location
The 12 overwater bungalows at Sandals South Coast are at the northern edge of the resort's beach, behind a security station at the entrance to the pier. There are no bars or restaurants on the pier so guests have to head to the main part of the resort several times per day, although guests can get complimentary in-room dining.
The water under the overwater bungalows is deeper than at Sandals Royal Caribbean, so the water doesn't seem quite as turquoise and you probably can't stand on the bottom.
Sandals Grande St. Lucian Resort in Saint Lucia
While the other two resorts have lovely locations, the Sandals in St. Lucia is on one of the most beautiful coves in the Caribbean and I don't believe I've ever seen a better beach-resort location. The island of St. Lucia is arguably the most scenic of all of the Caribbean islands, although the famous twin peaks of the Pitons are a long way from the resort.
Generally speaking, St. Lucia is a more pleasant island than Jamaica, and it has that faraway vacation feel that is more dramatic than even at Sandals South Coast. If I had plenty of time to get here and at least 4 or 5 nights to stay, I'd choose Sandals St. Lucian for my overwater bungalow holiday.
The disadvantages are the longer flight time (about 3.5 hours longer from New York), not to mention more expensive flights. On the other hand, St. Lucia is almost two hours closer to most European airports, so this place is a good alternative to the Maldives and MUCH closer than Bora Bora.
Overwater bungalows location
The overwater bungalows are along the southern edge of the St. Lucian resort. Unlike the other two resorts where the overwater bungalows are out over a lagoon, the 9 water villas are simply out off of a peninsula at this resort. You aren't properly out over the water until you are inside the bungalow itself.
To be honest, the overwater bungalows here don't look as amazing as the others from the outside, but once you are inside that all changes. Inside they are huge and the locations are amazing. Again, you are behind a security checkpoint so the only other guests you'll usually see are your immediate neighbors.
Summary of which resort to choose
All three resorts are excellent so you'll love any of them. If you are only able to stay for 2 or 3 nights it's probably best to choose the Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay because it's so much faster and easier to reach.
If you've got a little more time and like the idea of a more relaxed vacation and don't mind a 90-minute shuttle ride, the Sandals South Coast is your best option.
On the other hand, if you are planning to stay for at least 6 or 7 days and you really want to get away from it all, the Sandals St. Lucian is probably the nicest of the three resorts. Bon voyage!