My partner and I just returned from a 7 night stay at Cayo Espanto to celebrate our 9 year anniversary, and I can say without question that we will absolutely return. We stay at some of the world's most exclusive hotels and resorts, and have stayed at a few other private islands, and we were quite pleased with our stay at Cayo Espanto.
More than anything else, we loved the diving available at the nearby barrier reef and the Blue Hole about 50 mi away. We dived 9 times during the 7 days we were there, and we also took a day trip to the Mayan ruins in Tikal in Guatemala for our last full day. But the diving was what made the trip really special. It really was incredible diving.
Basically, Cayo Espanto provides a very private holiday. Unlike other private islands we have visited (namely, Vatulele and Turtle Islands in Fiji), life at Cayo Espanto is very private and you totally keep to yourselves. Our Fijian private island experiences, on the other hand, allowed for as much private dining as you wanted while also permitting communal dining with other island guests. We prefer the more communal dining and general atmosphere so we can meet other guests, but this isn't the philosophy at Cayo Espanto.
That being said, the food at Cayo Espanto was fantastic--and far superior to the dining at either Vatulele or Turtle Islands in Fiji. Although we didn't love every single meal, we found the food to be very well prepared and presented--and we are real food snobs who are accustomed to dining in the nicest restaurants in Los Angeles, New York, London, etc. Our last meal included a specially prepared offering of sushi and sashimi based upon my expressed interest in our guest questionnaire, in addition to the regular surf and turf of prime rib and lobster; although we weren't particularly fond of the sushi, we were quite impressed that the chef went to so much trouble to add such a delicacy to the menu for us in addition to the regular menu offerings.
Breakfasts and lunches were all spectacular, as well. I actually craved gazpacho even though it wasn't on the menu, so they prepared gazpacho every day I requested it--and it was delicious. Basically, anytime we wanted anything not offered on the regular menu, we got it. Pretty amazing, indeed!
The accommodations were also quite nice. We originally booked Casa Aurora, thinking that we might prefer the larger plunge pool and that I might prefer the cooler conditions of a one story casa. We stayed 2 nights at Casa Aurora, and loved it. I particularly was impressed that they kept one bedroom air conditioned for me 24/7 for the entire 2 full days we were there, as I had requested, since I like to sleep in particularly cold conditions. The one bedroom cooled well beyond my satisfaction. Ironically, the other bedroom never got even close to as cool, so it was fortunate that the other bedroom did cool to such a degree for me. My partner was a little annoyed that Casa Aurora wasn't as private as it could have been--the walkway that the staff used to go back to the service area of the island passed right by our Casa, and staff could certainly see us while hanging out by the pool or on our deck--a problem easily remedied by a fence or some dense plantings. We hope that Cayo Espanto will fix that small problem.
After a tour of the other accommodations, my partner was especially impressed with the drama and privacy offered by Casa Estrella--the 2-story Casa featured on the website and their advertising brochures and marketing materials. So we ended up moving to Casa Estrella for the remainder of our stay. The second story didn't cool to my satisfaction, as the manager and staff indicated was likely, but the first floor bedroom, while not as grand nor as impressive, cooled almost as well as the bedroom in othe other Casa--and more than sufficiently for me to sleep in the cold conditions I require. Again, the staff was more than happy to keep that one bedroom air conditioned 24/7 for the rest of our stay (at my request ) so that I always had a cold condition retreat when I desired. Otherwise, it was quite warm on the island, though the winds provided a much larger degree of relief than I would have guessed at this time of year. The plunge pool at Casa Estrella was much smaller than that of Casa Aurora, but it was still more than sufficient to keep me cool during the day.
I did walk out into the lagoon a few times, and I did get bitten several times by the sand lice which get stirred up when you walk along the seabed. They were more annoying than painful, so I wouldn't preclude swimming in the lagoon. In fact, if you merely swim through the lagoon and don't stir up the shallow seabed, they don't get you at all. Still, we were grateful for the plunge pools.
Our only other real criticism of the island was with its alcohol policy and wine offerings. Basically, the island is all-inclusive, exept for wine and some premium cordials. In our opinion, and considering our stays at Vatulele and Turtle Islands in Fiji, the wine and cordials should be included, too. Because they weren't, we sometimes felt like we were being nickled and dimed a bit, even though we knew that in advance. Also, the wine list wasn't particularly impressive for wine aficianados such as we are--so if you're going to charge, we think the wine list should have had better offerings. We also were a bit concerned that the wines might not be properly stored, since we often had to have our red wines cooled a bit. Still, not a major factor overall, but a factor for us, nonetheless.
All in all, we were very impressed with Cayo Espanto. Since we are very active travelers, and like social interaction, we probably could not stay ourselves for more than a few nights were it not for the amazing diving offered nearby. But that diving made it all worthwhile! We will absolutely return to Cayo Espanto and encourage other active adventurers who love high quality accommodations, service, and food (and can afford the room rates!) to check into Cayo Espanto!
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- Also Known As:
- Cayo Espanto San Pedro
- Cayo Espanto Resort San Pedro
- Cayo Espanto Belize/San Pedro