THE HAPPIEST PLACES TO STAY
Belize is the northernmost Central American country. It is a country about the size of New Hampshire, about 1/10th the size of the United Kingdom. It is the only Central American country that does not border the Pacific Ocean. It only borders the Caribbean Sea. It enjoys 174 miles alongside the Meso-American Reef, the longest such neighbor to the reef, a scuba diving and snorkeling paradise. The mainland has lush tropical rainforests and the Ancient Mayan ruins.
Between the sea, the mountains, and the Mayan ruins and culture, the adventures are endless. Ambergris Caye, is its most densely populated Caye and Belize’s most popular tourist destination. Belizeans are warm and friendly people, virtually all of whom speak English.
Given its relatively small size and the limited commercial investments to date, Belize does not have a large amount of luxury hotels. However, it does boost some fantastic mountain retreat spas and boutique beach hotels. Planning a visit to Belize? Let’s explore some of your lodging choices by region. We’ll share our views as to the best and happiest places to stay in Belize. We’ll start with hotels on Ambergris Caye as we know the area best and it is the home of the most hotels in Belize.
AMBERGRIS CAYE HOTELS
Ambergris Caye is approximately 25 miles long by 1 mile wide and is located about 10 miles off the coast of mainland Belize and is surrounded by the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. San Pedro, the only town on Ambergris Caye, is the center of gravity here. One can find all possible lodging here from hostels to boutique hotels to luxury hotels to specialty hotels. We highlight a few of the best San Pedro hotels, etc.
Sandbar Beachfront Hostel & Restaurant
Sandbar is considered the number #1 budget lodging choice on the Caye. It is a dream come true dream for thrifty backpacker on a Belize vacation. Located on Boca Del Rio Drive in San Pedro. It is on the water and priced for the most budget savvy consumer. The bar and restaurant will satisfy most hungry and thirsty travelers!
The Drift Inn is a little boutique hotel/hostel in San Pedro. The private rooms and dorms can accommodate needs for individuals or groups with clean and very affordable rooms right near the beach and close to the all the beach bars and dive shops you’ll need.
This is by far the biggest category of San Pedro hotels. There are too many really good ones to feature here, but we’ll go with our favorites! It is important to note that you can find really happy places all over the Caye, but most of us generally break the geography into three areas: south of town, downtown San Pedro, and north of town. We’ve organized this list of “best boutique hotels on Ambergris Caye” from southern most to northern most, excepting for the two “Specialty Hotels”.
South of Town
Playa de Sala
Located 4.5 miles south of San Pedro town, Playa De Sala is the perfect spot for a peaceful and relaxing stay. This 5-room adult-only luxury boutique hotel is nestled between the Mangroves and the tranquil waters of the Caribbean. Relax in the sun on the beach, take a relaxing dip in our infinity pool or sip drinks at the full-service rooftop bar with gorgeous 360-degree views. After the sun sets, chill out and enjoy a movie under the stars.
Pelican Reef Villas Resort
This hotel stands out with its beautiful natural environment. It is an exclusive Belize boutique resort located 2.6 miles south of San Pedro. With only twenty-four suites we are one of the smallest and most exclusive hotels in Ambergris Caye. This ensures a personalized vacation experience that you won’t get from many other Ambergris Caye, Belize hotels.
Downtown San Pedro
SunBreeze Suites is situated in the laid-back beach downtown of San Pedro. On one side of the hotel are the festive streets of the downtown welcoming you to join in the fun, and out the other door, you are just a few steps from the Caribbean Sea. SunBreeze Suites is comprised of twenty-one comfortable one-bedroom vacation suites overlooking the beautiful blue sea. Each comes with a private balcony from where you can enjoy breath-taking sunrises, refreshing cool sea-breezes and romantic moonlight nights.
Oasis del Caribe
Spectacular fully furnished condos are available for rent on the beach at Boca Del Rio Drive in downtown San Pedro. These 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom condos have one of a kind ocean views, just a short walk down the beach to the center of town. Whether you want to relax in paradise or partake in the endless activities that surround you, Oasis del Caribe is your island getaway.
North of Town
Twisted Palms Villas
Twisted Palm Villas is an ocean-front boutique hotel with just 6 suites overlooking the spectacular Caribbean and Belize Barrier Reef. This hidden gem was recently completed and is an 18+ only suite hotel located just ½ mile north of the bridge leaving downtown.
Bella Vista Resort is 2.5 Miles North of San Pedro Town and is home to Aji Tapa Bar & Restaurant. The boutique suite hotel is also a hidden gem. Take a couple steps into the property, you will encounter a wonderful beach with a spectacular view of the Barrier Reef while feeling the warm Caribbean breeze. The property also boasts of having a top 5 San Pedro restaurant and bar, Aji, serving delicious Caribbean style dinners.
Victoria House Resort and Spa
Spectacular, private, and located south of town and on the Caribbean Sea, the award-winning Victoria House beach resort features 42 rooms offering a variety of world-class accommodations. As a boutique resort, Victoria House is unsurpassed in the art of pampering its guests with an abundance of services and conveniences. Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway, a dream beach wedding, or an unforgettable family vacation, Victoria House is sure to deliver an unforgettable experience.
A Laidback Luxury Resort located 3.5 miles north of San Pedro is the spot for romance, barefoot luxury, relaxation, and adventure. This 4-star luxury resort offers the utmost in beachfront relaxation, including two large, freeform swimming pools, a swim-up pool bar, Jacuzzi, and waterslide. Coco Beach Resort offers a wide range of accommodations to suit every guest’s needs. From our perspective, this is the ideal sized resort, not too big nor too small. There is something for everyone here.
Matachica Resort and Spa
Matachica’s serene and technology-free property (rooms are WiFi-, phone- and television-free) allows guests to disconnect in order to reconnect with nature, and in the process, themselves. The unique beachfront casitas, relaxed atmosphere, elegant design and adults-only property merge to create a truly authentic, restorative getaway—no matter your reason for visiting, we welcome all of our guests with open arms. Matachica offers a luxury beach resort that makes the ideal destination for a romantic honeymoon, girls’ getaway, mother-daughter weekend or celebration with friends. We are located just 5 miles from San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. The warm staff looks forward to helping you create amazing experiences during your stay and memories that last a lifetime.
Ramon’s Village – A Diver’s ParadisE
Located on the southern edge of downtown, this resort is styled after the Tahitian cottages on the Polynesian island of Bora Bora, our cabanas are built from native materials by craftsmen utilizing the same skill and techniques the islanders used in the days of the great sailing ships. Ramon’s Village is a sanctuary nestled in a tropical garden of Royal Palms, bougainvillea, lilies, hibiscus and dozens of other types of tropical flora. Surrounded by the plant life are Mayan sculptures that provide a glimpse of the civilization that preceded us in this Caribbean paradise. Once inside our enchanted village, you’ll be in a world of your own choosing.
Ramon’s Village Diver’s has one of the largest dive operations on Ambergris Caye. Ramon’s maintains a fleet of four skiffs ranging in size from 28′ to 34′. These boats are used for dives along the Belize Barrier Reef in the vicinity of Ambergris Caye and carry up to eight divers plus crew. The Miss Gina, our Pro 42 dive boat, carries up to 16 divers plus crew making it an excellent choice for dive groups and can also be used for dive trips to the Turneffe Atoll. The Lady Grace, our Newton 46 dive boat, can accommodate up to 24 divers plus crew and provides a comfortable outing for those wanting to dive Jacques Cousteau’s Blue Hole.
Ramon’s Village Divers also offers a full slate of PADI Scuba Courses or we accept referrals from other certification organizations such as NAUI, SSI, YMCA and NASDS for completion of entry-level training. Ramon’s employs a full staff of PADI professional instructors and dive masters ensure a dive experience unequaled anywhere in Belize, or for that matter, the world!
El Pescador - A Fisherman’s Dream
Located a few miles north of downtown, El Pescador Lodge and Villas is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, and known as a world-class fly-fishing resort. El Pescador is a top choice for anglers, eco-adventurers, couples and families looking for the best of Belize. If fishing is your passion, there is no better specialty fishing hotel on Ambergris Caye.
THE BLUE DOLPHIN
The Blue Dolphin is a whole house rental owned by a lovely couple from Minnesota, Dr. Mark and Joan Johnson. They have lovingly entertained many guests in this beautiful 5 bedroom/ 5 bath / sleeps 12, beach house with a fabulous private pool. This beautifully landscaped, very private and expansive 2 acre estate includes 150 feet of white sand beach right on the Caribbean Sea with a pier that's wonderful for snorkeling and fishing from and reaches back 700' to a beautiful wildlife filled, mangrove lagoon with another pier for fishing. They also have available to their guests 3 kayaks to carry you swiftly (5 to 10min. depending on the breeze) to the reef for your own private snorkeling adventures and a Belizean canoe and a small row boat for touring/fishing the lagoon. We have enjoyed many visits to the Blue Dolphin. It is the perfect spot for a large family vacation retreat.
CAYE CAULKER HOTELS
Caye Caulker is located about 10 miles south of Ambergris Caye, is considerably smaller by every measure. It’s an island popular among backpackers and the budget travelers. Hotels and restaurants are less expensive than on Ambergris Caye and the vibe of Caye Caulker is much more mellow – ‘Go Slow’ is the island’s motto. It’s really two islands having been separated by Hurricane Hattie in 1961. Virtually all of the development, such as it is, is located on “South Caye Caulker”.
On the sandy streets of (south) Caye Caulker you’ll find restaurants, artists booths, grocery stores, and a few bars. At the north end you’ll find the split where you can get drinks and food at the Lazy Lizard. This village is all about ‘chillaxing’ on a small, hassle-free Caribbean island. You can relax in a chaise, sunbathe, enjoy seafood and cold beverages, or go for a swim, or jump off the dive platform or do nothing.
We’ll offer a few hotels that we’re familiar with on Caye Caulker.
Iguana Reef Inn
Discover the idyllic, island lifestyle of Caye Caulker and the luxury accommodations at the Iguana Reef seaside Inn. After a day of exploring the wonders of the barrier reef or Mayan ruins on the Belize mainland, relax in one of the few fresh water swimming pools on Caye Caulker.
Iguana Reef is an inn that blends casual elegance with barefoot informality. Located on the water's edge, on the leeward side of the Caye, the Inn is in the heart of a charming fishing village, Iguana Reef offers decidedly upscale accommodations and the enchantment of the "Old Caribbean" island lifestyle. Don’t forget to visit the seahorses at the dock.
Sea Dreams Hotel
A lovely guesthouse on the north side of the island, Sea Dreams offers a rare combination of easy access and sweet tranquility. Spend the day lounging around the Split, then retreat to the cozy accommodations just a few steps away. Original paintings by local artists adorn the colorful walls of the rooms and apartments, which are elegant and comfortable.
Weezie’s Oceanfront Hotel and Garden Cottages
Experience Weezie’s island charm and attention to detail from the moment you arrive. The Caribbean ocean view and tropical breeze set the tone for a relaxing getaway. The Oceanfront hotel is located on the eastern shore of Caye Caulker and offers spectacular views of the barrier reef. The Garden Cottages are situated two blocks inland on a quiet palm-lined residential street, providing the perfect setting for a calm, worry-free vacation.
Both properties are just outside of the hustle and bustle of town, removed enough for a quiet, relaxing environment, but close enough to provide easy access to ample restaurants, grocery stores, and local shops. The island’s “Go Slow” mantra perfectly illustrates the laid back, friendly, and easy going vibe of Caye Caulker and its residents. Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a week-long vacation, Weezie’s is the perfect location to enjoy all that Caye Caulker has to offer.
san ignacio hotels
San Ignacio is a small town in the Cayo district of Western Belize. It is a working town located near the Guatemala border. San Ignacio is the heart and soul of Cayo, which travelers to the area use a base for exploring the country’s Mayan ruins and elaborate cave systems. San Ignacio is a jungle mountain town. Along with its sister town of Santa Elena, these twin-towns offer good budget accommodations, good restaurants, and a nearby luxury resort.
San Ignacio exists for more than tourism. It has a a robust marketplace and a great local vibe. Residents are principally Mestizos and Maya, with a few Garifuna. You will also find expats from the US, Canada, and Europe. As expected, the area also attracts immigrants from nearby Guatemala.
Here are our favorite Cayo area hotels, one in the jungle, the other in San Ignacio.
The Lodge at Chaa Creek
A wildly civilized Belize luxury resort, The Lodge at Chaa Creek is rated as one of the world's best Eco Lodges & a pioneer in adventure travel to Belize since 1981. Wildly civilized sums up the philosophy of the award-winning Belize Jungle Resort, located in the heart of Maya civilization. Since Chaa Creek’s inception in 1981, owners Mick & Lucy Fleming strove to coexist with nature while creating a true jungle experience & the result is an exquisite blend of natural beauty & man-made comforts. We are proud that Chaa Creek continues to win recognition as one of the Caribbean region’s best examples of sustainable, Green tourism.
San Ignacio Resort Hotel
Established in 1976, San Ignacio Resort Hotel is a Belizean and family-owned boutique Hotel located in the Cayo District, Western Belize. The Resort is centrally situated on a 17-acre private estate and 5-minutes away of the popular San Ignacio Town—an area that features a variety of cultural, adventurous, and culinary experiences. This characteristic has dubbed the Resort as “the only jungle in town”. The 27-room Resort is renowned for its hospitality services and features the award-winning Running W Steakhouse & Restaurant.
Corozal is a seaside town, located just south of the Río Hondo, which forms the mainland border between Mexico and Belize. This town is making its way to a higher profile with a growing expatriate community and a commitment to eco-tourism. Until recently not considered a tourist destination, Corozal now makes for a good base for fishing and wildlife/birdwatching excursions. In addition, the coastal Mayan ruins site of Cerros is the only one of its kind. And, of course, Corozal is convenient for shopping trips to nearby Chetumal, Mexico.
Tony’s Inn & Beach Resort
This resort is family-oriented with spectacular surroundings of well-manicured landscapes and lush tropical gardens. There are 24 guest rooms each tastefully decorated with locally made mahogany furniture. Dine on authentic food with a Belizean flavor overlooking the bay; at sunrise enjoy the view that is breath-taking!
Almond Tree Resort
Almond Tree is a highly rated small resort designed to make each guest feel special. Your hosts provide a unique environment with comfort and a touch of elegance. From the distinctive decor in our private bedrooms to the expansive sky and bay experienced from our backyard veranda, you will find yourself in a place you can relax and feel at home, but with a sense of quiet luxury.
Serenity Sands B&B
Located approximately 4.5 miles from the town of Corozal, Serenity Sands Bed & Breakfast is a tranquil and eco-friendly small resort. Guests can enjoy a hotel like atmosphere with personal attention to detail and experience a unique tropical escape with the peace of mind that comes from responsible travel. For those looking to relocate to Belize, Serenity Sands is the perfect spot to recharge after a day searching for your own piece of paradise.
Placencia is a small village in the south of Belize. It is located on the southern tip of a peninsula, the one-of-a-kind Caye to which you can drive. Placencia is now a hot destination for visitors to Belize. The area is lush and beautiful and the weather is ideal all year round. The mellow vibe is apparent as you walk along the beaches or the “sidewalk” where you can find shops and food. Area restaurants specialize in seafood and are moderately priced. Placencia is also popular among snorkelers and divers, particularly in May and June when the full moons draw whale sharks to feed nearby. This area now boasts numerous hotel choices.
Belize Ocean Club
Belize Ocean Club is situated on the beautiful Maya Beach, just a short drive away from the quaint village of Placencia. This PADI 5-Star Dive Resort is perfectly located for access to both jungle and ocean adventures. Complete your vacation experience by seeing the stunning Belize Barrier Reef, Mayan Mountains or simply lounging by our incredible pool and its tropical swim-up bar. After a day of adventure, live in luxury with a unique all-suite experience.
Caribbean Beach Cabanas - A PUR Hotel
This is the tropical paradise you picture when you think about a beach vacation in the Caribbean. The rustic-luxury boutique micro-resort, beachfront, is right on the famous Placencia Sidewalk and the fun of the village is just steps away. Experience tranquility in this peaceful and exotic oasis. This the only adults-only (18+) resort on the peninsula, and one of the only resort experiences where you can walk on the “sidewalk” to everything in town.