Whether you’re a wildlife fan, beach bum or family looking for a hassle-free getaway, this compact Central American nation goes big on bucket-list places to stay.
Belize is like Central America in miniature: small enough to drive across in less than a day but with wild rainforests, coral reefs, Mayan ruins and crocodile-filled rivers all converging within its bountiful borders. There are great accommodation options, too, from coastal gems to mountain beauties. Here’s our pick of the country’s best hotels.
As much a family home as a mini-resort, the Seaside Chateau sits where Belize began – next to the Old Belize River where Jamaican buccaneers first arrived to retrieve valuable logwood, used to dye the robes of Europe’s wealthy during the renaissance. Rooms are simple, with white walls and tile floors, but stays are welcoming. It has a large saltwater infinity pool overlooking the ocean and a wealth of excursions – from birdwatching to riverboat tours.
Courtesy of Harbour View Boutique Hotel and Yoga Retreat / Expedia
Need to stay in Belize City? The Harbour View sits right on the water in a convivial part of town. With its whitewashed cottages and family-run cafe serving organic food grown in the kitchen garden and local Belikin beer, it couldn’t be more Belizean. Tours include excursions to the forest and the reef, and there’s morning yoga with a friendly local and the rising sun.
This hotel sits in the delightful Afro-Belizean village of Hopkins, with big hacienda-style houses surrounded by lawn. It also has a bar, a restaurant and an on-site tour operator. In addition to spacious one-bed suites, the resort has two- and three-bedroom self-catering villas, featuring dark tropical woods, four-poster beds, full kitchens and enough space for large families. You’ll find a big pool and a beach outside the front door.
Imagine Cancún as a village, with no tall hotels and golf carts for cars. That’s Ambergris Caye – a 25mi (40km) long sand-spit jutting south from Mexico. It may not be the most Belizean of destinations, but it does have the best facilities. At Las Terrazas, Mykonos meets Frank Lloyd Wright, with well-equipped, whitewashed casitas featuring full kitchens, granite bathrooms and family-size dining rooms with sliding glass doors positioned to catch the rising sun. The beach is a sliver, but the long sapphire pool is a jewel.
This midsize resort lets you put your bare feet up after a light adventure in the forest or on the reef. Its villas sit in a palm-shaded garden right on the sand, while resort amenities include a large infinity pool, an on-site tour operator and a restaurant serving excellent seafood and tangy cocktails. However, if you want Belizean dreams, venture beyond the grounds to find Hopkins Village – one of the country’s prettiest hamlets and an important center for Garifuna culture.
The accommodation to book at the adults-only Matachica Resort and Spa on Ambergris Caye is one of the Seafront villas (not the Seaview or Seabreeze). The sun will rise at the foot of your bed, rippling across the ocean and your hammock-strung terrace, sending shafts of buttery light into the brightly painted bedroom interior. The beach itself is a narrow strip you could step across, but there’s also a big pool. The resort has an excellent restaurant, too, and there are more dining options in San Pedro, 5mi (8km) away.
This family-friendly mini-resort has enough space for three generations in its roomy on-the-beach villas – decorated in show-house style but with all the homey amenities. There’s a huge pool you never need to leave (with a swim-up bar), a decent restaurant and a tour operator offering excursions galore. For an authentic snapshot of Belize itself, head down the road to the village of Placencia.
Belize meets Bali in Francis Ford Coppola’s low-key, chic-shack resort in Placencia. There’s also a hint of California – via the Francis Ford Coppola Winery – whose hearty reds are served in the open-sided palapa cocktail bar and outdoor restaurant. Accommodation is in palm-thatched cabanas, decorated with Indonesian textiles and art. While high ceilings and plenty of shade mean they never get hot, they all have ceiling fans, and those closest to the sea are freshened by the ocean breeze.
Waterfall views from the palm-thatched rooms, hummingbirds and hawks fluttering in the trees, horseback riding in the wild pine forests – Francis Ford Coppola’s mountain resort in the uplands stretching along the Belize-Guatemala border offers bucolic luxury for the fairly fit. Straddling a steep ridge, the paths between the villas, restaurant and pool are as breathtaking as the gorgeous views.