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Where to Stay in Belize: Lodging Tips

SmarterTravel

Many travelers split their time in Belize between the jungles of the interior and the sunny Caribbean coast, which means you could spend the first half of your vacation at an ecolodge deep in the rain forest and the second half at a laid-back beach resort. Other lodging alternatives in Belize include small hotels and guesthouses, spacious vacation homes, and affordable hostels.

Belize Jungle Lodges and Eco-Resorts

Staying in an ecolodge is the best way to immerse yourself in the lush Belize jungle. The best of the bunch offer upscale amenities such as spas, pools, fine dining restaurants and air-conditioned guestrooms, while others are decidedly more rustic. Most jungle lodges can help you arrange a variety of nature activities including hikes, birding or wildlife watching excursions, canoe trips and visits to nearby caves or Mayan ruins.

Keep in mind that no matter how luxurious a property you choose, being in the heart of the rain forest means that nature might intrude on your stay — so expect to see a few bugs here and there. It might also take effort to get to some of the more remote lodges. Chan Chich Lodge, for example, is located on a private wildlife reserve in northwestern Belize and can only be reached by charter plane or 4×4 vehicle.

Rates at jungle lodges can be high, but in many cases they include at least some meals and activities. Double-check what’s included — and whether the rates are per person or per room — before booking. Note also that many lodges do not offer television or Wi-Fi. For some travelers, this is part of the charm; if that’s not the case for you, be sure to check ahead.

If sustainability is important to you, read up on the lodge’s conservation practices. Does it employ locals from the community, incorporate solar power, have a recycling program, minimize water consumption or take other steps to reduce its impact on the environment? Lodges who do these things will often highlight them on their websites. You can also check the website of Green Globe, which has recognized several Belize properties for their eco-friendly practices.

Belize Jungle Lodge Resources:
ChanChich.com
GreenGlobe.travel/category/belize/
Slickrock.com/belize-jungle-lodges-map.html

Belize Beach Resorts

Belize has numerous beach resorts catering to honeymooners, sun worshipers and those who simply want to switch gears after a few days in the jungle. Many of these resorts are on Ambergris Caye, the country’s largest island (popular with honeymooners and snorkelers); others are on the Placencia peninsula in southern Belize.

The beach resorts here are not the massive all-inclusive complexes you may have seen elsewhere in the Caribbean; most have fewer than 25 rooms. The intimate size lends itself to more personal service and a casual, laid-back vibe. Most resorts offer dive packages for those looking to explore Belize’s famous reefs.

Chabil Mar is one of the more luxurious options, located on a patch of private beachfront at the end of the Placencia peninsula. Accommodations include 19 villas and a honeymoon suite, all with sea views. Guests can relax in one of two infinity pools or dine alfreso anywhere on the property — including their own personal verandah.

On Ambergris Caye, Xanadu Island Resort is a well-appointed and eco-friendly resort south of San Pedro. With 20 suites ranging in size from studios to three bedrooms, the property offers complimentary kayaks and bicycles for guest use, as well as a nature walk and waterfall.

Belize Beach Resort Resources:
ChabilMarVillas.com
XanaduIslandResort.com

Belize Hotels and Guesthouses

International chain hotels are extremely rare in Belize. Instead, many visitors will find themselves staying at one of the country’s numerous small hotels and guesthouses. Most are simply furnished and affordable by Western standards. Breakfast is sometimes included.

Wi-Fi is an increasingly common amenity at properties across Belize, though the connection can be iffy at some places and you may have to pay an extra fee at others. Read reviews of the property ahead of time to learn more about the Internet if that’s important to you.

Many less expensive hotels and guesthouses are not air-conditioned. While open windows and ceiling fans may be more than enough to keep you comfortable, it’s worth checking ahead, especially if the hotel is overlooking a road where traffic noise might be an issue.

Belize Hotel and Guesthouse Resources:
TravelBelize.org/accommodation
TripAdvisor.com

Belize Vacation Rentals

You’ll find the majority of Belize’s rental homes along the coast, particularly in the beach towns of Placencia and Hopkins and on the offshore islands of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker. Websites such as Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO can help you find everything from a small spare room in someone’s home to an airy villa overlooking the sea.

Vacation rentals are most appropriate for families, groups or anyone looking for a little more space than a typical hotel room. A rental could save you money over the cost of an equivalent local hotel (especially if you plan to use the kitchen to cook for yourself instead of eating out every night) — but the most luxurious properties are priced accordingly.

Amenities can vary widely, so you’ll want to check the property listing for Wi-Fi, air conditioning, linens, television, dishwashers and laundry machines. If your rental is part of a resort community, you might be able to use on-site facilities such as pools, fitness centers or tennis courts.

Reach out to the host beforehand with any questions, such as “Where is the nearest supermarket/restaurant/bank?” and “How can I get a hold of you if I have any problems during my stay?”

Belize Vacation Rental Resources:
Airbnb.com
HomeAway.com
VRBO.com

Belize Hostels

Affordable hostels are scattered around Belize in the most popular spots for tourists, including Caye Caulker, Ambergris Caye, San Ignacio, Belize City and Placencia. Travelers can choose between dorms and private rooms, and between shared and ensuite baths. In addition to saving you money, hostels often have communal kitchens and lounges where you can meet other travelers from around the world.

Check ahead to see whether Wi-Fi, breakfast, linens and/or towels are included in your nightly rate.

Belize Hostel Resources:
Hostels.com
HostelWorld.com

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Editor’s Note: IndependentTraveler.com is published by The Independent Traveler, Inc., a subsidiary of TripAdvisor, Inc.

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