After sharing the immensely popular article on the top luxury hotels in Belize, I realized that a list of the best Eco Lodges in Belize was past due.
Belize is famed as a beach destination for its diving (Great Blue Hole) and snorkeling (Hol-Chan), however, slowly it is gaining traction as a nature-based travel destination and jungle resorts and lodges are getting all the spotlight. This is because gone are the days of when only hardcore explorers would wish to be deep in the Belize rainforest. Nowadays, families, couples and solo travelers are seeking the soothing tranquility and nourishment that nature offers the body and mind.
And with this change of trend, hotels have responded to the market, making sure to accommodate adrenaline junkies, travelers with kids, and even honeymooners keen to indulge in a romantic setting – after all, hearing the sounds of the rainforest at night while failing to count the stars is magical for everyone.
I’m a firm supporter of sustainable tourism and any hotel or resort that is nature-centric and meets the philosophy of ecotourism is high in my books. So if you’re ready for seclusion, serenity, adventure or relaxation, the Belize rainforest has a spot for you.
The best eco-friendly places to stay:
In Western Belize…
1. The Lodge at Chaa Creek
As one of the oldest eco lodges in the Central America, Chaa Creek has won several awards and is known as a pioneer in ecotourism in Belize. It is situated on a private nature reserve a few miles away from San Ignacio and caters to families and couples. There are many onsite educational activities such as a natural history museum, medicinal plant trail and butterfly farm – there’s also a Spa for anyone seeking some pampering.
Tip: For a more rugged experience you can stay at their camp casitas and get a dose of Glamping aka luxury camping.
2. duPlooy’s Jungle Lodge
duPlooy’s Jungle Lodge is one of the original eco-lodges in Belize that has stayed true to itself. According to the owner, Judy duPlooy, the lodge has not changed much since it’s inception in 1987 and it is known more for what it doesn’t offer (i.e. no TVs, no A/C, and no beef on the menu). However, what they do offer is for guests to connect with nature and learn about the plants, birds, and animals that are native to Belize. The lodge is located just a few miles away from San Ignacio and has several onsite activities such as the world famous Belize Botanic Gardens.
Tip: If you meet Judy duPlooy, she’ll gladly share her story of opening the lodge.
3. Black Rock Lodge
Located a few miles away from San Ignacio, Black Rock lodge is situated on a beautiful canyon overlooking the rushing Macal River. This is a great location for birders and people seeking to enjoy a little seclusion while having access to eco tours in the Cayo district. They have hiking trails onsite, a bird tower and the river is great for swimming, tubing or canoeing. The accommodations are cabins facing the water and I love their open-style restaurant perched on the hill.
Tip: Grab a deck with a couple hammocks, read a book and feel at peace.
4. Blancaneaux Lodge
Blancaneaux is located in the Mountain Pine Ridge Nature Reserve and is surrounded by rivers, waterfalls, wildlife and Maya ruins. It is owned by the famous director Francis Ford Coppola – think the Godfather movies. Getting there involves a ride on a long dirt road (or helicopter flight) and they aren’t any immediate communities. So if you want to be far from civilization and tucked away deep in the forest – this is your place.
Tip: This place is very luxurious and is renown as a celebrity hotspot.
5. Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge
The Hummingbird highway has long been known as one of the most picturesque areas in Belize and now there’s a near there. The resort is new and located within 50,000 acres of lush Belizean jungle with stunning grounds and nice views of the mountains and orange groves. Aside from being surrounded by the Maya mountains, the Sibun River runs next to it so the setting is perfect.
Tip: The River House is the best accommodation since it’s located away from the main lodge and overlooks the river.
6. Table Rock Lodge
Located in Cristo Rey village, Table Rock is an excellent choice if you desire a beautiful jungle setting next to the river with the convenience of being 15-20 minutes away from San Ignacio (by car). I’m not sure if it things have changed but when I was last there, the owners greeted me and we had some awesome conversation as I had a drink in their charming bar. Even if you don’t stay here, make reservations to visit their restaurant because they have a really great chef with a rotating menu.
Tip: The hotel doesn’t have a pool but they provide free canoes and you can paddle across to Chaa Creek to enjoy their salt water pool for a small fee.
In Southern Belize…
7. Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort
Located in the quaint village of Hopkins, Hamansi is the perfect choice for travelers seeking an adventure outpost and rustic chic elegance. The resort specializes in scuba diving, however, its prime coastal location facilitates easy trips to Mayan ruins, caves, and other mainland attractions. Another major highlight of their location is that Hopkins village is home to the Garifuna culture, which is one of the most interesting cultures of Belize.
Tip: Their treehouses offer an awesome jungle feeling while being beachside.
8. Belcampo Lodge
Toledo used to once be the least visited area of Belize but Belcampo is making the south receive a lot more attention. And with that attention, people are finally noticing how amazing spending time in Toledo is. There you can find some of the best jungle in Belize, the Maya people and easy access to the sea and watersports. The lodge is particularly known for Agritourism – for the folks new to the term, that’s agricultural tourism. Fruit, vegetable and meats throughout Belize are always fresh (farm to table) but visiting here you’ll be introduced to possibly the best food anywhere.
Tip: Click here for an in-depth interview with their ex-GM.
9. Cotton Tree Lodge
Cotton Tree Lodge is located Southern Belize and is the perfect escape if you’re looking for seclusion and rustic accommodations. They focus greatly on sustainable tourism and the lodge primarily runs on solar power. Here you’ll be able to make your own chocolate, eat organic fruits and vegetables and get close to nature by doing jungle activities such as river kayaking and horseback riding.
Tip: This place is big on Chocolate. Try to set up a stay when one of their events is happening.
In Northern Belize…
10. Programme for Belize
Known as PFB in short, this NGO manages the Rio Bravo Conservation Area located in Northern Belize. Staying options include La Milpa Field Station and Hill Bank. This location is extremely secluded and probably the best option for anyone seeking to spot a lot wildlife and have a rugged experienced deep in the rainforest. Yes this is a nature lover’s paradise but the best thing about here is that all revenues derived from tourism operations are re-invested into the Management and Conservation of the Rio Bravo.
Tip: La Milpa Field Station is my favourite from the two campsites.
11. Lamanai Outpost
Located in Orange Walk, you can reach the Lamanai Outpost either via a dirt road or boat ride on the New River, which is always great. The lodge is set on a beautiful lagoon in a lush jungle setting and is an excellent place for anyone wishing to visit the Mayan ruins of Lamanai. There are tons of wildlife, especially howler monkeys which can be often seen from your room.
Tip: Ask for a lagoon view cabin and you won’t regret it. One more thing, for an amazing experience, go on the sunset airboat safari.
12. Chan Chich Lodge
As one of the most secluded lodges, Chan Chich offers visitors a dense jungle setting with miles of trails and abundant wildlife. The lodge sits on old Maya mounds deep in the jungle of Gallon Jug. Many cats including the majestic Jaguar roam the nearby area but it’s not likely you will see them, but you will probably see Jaguar footprints and learn a lot about them.
Tip: This place is so isolated that it has its own village and school.
Lower Dover Field Station
Lower Dover is one of the most affordable jungle lodges in Belize – it’s surely the cheapest place to stay on this list. They have simple accommodations in a quiet and peaceful setting. By staying here you will get to explore onsite un-excavated Mayan ruins, swim in the river and interact daily with the owners. It’s located between Belmopan (the Capital) and San Ignacio (the eco-adventure hub of Cayo).
Tip: Apart from the cabins for couples and families, there’s a hostel-like dorm.
Remember the places mentioned above are mostly off the grid and eco-friendly so they sometimes may not provide good/ reliable Wi-Fi or air conditioning. But it’s great to disconnect and they have rotating fans and cool Belizean jungle breeze.