Belize is a fascinating country full of ancient Mayan ruins and jaguar-roamed jungles, but perhaps its greatest natural treasure is the 190-mile-long Belize Barrier Reef. Just off the Caribbean coast of this Central American country, the reef is home to the Great Blue Hole and hundreds of smaller atolls, islands and cays, a number of which have been converted into laid-back but luxurious resorts. These 10 private island resorts are some of the best in Belize.
Cayo Espanto Tiny Cayo Espanto is three miles off the coast of San Pedro and features six beachfront villas on a palm-dotted island and an overwater bungalow just offshore. Proximity to the mainland makes tours of Belize’s historic treasures an easy day trip, while birdwatching, snorkeling, and fishing are among the other activities (not included). Everything from meals to spa treatments are provided in the privacy of your personal villa.
Royal Belize Part of the local Muy’Ono chain, Royal Belize is a private, all-inclusive island resort with five modern luxury suites – two stand-alone, the Big House with three incorporated villas, and a ‘dormitory’ for additional guests. Accommodating a maximum of 16 guests, Royal Belize is perfect for a family getaway or an intimate destination wedding – only one group of guests are accommodated at a time. Staff take guests on private reef tours for fishing, snorkeling, and even conch and lobster hunting.
Turneffe Island One of Belize’s largest and best-known private islands, Turneffe won’t wow you with luxury accommodations – villas look like screened-in summer cottages – but some have private pools and all have access to the island’s outdoor pool, beaches, private spa, fishing expeditions, diving and other activities. Belizean fusion cuisine and barbecue are on the menu at the resort’s restaurant, which is part of the all-inclusive package.
Gladden Private Island There’s a private island escape, and then there’s Gladden Island, where you and no more than three other guests will have the entire island and villa on Belize’s Barrier Reef to yourselves, aside from the occasional spawn. of staff (who live on a nearby island) to meet your needs. Whether you’re with another couple or on your own, there’s plenty of room (and two master bedrooms) in the 3,000-square-foot villa that overlooks the island, which also has a kitchen, pool, and bathroom. an outdoor dining area.
Thatched Caye Boasting an eco-friendly philosophy and an ambience of barefoot elegance, Thatch Caye offers both beach villas and overwater bungalows and offers a comprehensive all-inclusive package. The latter includes all meals and the use of kayaks, paddle boards, snorkel gear, fishing rods and other non-motorized watercraft. The island accommodates a maximum of 30 guests, whom you’ll get to know during tours, other scheduled activities, and during meals at the resort’s Grove Restaurant, Coco Lounge, and Starfish Bar.
Small Caye Harvest Near the Placencia Peninsula, Little Harvest Caye is just a five-minute boat ride from the mainland, but a 1.5-acre hideaway for guests who stay in five suites in the main island building, which also includes a living room outdoors, a bar, kitchen, office and swimming pool. This is a great option for families who want a private island experience with the convenience of touring Belize using all of Placencia’s tourist resources.
Kanu Private Island A “best of both worlds” experience would be to spend three nights at this private island resort and three more at Valley Stream, the resort’s sister property in the heart of the Belizean jungle. Or simply settle into Kanu’s five villas (sleeping a maximum of 10 adults and 10 children) and explore the barrier reef and the nearby village of Placencia.
coconut plum At 16 acres, Coco Plum Island Resort is truly enormous by Belizean private island standards. Reached by a 30-minute boat ride from the town of Dangriga on Belize’s south coast, the resort features three levels of cabana-style villas just steps from the beach, as well as a three-bedroom overwater villa. Also above the waves is the Coco Plum Spa which, in addition to the usual body and facial treatments, offers sunset yoga at the end of each day. The all-inclusive Coco Palms restaurant and its private palapas also extend beyond the shore.
Ray Caye You have ten thousand dollars and 40 friends? You can rent this entire private island of Belize for one night, but you’ll definitely want to stay longer. Guests can choose from a variety of accommodations, including beachfront villas and cabanas (some with private pools), the unique two-story Island House. There is a dive shop on the island, and other activities include fishing, snorkeling, and paddleboarding. The Lionfish Grill serves guests three meals a day (and drinks all day) and also attracts occasional day-trippers for lunch and dinner.
Coral Caye Owned by the family of filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola – a longtime visitor and resident of Belize – Coral Caye is a former fishing lodge transformed into an exclusive private island getaway close to the Barrier Reef. The two-acre island has a pair of cottages and a large house, all run by a private chef and butler. Break up your stay with a few nights at the Turtle Inn, Coppola’s Placencia hideout.