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Review of Hatchet Caye, Belize Friday, January 4, 2013 ~ 11:00 a.m.

Now that things have calmed down a bit for me, I thought I would delve a bit into my recent trip down south to Belize! My husband and I actually treated this trip as a "Babymoon," because I happened to be pregnant at the time of travel, and it was amazing. Not only was it a great babymoon spot, but I think Hatchet Caye, Belize would be perfect for a low key, relaxing honeymoon! I've provided my own opinion of the resort and private island we stayed at below, because it really is one of a kind. My timing is kind of perfect, too, because my husband noticed that the same trip package that we booked is now on sale on Groupon through the weekend! Hatchet Caye is a beautiful, intimate and low key private island. The staff is there, but not really there in the sense that they let you explore the small island on your own. You often feel like you're on on your own private island, with none of the distractions of daily life. It's peaceful, quiet and you're left to make your trip whatever you and your hubby want it to be.

Hatchet Caye, Belize

Belizean Basics
For those of you who don't know, Belize is located in Central America, immediately south of Mexico, southwest of Guatemala and east of the Caribbean Sea. It's one of a handful of countries that lie between Mexico and South America, along with other popular destinations like Panama and Costa Rica. But unlike Costa Rica, which is flanked with water on both sides of the Pacific and the Caribbean, Belize only has the ocean on it's eastern (or Caribbean) side, and the water is very calm, warm and swimmable! Belize is also primarily an English speaking country, deeming it an easier transition for American tourists like myself, and its currency, the Belize dollar, is roughly 2 to 1 US dollar. As far as the climate goes, Dale and I traveled down there in the beginning of December after hurricane season, which runs from June to November. The temperature stayed in the 80s most of the time we were there, but the humidity was definitely shocking at first. It took us a day or two to acclamate to the heavy moisture that hung in the air, and I learned very quickly that makeup and a hairdryer were completely pointless down in Belize!

Overall, Belize is a quiet and remote tropical destination. If you're looking for a place without the massive crowds of Hawaii, but with many of the adventurous offerings of Costa Rica, the lower costs of Mexico and the beauty of the Caribbean, then Belize is your spot! From what I have gathered, the people of Belize seem to have discovered the secret to a very, very relaxed way of life. My husband and I spent about a week there, with one (unexpected) night's stay in Belize City after we missed one of our flights, and five more nights on a very small private island just off the coast of Belize called Hatchet Caye. Personally, I wouldn't recommend spending any time in Belize City, if you can help it. It's a very poor area with a lot of crime and few accomodations for tourists. However, I am here to tell you that Hatchet Caye was like a dream! It's only drawback being how difficult it is to get there. It really is about as remote as you can possibly get!

Getting There
In order to get to Hatchet Caye, Dale and I had to take a 2.5 hour flight from Denver to Houston, then hop another plane (2.5 hours) from Houston to Belize City. From there, we had to board a much smaller, 12-seater plane to fly from Belize City to a small coastal town called Placencia. From there, we took an hour long boat ride out east to the small island of Hatchet Caye. Yeah, it was a quite a day of traveling! Especially since we missed the last flight of the day out of Belize City because our United flight out of Houston was delayed, and we were forced to stay the night by the airport in Belize City. Not fun. The following morning, we were finally able to catch a flight from Belize to Placencia, but only after waiting for about three hours at the airport because our morning flight had been cancelled and we had to wait for the next one! All in all, it took us a day and a half to get to Hatchet Caye. I'll be up front and say that the difficult travel time will probably keep us from going back down to Belize a second time. It was NOT fun. However, it's worth noting though that if you happen to live further down south, your travel time will be significantly less difficult, since there are some direct flights from places like Georgia and Tennessee straight on down to Belize City.

Airplane to Belize
Plane ride to Placencia

Once we finally did get to Hatchet Caye after a very long trip, we were in heaven. The small island is only inhabited by a single resort, also named Hatchet Caye. The resort hosts only eight resort rooms and up to 26 guests at a time. Almost all of the cabanas, with the exception of honeymoon cabana number one that stands on its own, are duplexes and house two hotel rooms with their own decks and endless views of the ocean. After staying on Hatchet Caye for nearly a week, I can confidently assure you that the accomodations at Hatchet Caye were well above average. The rooms themselves were stylish and pretty spacious, with a separate seating area, alongside a queen size bed and a decent sized bathroom with a shower. There were lots of windows, which I loved, and all of the cabanas were mere steps from the clean, clear water. However, I did have a couple of complaints. The walls were a bit thin, so if you happen to have loud neighbors of the partying kind, you're somewhat screwed. TV lovers like myself beware! There is no cable! There was a TV, a DVD player (with one DVD provided) and a Wii. I know that you don't go to Belize to watch TV, but I really missed having it just to turn on in the background and before I went to sleep! So if you're anything like me, bring some of your own DVDs to play. I got rather sick of watching That's My Boy! every night, haha. I also wished there was a separate, big 'ol bathtub in my own personal version of paradise! However, with how hot and humid it was down there, I can see why a tub may seem unnecessary for most.

Hatchet Caye resort

The Restaurant
Hatchet Caye is a super small, very quiet and very low key island with only one casual open air restaurant surrounded by water on three sides. This definitely isn't the place if you're looking to sip cocktails by the pool all day and elegantly dine at night. You eat off of one menu at the restaurant, with different seafood specials each night. The food is okay, but the seafood is the best by far, as many of the fish served has been caught right off the island and/or purchased from local fisherman. I personally had some trouble with this since I had to try to limit my seafood intake while being pregnant and all! There were always non-seafood dishes on the menu, such as chicken fingers and a hamburger, but they didn't taste nearly as good.

What's also unique about Hatchet Caye is that there really is no check-in process, and payment and tips aren't typically handled until the very last day of your trip. We appreciated this very much, as we were made to feel like we were welcomed guests, not paying customers. Since there are only 8 rooms on the island and you arrive by a boat that Hatchet Caye has provided, they know exactly who you are and when you are set to arrive. When we arrived, someone greeted us at the dock with yummy fruity drinks and we were shown directly to our room. No lobby, check-in or credit cards necessary! You're only asked to complete a short registration form and to bring it with you to the restaurant when you eat the first time. From that point on, the restaurant will serve as your central point of reference on the island, where you'll get to know your servers (there are only two on duty for days at a time, so you'll get to know them well) as your main contacts on behalf of the resort. All of the staff that we dealt with on Hatchet Caye were amazing. Friendly, willing to help and very accomodating.

Restaurant at Hatchet Caye

Island Activities
The restaurant is also where you'll sign up for various water activities offered on the island, including snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, pedal boating and fishing. Our travel package included a snorkeling excursion out with the sea turtles, which was so cool and definitely not to be missed! Hatchet Caye also offers scuba certification, which can be completed over the course of two or three days of training; this was a popular activity among guests, as well. The snorkeling gear, kayaks and pedal boats were free to use at your liesure, and many guests could be seen exploring and swimming around the entire island once or twice during the day. A few of the guests on the island even took boats out to the small surrounding islands to snorkel, picnic and spend the day by themselves on their own little island.

Beyond the small handful of activities, the rest of your time is up to you. Dale and I didn't do too many of the activities because we were there to relax and do nothing all day! If you are like us, then you'll find Hatchet Caye perfect for you, as well. There are no social gatherings, bar nights or parties of any kind, which definitely keeps things very low key on the island. So if you're looking for a place to let loose and party, Hatchet Caye probably isn't the place for you. We spent a lot of our days napping and reading in one of the lounge chairs placed on the beaches around the island, which you never had to fight to reserve. While laying in the hot sun though, we did find ourselves wishing that there were more staff available to come by and offer you a nice cold drink with a little umbrella! However, the resort is so low key that if you want a drink, you have to go and get it at the restaurant bar yourself. During our stay, we found that most, if not all of the guests there were young and middle aged couples like us who were looking to escape the every day hustle and bustle and just relax. What's also cool about staying on Hatchet Caye is that it's such a small place, it's nearly impossible not to make a few friends. You'll see the same people at the restaurant and around the island each day, and many of us chose to eat and do the island excurions together.

On the beach in Belize

Hatchet Caye has four docks, one on each side, which are used for leisure and boating excursions. Dale and I happened to stay in Cabana number two, which was just steps away from one of the southern docks. There were two hammocks placed at the end of this dock, as well, where Dale and I spent a whole lot of our time! One very cool thing about our own special dock was the black lights that turned on at night. When it got dark, the resort would turn on a set of black lights underneath the dock, which would attract the stingrays in the water. Every night we were there, we would go down to the dock after dinner to watch the stingrays swim around the dock, practically glowing in the black light. A few of the braver guests even snorkeled with them! It was definitely one of my husband's favorite things to do each day.

Hammock in Belize
Stingrays in Belize

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