The biggest question any Belize-bound traveler must ask is: beach or jungle? Fortunately, most resorts fall neatly into a few categories. You can stay far offshore on a private island with quick access to reefs—ideal for those coming to scuba dive or fly fish. Another option is to base yourself at a mainland beach town such as Placencia or on a bigger island, such as Ambergris Caye; both allow for more adventure and dining options. A third option is to stay in the jungle and focus on wildlife, river, hiking, and cave tours.
Can’t decide? It’s common to at least book a daytrip or two in the jungle—or commit a few nights to staying in this undeveloped wild space where it feels like anything is still possible.
Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Jungle Lodge
Set in the heart of the Belizean jungle, this rustic outpost stands out for its quick access to a wide range of adrenaline-packed eco-adventures—all offered by staff that bring an impeccable safety rating. That list of adventures includes hiking through caves with ceremonial relics, tubing rivers, and rappelling into the Actun Loch Tunich sinkhole. Then retire for the night to the resort’s luxury treehouses.
Be sure to book the river-view treehouse category or higher for the outdoor showers. Better yet, opt for a canopy view treehouse where you can relax in the outdoor soaker tub on the second story with unfettered views of the rainforest and canopy of stars.
Thatch Caye Island Resort
This escapist fantasy nailed it—offering that back-to-nature-with-the-reefs-just-a-few-feet-away vibe with just enough modern comforts to keep most seasoned travelers happy. No, this is not where you’ll squeeze in a working vacation as the rooms have no phones, TVs or WiFi. This is where you’ll snorkel, kayak, and paddle board whenever you feel like it, or scuba dive with the resort’s PADI 5-Star Dive Operation. It’s an all-inclusive, dishing up fresh fare that 30 guests tuck into from the shared communal table.
We also love that Thatch Caye offers a wildcard room category called “Island’s Choice,” wherein you may have to move rooms, but you’ll stay in the best possible category available each night of your stay.
Las Terrazas Resort
A departure from the traditional, the high-end Las Terrazas Resort on Ambergris Caye stands in stark contrast to its surroundings with its modern, condo-style accommodation. The 40-unit all-white property offers one- to three-bedroom options, all with full kitchens, washer and dryer, and WiFi.
The onsite restaurant, O, dishes up a mix of cuisines, from pumpkin ravioli to locally caught stone crab claws in a coconut-and-herbs sauce.
Manta Island Resort
Fly in by puddle-jumper, and the view of this 12-acre spit of sand—part of Glover’s Atoll—will wow you with its punch of white sand set against the turquoise of sandbars and shallow coral reefs. Most guests book the all-inclusive four-night special, staying in one of nine octagonal cabanas; the package includes all meals as well as three guided snorkeling group trips and unlimited use of kayaks, paddle boards, and Hobie cat sailboat.
The Lodge at Chaa Creek
Since 1981, this eco-lodge deep in the heart of the Belize jungle—near the Guatemala border—has excelled in delivering 5-star accommodations along with outdoor adventures, many of which are on site thanks to the resort’s location right on the Macal River.
The luxury treetop villas have been thoroughly updated for a fresher, cleaner look: it’s a modern take on minimalist style, all with a thatched roof, outdoor shower, and private plunge pool. A bonus is that Chaa Creek has a host of extras right on site, including a butterfly farm and medicine trail.
We love the Blancaneaux Lodge, a Coppola Family property set in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve in northwest Belize, for its attention to details—they’ve built covered decks and lounge areas along the Privasson Creek, allowing guests to fully soak up the serenity of the setting.
Cabanas feature traditional elements, such as thatched roofs and wooden interiors, along with well curated touches, from the iPhone docking stations to local carvings and weavings. Several cabanas feature private plunge pools and screened-in outdoor living areas.
The property is unique for its onsite stables, as well as an organic garden that supplies herbs and vegetables to the Montana restaurant for its pastas and brick-oven pizzas and to the Guatemaltecqua Restaurant for its local dishes, such as salpicon, a shredded beef salad flavored with sour orange and cilantro.
Turneffe Island Resort
The heart of this remote resort lies with the sea: most visitors come for the unparalleled fly fishing and scuba diving guides that show them how to make the most of the unspoiled location. The resort’s set on one of the country’s four coral atolls, part of the second largest barrier system in the world.
As for where you’ll stay, the accommodations bring together a “classic Caribbean” vibe with polished mahogany interiors—updated with all-white bedding and all modern touches. Choose from eight deluxe rooms, four superior rooms, or 10 private villas.
Victoria House Resort and Spa
Set on 10 acres of Ambergris Caye, the 42-room Victoria House offers laid-back luxury, from the hammocks strung along their cream-colored beaches to their overwater pavilion where private dining is available upon request. The resort has a full-service dive center, spa, and an upscale restaurant known for locally caught seafood—it’s all enough to sate any appetite for a weeklong stay.
Add in the fact it’s less than two miles from town, which guests can visit via complimentary bicycle for a more well-rounded getaway.
A Coppola Family Resort found in the beach town of Placencia, Turtle Inn stands out for authentic-yet-luxe island style with unique touches—like Balinese carved wood doors—that any jetsetter would appreciate. Of course, the food also caters to the well traveled palate, with Mare Restaurant serving fresh ceviche, gazpacho, and sea-salt crusted fish, plus pizzas cooked in wood-burning ovens as well as other traditional Italian fare that holds its own against the family’s bold wines.
Cayo Espanto Private Island
We love how detailed the questionnaire is that is sent to incoming guests of Cayo Espanto—a definitively luxurious private four-acre island just seven minutes by boat from Ambergris Caye, Belize. The staff wants to know how you take your coffee or tea, what your perfect breakfast is, and what you’d like to sip on come sundown.
It’s not just the dining, but the activities: the staff arranges guided scuba diving, fly fishing, birdwatching, beach picnics—whatever you like. Plus, with just seven private villas on this exclusive island, you know you’ll get plenty of attention.