There’s no need to travel across multiple time zones to the Maldives or Bora Bora to experience overwater bungalows these days, instead head to the Caribbean for some worthy alternatives. Staying in a villa perched on stilts over the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea is the ultimate romantic getaway. And unlike counterparts in the Indian and South Pacific Oceans, Caribbean overwater bungalows tend to be a more affordable bucket list item to check.
El Dorado Maroma pioneered the over-the-water bungalow concept in the Mexican Caribbean opening the first of its kind for this part of the world on Maroma Beach in 2016. Sandals Resorts followed in their footsteps and opened three properties with overwater bungalow options in Jamaica and St Lucia.
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Although the concept has long been popular in places like the Maldives and French Polynesia, where resorts are usually located within lagoons with calmer seas, the rougher water and storms in the Caribbean had made them less appealing to construct.
Here's a handy guide to five of our favorite Caribbean overwater bungalows, perfect for a 2022 retreat.
Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort, Montego Bay, Jamaica
Sandals' first overwater bungalow contribution was its Sandals Royal Caribbean property on a private island in Jamaica’s Montego Bay area. Sandals resorts are geared specifically to couples and are adults-only all-inclusive affairs. The Royal Caribbean has 15 overwater bungalows. These have glass floor panels and underwater lighting so you can see marine life day and night They also have floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors opening onto floating decks with an infinity pool, deep soaking tub built for two and hammocks.
When you are ready to head to the main resort simply summon your private water taxi to get you there. Sandals resorts don’t just include food and beverages in their plans but also activities. And these include some pretty sweet choices like free scuba diving if you’re certified (otherwise go snorkeling or sailing). There are eight restaurants onsite cooking up everything from Jamaican to Thai and French.
Sandals South Coast, Whitehouse, Jamaica
Sandals has a number of Jamaican properties, but the only other one with overwater bungalow selections is Sandals South Coast, which also happens to be one of the newest of the brand’s resorts. The overwater villas here were built in the formation of a heart, which adds to their romance factor. They have the same overall layout as the above-mentioned property just a different locale.
Like other Sandals properties, this resort is also adults-only and all-inclusive including as many activities as you would like to do. Butler service is included. Just let them know if you’d like your luggage unpacked or your clothes ironed upon arrival. Everything at this five-star resort is luxe. Even the minibar is stocked with premium booze. One of the only things not included are treatments at the signature Red Lane Spa but these are worth paying extra for.
The Palafitos of El Dorado Maroma, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
In Playa del Carmen on Mexico’s Riviera Maya, El Dorado Maroma is home to Mexico’s only overwater bungalows, known as their Palafitos. One of a few room classes at the adults-only resort, these villas come with traditional glass bottom floor panels. They also feature gorgeously designed private decks with infinity plunge pools and outdoor showers. The decor is glam inside as well with Aztec style prints, Zapote wood furnishings and lots of white granite.
The romantic property is all-inclusive so there is no need to worry about spoiling yourself rotten from a food and drink perspective. There are seven restaurants onsite serving everything from Mexican (of course) to Peruvian, Italian and Asian fare. Multiple bars and lounges, including swim-up options, serve premium spirits. There is nightly entertainment including DJs and dancing. You’ll also have access to 24-hour butler service.
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Sandals Grande St Lucian, St Lucia
One of the most dramatic-looking islands in the Caribbean, St Lucia is a gorgeous destination and the Sandals Grande St Lucian faces its most impressive bay. The overwater bungalows here offer heart-stopping views panoramic views of the lush green, volcanic mountains that rise out of the bright blue sea.
Like other Sandals properties, this one is couples-focused and five-star luxe all-inclusive. Let the butler service you breakfast in bed before heading out to your overwater hammock or taking a dip in the jetted infinity pool on the porch.
Amenities are also plentiful and everything from green fees at two nearby golf courses to scuba diving in St Lucia’s plentiful reefs are included in your daily rate. There are 12 restaurants on-site but if you get bored you’ll also be able to access the brand’s sister resorts Sandals Regency La Toc and Sandals Halcyon. With so many choices you might never come home.
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Royalton Antigua Resort and Spa, Deep Bay, Antigua
The only overwater bungalow option in Antigua is the Royalton Antigua Resort. The bungalows at this five-star, all-inclusive property sit on stilts overlooking the turquoise sea in Deep Bay, just a 30-minute drive from the international airport.
The overwater bungalows here are two-story affairs with decks off of each. The top floor has a jetted infinity pool on its deck, while the lower level deck has an over-the-water hammock and direct access to the sea. Although the Royalton property welcomes families, the overwater bungalows are reserved for adults only. Inside the villas, you’ll find the usual glass bottom floors and luxe decor. Butler service is also offered.
The Royalton sits on a pretty stretch of white sand beach. There are six restaurants to choose from including a steakhouse, Caribbean and Italian. For something extra book the C/X Culinary Experience, which is a chef’s table dining experience for adults only. There is an extra fee for this, however.
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