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Hatchet Caye Resort 3.5

Placencia, Belize

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • 30-minute boat ride to Belize’s famous barrier reef
  • Stunning, secluded private island with plenty of small beaches
  • Rooms feature flat-screen TVs and semi-private beaches with hammocks
  • Open-air Lionfish Grill serves traditional Belizean fare
  • Wi-Fi is free in all rooms and common areas
  • Full PADI dive shop, plus free kayak and paddleboard use
  • Snorkeling and fishing tours are available
  • Small above-ground pool and sundeck
  • In-room spa services available (fee)
  • Marina and mooring services available

Cons

  • Private island setting means no other dining or entertainment options

Bottom Line

An hour east of Placencia, three-and-a-half-pearl Hatchet Caye Resort is a lovely, unpretentious private island that's a fine place for an escape-from-it-all vacation. A series of small, beautiful beaches, a full-service dive shop, and a waterfront restaurant are its biggest selling points. This isn't your bare-bones island escape, though, and all 12 rooms include free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs with DVD players, and semi-private beaches. The remote location is a mixed blessing, however, as the peace and seclusion mean forgoing easy access to additional dining options and excursions. However, it is only a 30-minute boat ride to Belize's famous barrier reef. Travelers looking for something cheaper that includes features like a full spa should consider Robert’s Grove Beach Resort back on the mainland.

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Scene

Intimate private island with an understated, almost romantic vibe

The hotel eschews the typical over-the-top luxury found at similar private island getaways -- and that's exactly what makes this such a solid bet for those looking to get away from their everyday lives. Instead of pretense, the atmosphere is sophisticated, yet relaxed and understated. Come here for quiet and unwinding, but don't expect much else beyond the sea and sun -- and sharp rooms for bunking down at night. The property’s entire social scene consists of a modest building that combines the open-air Lionfish Grill, with a small pool and a series of small beaches. By late morning, guests gather around the bar for cocktails before departing for the day’s off-property water excursions. Afternoons and evenings are lively and convivial, although the atmosphere never rises to an all-out party. Children and families are welcome. However, the vibe is distinctly suited to adult couples looking for a mostly relaxed getaway with an occasional off-island adventure.

Location

One hour from Placencia, amid Belize’s long chain of beautiful cayes

An hour offshore from Placencia, the resort is situated amid a long string of islands and island resorts far out in the Caribbean Sea. The location -- which feels removed from the mainland -- is a mixed blessing. With less than eight acres to explore, guests are limited to the island’s own facilities, including one restaurant, one pool, and the resort’s guided tours. A ferry to/from Placencia runs semi-regularly to allow guests to explore the mainland, however, the roundtrip boat ride requires at least two full hours.

Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport (BZE) is the closest international airport but requires more than three hours to reach by car from Placencia. Guests can also opt to connect to Placencia’s tiny airport less than five minutes from the marina that services Hatchet Caye. However, flight options in and out are limited. The island is only accessible by boat, as it’s too small to offer an airstrip or helicopter pad.

Rooms

Sharp rooms feature free Wi-Fi and semi-private decks or beaches with hammocks

Each of the five entry-level Main House Rooms features a one-room layout with a sizable private deck that offers full or partial ocean views. The decor -- including beige wicker furnishings, palm-shaped ceiling fans, and louvered windows -- is a tasteful blend of colonial, traditional, and beachy aesthetics. Flagship Oceanfront Cabanas are paired into free-standing, duplex-style buildings that offer more privacy. All feature one-room layouts and square footage typical of a modern, upper-middle-range hotel room. Decor in these units is beach-contemporary, and includes tile floors, wicker headboards, and subtle pops of color in the tropical throw pillows -- it's all polished and sharp, and a nice step up from the many beach bungalows lining the shore back on the mainland. The cabanas also open directly onto the semi-private beaches that ring the island.

Air-conditioning is provided in every room, although the consistent island breezes ensure that it’s rarely needed. Other standard features include flat-screen TVs (instead of satellite or cable service, a small collection of DVDs is provided) and iPod docks. The island’s free Wi-Fi service is fast, reliable, and available throughout the property. Moderately sized bathrooms are clean and tastefully designed. Main House Rooms offer shower stalls, while shower/tub combinations are standard in all Oceanfront Cabanas.

Features

An open-air waterfront restaurant, a dozen beautiful beaches, and a full-service PADI dive shop

The sole restaurant, Lionfish Grill, serves as a dining space, lobby, and general hub of administration and social activity at the resort. The casual space is more than capable of accommodating all of the island’s guests, even when the resort is at capacity. Guests looking to dine alfresco can take advantage of several picnic tables on the adjacent beach that also provide stunning sunset views. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served a la carte, with a mix of Western and Belizean dishes. The food receives excellent reviews from many guests. The integrated bar also offers daily drink specials and a full liquor menu of wine, beer, and tropical cocktails.

Instead of a single beach, more than a dozen tiny beaches ring the island’s edges. While all are available for guests to use, most are situated next to a particular room. Consequently, most guests are happy to relax quietly in private on their own stretch of sand. The nearby water is shallow and crystal clear, allowing for excellent snorkeling and fishing opportunities just off shore.

The on-site Pirate Reef Divers PADI shop offers plenty of water-centric services and tours. Guided snorkeling and dive trips are provided daily (fee) to the nearby atolls, as well as to Belize’s famous barrier reef (the world’s second largest). Immediately adjacent to the shop are sea kayaks, paddleboards, and Hobie Cats which are free to use. Boaters can arrange to dock at the property as well.

In addition to the island’s many beaches, an above-ground pool offers extra water-centric activity space. However, its tiny size means that it feels like an afterthought. A handful of lounge chairs ring the wooden deck, and the surrounding vegetation provides plenty of shade throughout the day. Poolside drink service is available via the adjacent Lionfish Grill. Spa treatments can be arranged in guest rooms, and Wi-Fi is free and fast throughout the property. 

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Address

17 Miles Offshore, Placencia, Stann Creek, Belize

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