Just 9 miles by boat from Belize City—lies one of the quiet corners of the country, with a layout made almost entirely of vacation homes. It’s St. George’s Caye: Belize’s first capital, dating all the way back to the 1700s. Rich in history with an entire holiday dedicated entirely to its own battle against Spaniard invaders, St. George’s Caye is the ideal island to spend a few days entirely unfettered from the outside world. Despite the time since its 1798 battle, its faded grandeur is still very much present—cannons and all. There isn’t a single street, golf cart, or even an electric grid—instead, peace and quiet is palpable. But going off-grid doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing modern comforts or even vacation thrills. Instead, take each dawn as a new adventure, making Casa Al Mar your Belize base for seven perfect days.
Despite a lack of large hotel chains and sprawling resorts, Belize is one of the easiest countries to travel to. A skidding stop on the blacktop of Philip S. W. Goldson Airport in Belize City glides you past a fairly small entryway; for reference, the birthplace of Belize’s famed Belikin beer just across the tarmac is just as large, which rivals the size of a regional airport in the U.S.
You’re also not landing in Belize City, but on the outskirts in Ladyville. Just 15 minutes by ground transportation, Casa Al Mar reps—awaiting your arrival at the airport—whisk you away to the transfer dock. A 20 minute transfer by (private) speedboat away, St. George’s Caye materializes through pearly flashes of sun glare and the back dock of Casa Al Mar comes in focus against its minty, reef green exterior.
While you relax and unwind from a day of travel, your bartender will be ready and waiting to serve up cocktails to suit your taste, while the chef prepares your welcome lunch or dinner!
Occasionally, you might hear a boat go by or a fish jump out of the water, but you’ll otherwise be surrounded peace and quiet, except from the rustling of the palm trees by the wind. Soak it all in on your first full day on the island, enjoying the Caribbean Sea from your front dock and perhaps gain new tan lines on the sunning deck with an ice-cold Belikin in hand—imported straight out of Ladyville, Belize.
Before the sun dips too low, walk the length and breadth of the island or ask your captain for a boat ride around the island to see the sites. A walk from end to end is about an hour long.
Adjusting well to island life? Reclaim the simple things in life against the glistening Caribbean Sea by day, and some of the best stargazing by night. Be overzealous in pursuit of a naturally socially distant experience, where the day can start by taking the kayaks out for a mangrove paddle. The kayaks are launched right off the back dock of Casa Al Mar and come back just in time to enjoy some of Belize’s local lunch specialties.
Bellies full, the Belize Barrier Reef beckons. Answer with a snorkel and swim, thanks to your own private captain at Casa Al Mar. There are multiple snorkel spots nearby Casa Al Mar, so you’re not limited to snorkeling just on one day. Let your captain know if you want to do this multiple times. Snorkel gear is included and provided upon arrival.
Home to a strong Creole presence and even a small Rastafarian community, Caye Caulker is the 5-mile long limestone coral island just 30 minutes from Casa Al Mar. But what it lacks in size, Caye Caulker makes up for in charm: “go slow” signs line its sandy streets, and that directive is taken seriously. There’s not a whole lot to do on the island besides downing a bright green Lizard Juice at the hub of the island—The Split—or seahorse-gazing with sundowners, but that’s the point.
On your fourth day with Casa Al Mar, you’ll get to experience this colorful village for yourself: a cool cafecito from Ice ‘N’ Beans on arrival, a palm-shaded hammock until noon rolls around, and a barefoot stroll towards the end of the island for lunch. After, get your camera ready because you’re heading to Shark Ray Alley in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, a perennially popular spot laden with big southern stingrays and mooching nurse sharks that come right up to the boat when it first arrives.
Safe to say you won’t be wearing much more than a swimsuit during these next two days. Big on chill, soak up the last of island time on St. George’s Caye however you see fit under the seaside umbrella. However, we’ll squeeze in the two more gems of experiences: drop fishing near the Belize Barrier Reef in the morning, and visiting the sandbar that faces the island in the afternoon.
Your captain throws his anchor, divvies up sliced (fresh-caught) sprat, and demonstrates how to hook ’em. “If you’ve got a head [of the bait], push the hook’s eye through its eye, too.” Excited and full of hope for what lies beneath, you’ll throw your nylon fishing line over the boat’s side, letting it gently flutter through your fingertips until the weight reaches the bottom. Your index finger is your most sensitive—rest the fishing line gently on top, but without any slack, to tune in to your surroundings and concentrate on every little pick, nibble, or bite below. We also offering trolling in front of the island, which is recommended either early in the morning or in the late evening before sundown.
Nothing beats knowing you caught your own dinner, and the island chef cooks it up however you like.
You’ve got the morning to reflect on the week that’s passed, and hopefully, re-enter everyday life with a newly discovered peace of mind. After your fill of puffy Fry Jacks in a quintessential Belizean Breakfast, your bags are packed and you’re on your way back to the city. This time, with the knowledge of paradise, found.
With a six-bedroom, three-storied home housing up to 16 people, this private all-inclusive island vacation rental is available just outside Belize City. Accessible via private boat, Casa Al Mar guests can cozy up to indoor hammocks, and take their morning coffee on the porch or the private dock pelican watching. Perfect for kids in tow.
Written by Carolee Chanona