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Private Paradises: See to Belize

Bruce Wallin

German Alamilla, dive master and fishing guide at Cayo Espanto, recommends that you pack a pair of optically correct, polarized sunglasses for your trip to the island. The curved-lens shades provide the proper light balance for spotting the schools of bonefish that lurk in the shallows below your villa’s private dock. Catching one of the fish also requires the right tackle, an accurate cast, and a convincing retrieve that mimics the action of a shrimp crawling through the current. But if all the elements are in place, the bonefish’s ensnarement on your hook—and the brilliant battle that will ensue—will create a rare and welcome commotion on this sandy speck in the Caribbean.

Such an expenditure of energy may seem a violation of principle on Cayo Espanto, a four-acre, four-villa island a few miles from San Pedro in northeastern Belize. The privacy and paucity of the resort’s villas, and the lack of interaction among guests, make the island the exclusive lair of couples and families, many of whom want nothing more than to relax. Still, should a yearning for adventure arise, Cayo is one of the better-situated resorts for fulfilling the desire.

The Belize Barrier Reef, second in size only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, is a 15-minute boat ride from the island. Five square miles of the coral ecosystem are protected as the Hol Chan marine reserve, where divers and snorkelers can swim with groupers, barracudas, nurse sharks, and moray eels. Sections of the reef outside of the reserve are rife with tarpon and other game fish, and the Belizean mainland abounds with wildlife in its jungle rivers and rain forest nature preserves.

Regardless of the day’s activities, most afternoons on Cayo end with your personal butler serving drinks and dinner on your dock. The butler will see to every additional detail of your stay, but should you forget to pack the proper sunglasses, ask instead for dive master Alamilla. He will gladly hop over to San Pedro to pick up a pair for you.

Location
Three miles off the southwestern tip of Ambergris Caye in northeastern Belize.

 

Accommodations
The two-story, 2,500-square-foot Casa Estrella is the most spacious of the resort’s four villas, each of which includes a dock and small pool. Also available is a one-bedroom bungalow with a deck and Jacuzzi. 

Recreation
Bonefishing off your private dock, snorkeling at Shark-Ray Alley and other spots in the Hol Chan marine reserve, golfing on Caye Chapel, and trekking to the Mayan ruins of Lamanai on the mainland.

Dining
Much more than just seafood, but the seafood is superb. Eat it on your veranda, in the villa, on the beach, or at the end of your private dock.

Worthy Diversion
Spearfish for snapper and grouper with dive master Alamilla, who will prepare your catch for you on a private beach on Ambergris Caye.

Rates
From $1,095 per couple, per night; rental of the entire island begins at $9,000 per night.
 
888.666.4282, www.aprivateisland.com

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