Whether it’s in the South Pacific or the Caribbean, the idea of a private island getaway is at the top of most travelers’ wish lists. Well, in Belize, you can splurge on a private island escape for around the same nightly rate as an over-the-water bungalow in Bora Bora.
The well-known private island of Cayo Espanto is a short, seven-minute boat ride away from the popular tourist destination of Ambergris Caye. Travelers looking to make a grand entrance can opt to arrive in ultimate style by booking a helicopter ride over.
Not surprisingly, some celebrities and high-end luxury travelers opt to spend their Belizean vacation in seclusion. Cayo Espanto offers the feeling of being miles away from civilization, but with the convenience of nearby access to experiences such as world-class diving along the Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, snorkeling with sting rays and nurse sharks, or heading out on an all-day reef or deep-sea fishing adventure.
The island features seven luxurious villas, four of which are one bedroom, two two-bedroom, and one overwater bungalow. Discerning travelers who truly want the private island experience can even rent the entire island for up to 18 guests in the seven villas. The smallest villa is Casa Ventanas, the 1,100-square-foot over-the-water bungalow that is surrounded by beautiful views on its own private dock. The largest is Casa Estrella, the two-story, 2,600-square-foot villa. Each villa has its own dock, private plunge pool, and some have outdoor showers.
No detail goes unnoticed at Cayo Espanto. The attention to detail begins before you arrive with a questionnaire that helps the staff understand your wants and desires during your stay. Everything from your dream dinner experience to what time you want your coffee served daily is included. Each villa has two “housemen” who are only a two-way radio call away if you need them. You can request they always remain close by and check on your regularly, or you can request that you will call them if you need anything.
If you’re celebrating a special event, let them know and the staff will go out of their way to give you the most memorable vacation of your life. With everything from a special chef’s tasting menu to a romantic bonfire on the beach followed by a wish balloon release, it’s easy to see why Cayo Espanto is popular with honeymoon couples and other travelers looking for a romantic getaway.
Cayo Espanto is one of the closest experiences you can get to “all-inclusive” in Belize. Your nightly rate includes three meals a day, snacks, beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), and use of the island’s non-motorized water toys. The only things not included are wine, Champagne, spa treatments, and any excursions like diving and snorkeling.
Options include flying from Belize International Airport (Philip S.W. Goldson) on either Maya Island Air or Tropic Air to San Pedro. You can also take the water taxi from Belize City, but that involves a taxi ride from the airport and takes over two hours, versus a 15-minute plane ride direct form BZE. Cayo Espanto will then arrange to get you from San Pedro Airport to their marina and situated in your beautiful villa.
To arrive by helicopter, Cayo Espanto can arrange Astrum Helicopters to either pick you up from Belize City or Ambergris Caye.
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Erin is a travel and food writer who currently splits her time between the Netherlands and Belize. She's traveled to 60+ countries on 5 continents with a passion for culinary travel, luxury hotels, and all things Disney. Her writing has appeared in numerous online outlets including Gadling, BootsnAll, CNN, Art of Backpacking, TravBuddy, CBS, and more. She was the major author of Belize's official visitor magazine, Destination Belize 2013; wrote the official AFAR Guide to Belize; and is also AFAR Magazine's local Belize expert.. In addition to writing for other publications, Erin maintains several blogs, Our Tasty Travels, No Checked Bags, Pooh's Travels, and the brand new Caye To Belize. Follow Erin on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.
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