Lonely Planet Writer

Caribbean copycats: resorts going all-in on South Pacific-style overwater bungalows

The iconic thatched-roof, overwater bungalow may be a quintessential tropical holiday image, but these fantasy suites have largely been restricted to daydream fodder for travellers who can’t fly to the South Pacific. That all seems to be changing.

Overwater bungalows in Tahiti.
Overwater bungalows in Tahiti. Image by Roderick Eime / CC BY 2.0

For those who make the Caribbean their tropical destination of choice, a deluge of new floating bungalow options are flooding the market, giving travellers from the Americas a chance to have the overwater suite experience without flying all the way to Bora Bora or Fiji. Among the locales now or soon-to-be featuring such bungalows are Mexico’s Rivera Maya, Panama’s Caribbean coast, Montego Bay and Honduras. Why has it taken so long for the Caribbean to catch up with the overwater bungalow craze? The floating villa concept really took off in the South Pacific due to the region’s natural lagoons and atolls formed by volcanic activity.

“In those places the sea is blocked by a natural volcanic reef, leaving a huge lagoon surrounding the small islands where the water behaves like a swimming pool,” said Roger Wade, editor of OverwaterBungalows.net, in a 2015 interview with the Detroit Free Press. “In the Caribbean there are some bays and lagoons, but they seem to be more affected by tides and especially storms.” Developers apparently have clued into travellers desires and found a way to make overwater bungalows work a little closer to home for many tourists.

(Evan Godt)