We just returned to Vancouver from a two week vacation in Belize. We spent 8 nights in San Pedro and then flew south to Placencia and spent 6 nights at Maya Beach Hotel (MBH) We rented the main floor of the Joya del Mar house, which is about 50-60 feet from the hotel. MBH doesn't own the house but manages it along with a few other homes next to the hotel. My only complaint about our stay at Maya Beach is that it wasn't long enough. We should have spent 3 days in San Pedro and the rest of our vacation at Maya Beach. Next time...
This property is amazing. I stumbled across MBH and Bistro when I was researching a place to stay while we were still in San Pedro. I had been to Placencia when I visited Belize 7 years ago so knew I wanted to go back for the great diving the area offers. I read the reviews about MBH and once I read about the bistro it was a no brainer. I sent an email to MBH through their website and they responded promptly and answered a few questions that helped me determine which of the houses adjacent to their hotel would suit our needs. We booked the main floor of the Joya del Mar house. Two days later we arrived in Placencia and the driver was waiting at the airport when we landed and took us to MBH.
From the first minute we arrived we felt so welcome and really it was a feeling of being at home. We settled into the house quickly and made our way back (a 15 second walk on the beach) to the bistro for happy hour. The food at the bistro is amazing! The food in Belize was actually very good everywhere we went. Good quality and flavourful compared to Mexico and Cuba (to make a gross generalization). We enjoyed many good meals in San Pedro but the food at MBH bistro was a few steps above. They use local ingredients and fuse Belizian cooking with twists that give the dishes an international appeal. Their bistro had been awarded the best restaurant in Belize. Everything I read online was true. Also about the staff all being so friendly and helpful. Especially Marlon. He was awesome. He helped us so much arranging diving and our Cockscomb jungle/river tubing trip. My partner Keith's birthday was going to be our last day/night at MBH so I started trying to plan something as soon as we arrived. Marlon went above and beyond looking for drummers to come to MBH or figuring out where we could go to see drumming or for a special dinner on the Saturday night. In the end we decided to have dinner at the bistro for Keith's birthday and I was surprised that they had remembered earlier in the week that I mentioned Keith loves chocolate cheesecake. They made the most delicious mocha chocolate cheesecake and even brought it out and sang happy birthday to Keith. It was wonderful and Keith was surprised and touched. He had the lobster for dinner and loved it. We actually loved every single meal we had at the bistro. The breakfast sandwich, the pizzas, and all the seafood dishes were awesome. There wasn't one meal either of us had that we didn't love. I think I easily gained 5 pounds in that 6 days we were there.
We of course had a full kitchen at the Joya del Mar house but cooked there only a few times because we loved the food at the bistro (and the convenience of being able to stroll over from our front door).
We borrowed a couple of cruiser bikes to ride half a mile down the road to the local market to stock up on supplies. It is quite convenient having the market close by and there is no need to rent a car to get around if you are doing diving or tours with operators who pick you up at the hotel. The market sells everything you can want...beer, wine, meat, dairy, household items, etc.
Now, about the house...it was a great set up for us (a couple traveling without children). It wouldn't work for a family because it only has the king bed in the bedroom and the only washroom is an ensuite to the bedroom. I would highly recommend this house to couples. Probably even friends traveling together because I believe the bed can be separated into two singles. The house was large and as a bonus we had a washer and dryer, which was great because we had been traveling for over a week when we arrived. This suite also has a TV with cable. We didn't go to Belize to watch TV but it was nice to relax on the couch after we finished watching the sun go down at the edge of the ocean 30 feet from the front door. We got to watch Shark Week on Discovery Channel which was an added bonus. This house has a suite upstairs and a suite behind the property. They were both unoccupied so we had the house to ourselves. Facing the ocean, the MBH is a short walk to the right and on the left there is nobody, just a lot that hasn't been built on that is full of trees and bushes. So it was very secluded. The Flip Flop Palace house that MBH rents out as well is on the right (and between Joya del Mar and the hotel). It is far enough away to still give lots of privacy for each rental. Even with the other suites in the Joya del Mar house rented, I think you would still have a lot of privacy. Although you might be taking turns with the chairs and hammock on the beach in front of the house.
Many mornings when the ocean was completely still I would walk over to the palapa (dock) in front of the hotel for the sunrise and sit and watch the fish jump around the dock while I had my tea. I did this for 2 hours each morning and this quiet special time is something I cherished because I have two young children at home so not much quiet time for myself. The only person around at 6am would be one of the staff who was raking the sea grass from the beach. The palapa has a double wooden swing, a couple of hammocks and a few Muskoka/Adirondack style chairs. Very comfy.
Marlon helped us arranging our diving with Splash Dive Centre. They are really good. A bit pricey but great service, clean and big boats and nice staff. They picked us up and dropped us off at MBH for each dive. Keith did the full day Glover's Reef trip (I was under the weather that day so couldn't go). He wasn't overwhelmed by it and was more impressed by the dives we did out of San Pedro with Amigos del Mar. He didn't see much on the dives and the visibility wasn't great but that can change day by day. We both went out a few days later and did the full-day Silk Caye dives and I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in diving from Placencia. I won't say what we did on the dives because it will spoil the surprise if you decide to do them. The dives were really good but the icing on the cake was what we did apart from the diving. The water in Belize (at this time of year) is hot. I dove in just a bikini...95 feet down and 20 miles out in the ocean the water was still 85 degrees.
In the middle of the week we took advantage of calm seas and used the double kayak from MBH (they have a number of kayaks and bikes for guests to use for free) and paddled over to False Caye which is about a mile directly in front of MBH. It's not really an island, just a large cluster of mangroves. I saw a few spots with a bit of sand and small beach but mostly it's just mangroves. On the way over to False Caye we had two dolphins come up to our kayak and swam about 10 feet from our boat for a few minutes. Then we went to a great little snorkel spot and dropped an anchor (thoughtfully provided by the owner Ellen along with directions to the snorkel spot) and swam around for about 90 minutes. TIP: the kayak seat wore the sunscreen off my butt and upper legs so I got quite the little burn from snorkeling so would recommend reapplying sunscreen after kayaking. We were on the east side of the False Caye with nothing but the ocean to the east and nobody around. It was a highlight of the trip and the solitude of being out there was totally consistent with the vibe of MBH in general.
On our last full day at MBH we choose to do the Cockscomb Jaguar Preserve trip. It was interesting and it was fun to do the 45 minute tube ride down the river after the 2 hour hike (more like a walk). We aren't overly interested in birds and flora and didn't see any wildlife so the trip didn't blow our hair back by any stretch. When I booked it I thought I was booking one with a bit more adventure (cave tubing or jumping off a waterfall?) so I can't say it was a bad tour so much as not what we were expecting. But the guide was really nice and super knowledgeable about the jungle and Mayan culture; specifically all the natural remedies they have using plants found in the jungle.
I can't say enough good things about Maya Beach Hotel and their bistro. The owners John and Ellen and all of their staff were amazing. I especially liked the take out wine service :) And the extensive wine list. The food was among the best I've ever found in all my travels. And the location can't be beat if you are looking for a stunning view of the ocean in a quiet chilled out setting.
We are already planning our trip back for whale shark dive season next year :)
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Sitting on a pretty stretch of natural sand beach, the Maya Beach Hotel is a small mid-range beach resort for couples who need comfort, but not luxury. Our hotel rooms are air conditioned with queen beds, our king suites have king beds and kitchenettes and we also offer some beach house rentals in different price ranges. Our Bistro and swimming pool are a gathering place at the end of a day filled with snorkeling, diving, fishing, kayaking, jungle hiking, spelunking, climbing Maya ruins, or just plain relaxing on the beach. The restaurant was also has also been awarded "Restaurant of the Year" twice by the Belize Tourism Board, and it remains a highlight of a stay here. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Maya Beach Placencia
- Hotel Maya Beach
- Maya Beach Hotel Belize/Placencia