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There's something magical about spending your vacation in a villa that does beachfront one better, with accommodations that perch directly above the water. Imagine going to bed with the gentle sounds of the sea all around you, then waking up to colorful tropical fish swimming under your feet and seabirds coasting in for a landing on your private deck. It's like treehouse meets beach camp, an opportunity that you won't want to miss out on.
Once found only in South Pacific destinations like Fiji, overwater villas and bungalows have now come to the Caribbean, in destinations as diverse as Jamaica, Bermuda, Belize, and Panama.
Sandals Royal Caribbean Spa Resort and Offshore Island in Jamaica
The 1,600 square-foot villa with infinity pool offers couples the chance to view the ocean from their own pool, see the water through a glass window in the floor, soak in a private Jacuzzi tub, as well as relax in hammocks dangling over the sea—all while having an assigned butler take care of the details of their stay.
The overwater honeymoon bungalow offers glass vision floor panels and lit water so you can enjoy undersea views. There is a private outdoor soaking tub for two and over-water hammocks. Private patios have a sun deck, outdoor shower, sun loungers, and a bistro set. Add in the butler service and 24-hour room service, and you may never want to leave your bungalow.
These are not the first overwater lodgings in the Caribbean (as some have claimed), but they are some of the most accessible and sought-after.
Cayo Espanto in Belize
The Cayo Espanto resort in Belize has just one overwater bungalow, but it's a beauty. The Casa Ventanas, like all of the rooms at this private-island resort, features an open, modern layout. Unlike the other rooms, however, the 1,100 square-foot Casa Ventanas sits on a private dock 150 feet off the island. Freeform wooden walls, local antique furnishings, shuttered windows, and a plush bed—not to mention an ultra-private deck—make for a romantic and memorable stay.
Popular resort activities include snorkeling and scuba and fishing as well as indulging in spa services. Cayo Espanto is located off the island of San Pedro on Belize's Caribbean coast.
Punta Caracol Acqua-Lodge in Panama
The Punta Caracol Acqua-Lodge consists of nine overwater bungalows strung pearl-like off a rainforest-covered island dotting Panama's Caribbean coast. The bungalows at this small ecolodge are solar-powered and comprised of natural building materials like thatched roofs. Accommodations come in two sizes (plus the large Master Suite), but all are two stories high and have decks for enjoying sunsets and watching dolphins; guests also can snorkel the coral reefs right from their bungalow.
The Punta Caracol Suite accommodation includes a king-sized bed, two twin beds, lounge chairs, and a hammock while the Luna Suites are slightly larger and include a bigger terrace, as well as a solarium with stairs for immediate access to the clear ocean waters below.
The Master has an octagon design with 1076 square feet (100 square meters) of interior space, and spacious outer terraces including one on the upper level, which gives it a spectacular panoramic view. The Master Suite has a king-size bed in the upper room, and four twin beds in the lower room.
You arrive at this eco-resort by taxi boat (or taxi) from Isla Colon (Bocas Town), a 10-minute ride. Located on Isla Bastimentos on the Bocas del Toro Archipelago, Panama, Eclypse de Mar, in a nature preserve, has both overwater accommodations and a treehouse where you can stay. An on-site restaurant is open only on the weekends and is just for guests.
At this remote and sustainable resort electricity is provided by solar panels and is only available in the Bungalows from 6 p.m. until 8:30 a.m. You can get Wi-Fi in the rooms and restaurant. Breezes provide natural ventilation. Warm water for showers is available all day.
Sandals South Coast Overwater Villas in Jamaica
The six overwater villas at Sandals South Coast are made for romance. Even the accommodations are arranged in a heart. Sandal's honeymoon bungalows come with a butler who will take care of the details of your visit. The private patio is equipped with a sun deck, outdoor shower, sun loungers, and a bistro set. When you want to socialize, head over to the Latitudes overwater bar, sit in a hammock over the water, and order your drink.
Thatch Caye in Belize
You can spend a week on a private island in Belize at an all-inclusive resort geared for divers and those who want a more adventurous over-water stay.
The resort has five premier overwater bungalows with 180-degree views of distant islands and the gorgeous clear blue water. You can relax on your private patio in a hammock. The rooms have A/C but most choose to keep the windows open to enjoy the ocean breezes.
The three spacious connected overwater bungalows have a shared deck with hammocks. Each bungalow has a private bathroom with a shower and A/C. The three bungalows would be ideal for a group or family getaway.
Thatch Caye is ideal for exploring the Belize Barrier Reef and is a great place to get dive certified.
Sandals St. Lucian Grande in St. Lucia
The Sandals St. Lucian Grande touts 9 overwater bungalows as well as an overwater wedding chapel. These bungalows feature Sandals signature Tranquility Soaking Tub for two, a hammock where you can swing yourself to sleep over the water, outdoor shower and a patio with a swim-up platform. The bungalows have glass flooring so you can look down and see the clear turquoise water and, perhaps, a fish or two.