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St George’s Caye Resort, Belize

Best for…seekers of paradise

St. George's Caye pier © Craig FastMany of the clichés associated with paradise apply to St George’s Caye Resort: a tiny island perched in clear blue Caribbean seas; unparalleled sunsets and sunrises; quaint private cabins; sun loungers on decks that reach out over the water; all-inclusive carefree attitude; and so on.

What doesn’t readily spring to mind when considering paradise is accessibility, but St George’s Caye Resort has that too. It’s only a twenty-minute ride in the resort’s own white-leather-upholstered motor boat from Belize City to St George’s sun-blistered wooden piers. Close enough for convenience but far enough for seclusion.

St George’s Caye is a moon-shaped coral island inhabited by a few lucky residents, even luckier British Army personnel, a small but intriguing aquarium and the resort itself. The caye is so narrow and the resort so perfectly positioned that the pool supplies spectacular over-the-sea sunrises and sunsets. The resort’s most expensive cabins face out to sea and the sunrise. The cabins on the sunset side are just 30 metres away on decking that sits over a calm lagoon. In the middle are the garden cabins, Island Spa and the main lodge with a bar, communal dining area and more rooms. The lodge also has a small library and wifi access.

St. George's Caye lagoon cabins © Craig FastI stayed in one of the lagoon-side cabins. The palm-thatched cabins are set around a circular deck with a marine wildlife viewing hole cut into the middle. As we arrived a small stingray flapped its way across while a member of staff described how the area is lit up at night and seahorses are frequently spotted there. Inside the rooms, the king-size bed featured luxury linen and, magically, a plate of homemade cookies after dinner every evening. Each morning, tea or coffee and fruit juice appeared on the private terrace. An air conditioning unit kept the room cool, although guests in the sea-side cabins reported that the sea breeze was refreshing enough. The tap water, sourced from purified rain water, was potable.

St George’s Caye Resort used to cater mostly for scuba divers. Following a recent US$2 million renovation, diving is still a priority but the range of activities has been widened. As well as providing excellent valet-style, personalised diving programmes, the resort offers sailing, fishing, kayaking, windsurfing, beach bonfires, volleyball and snorkelling gear, all included in the price.

Lounger on St. George's Caye beach © Craig FastFor a fee, the resort can arrange a number of adventure tours. Near the caye, guests can snorkel part of the world’s second biggest reef, tour mangroves to see manatees by day and crocodiles by night, or float on mattresses and chairs in the shallow, super-warm waters of a sand bar. Privately led fishing tours are also popular.

Slightly further afield, day trips bring most of Belize within easy reach: inflatable tubes float you through underground river caves; zip lines soar over rainforest canopies; helicopters fly over the world-famous Blue Hole as well as Maya ruins, of which Belize possesses the region’s highest concentration. Trips to Lamanai and Altun Ha ruins take in monumental temples and palaces.

Loungers on St. George's Caye lagoon © Craig FastPersonally, I found it difficult to drag myself away from the caye, which has an interesting history of its own. On September 10th, 1798, it was the site of the Battle of St George’s Caye, the last attempt by the Spanish to wrestle control of Belize from the Baymen, a group of shipwrecked British sailors, pirates, buccaneers and adventurers. The Baymen were vastly outnumbered but their victory has been immortalised on Belize’s five dollar bill and remembered in the national holiday.

It was difficult to imagine this calm and placid island as the location of violent battles but I could see why the Baymen worked so hard to defend the place. Bathing in the swimming pool early one morning, I paused mid-stroke to watch hummingbirds flit through flowers less than a metre from the edge of the pool. Sunbathing on the deck that reached out over the Caribbean I was hypnotised by hundreds of tiny fish synchronisedly darting underneath. Watching the sun set over the lagoon side of the caye with a Belizean coconut rum pina colada was a perfect end to the day.

St. George's Caye beach cabin © Craig FastGranted, the white-sand beach is slightly grainy and not ideal for swimming, but short piers take bathers out to crystal clear waters perfect for the paradisiacal dip. Arrangements for food might not be to everyone’s taste. Set meals are eaten by all guests at the same time around one table, which creates a pleasant community feel but lacks privacy and spontaneity required for a truly romantic break. The food, whilst good, was not as Belizean or even as Caribbean as I had hoped. Fortunately, there is the option of having a private table set up either at your cabin or your favourite place in the resort.

For my part, I would choose to have dinner at the edge of the deck that stretches out over the glassy lagoon, shortly after sunset with the nightlights illuminating the sea garden below. Like I said, dreamily clichéd paradise.

St George's Caye Resort
St George's Caye, Belize
Tel: 1 800 813 8498 (toll free)
www.gooddiving.com

 


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Overland Traveller copyright © Emma Field 2010