Dreaming of a luxury getaway? Paradise is closer than you think. Mexico’s Riviera Maya has four overwater bungalow resorts that promise luxury accommodations, upscale dining, and some of the world’s most gorgeous beaches. Here’s how to make them your next escape.
The Riviera Maya in Mexico is famous as one of the most beautiful stretches of beach in the world. Starting just south of Cancun, it continues 100 miles down the coast past Playa del Carmen and Tulum to Punta Allen. Travelers journey here from all over the world in search of a sand-and-sun fix.
It’s no surprise, then, that the region is also home to some of the world’s best resorts. Four of these luxury enclaves offer Riviera Maya overwater bungalows: Palafitos at El Dorado Maroma, Rosewood Mayakoba, Banyan Tree Mayakoba, and Centro Holistico Akal Ki. I’ve also got an insider tip on a private overwater vacation rental villa!
Let’s explore the location, amenities, and luxuries of each to help you decide which is your perfect retreat.
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In this Guide to the Best Riviera Maya & Cancun Overwater Bungalows
Palafitos Overwater Bungalows at El Dorado Maroma Karisma
Best Riviera Maya Bungalows for the Beach | Cancun Overwater Bungalows
The Palafitos Overwater Bungalows offer a private hideaway on one of the most beautiful beaches on the Riviera Maya. Located just ½ hour from Cancun Airport, these luxury over-the-water bungalows are located just offshore at Maroma Beach, whose white sands and clear turquoise waters are considered by many to be one of the top ten beaches in the world.
Watch the sun rise and set right from your private deck. A stairway down to the water affords each room its own private entry into the sea. All Palafitos overwater bungalow rooms feature a king bed, private infinity pool, romantic outdoor shower, sumptuous bedding, and glass-bottom floors for views of the marine life below. Elite bungalows are attended to by a personal butler!
Guests who want the ultimate in relaxation can book a treatment at the overwater Náay Spa. Their services utilize traditional Mayan herbal practices and antioxidant-rich Maroma Beach sea moss.
Award-winning “Gourmet Inclusive” dining experiences are just steps away at the Overwater Grill & Wine Bar, featuring two glass-floor dining rooms with spectacular views of the surrounding sea.
Palafitos Overwater Bungalows is perfect for:
- An overwater bungalow experience on Maroma Beach, one of the best in the world
- Top reviews for spacious rooms, attentive and courteous service, and gorgeous views
- Stunning ocean views and direct access to the ocean
- In-room amenities you’d expect from a luxury resort including AC, WiFi, Smart TV, high-end toiletries, make-up mirror, espresso and tea station, premium stocked minibar, and beach bags and snorkel equipment for on-resort use.
- Indoor relaxing hot tub for two and aromatherapy shower
- Oversized deck with wooden sun loungers and outdoor shower
- Exclusive beach beds and beach butler service
- All “gourmet inclusive” meals including 24-hour room service, customized beach picnics, and in-bungalow full breakfast daily. Karisma resorts consistently receive high ratings for their restaurants and culinary quality.
- Elite rooms include full butler service to handle details of your vacation with a personal touch before you arrive, upon arrival, and throughout your stay
Palofitos overwater bungalows were the first to open in Mexico in 2016, and set the standard for luxury and serenity. If you’ve been dreaming of a trip to the Maldives or Bora Bora but dread the 24-hour travel time required, treat yourself by booking Palafitos instead.
Rosewood Mayakoba Deluxe Lagoon Suites
Best Riviera Maya Overwater Villa for Resort Amenities
Surrounded by mangrove lagoons and the turquoise Caribbean Sea, the Rosewood Mayakoba is a 5-star Riviera Maya luxury resort with overwater rooms. Its Deluxe Lagoon Suites afford spectacular views of the lagoon and mangrove and expansive outdoor living spaces. Located just 45 minutes from the Cancun Airport, Rosewood Mayakoba is my top pick for overwater rooms with luxury resort amenities.
Each suite’s sumptuously-appointed king bedroom is separate from a spacious living area, which opens to an outdoor terrace with heated plunge pool and boat dock. The private bath features a separate tub, indoor rain shower, outdoor garden shower and large walk-in closet
Mayakoba’s eight bars and restaurants offer the widest variety of culinary offerings on this list. They fuse traditional Mexican ingredients with international style. Indulge yourself starting with a tropical buffet breakfast and continue with poolside and seaside dining, then finish the day at a sophisticated Yucatan-inspired cocktail bar. A food truck cantina ensures you meet your RDTA (recommended daily taco allowance, a requirement when roaming Mexico).
The spa here, located on its own tranquil island, has been named #1 in the world by Forbes Mexico. For more utter relaxation, the resort offers six infinity pools (yes, nearly an infinity of infinity pools) and a championship golf course. Stunning natural features at the golf course include a cenote and two oceanfront holes with stunning views of the Caribbean Sea.
Rosewood Mayakoba can also help celebrate life’s special occasions, with services for engagements, destination weddings, bachelorette trips, anniversaries and more. The resort’s room inventory includes villas and private residences that can accommodate up to 12 guests, making it a perfect choice for family gatherings and special events.
Indulge yourself at Rosewood Mayakoba for:
- Personalized butler service and daily housekeeping including nightly turndown service
- Heated plunge pool, outdoor deck and boat dock in addition to resort amenities
- Eight bars and restaurants with a wide variety of regional and international fare
- Six infinity pools and nearby championship golf course
- In-room mezcal welcome amenity
- Fresh fruit bowl and bottled water replenished daily
- In-room entertainment amenities including WiFi with premium service available, Bose audio and sound, satellite television and music, and iPod docking station
- Standard amenities you’d expect from a luxury resort including air-conditioning, safety deposit box, hair dryer, and complimentary in-room coffee and tea service
- Included beach activities: stand up paddle board (SUP), snorkeling, Hobie cats, kayaking, and beach sports like volleyball and soccer
- Optional/off-resort local experiences can be arranged including scuba diving and certification, cooking classes, sailing charters, and more
- Celebration of special events like engagements, anniversaries, family gatherings, and destination weddings
If you want the peace and seclusion of an overwater bungalow with the amenities of a 5-star resort, Rosewood Mayakoba is your pick. Every setting here is an Instagram dream, too: from the jungle-chic styling of the lagoon suites to the pools, beach, and restaurants. Don’t let your perfect dates get booked up!
Banyan Tree Mayakoba | Newest Mexico Overwater Bungalows
Most Peaceful Maya Riviera Overwater Bungalow
Banyan Tree Mayakoba, already well-established in the luxury hotel choices of the Riviera Maya, added overwater rooms to its lagoon in 2021. It’s also located 45 minutes south of the Cancun Airport, right next door to the Rosewood Mayakoba. One thing that differentiates the two is a quieter, Asian-influenced setting at Banyan Tree, a nod to the brand’s roots in Thailand.
The resort’s Lagoon & Sunset Rooftop Pool Villas float over the lagoon, just steps away from the beach. Each one-bedroom villa has a two-story layout, private outdoor tub, and a heated rooftop plunge pool, all perfect spots for sunset views
Banyan Tree offers a wide variety of culinary options in its 14 restaurants and bars. From barbecue and private dinners in your villa to fresh seafood dishes and authentic Thai flavors, their restaurants have something to tempt every palate. Expect abundant buffet breakfasts, candlelit alfresco dinners, and Mayan dishes with traditional entertainment. 24-hour in-room dining is always available for romantic dinners.
Mexican and Asian traditions meet at the signature Banyan Tree Spa. Like its namesake tree, the spa offers guests a place for physical, mental and spiritual renewal. A hydrotherapy circuit, sauna and steam room are on the menu, as well as massages, facials, and body scrubs.
Try out complimentary snorkeling and stand-up paddleboarding, or just relax on sun loungers at the oceanfront infinity pool. Or get adventurous with a trajinera boat tour dining experience, cenote and kayak tours, tequila tasting, nature trail, and a PGA-championship golf course.
For special occasions, they recommend their Ixchel romantic culinary experience aboard a traditional Mexican trajinera. Banyan Tree also offers the perfect setting for a destination wedding or honeymoon.
Escape to overwater villas at Banyan Tree Mayakoba for:
- A stunning beach and jungle setting
- Large rooms with expansive views from two floors
- Heated plunge pool with private outside seating area
- Large nearly ceiling to floor lagoon views
- Luxury in-room amenities like a toiletries, razor kit, slippers and robes, pillow menu, premium bedding, coffee and tea station, insect repellent (hello, lagoon) and more
- Foodies will love the unique dining options including Asian, Italian, steakhouse, tequila bar, and a tapas cruise or traditional trajinera boat featuring a gourmet culinary experience
If you’re looking for a lavish yet peaceful escape with unique dining options, Banyan Tree Mayakoba is your best bet.
Centro Holistico Akal Ki | Bacalar Overwater Bungalows
Eco + Affordable Overwater Bungalows in Bacalar
Nestled amid the jungles of the Bacalar Lagoon you’ll find the rustic, thatched-roof overwater bungalows of Centro Holistico Akal Ki. These bungalows are the least expensive and most remote on this list. Located 20 miles from the Chetumal Airport, this area on the Belize border is much less visited than other Riviera Maya hotspots.
Getting here is worth it, though, once you see the stunning Laguna Bacalar, known as the “Lake of 7 Colors” because of its many turquoise-blue hues. This is a special place, known in Mayan as Siyan Ka’an Bakjalal, which translates roughly to “place surrounded by reeds where the sky is born.”
Akal Ki bungalows are eco-chic, meaning no air conditioning; just a ceiling fan and lagoon breezes. Each room features a king size bed, natural wood floors, a thatched palapa roof, and a sun deck with direct access to the lagoon, perfect for stunning sunrise views.
Akal Ki isn’t all inclusive, but has an “orchard to table” restaurant onsite for fresh meals made with local flavors. The spa features holistic treatments, massages, and meditation to help center your mind and body.
Things to do in Bacalar include boat tours of the lagoon, snorkeling, paddleboarding, and kayaking. There are Mayan ruins at Chacchoben and Kohunlich, each about an hour away.
Want a rustic escape with a front row seat every day when the sky is born? Akal Ki is your Riviera Maya overwater bungalow dream.
Palafito Bacalar: Private Overwater Vacation Rental
Looking for a totally unique escape? The rustic Palafito Bacalar is your own lagoon-front residence at Bacalar. With just enough space for two guests, this vacation rental lets you view sunrise from your own waterfront balcony. An adjoining dock is the perfect jumping-off spot for a swim and makes pickups easy for boat tours of the lagoon.
The bungalow features a comfy king bed, private bath, mini fridge, and use of kayaks and bicycles. Palafito Bacalar is just a short trip to town, either 15 minutes walking or a quick 5-minute bike ride.
But best of all, it’s your own slice of paradise in a stunning natural setting.
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