An Unbelizeable Trip: Exploring Belize with Muy'Ono Resorts

I mean, surely you aren’t surprised that a Belize pun is in this blog title?

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Hello from Belize! I just got back from the most wonderful five day vacation in the beautiful country of Belize. I went with three other bloggers — two from Austin, and one from Nashville — and my handsome boyfriend. It was my first international flight ever — I have been to other countries before, but only on cruise ships, never via airplanes — and it was a million times less scary than I thought it would be. Everything was stunning, the people were incredibly kind, and the resorts were beautiful.

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If you have followed along with my travels thus far this year, then you have probably seen that I get travel anxiety (just the getting there and back part, of course.) This trip, however, was mostly anxiety-free regarding travel, which is bizarre as it was a bit of an ordeal to get to our destinations. We spent three nights at the beautiful Thatch Caye Resort, which is its own 11 acre island in Belize, located 9 miles off of the coast of Dangriga, about two miles from the Belize Barrier Reef. Our last two nights of the trip were spent at Copal Tree Lodge, located in the heart of the rainforest in Punta Gorda. Copal Tree Lodge is a proud member of National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World. Both of these resorts are a part of Muy’Ono Hospitality, which surprisingly enough, is headquartered in Austin, and is the largest collection of independent hotels in Belize. Also, I think it’s important to share that both resorts were incredible about catering to our groups dietary restrictions. This is super rare, and was very comforting when traveling to another country.

Each resort is unique to its location, sustainable, and gives a portion of every reservation to programs that benefit communities throughout Belize and charities around the world. They are committed to sharing their privilege and serving others, and their guests are invited to contribute by donating $5 a night through their Commitment to Community initiative. Muy’Ono Resorts each automatically donate a portion of proceeds from each room night to select community and nonprofit organizations in Belize, but they give you the option to donate $5 per night, if you’d like to be involved in doing something good for the community. For more information on this, visit https://muyono.com/values.

Below I will be sharing which rooms we stayed in at each resort, the activities we participated in at each one, what I loved about each location and which one I considered my favorite.

THATCH CAYE RESORT

We stayed in a Premier Overwater Bungalow — it has a private deck with a hammock, air conditioning and 180° views of the water and neighboring islands. You have your choice of a king size bed or two twin size beds. These bungalows range from $250-$300 a night, however, if you include the all inclusive package (which I HIGHLY recommend for this resort) it will up the cost an additional $150 per person.

  • More information on what is included in the all inclusive package:

    • $150 per adult / $75 per child per night, children 5 & under are free

    • Three meals per day & a snack

    • Local alcoholic & non-alcoholic beverages

    • Round-trip boat transfer to & from Dangriga

    • Marine reserve access fee

    • Exclusive use of our kayaks, paddle boards, snorkel gear, fishing poles & other non-motorized island toys

  • A la carte pricing if you choose not to participate in the all inclusive package:

    • Boat Transfer & Marine Reserve Fee: $230 per person, round trip

    • Breakfast: $25 per person

    • Lunch: $35 per person

    • Dinner: $55 per person

    • Drinks: $5-$15 per drink

    • Beach toys available for rent, rates vary

I do think it’s important to include that the Overwater Bungalows (or any room on the property) do NOT have wifi. For any type of internet connection, you must go to the overwater bar, the Starfish Bar, or the Coco Lounge, which is the main area. There, you will find the TV, coffee and wifi. The island is limited to 30 guests at a time, so you are provided with a one-of-a-kind vacation experience. If interested in staying at Thatch Caye Resort, you can BOOK HERE.

GETTING TO THATCH CAYE RESORT

ARRIVING AT THE BELIZE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: The Belize International Airport is a small airport in Belize City that provides excellent signage to help travelers get through customs and transfer to your in-country flight to Dangriga. When booking your international flight, you must be aware of your landing time for booking your commuter flight. The resort recommends arriving to Belize City no later than 3:45pm, as the last flight to Dangriga departs at 5:00pm.

TRANSFERRING TO THE DANGRIGA AIRSTRIP AND YOUR FINAL DESTINATION: You have a few choices on how to travel from Belize City to Dangriga, the closest town to Thatch Caye. You can take the Muy'Ono Explorer, which is $150 round trip, per person, and is a 3.5 hour tour in an air conditioned van throughout Belize with a welcome drink, tour guide, and refreshment/bathroom stops. You can also choose to take the 15 minute commuter flight down the coast of Belize to Dangriga — I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS OPTION — The flight is $195 round trip, per person. And honestly, after flying into Belize City, is the quicker option for only $45 more, plus the views are STUNNING. Muy’Ono can arrange your connecting flight for you. You can book your transfer online or email transfers@muy-ono.com.

As you arrive in Dangriga, a Muy’Ono guide will be waiting to pick you up to drive you to the dock at the Pelican for the boat pick up. From the dock, you will be whisked away on a 25 minute, 9 mile boat ride, from Dangriga to the island. The boat ride to and from the island is included in each package.

SUSTAINABILITY

Thatch Caye Resort believes in responsible eco-tourism and strives to minimize their impact on the environment. They are committed to protecting Belize's beautiful ecosystems and their biodiversity.

  • Aluminum water bottles are given to guests (infused water is available in the lobby and water coolers are available in each room) — they have banned single use plastic.

  • They use reusable “Toppawear” for the to go breakfast and lunches for the tour guide and guests — Goodbye to Styrofoam containers or trays! Additionally, they do not serve or use plastic straws. Instead, they use biodegradable macaroni sticks and GO GREEN corn based straws.

  • They compost any leftover food for fertilizer, use rainwater collectors as their water source, provide proper recycling, waste and compost trash cans throughout resort and are a solar and wind-powered island.

  • Thatch Caye educates all travelers to never walk the flats or touch the reef.

  • Each bathroom has a “You Make The Difference” sign: A towel hanging up means “I will use again.” and a towel on the floor means “Please exchange.” This helps to reduce water and chemical waste.

ACTIVITIES

Note: I am only including the activities we did ourselves, but there are many other options and activities you can participate in!

  • SNORKELING: Only minutes away from the Barrier Reef and boasting its own beautiful fringing reefs, Thatch Caye Resort has the advantage of being able to offer diving enthusiasts reef experiences with only short boat rides to some of the world’s best diving sites. We went snorkeling with our guide, Kimike, and had a blast. We saw nurse sharks, stingrays, and some of the most beautiful coral I’ve ever seen.

  • ISLAND CRAWL: Take a floating bar from Caye to Caye — Literally, you can have beer and wine on a boat, while you travel to Tobacco Caye, South Water Caye, Twin Caye and Bird Caye, the surrounding islands all around Thatch Caye. You get to learn about the history and culture of the Cayes in Belize, and have a few beers while you’re at it.

  • KAYAKS & STAND UP PADDLE BOARDS: Standup paddle boarding and kayaking on the turquoise water was dreamy — You are surrounded by shallow water, where you can explore the reef, and even meet stingrays, sea turtles and barracuda. We took photos in the clear blue water, and then noticed after the fact, that there were stingrays next to us SOS.

COPAL TREE LODGE

We stayed in one of their Signature Canopy Suites — There are four Signature Canopy Suites, perched above the jungle canopy at the very top of the lodge, that all share their own private infinity pool and offer stunning views from the Maya Mountains to the Caribbean Sea. These suites feature one king bed, an in-room sitting area, a private outdoor bathtub, exclusive use of the infinity pool, a day bed, complimentary wifi, and a spacious bathroom with a private walk-in shower (with floor-to-ceiling jungle views). The canopy suites all share their own separate wireless network — providing the canopy guests with quick speed internet for all of your wifi needs (ya girl needs wifi). The Signature Canopy Suites range from $445 a night, however, we did the Farm-to-Table all inclusive package which is $65 for ages 6-12 and $125 for ages 13 and up.

  • More information on what is included in the Farm-to-Table All Inclusive package:

    • Welcome drink

    • Three meals per day

    • Local alcoholic & non-alcoholic beverages

    • Roundtrip road transfer from Punta Gorda airstrip

    • Exclusive use of gym, kayaks, mountain bikes & hiking trails

Located in the heart of the main lodge, the Copal Tree Rum Bar is a great place to relax and unwind at the end of each day. The central lounge is surrounded by cool shaded decks perched within the jungle canopy. There you will find complimentary wifi, a collection of culinary and botanical books, magazines and games for the occasional rainy day. The bar opens at 11am daily. The restaurant, the Garden Table, makes everything in house using ingredients grown by their farm team or locally sourced from nearby farmers. They have a menu of incredible options to choose from for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food here was INCREDIBLE and never left me hungry or dissatisfied. If interested in staying at Copal Tree Lodge, you can BOOK HERE.

GETTING TO COPAL TREE LODGE

ARRIVING AT THE BELIZE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: Belize International Airport is a small airport that provides excellent signage to help travelers get through customs and transfer to your in-country flight to Punta Gorda. At the point of entry, a passport and proof of return or onward ticket are required. When booking your international flight, please be aware of your landing time. For commuter flights, we recommend arriving to Belize City no later than 3:45pm, as the last flight to Punta Gorda departs at 4:25pm. You can book your commuter flight here!

TRANSFERRING TO THE PUNTA GORDA AIRSTRIP: Travelers will take a breathtaking (and I mean BREATHTAKING) 1 hour flight down the coast of Belize with a couple of short stops along the way. Punta Gorda is the last stop in southern Belize. Upon landing, travelers will be picked up by a Muy’Ono guide in an open air Land Cruiser for the 15 minute drive to Copal Tree Lodge. Transportation from the Punta Gorda Airstrip is included in the Farm-to-Table Package.

SUSTAINABILITY

  • The first certified organic farm in Belize is on property, producing 70% of the lodge's food. They are helping to save Belize’s indigenous cuisine, and the heirloom crops that define it, by growing native crops on their 3,000-acre organic farm. They also use sustainable, line caught fish and seasonal seafood purchased directly from local day boat fishermen.

  • Aluminum water bottles are given to each guest and 5 gallon water containers are in strategic locations for guest to refill their bottles, including one in each room.

  • Copal Tree has discontinued the use of plastic straws and are now using Bamboo Paper straws and biodegradable cups for to-go coffee. They also make furniture and building materials on site from their own wild fall or sustainably harvested wood.

  • They are building a global marketplace for Belizean made products through their chocolate, coffee and rum productions at Copal Tree Lodge. They also have the only certified organic distillery in Belize (there is very few of these in the world) that is fueled by biomass.

  • Copal Tree Lodge plant thousands of trees each year as part of an extensive agroforestry program that also supports local wildlife.

  • All of their wine and rum bottles are donated to the Earth Ship Organization, where the bottles are used to build houses (this can be seen on your way to Lubantuun Mayan Ruin)

  • Each bathroom has a “You Make The Difference” sign: A towel hanging up means “I will use again.” and a towel on the floor means “Please exchange.” This helps to reduce water and chemical waste.

ACTIVITIES

Note: I am only including the activities we did ourselves, but there are many other options and activities you can participate in! We were only there for two days, so we didn’t get to do it all, unfortunately, and there were quite a few options.

  • COPALLI RUM DISTILLERY: You get to tour the on-site distillery and have bartender Tim make you lots of delicious rum drinks featuring Copal Tree’s clean rum directly from the heart of the rainforest. Their organic single estate rum is made from three ingredients: sugar cane, canopy water and yeast. All ingredients are sourced directly from the farm on their property.

  • BEAN-TO-BAR CHOCOLATE WORKSHOP: After a tour of the Copal Tree Farm, you get the chance to see the entire process of the Lodge’s chocolate making — very literally from bean to bar. As someone who loves dark chocolate, it was so cool to see how they go from cacao nibs to full on chocolate bars.

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NOTE: Both of these resorts were completely incredible and I would go back to either of them RIGHT NOW if the opportunity presented itself. However, I definitely had a favorite, but this is purely based on my own personal preferences of what I enjoy and need in a vacation. *drumroll please* my favorite was COPAL TREE LODGE! Here’s why:

  • At Thatch Caye, the menu is preset. Every breakfast, lunch and dinner is made the exact same for everyone on the island. (They were incredibly accommodating to dietary restrictions, though, so some of our group had different items made for us by the wonderful chef) Whereas at Copal Tree, there is a menu of items you can choose from at each meal. That is much more my speed as I am a fairly picky eater, and I have a weird tummy, and all five of us got to order whatever sounded good to us each individually.

  • I hate to say it, but I LOVE WIFI. My entire job is on my phone, so for me to be able to go on trips like this, I need to ensure that I can still post on social media for my clients, and on my own accounts. Also, I love falling asleep to Netflix, sue me. Also, I love having a phone in my room to be able to call down to the front desk with questions. There wasn’t a phone in the bungalows at Thatch Caye (which mind you, is completely fine, as it is meant to be a secluded, remote vacation, so nothing is wrong with that, I just have my preferences.)

  • While Thatch Caye was stunning, and honestly, a dream location, I really loved having coffee (incredible coffee, like some of the best coffee I’ve ever had) ready to be made in the room. (Although, Chris brought me coffee every morning at Thatch Caye, the pour over in our room at Copal Tree was unmatched.)

  • I have been to a ton of beach locations in my day, so for me, it was fascinating to get to explore the Belizean rainforest — to hear the black howler monkeys at night, to look out over the canopy to see the stunning Maya Mountains, and to enjoy my morning coffee in a hammock on the worlds most beautiful patio.

  • The rum bar at Copal Tree had so many beverage options — they made me a rum old fashioned that was DELIGHTFUL and that I’m still thinking about to this day. The drinks at Thatch Caye were also great, but there were just less options there.

  • Last but not least, if you know me at all, you know how I feel about showers, and honestly, showering in a head-to-toe shower complete with UNREAL jungle views was a dream come true. (This may sound silly, but hey, we all have our things.) Also, DID YOU SEE THE PATIO BATHTUB?

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Cheers to the most beautiful vacation I’ve ever been on — to two incredible resorts, spending quality time with new friends, old friends, and the man I love, to lots of rum and delicious food and fun activities / excursions. If you’re interested in taking a trip to the stunning Belize, or have any questions at all about these two resorts, don’t hesitate to shoot me a comment / message / DM.

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