Friday, June 5, 2015

Maya Trails explores Belize from the Cayo to the Cayes!

Roberts Grove, Placencia
Maya Trails' Managing Director Jimmy Rogers recently spent ten days exploring Belize with his wife and young son. He sent this summary of their adventures and notes on their recommended properties:

We just returned  from 10 days in Belize exploring the country's main destinations, top rated hotels, adventure trips and scouting out the secret spots for our travelers who enjoy off the beaten track experiences.

Our top 7 Belize experiences:
  1. diving with reef sharks; 
  2. spelunking in limestone caves into the Mayan shrines for the underworld (Xibalba);
  3. a canoe trip from one hotel to the next through the untouched rainforest in the Cayo
  4. sleeping on a private island where the loudest sounds were the migrating parakeets fighting for food
  5. a mimosa breakfast on a private deck perched over the Caribbean Sea's emerald waters
  6. hiking to the top of the ancient Mayan temples at Cahal Pech
  7. savoring the laid back atmosphere of the many beautiful and luxurious accommodations, both on the pristine cayes of the Caribbean and deep in the rainforest jungle, where our "cabanas" boasted every amenity we could dream of... And more! 
The top destinations in Belize can be seen as a triangle: pristine beaches and offshore cayes of the Placencia peninsula in southern Belize; the fun-loving Caribbean town of San Pedro and the tropical paradise of Ambergris Caye in the north; and the Cayo region centered around San Ignacio, the inland tropical jungle with access to the Mayan archeological sites, including Tikal in Guatemala... All these destinations can be connected by short flights or beautiful drives of 1.5 to 3 hours. In either case, you're never lacking for a gorgeous view outside the window.

We were enamored by each of these destinations, by the laid back Caribbean attitude and hospitality; by the spectacular sunsets over the jungle and the sea; and by the amazingly fresh and delicious food. Each region has its own unique charm, it's flavor, it's character....

See below for our recommended hotels, resorts and ecolodges, from moderate/mid-level to ultra-luxurious.

Hopkins Bay
  • Hopkins Bay Resort: a family oriented mid-level resort, with a huge beach front property for water activities. 
Hatchet Caye Resort near Placencia
  • Roberts Grove: family, honeymoon, friends oriented mid to high level resort great for Scuba and spectacular restaurants on site.
  • Turtle Inn: honeymoon, couples oriented high to luxury resort great for relaxing and spectacular grounds.
  • Chabil Mar: honeymoon, family, couples oriented mid to high end resort great for engagements with great ambiance. 
  • Belize Ocean Club: modern high end oriented for family, friends with a spectacular beach and restaurant. 
  • Hatchet Caye: 1 hour boat ride from Placencia, in its own private and sustainable island. Maya Trails Top Pick for Placencia, family and honeymoon oriented, mid to high end resort, the activities, restaurant are spectacular, very warm and outstanding service by the staff. Great for water sports, scuba, snorkeling, kayaking, SUP, sailing, all available onsite 
San Ignacio (Cayo District)
Ka'ana boutique hotel, Cayo District
  • Ka'ana: honeymoon, couples oriented, high to luxury resort one of Maya Trails top picks for Cayo District, with spectacular character and great staff on grounds. Great for Yoga retreats or to just relax in the Mayan jungle. Note that it does feel very private but located near the town and highway, so not as remote feeling but very convenient.
  • Chaa Creek Lodge: Family and friends oriented mid to high end resort, with spectacular grounds. Recommended for a mid to long stay in the Cayo. 
  • Black Rock Lodge: Moderate to mid level oriented, family and friends resort. The restaurant is spectacular and the grounds with the activities down at the Macal river. The resort has great guides for river activities, nature, archeology or even for ATM caves. 
  • Mystic River: Family, honeymoon, couples, friends mid to high end resort. Small boutique property with great character, the owners are on hands on all the operations and very hospitable. Great for outdoor activities. top activity to paddle on a kayak to San Ignacio town for lunch. 
  • Blancaneaux Lodge: high to luxury level oriented, family, friends, honeymoon, couples, resort. one of Maya Trails top picks for Cayo District. The food is spectacular with their own small vegetable and herbs garden for all their meals. Indulge yourself and stay at Francis Ford Coppola's Villa (whenever he is not on site) or immerse yourself in the enchanted cottage. With so many outdoor activities available.
  • San Ignacio Resort: family and friends oriented in town moderate to mid level resort. The restaurant and the staff are great. Also provide you with the outdoor experience with their Endangered Iguana project, great for children. 
  • Midas Resort: family and fiends oriented in town moderate level resort. Great to have a resort so close by to Cahal Pech mayan site. 
  • Mariposa Resort: Great small mid level option in the middle of the jungle. With its character of Mayan escape to the jungle. 
San Pedro (Ambergris Caye)
San Pedro town on Ambergris Caye
  • Ramon's Village: great family and friends resort walking distance from the airport, moderate to mid level resort. This is one of the best options for water activities, with the largest and best scuba shop in town. 
  • Portofino Resort: one of Maya trails top picks for a mid to high end family, honeymoon and friends oriented resort. The owners are onsite and the service is one of  the best in town. They can arrange special events like secluded romantic dinners. 
  • El Secreto: north of San Pedro town, secluded on its own beach front, high to luxury level spectacular for honeymoon and couples resort. Very high end boutique service and facilities. Free boat shuttle service from San Pedro to El Secreto.
  • Victoria House: Maya Trails favorite and top pick for a high end to luxury in San Pedro for family, friends, honeymoon, couples and group retreats. In the middle of San Pedro town, features several great pool areas, expansive grounds/gardens for kids, spectacular restaurants, the staff are very friendly and service oriented. Great for water activities and close by the Hol Chan Marine reserve and accessible to the famous Blue Hole. 
  • Cayo Espanto: nestled in its own private island 7 minutes boat ride from San Pedro, this high to luxury private island resort, great for luxury honeymoon or couples. The service and grounds are outstanding. One of Maya Trails top picks for the lovers and tranquility finders out there. Great for water activities. 

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