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“Cayo Espanto--very good, indeed!”
Review of Cayo Espanto

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Cayo Espanto
Ranked #26 of 53 Hotels in San Pedro
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 12 September 2006

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!

Stayed: September 2006
16  Thank Bill R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 23 July 2005

You’ve heard about it. You’ve seen photos of it in the glossy travel mags — on the cover of Travel & Leisure and elsewhere. You’ve looked at the prices, and perhaps gasped. Cayo Espanto is definitely not for everyone, and it’s definitely not the Belize most of us know, but having now stayed there a few gloriously slothful and relaxing days, I can better appreciate its raison d’être and why honeymooners or a stressed-out exec would stay here. The thing that strikes me most about Cayo Espanto is the level of service. It’s truly unmatched in Belize, and possibly anywhere in the region. A few small examples: When you leave the island, say for a visit to San Pedro or for a snorkel trip, when you get ready to come back, the boat captain bringing you back radios to the hotel your exact time of arrival, down to the minute. Awaiting you at the dock is your houseman (or butler) and a few other staff. They have your favorite drink waiting for you at the dock and offer you a face cloth to refresh yourself. And not just a face cloth, but your choice of a hot or a cold face cloth. Or both. And, of course, on the boat trip out and back you don’t have to sit on the hot plastic seat. There’s a folded towel on the seat to protect your sensitive fanny.

Cayo Espanto sends you a detailed guest survey before you arrive, to determine your preferences in food, drink and such. And, at the resort, the staff does pay close attention to what you like and don’t like. One day we used the paddle boats (complimentary, as are sea kayaks), and we discovered each boat was furnished with a cooler, which had been stocked only with the drinks that the houseman noticed we had favored - red Fanta, Diet Coke and Belikin.

As at Turtle Inn, upon arrival you’re given a walkie-talkie, and you can call your houseman who stands ready about anytime night or day to bring you whatever your heart desires — your favorite cocktail, a snack, fruit, ice. Not, to my knowledge, dancing girls, but, short of that, most anything.

Meals are mostly served at your villa, overlooking the water. Before dinner the chef comes by to inquire about your preferences for the evening. There are usually a couple of entree suggestions, but if you’d rather have something else, the chef can whip it up for you. Your own personal menu is printed, and you’re welcome to take it with you as a memento. One evening the menu was thus: an appetizer of seared scallops with rice-stuffed cabbage rolls, and a choice of Belizean lobster tail smothered in mango butter with a green papaya salad, or charred strip loin with shoestring potatoes and tequila mango salsa (I had both, of course), and for dessert coconut cake with pineapple chutney and mango coulisse.

Though the private island is quite small, and there are five villas on the island, privacy really is the watchword. Most of the time we were there the island was near its capacity of around 14 people, but we rarely saw another guest, except from a distance on an adjoining villa’s private pier.

We stayed in Casa Estrella. The star house. Ahh!

The villas are airy, with cleverly designed doors that fold back almost completely to provide panoramic views of the water. These are very pleasant spaces, but the villas furnishings are not extraordinary, nor are the finishings remarkably luxurious. The floor first floor of our villa, for example, was of finished concrete, which is understandable given how close the houses are to the sea — literally only a few feet. Our villa was more like a comfortable, well-designed beach house, rather than a designer home. I did love the upstairs bedroom, with iits king bed, Egyptian cotton sheets and lovely down comforter. With the folding doors pulled back, the view was glorious.

And, yes, this is the bed that Tiger Woods slept in when he was at Cayo Espanto. Or so I was told. As I understand it, Wood was at Cayo Espanto only one night, spending the rest of his Belize trip time on his private yacht anchored off Lighthouse atoll.

At night, if you like, the staff will go around and close all the folding doors, shut the windows and turn on the air-conditioning. Air-conditioning is available only at night, as A/C tends to trip the island’s smaller daytime generator. Although Cayo Espanto is on the back side of Ambergris, in the lagoon rather than in the main Caribbean, which may be a downside for some, there was a good breeze all the time we were there, and it was cool enough without air-conditioning.

Each villa, except one, has its own zero-effect plunge pool. These are indeed splash or plunge pools, more the size of a hot tub than a swimming pool. But they’re fun, and private. Swimming in the lagoon is not so good, however, as the water is shallow and at there sometimes are little biting creatures some locals call sea leeches. But it's still a beautiful location, and not far from the island that Leo DeCaprio just bought for a cool US$2.4 million. The Titantic star reportedly has plans to open an upscale eco-resort.

All this privacy, service and personal attention comes at a price -- the highest rates in Belize and probably in all of Central America. As much as US$2000 a day. Whether it's really worth all that money I guess depends on how much money you have.

--Lan Sluder

39  Thank LanSluder
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 May 2005

Cayo Espanto resort has to be one of the most romantic places on earth. It's hard for me to find the words to describe how wonderful this place truly is. I highly recommend Cayo Espanto for a honeymoon or a romantic getaway. The island is just beautiful; I was in awe when we arrived. We stayed in the Casa Aurora, which was an amazing villa with a private pool. The service at Cayo Espanto is unbelievable...we felt so pampered. The food was magnificent; I promise you will not go hungry here! Each morning we would sit outside on the deck and eat breakfast while looking at Caribbean...it was perfect! When you're at Cayo Espanto you really do feel you're on your own private island.

  • Stayed: August 2001
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23  Thank Ninak25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 December 2004

Cayo Espanto was private, romantic, and the food was incredible. We private candlelight dined on our own luninary lined dock (with crystal and china), and on our own little beach. A strolling guitarist played Spanish love songs, while we wished on shooting stars that twinkled overhead. Our houseman saw to our every desire. He would stand on the dock each day with chilled towels and pina coladas, waiting for our boat to arrive from diving, snorkeling or private deserted beach lunches. The bed linens and pillows were the finest that money can buy. Our chef came each day to create a dinner JUST FOR US based on the four page guest survey we filled out before arriving. We said we wanted ice tea, and all week we drank fresh brewed sun tea. The casita was air conditioned, had satalite tv, videos and DVD's, in addition to an awsome sound system. We had massages in our casita in the afternoon, and swam in our private plunge pool. It was beyond heaven on earth. If you never get there for your honeymoon, remember it for you anniversaries or special occasions. It was easy to get there, (two hours to Belize City from Miami), and a thousand times more romantic than any other place we have ever been. We travel the Caribbean every other month, and just returned from Fiji, and yet we love this place more than anywhere else in the world we have been. On a scale of 1-10, it's a 20! Please feel free to email me with any questions you may have. Below is a link to my website with some photos we took at Cayo Espanto. It will help you see what a casita looks like.
I hope you too find YOUR heaven on earth!- Kim

  • Stayed: December 2004
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45  Thank KimInMd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 December 2004

We spent 5 extraordinary days in 12/04 in Casa Manana at Cayo Espanto. It is difficult to write this review because words cannot truly convey the outrageous excellence of this place. Having spent time at Jumby Bay, Four Seasons Nevis, and La Sammana, we feel we have a relatively good perspective on excellence. Cayo Espanto is the summitt that none of the other resorts came close to reaching.

The five star system doesn't apply here. We had a private villa, with walls that could be completely opened to the gorgeous azure sea. Two housemen were at our beckon call at all times, and Leo, our main guy, provided the best service either of us had ever experienced.

All of our snorkeling trips were led by a divemaster who spent three hours showing us the various fish and coral, and dealing with me, a total geek who can barely swim. Totally charming, and never condescending.

All the meals were served in our villa, with votive lighting. All drinks were provided freely. All the fish and lobster were in the water several hours before preparation. The conch cerviche was beyond belief.

I have never encountered a more majical wonderful place. The expense is extreme, but worth every penny. Please e-mail me if you have an questions at aadesmd@yahoo.com.

31  Thank hogtied79
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
austin, texas
Reviewed 4 October 2004

I keep looking for that little man saying La Plane, La Plane!!!

It is impossible to match this anywhere in the world. The service is the best in the world. The massages are fantastic. Whatever you can think of, they can do for you. The people in San Pedro are warm and friendly. It just slows you down, the beauty, the water, the food, endless fantasy. Expensive but when you consider what is included nothing can touch it for value.

note to self. Take the plane from belize city no matter how sketchy it seems.

24  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 January 2017
Google Translation

Room Tip: revisa bien entre las villas que ofrecen hay gran diferencia en tamaño/ localización y privacidad .N...
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  • Stayed: December 2016, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
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2  Thank eadissi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Cayo Espanto

Address: Cayo Espanto Island, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize
Phone Number:
Region: Belize > Belize Cayes > Ambergris Caye > San Pedro
Beach Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Kitchenette Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#6 Romantic Hotel in San Pedro
#7 Luxury Hotel in San Pedro
#16 Top resorts Hotel in San Pedro
#25 On the Beach Hotel in San Pedro
Price Range: £1,126 - £1,879 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Cayo Espanto 5*
Number of rooms: 7
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Also Known As:
Cayo Espanto San Pedro
Cayo Espanto Resort San Pedro
Cayo Espanto Belize/San Pedro

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