These boutique properties combine out-island escapes with exceptional underwater adventures
Belize provides divers and snorkelers with some of the best coral reefs in the Caribbean. This small country also has some of the most memorable and picturesque places to stay. Instead of high-rise resorts, the small barrier islands that lie between the mainland and the Caribbean Sea are home to a number of lodge-style properties that deliver a more organic and personal beachfront experience. Here are four of Belize’s best dive lodges.
Ramon’s Village Resort
Just a short walk from the village of San Pedro, the thatched-roof cabanas of Ramon’s Village are Belize’s original dive resort. Situated on the shores of Ambergris Caye, within sight of the Belize Barrier Reef, Ramon’s caters to divers and snorkelers with boat trips to nearby reefs, and longer excursions to the famous animal interactions of Shark Ray Alley and day-long cruises to the pristine coral formations at Turneffe and Lighthouse reefs. The property is styled after a Polynesian village, but also incorporates Mayan sculptures into enveloping canopies of bougainvillea, lilies and hibiscus. The pool and a waterfront restaurant overlook a 500-foot stretch of coral-sand beach, and the on-site dive star is a PADI Gold Palm facility.
Hatchet Caye Resort
Several miles off the fishing village of Placencia, Hatchet Caye gives divers and snorkelers easy access to the Gladden Spit Silk Cayes Marine Reserve. This area is famous for seasonal appearances of the largest fish in the sea— the impressive but harmless whale shark. The reserve is also home to some of the best coral reefs in Belize, and miles of shallow flats ideal for fishing and paddling. Guests who stay on this private island resort enjoy easy and exclusive access to prime dive sites, along with a mile of private beach. The resort includes a central lodge with five guest rooms and several stand- alone cabanas set in a waterfront palm grove. Unique adventures are the night snorkel encounters that happen when lights at the end of the island pier attract rays, squid, octopus and lobster.
St. George’s Caye Resort
There are no roads, no cars and no crowds on St. George’s Cay. This private island resort is just a short taxi boat away from Belize City, but blissfully removed from daily life. Forget television and phone service—though there is Wi-Fi connectivity in the main lodge. Scattered across the island are a collection of intimate garden, beachfront and over-water cabanas featuring open thatch roofs and rich Belizean hardwoods. Excellent diving and snorkeling sites are less than five minutes from shore. First-time divers can enjoy a complementary Discover Scuba program, and beach is stocked with complementary kayaks, windsurfers and sailboats. For an added indulgence, there is an on-site spa.
Forty miles off the coast of Belize, one of the only coral atolls in the Caribbean rises from blue water to provide divers with colorful reefs, towering underwater walls and one of the world’s natural wonders: the Great Blue Hole. Not far from this dramatic World Heritage site is the Itza Lodge, which sits on remote Long Caye, surrounded by the reefs, lagoons and mangrove forests of Lighthouse Reef. The lodge is a masterpiece of elegant rustic simplicity, with rooms finished in natural wood planking, and balconies and verandahs open to sea breezes. The lodge offers all-inclusive lodging, meal and diving packages that allow guests to focus only on what matters.