5 Overwater Bungalow Resorts That Are So Much Easier to Get to Than Bora Bora

Maldives, Bora Bora and Tahiti—these are all high on our list of dream trips, especially since their luxury hoteliers are the O.G. pioneers of overwater accommodations. But factor in a couple thousand dollars on your flight and 15- to 20-plus hours up in the air, and you'll find the allure wanes a bit.

That’s why we couldn’t be more thrilled that resorts in Belize, Mexico, St. Lucia and more have jumped on the overwater bungalow bandwagon. A couple hundred bucks and only a couple hours to get to these desirable destinations? Consider our bags packed.

With stunning landscapes, crystal clear waters, swanky suites and villas raised over schools of exotic fish, there’s no time like the present to book a vacay to one of these gems. The best part? Even if you’re not into swimming (or getting your hair wet, no judgement), you can still be *on the water* without ever having to dip a toe in the water. Genius.

You Won’t Believe These Beautiful Hotels Are Under $300

cayo espanto
Cayo Espanto

Cayo Espanto, Belize

Cayo Espanto is intimate to the max. No surprise there, considering it’s a private island resort just off Ambergris Caye in Belize. With only seven ocean-front villas (one of which is its prized overwater bungalow, Casa Ventanas), rest and relaxation is inevitable. Surrounded by shimmering azure waters, an open-air layout and plenty of aquatic wonders to spy through transparent windows, it’s truly a dream hotel room. And the private butler, personal chef and island movie library don’t hurt the vacation vibes, either. Try fly-fishing and scuba diving by day and stargazing from the end of your dock by night. And if you never leave your quarters, that’s cool, too.

sandals grande st lucian st lucia
Sandal Grande St. Lucian

Sandals Grande St. Lucian, St. Lucia

Propped up on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Lucia, each of its nine bungalows is outfitted with five-star details: outdoor showers, king beds bedecked in high thread counts, Smart TVs, soaking tubs and hammocks for two, plus unobstructed views of that famous aquamarine sea. Live music and dancing are typical nightly activities, while rainforest hikes and jaunts to world-renowned reef-diving sites (in between swim-up bar shenanigans) are par for the course. And should you require ice bucket refills, dinner reservations or someone to take the Insta pics, white gloved attendants will be at the ready 24/7.

amanyara turks caicos

Amanyara, Turks & Caicos

Tucked away on the farthest point of Providenciales in Turks, you can pick your poison: an Alcove Pavilion floating above a tranquil pond or a Pool Pavilion with a private infinity-edge swimming pool. Both include timber-shingled sundecks with loungers that offer the kind of tree-shaded seclusion only a true nature preserve can. We know, we know, leaving your abode will feel like a chore, but you’ll want to venture out (well, on-property still) for The Restaurant, where catch-of-the-day delicacies await you. Wellness is also big here, so book an alfresco yoga class or Pilates session with master trainer Erika Bloom. 


Palafitos-overwater Bungalows At El Dorado Maroma, Mexico

Part of the Karisma all-inclusive hotel family, El Dorado Maroma is an adults-only playground in the heart of Riviera Maya. A bit of a splurge (rates start in the high hundreds to thousands and up), a stay in one of its 30 floating Palafitos bungalows—replete with traditional Mexican influences and Aztec touches—does include all food and drinks, and well, #YOLO. Glass-bottom floors provide nonstop glimpses of look-alike Dory and friends, while private infinity pools and direct ladder access to the ocean mean never having to mingle with the rest of the hotel guests. Don’t worry though, there’s still Wi-Fi and majordomos (VIP butlers). Even the onsite restaurant fits the theme: Overwater Grill & Wine Bar. 

punta caracol
Punta Caracol

Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge, Panama

If your style is more laidback, you’ll fit right in at this rustic bungalow retreat situated on the edge of Bocas del Toro in Panama. The sustainably run “aqua-meets-eco lodge” boasts nine two-story abodes complete with colonial-style canopy beds and palm leaf constructed roofs. While most overwater resorts will cost you a pretty penny, Punta Caracol is uniquely affordable with rates in the low hundreds. Terrace hammocks, live coral reefs and funky decor add to the charm of this special sanctuary. Oh, and there are cute sloths, white-faced monkeys, dolphins and starfish dotting the entire archipelago. Tell them hi for us.

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Freelance PureWow Editor