review | muy'ono resorts | belize - sanctuaries for curious epicureans
bare-foot coastal luxury at its finest
located in central america, this adventure traveler's dream destination is home to epic waterfalls, lush jungles, incredible animal life & a coastline dotted with islands stretching across the world's second-largest barrier reef. it's also charmingly accessible, culturally diverse, & home to historical ancient mayan sites, creating a particular dynamism unique to the region.
with 40% of the country a protected park or preserve, belize is an eco-tourism powerhouse that is illuminating the benefits of sustainable travel in the region.
with a population of around 420,000, it's not hard to find solitude on the mainland; it's even easier on one of the more than 450 islands in the delightfully warm caribbean sea.
thatch caye private island resort
when i first caught sight of my resort, thatch caye, it was from the bow of their private speed boat that took me on a twenty-minute exhilarating ride across the deep blue to the shallow turquoise waters of this remote island sanctuary. for a first-timer in belize, i recognize the unmistakable silhouette of the natural seawater pool that juts out from the island.
disembarking from the boat, i'm immediately welcomed by william (one of the team members) with a face towel & ice-cold signature cocktail. after the check-in formalities were complete, i was taken to my first room, a premium overwater bungalow (i stayed in two types of accommodation while on the island; we'll get more into that later).
one of only a handful of overwater bungalow resorts in the country, this little strip of maldives-esque bliss has carved out its own piece of paradise over the shallow warm waters of the caribbean sea. heading up the walkway to the room, you are taken aback by the uniqueness of the design; with its thatched roof, all-wood design & 180° views over to distant islands, you genuinely feel that you have indeed landed in paradise.
inside you'll find a super comfy king bed, walk-in shower & rehydration station (one of the sustainable initiatives they have implemented to reduce plastic usage).
the following day after breakfast, i headed over to my new room, the premier oceanfront cabana. i was astonished by the size of this place; the vast king-sized bed looked tiny compared to the space. the walk-in shower was equally impressive, especially the innovative use of a conch shell for the faucet. where this place really takes your breath away is the rooftop, offering spectacular elevated views from a hammock situated above the coconut trees out to the turquoise waters; it was a place of true serenity, especially in the morning when the sound of birds rang out to the rising sun.
the resort hub is the centrally located coco lounge; this is where you'll find the all-inclusive bar, reception, & snack area; it's also where all the meals are served al fresco in a communal style.
just a stone's throw from the lounge is the starfish bar & sea pool. i came here mainly in the evening as it's the perfect place to sip on a cocktail while watching the sunset over the ocean on their sea swings.
heading south past the volleyball court is the exclusive beach area with cocktail bar, loungers & shallow warm waters that are home to a myriad of aquatic life from nurse sharks to starfish; it's a snorkeler's dream.
at the southern tip of the island, serenity point is where the magic happens, from deep tissue massages to yoga classes in the early morning; it's a place, as the name suggests, of complete serenity. don't hesitate to jump in the shallow warm waters after a sweaty yoga workout.
on island; complimentary use of the paddle-board & kayaks is an excellent way to explore the area. you can even take part in traditional language classes & basket weaving. for those who require a little more action, fishing, diving & snorkeling are some of the best in the world, especially the night snorkel, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is part thrilling & part terrifying. something about being in the ocean after dark with just a flashlight & the moon to illuminate your way was exhilarating.
rooms from: $300 | book here
hopkings bay resort
just a short private boat & road transfer from thatch caye, my second muy'ono property awaited. hopkins bay resort, this coastal retreat, offers guests a slice of belizian colonial luxury with their epic 1, 2 & 3-bed villas that overlook the caribbean sea.
traditionally a quiet, unassuming beach town, hopkins, voted the friendliest city in belize, has become a must-visit place for many visitors to the country in recent years. if the idea of an authentic cultural village, newer to tourism than the more developed, discovered places such as caye cauker, is your cup of tea, you'll not be disappointed.
walking through the beautifully manicured gardens, it feels as if you have been transported to another world; with the birds singing & the ocean lapping up on the shore, a sense of peacefulness washes over you.
exploring the resort, you'll find 2 pools with ocean views, a massage parlor & beach that stretches along the entirety of the property.
the resort's central hub is the newly refurbished rhum shack, where their famous pina coladas are made to order for every guest no matter the time of day. swing seats & genuinely friendly staff make it a great hangout spot. breakfast & lunch to dinner, the shack offers some genuinely delectable dishes, think fresh fish & epic barbecue ribs, all with a local twist.
my room, located at the top of one of the villas with its dark wood vaulted ceiling, four-poster bed & massive balcony, oozed luxury colonial-era vibes. the balcony was where i spent most of my time, relaxing with a pina colada in one hand & my favorite book on my newly acquired kindle in the other. with the sound of the ocean in the background, i felt the troubles of modern life slip away into pure nothingness.
ideally located for belize's best adventures. the calm waters of the bay offer the freedom to get out on the freely available kayaks & paddle boards; for those seeking a little more adventure, you can head out on the high seas for some epic diving or deep-sea fishing.
those wanting to keep their feet firmly on terra firmer, there's a jungle for your inner hiker. a waterfall for your inner rappeler, ancient mayan sites for your inner explorer & don't forget, a jaguar preserve for your inner zoologist.
rooms from: $150 | book here
sustainability & conservation credentials
reducing the environmental impact is key to muy'ono resorts' future. through the use of solar power, wind power, and LED lighting, along with no plastic water bottles (a reusable bottle is given to you upon check-in at thatch caye), they are paving the way for a more sustainable future.
muy'ono farms initiative provides organic, integrated, farm-to-table dining experiences for the resorts. the initiative helps the farmer by providing a guaranteed income along with the environment by not using pesticides & reducing the miles the food has to travel, therefore eliminating a vast amount of carbon emissions.
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country travel tips
atm: most banks offer withdrawals for free. don't accept the on-screen conversion.
sim card: digicel. 5GB is ($45) for 30 days. got an e-sim enabled phone, try airalo.
transport: hotel transfers & local busses are super safe & easy.
taxi: uber? use promo: carlm5078ue for free ride.
accommodation: get ($20) off your first booking.com reservation here