Open since December 2017, Mahogany Bay is shaking things up on Ambergris Caye with its own shopping and dining village, a deserted-isle beach club and a space for weddings and other gatherings that can accommodate around 150 guests. What's more, as a Curio Collection by Hilton resort, this 205-room property is the first globally branded resort in the country. Here are seven reasons to get excited about Belize's newest resort.
Plenty of Caribbean resorts have beach clubs, but we haven't seen many like this: a palm-studded private island oasis complete with kayaks and other toys, hammocks, a beach bar, sun lounges and fun games like corn hole. But what you'll notice before anything else are the overwater Bali-beds, floating four-posters complete with gauzy curtains, cushy mattresses and views to the horizon. Getting here aboard the resort's speedboat is half the fun; before you hop out, peer into the water around the dock and you'll likely spot inky seahorses bobbing in the current.
On those days when you're too relaxed to leave the calm bubble of the resort, Mahogany Bay has you covered with locally owned restaurants that just happen to be on the grounds. At Jyoto, Japanese chef Toshiya Tsujimoto utilizes barracuda, lobster and other local fish for sushi; he also serves dumplings, tempura and a green tea tiramisu that you won't want to share. There's also Belizean-grown coffee at Rum + Bean, handmade burritos at Taco Shack, and local specialties like fried plantains (as well as typical American fare) on the menu at Verandah, the resort's own restaurant. Even better, special requests are welcomed and options abound for vegans, those avoiding gluten and even the seafood averse.
No matter how you travel, there's a lodging option at Mahogany Bay that will suit your style, including single-room villas, family-friendly cottages with bunk beds and pools, couple-centric townhomes, and spacious "keeping suites." But what sets them apart is that nearly every piece of every building — from the floors, shutters and staircases to beautifully designed beds, chairs and tables — were all crafted in Belize from local, sustainably harvested hardwoods like Mahogany, Cabbage Bark and Caribbean Pine. In all, more than 240 Belizean vendors contributed to the resort's development.
Bikes and golf carts are easy to rent and are the preferred mode of transport on Ambergris Caye. Both make short work of the mile or so distance between the resort and the lively town of San Pedro.
When you're ready to branch out from a piña colada, but still want something tropical, consider one of the resort's original concoctions, such as the coconut-and-papaya-infused Planter's Punch, a Caribbean-style Old Fashioned that subs local rum for bourbon and a dash of grapefruit for the orange. Don't judge the Better Belize It by its name — the distinctive drink, which is made with local blackberry wine and peach-infused bourbon is surprisingly sophisticated.
What puts Belize's Hol Chan Marine Reserve among top snorkeling spots in the world? Beyond the fact that you can get there in less than ten minutes, the reef attracts a startling array of underwater creatures that includes rare species of tropical fish, emerald-green Moray eels, manatees, dolphin, turtles, octopus and elegant spotted eagle rays. They're not here by accident: a chink in the miles-long reef, Hol Chan is a revolving door for sea creatures moving between the Caribbean and Belize's calm lagoon.
Low-key and mellow, Ambergris Caye is packed with fun things to do. You can learn to fly fish on the flats, defy gravity at an aerial yoga class at the resort or try the island's craziest adventure, skydiving from 10,000 feet into the Blue Hole, a perfectly round pit in the ocean that's nearly 1,000 feet across and 350 feet deep.