Belize is having a moment right now. Though more established countries like Mexico and Costa Rica have long been the top contenders for luxury travel in Central America, Belize is slowly creeping up on the radar as one of the must-visit destinations for couples, families and more importantly — girlfriend’s getaways. The destination, which is set to debut a handful of ultra-luxe new resorts by 2020, already has quite a few properties that takes uber luxe to the next level.
But in addition to properties that would make even Diddy jealous, it’s really Belize’s cultural diversity and attractions that make it a fantastic draw. This underrated gem is a melting pot of Mayan, Creole, Mestizo, Spanish, Lebanese, Chinese, British, Indian, and Mennonite heritage — also coupled with a range of activities such as the Altun Ha Mayan ruins, ziplining, swimming with the sharks or tubing through its famed Crystal Cave. Really, you can’t go wrong here.
Here are a few reasons why Belize is quickly becoming a luxury hotspot for adventure seeking jet-setters, bachelorette crews and spa enthusiasts looking for something slightly off the beaten path.
San Pedro, Belize
Cast three miles off the Belizean coast, Cayo Espanto is a hyper-luxurious hideaway of butler-serviced villas with just seven exclusive villas on a private island trimmed with white sand beaches that even Leonardo Dicaprio and Bradley Cooper have seen fit to visit. You and your girls can dip in and out of your very plunge in, lounge peacefully in a hammock between palms (or snap a few photos for the ‘gram), and have your dedicated houseman ensure personalized comfort at every turn (who says you can’t drink margaritas at 7am?!). Visit during the spring and winter months, when the weather is warm and dry to really experience the pure bliss of the Belizean sun. Simply fly into Belize City—which has recently added direct flights from many East Coast cities —and the resort will book your transfers to get from place to place.
Situated on the beautiful Maya Beach, The Placencia Resort is just a short journey away from the quaint village of Placencia, the Belize Barrier Reef and the Maya Mountains. Perfectly located for access to both jungle and ocean adventures, you can’t go wrong with a plethora of options that the resorts. The country is roughly as large as New Jersey, so almost any two points in Belize can be connected within an hour, if you want to experience fun in the sun elsewhere and then end the day with a nightcap at Placencia.
Located on a private island off the coast of Dangriga, Thatch Caye offers an array of overwater bungalows in and oceanfront cabanas perched against lush Belizean foliage and white sand beaches. Go off the grid with your girls in style, with a week of pampering, spas, luxury or whatever the hell you want to do — because it’s your vacation and you can live it up how you want.
Belize is the perfect place for every type of traveler. If you want to lounge all day at your private beach bungalow at Cayo Espanto — you can do that — or if you want to explore this adventure filled destination that houses labyrinthine caves, Mayan ruins and tropical rainforests, you can certainly do that as well. It is impossible to run out of things to do in a country that offers everything from kayaking to cave tubing to zip lining. Some of the most popular tourist attractions include the Belize Barrier Reef, which is one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems, with hundreds of coral and fish species, the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, where you can snorkel with stingrays and the Blue Hole, which is a popular destination among scuba divers looking to spot Caribbean reef sharks.
A local favorite, you’ll find delicious seafood and island treats at Blue Water Grill, which is located right on the beach. Food and beach time? It’s a win-win for all. Soak up the views, and grab a Belikin, which is Belize’s national beer – while snacking on black-bean-battered coconut shrimp, cashew-crusted snapper and Cajun snook with dirty rice and fried okra.
Right across Ambergris Caye in San Pedro, you’ll get a 360-degree of Belize at Rain’s rooftop terrace while you snack on conch fritters and upscale options such as “reconstructed rice and beans.” The menu itself is delicious, but the ambiance is really what makes this place top notch. A bit more formal than a beach backdrop, plan to dress up with your girls and go here for sunset cocktails and people watching.
Looking for multi-options for every personality in your girl group? Stop by the The Truck Stop, which is a collection of four separate eateries in one stop: Rasa, a Southeast Asian spot; Arepa, which offers Latin American food; an ice-cream shop; and a full-fledged bar. Eat at one, or all, with a bunch of unique food options such as the hefty El Diablo sandwich from Arepa or a maple-bacon ice-cream cone.