Overwater Bungalows - Coming to a Caribbean near you

From the Shipmate Archives. Originally published July 22, 2016. 

For many, Overwater Bungalows are the epitome of a tropical vacation. We constantly see images like the one below in advertisements. In commercials, the beautiful couple has their backs turned, elbows up on the edge of the infinity pool, and they’re staring off into the sunset in their overwater bungalow. All while some guy tells us to apply for a credit card.

We’re waiting until our honeymoon or retirement to make the trip. It’s our “unicorn vacation.”

Why do so few of us every get the chance to relax just feet above the ocean surface?  Well, for 90% of our Ship Mate users, our closest overwater bungalow option is thousands of miles away in the Indian Ocean or the South Pacific. We’d have to travel to Tahiti, Bora Bora, or the Maldives to get a taste of these water villas.

Very soon our major obstacle will be gone. Forget the 24-hour flights. Never mind airfare in the thousands of dollars… Overwater Bungalows are coming soon to a Caribbean near you!

Why did this take so long?  We have no idea. We’ve been drooling over these things for many years. Well, wipe your chin and get ready for not one, but three options currently under development.

Below are the only three known options for the long-awaited villas making their Western Hemisphere debut.

Option #1 – Palafitos Overwater Bungalows

What:  The very first Caribbean overwater bungalow is brought to you by Karisma Hotels and Resorts.

The adults-only property consists of 30 villas overtop the calm waters of the Riviera Maya. If you ever leave your villa, you’ll find that you have direct access to the world-renowned, Maroma Beach. The property also offers the luxurious amenities of a five-star hotel, but let’s get to the good stuff.

Every bungalow is situated over water with gorgeous sunset views. With every bungalow, you’ll find the following included.

  • Glass floors
  • Private Infinity pool
  • Ladder into the ocean
  • Outdoor shower
  • Jacuzzi inside your vila
  • Huge deck with sunning chairs
  • Butler service

When:  September 1, 2016. The Palafitos at El Dorado Maroma is the very first to develop commercial overwater bungalows in the Caribbean. They’re expected to open the Summer of 2016.

Where:  According to the Travel Channel, Maroma Beach beach is “quite possibly the most exquisite secret in Mexico.” Located 30 miles south of Cancun, Maroma is nestled in the heart of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Cost:  Starting at $665 per adult per night. We’re guessing that most vacationers will want to enjoy this with a loved one, so the typical cost comes in at just over $1,300 per night.

Option #2 – Sandals Resort Overwater Villas

What:  Sandals Resort in Montego Bay is building just five overwater bungalows to complement their existing Jamaican resort property. While the cost is astronomical (see below), rumor has it that all five villas are booked through September of 2017.

Highlights include the following.

  • Private outdoor hot tub and shower
  • Overwater hammock for two
  • 1,600 SF of space
  • Glass floor with nighttime lit ocean
  • Professional butler service

Along with the amazing amenities provided in your overwater bungalow, you can also take advantage of the common areas of the main resort. There you’ll find five restaurants, six pools, beautiful beaches, and more.

When:  November 15, 2016 – this makes Sandals the second resort to offer this style of villa in the Caribbean. If the above rumors are true, however, none of these will be available to you or I for quite some time.

Where:  The Sandals resort in Montego Bay is situated on the northwest region of Jamaica. It’s a popular cruise port and offers some highly regarded beaches.

Cost:  $4,321 per night… yup, you read that correctly. A seven-day vacation here will set you back over $30k! As a comparison, check out your cruise options to Montego Bay below.

Option #3 – Viceroy Bocas Del Toro Villas

What:  Located in Panama, the exotic Viceroy Hotel and Resort future development will consist of 42 overwater bungalows. Here you’ll be surrounded by rainforests, wetlands, white sand beaches, and coral reefs.

Accessibility to the property is available only by boat, seaplane or helicopter!

The eco-friendly destination “allows only electrical cars and sustainable technologies. Its outdoor design has been meticulously planned with indigenous plants and tropical specialties that will be used in the preparation of local cuisine.”

Highlights include with your bungalow:

  • Breathtaking Caribbean vistas
  • Private plunge pools
  • 3 miles of private white-sand beaches
  • Sailing, surfing, hiking

The main property (excluding the overwater bungalows) consists of 144 modern guest rooms.

When:  2019. Sorry, you’ll have to wait a couple years on this one.

Where:  The closest major hub is Panama City. Getting to the Viceroy is a bit of a challenge, but should also be part of the fun.

Cost:  Unknown – but other Viceroy properties go for $1,000 / night, which is on par with the Palafitos property noted above.

Have you ever stayed in an overwater bungalow? If so, please let us know what you thought in the comments below. Also, let us know which of these above you’d pick if forced to choose just one.

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