Where To Stay in Belize for a Local Experience

Get a feel for Belize from the beach, an island, the rainforest, or next to a Mayan temple
Get a feel for Belize from the beach, an island, the rainforest, or next to a Mayan temple | Courtesy of Copal Tree Lodge, A Muy'ono Resort / Expedia.com
Alex Robinson

Blend into the Belizean backdrop in the Creole beach village of Placencia or tap out on one of the country’s coastal cayes in our roll call of castaway-ready retreats.

With so much choice, it’s hard to decide where to stay in Belize. Well, not really. In a country this small, you can get everywhere from anywhere: Belize is tinier than New Jersey, a bit bigger than Wales – so you won’t be missing out if you choose that coral caye, that beachside resort or that treetop cabin overlooking toucan-filled rainforest.

1. Sandbar Beachfront Hostel and Restaurant

Budget Hotel, Hostel

Stylish rooftop pool on wooden deck at Sandbar Beachfront Hostel & Restaurant
Courtesy of Sandbar Beachfront Hostel and Restaurant / Expedia.com

In the heart of bustling, bar-filled San Pedro village, at the southern end of Ambergris Caye, this brightly painted backpacker hostel is just where you want to be if you’re after a party. The bar is open until midnight, and the beach is in cork-popping distance. But if you want a good sleep, book one of the private rooms, and avoid the dorms – where the bed-curtains might keep out the light, but not the rustle of late-arriving guests.

2. Turtle Inn by Francis Ford Coppola

Hotel

A woman walks to the thatched roof property at Turtle Inn by Francis Ford Coppola surrounded by trees and grass
Courtesy of Turtle Inn by Francis Ford Coppola / Expedia.com

Thatch-roofed chalets under the palms, a stroll from the beach, along with a hibiscus-filled tropical garden, one of the country’s best hotel restaurants, a palapa-bar serving rich reds and tangy whites from Francis Ford Coppola’s private California winery… all hidden behind discreet hedging. Turtle Inn is secluded enough for celebrities, but welcoming enough for all lovers of barefoot, fan-cooled luxury near the Creole fishing village of Placencia.

3. Copal Tree Lodge, A Muy'ono Resort

Resort

Large outdoor swimming pool at Copal Tree Lodge and a cobbled terrace surrounding it with wicker sun loungers and palm trees
Courtesy of Copal Tree Lodge, A Muy'ono Resort / Expedia.com

Fancy a room in the rainforest with hummingbirds, jungle views and monkeys playing in the trees next to your terrace? You’ll find one at Copal Tree Lodge in Belize’s far southern Toledo province, where the swimming pool sits at canopy level above the rainforest, and activities include jungle hikes, crafts with local Maya people and excursions to the nearby coral reefs.

4. Caribbean Shores Bed and Breakfast

Bed and Breakfast

Tall staircase leading up to the cream and white Caribbean Shores Bed and Breakfast with surrounding trees and gravel
Courtesy of Caribbean Shores Bed and Breakfast / Expedia.com

Gathered in a garden, pink with bougainvillea, and right on the beach in Hopkins village, these good-value villas come with simple decor (beige tiles, white or blue walls and modest sofas), but space enough for families. And with a waterslide, pool and a jacuzzi, they’re great for kids, too. The huge American breakfast of eggs, bacon, pancakes, French toast and fruit will keep you going most of the day.

5. Villa Verano

Luxury, Villa

Cream coloured double bedroom at Villa Verano with a four poster bed looking out to the balcony
Courtesy of Villa Verano / Expedia.com

Set over a pool in an art nouveau-style edifice, these big bedrooms (with beige tiles, whitewashed walls and dark-wood furnishings) don’t feel very Belizean, or in keeping with low-key Hopkins village. But they’re right on the beach, and the largest rooms and garden villas have enough space for families. The resort’s extensive tour menu of jungle trips, reef excursions and fishing has options for all ages.

6. Caribbean Beach Cabanas, A Pur Hotel

Villa, Chain Hotel

Quirky fouble bedroom at Caribbean Beach Cabanas with bamboo bed and cupboards on a stone floor leading to ensuite
Courtesy of Caribbean Beach Cabanas, A Pur Hotel / Expedia.com

Mixing boutique-style accents, such as hardwood chests and crafty fittings from local designers, with palm-thatch and shutterboard beach-shack chic, this adults-only resort stands out in Placencia village. It sits right on the sand, hammocks slung between the palms with staff ready to serve cocktails at the chaise lounges, and offers a good choice of excursions – to jaguar sanctuaries, Mayan ruins and nearby caves and cayes.

7. Itz'ana Resort and Residences

Resort

Large living room in suite at Itzana Resort & Residences with wooden floor and walls, a globe, wicker chairs and large arched windows
Courtesy of Itz'ana Resort and Residences / Expedia.com

Wall-to-ceiling glass, a cool off-white color palette and polished concrete, plus sundecks with views out over the open sea… there’s much to like at the Itz’ana. Excursions seal the deal, taking you to local cacao plantations, on night hikes, into Bocawina National Park and along the Barrier Reef for whale-shark swimming. On return, toast the day’s exploits with an expertly mixed cocktail – the hotel has teamed up with master mixologists, Bar Lab, on their drinks list, also behind Miami’s celebrated Broken Shaker bar.

8. Blancaneaux Lodge by Francis Ford Coppola

Luxury, Eco-Lodge

A small covered seating area sits on the rocks by a waterfall and trees at Blancaneaux Lodge
Courtesy of Blancaneaux Lodge by Francis Ford Coppola / Expedia.com

Straddling a ridge in Belize’s Maya mountains on the border with Guatemala, Blancaneaux immerses guests in nature. Tall, thatch-roofed rooms overlook the plunging Big Rock waterfalls, the air is busy with butterflies and hummingbirds – many of them endangered – and excursions include horseback rides in the hills, wildlife trails and river kayaking. Owner Francis Ford Coppola is a gourmand, and the food is excellent, washed down with wine from the director’s California estate.

9. Chan Chich Lodge

Luxury

Double bedroom at Chan Chich Lodge with wooden walls, white linen and aztec bed runner, and windows overlooking trees
Courtesy of Chan Chich Lodge / Expedia.com

In the wildest stretch of Belize’s rainforest, with luxurious thatched cabins clustered around an onsite Mayan ruin, Chan Chich has been Belize’s gold standard jungle lodge for a generation. It’s one of the few places in Central America where guests have a good chance of seeing a jaguar. Guiding is superb – with locals trained by the hotel and with sufficient know-how to please the most demanding birder.

10. Royal Palm Island Resort

Resort, Luxury

The island of sand at Royal Palm Island Resort with various lodges on it and turquoise waters surrounding
Courtesy of Royal Palm Island Resort / Expedia.com

This family-run resort has an entire caye, beach and several lagoons to itself. The simple wooden weatherboard casitas have genuine local character – much like you see all over the country, from Belize City to Dangriga. All have two bedrooms, sitting rooms and terraces with superb views over the sea. Prices are excellent for an all-island resort and include transfers, all food and some excursions. Kids under 12 stay for lesser rates, babies and toddlers for free.

11. Belizean Nirvana

Boutique Hotel

The beach at Belizean Nirvana with multicoloured parasols, palm trees and kayaks by the calm-looking sea
Courtesy of Belizean Nirvana / Expedia.com

With a sea horizon from the rooftop sundeck, front-facing balcony rooms and palm-shaded chaise lounges on the beach positioned to catch the rising sun, the views from Belizean Nirvana are a delight. Staff can organize trips to pretty much anywhere in Belize – from the reefs and atolls to the Mayan sites and jungles of the interior.

12. Dolce Cabana Waterfront Suites

Apartment, Budget Hotel

Wooden hut on stilts at Dolce Cabana Waterfront Suites surrounded by the turquoise waters and sand with sun loungers on deck
Courtesy of Dolce Cabana Waterfront Suites / Expedia.com

Puns aside, this big waterfront house overlooking Placencia’s manatee-filled lagoon is more mid-range Miami than modish Milan. Decor is functional rather than designer – yellow-wash walls, chunky floor tiles, bar-kitchenettes and local Afro-Belizean art on the wall. But you can jump off the sundeck into the water, the beach is a few minutes’ walk away across Placencia village, there are free bikes and the value is hard to beat.

After a busy city stay that doesn’t sacrifice beach luxury? Check out the best hotels in and around Belize City, bookable with Culture Trip.

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