UnBELIZEable…Reef Time!

Belize can be a jungle and reef adventure, and my trip was a 9 day extravaganza of both. I have divided my blog recaps between Jungle – click here – and reef…read on below.

If doing just the beach, Belize can be a long, lazy weekend jaunt. The Belize Barrier Reef is a 300 kilometers long section of the 900 kilometers long Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. It is the second largest coral reef system in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and is popular for scuba diving and snorkeling.

It includes seven marine reserves, 450 cayes, and three atolls, so deciding where to stay is no small feat. This trip, I split time between Placencia, San Pedro, and the private island of Cayo Espanto.

The highlight of my trip was on the luxurious tiny island of Cayo Espanto, which was a great way to cap off an adventure filled trip. I’ll start my story here.

We were met in San Pedro by our our housemen and captain at the Cayo Espanto dock, located just 3 minutes from the tiny San Pedro airport. We were whisked away by speed boat for a 9 minute trip to the island.


First sights of Cayo Espanto…


Arriving to the Cayo Espanto dock…


Resident lab makes for a great first welcome….


….as do the lovely team all lined up to welcome our family to Cayo Espanto


Cayo Espanto is made up of a total of seven villas, two of which are two-bedroom and the rest just one-bedroom. So, the total occupancy is only 18 guests – an excellent option for those of you who are truly looking to ESCAPE!

Setting eyes on our home for the next few days…


I think we are going to like Casa Olita…


Every villa has a heated plunge pool….


Each villa has two assigned house men that take care of your every whim 24/7. Here they are loading in our luggage and setting up bunk beds for the kids.


The cocktail del dia – “The Espanto” – delicious!


Our fabulous housemen set up our first meal on the island as we unpacked…


A delicious and welcomed start to Belizean Paradise…


….Veuve Clicquot included!


Her spot…


Their spot…


My spot….


Lots of reading took place here under the palms…


As soon as lunch is finished, chef comes to your villa to discuss the menu for the dinner…


What a way to watch the sun set at Cayo Espanto….


And voila…on return to the villa, dinner is served…


Shrimp Appetizer….


Pork Chop….




Death by chocolate…


The housemen close up your villa tight at night to keep out the bugs and turn on the air conditioning. After a sound sleep you are awakened, the villa opened back up and voila….breakfast awaits. This is the essence of care and comfort and uber-luxury.

Wake up call Cayo Espanto style…


Coffee and fruits await as you open your eyes…


…and hot breakfast is ordered at leisure.


The island is quiet and relaxing but there is plenty to occupy your time…


….always perfectly interrupted with your favorite refreshment.


Lunch is fresh and inviting….with fish tacos….


…or perhaps a Caribbean shrimp salad…


In the expert hands of our captain and guide as we went to explore the reef……


10 minutes before arriving back to the island, the boat captain asks what drink he can have ready for us…..he already knows my favorite….


Off the record, Gilly snuck back to the staff recreation area to play soccer with the team….no matter where in the world we have been, my son finds the staff and they always play soccer in their free time – he did this in the Maldives and even in the Galapagos when our ship hit island ports of call…


Cayo Espanto has a heli pad and you can fly directly to Belize City for your international flight home or take an hour boat ride….


Or as we did with our faithful housemen who accompanied us on the 10 minute ride back to San Pedro where we connected on to Belize City.  All so easy!


However you do it, trust me, you will not want to leave!


Luckily we did not have to. Our trip kept on giving as we explored Placencia and San Pedro too!

Francis Ford Coppola’s Turtle Inn in Placencia is a fun inn located in the charming Creole fishing villa of Placencia in Southeastern Belize.

Turtle Inn pairs well with Blancaneaux as it is part of the Coppola family of resorts and creates a nice balance of jungle and reef.  The Seafront Cottages are definitely the way to enjoy the warm breeze and soothing ocean sounds.

The town (or Placencia) is low key and local feeling. The tiny airport is located 5 minutes from Turtle Inn and the town is accessible by bike in 5 minutes.


One of my favorite meals of the week was at Rumfish – absolutely delicious and super vibe. Make sure you get a dinner reservation in advance.


From Placencia we took the puddle jumper to San Pedro.  The beauty of these tiny airports is that the are so convenient – we departed Turtle Inn 30 minutes before flight time…


Arriving to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye in the Northeast of Belize is an adventure in and of itself.  The airport sits in the city center and is how everyone describes locations – i.e., “Our restaurant is located two blocks from the Tropic Air.”

In San Pedro I love Matachica but it is adults only. Most of the families we have love Victoria House, located a golf cart ride away in town but slightly off the beaten path.

This is a great little property with a super restaurant and comfortable rooms. The Casitas are standalone units with views of the ocean or an infinity pool. They have a bit nicer of a setting in my opinion, but they are smaller with queen beds. The plantation rooms are slightly larger with king beds but do not have the same degree of privacy. Plantation suites have more space and larger verandah. Families will prefer the more modern two bedroom Infinity Suites. There is a great water sports center here and all your boating, snorkeling, diving, and parasailing activities are arranged from here.

The fun thing about staying on Ambergris Caye (besides great access to the reef and Blue Hole)!, is tooling into San Pedro in your golf cart for lunch, dinner, and shopping. We even picked up my son from the airport on the golf cart when he flew in mid-trip to meet up with us.



I loved the multicultural feel – we had fantastic lunch at a Salvadoran restaurant where homemade Pupusas were made on the grill, incredible sushi at Blue Water, and Belizean rice, beans and pork another night. Great fun cruising up and down the three main streets of town.

Belize delivers on many levels and is never dull! The people are fantastic, multi-cultural, confident, and kind. They really put Belize on the map for me!


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