Belize reopens its borders and its main airport October 1, after delaying initial plans to reopen on August 15. For those ready to plan for a trip, a vacation to the Belizean private island of Cayo Espanto sounds like the ideal way to forget about Covid for a while.
Lounge chairs on the beach or on the dock? The choice is yours at Cayo Espanto, Belize
Since COVID started spreading around the world, seclusion is a top criteria for planning a holiday. Cayo Espanto is a private island three miles off the coast of Belize that delivers seclusion and privacy, with just the right touch of laid-back luxury. How private is it? Well, celebrities like Chelsea Clinton, Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bill Gates, Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt, and Tiger Woods have all reportedly stayed here.
From the dock toward the villa and plunge pool, Cayo Espanto
There are just seven private villas on Cayo Espantoif you stand at the end of your private dock you might (maybe) get a glimpse of another one. But its easy to forget that you dont have the whole island to yourself. If you truly want to avoid other people, you can book the whole thing. But even at full occupancy, its unlikely youll even see another guest, let alone interact with one. Theres no lobby, no restaurant, no bar, and no shared pools or beaches. Cayo Espanto prides itself on offering the ultimate in privacy, interrupted only when your houseman delivers meals and drinks for you to enjoy on your private veranda or, sure, even in you rprivate plunge pool.
Given the seclusion already existing at Cayo Espanto, the main difference guests will see in the Covid era is that the friendly staff wear masks covering their smiles, your luggage is given a disinfection upon arrival, and youll have supplies of hand sanitizer and wipes in your villa. Behind the scenes theres more, of course, like enhanced extra sanitizing of tour boats, kayaks, and other equipment, changes in the kitchen and housekeeping, plus measures to protect the health and safety of Cayo Espantos staff.
Villa in the palms on Cayo Espanto
Cayo Espanto is a four acre island, with six villas hiding amidst palm trees and mangroves; the seventh is an overwater bungalow. The islands white sand gets combed into designs alongside the main path across the island.You might occasionally hear a boat go by, a bird sing, or a fish jump out of the water, but youll otherwise be surrounded by silence.
Each villa sits right at the water. Except for overwater Casa Ventanas, each has a private plunge pool looking out onto the shallow sea. Two of the villas have two bedrooms, the others spaciously sleep two people. Your houseman will open up the shutters during the daytime, so you can feel the island breeze.
Lunch on the veranda overlooking the water at Cayo Espanto
Your meals will be at your villa and your menus designed to your taste. Before you arrive, youll fill out a form to let staff know about your preferences and theyll take the rest from there, checking in with you as needed to be sure you still wanted lobster for dinner tonight and to confirm the wine pairing. You can dine on your veranda, on your beach, out on your dock, or even in bedthe choice is yours.
Private dock with two sunbeds, perfect for sunbathing or stargazing at Cayo Espanto
Inside one of Cayo Espanto's open-air villas
Spa services are in your villa too, so after your massage youre just two steps away from your bed or lounge chair to continue your relaxation via a nap.
After dinnerperhaps while youre enjoying your nightcapyour houseman will close up all the doors to your villa for you, set up your mosquito net (more for atmosphere than for actual mosquitos), and turn on your fans and AC. Youll likely have the best sleep of your life.
Cayo Espanto was designed for relaxation, but theres plenty to keep you busy on or off the island. But its hard to beat just watching the fish and rays swimming in the clear, shallow water next to your dock and plunge pool. One regular Casa Ventanas guest is known to spend almost all his waking hours sitting on his veranda with his fishing pole.
The island has a small gym, plus kayaks, sailboats, and paddleboards to use. Your houseman can even set up an outdoor movie theater for youwatch a film projected onto a blow-up screen with your feet in the sand. Want a smores-making station on the beach or a stargazing spot on your dock? No problem.
Friendly nurse sharks at Belize's Shark Ray Alley
A boat ride away is snorkeling at famed Shark Ray Alley, plus fishing (bonefish, tarpon and more), birdwatching at nearby protected islands, picnic excursions, and trips to Ambergris Caye and to the mainland to explore Mayan ruins and the jungle (some restrictions are in place as Belize reopens). You can arrange a private charter to go diving at Belizes famous Blue Hole and other nearby sites too.
Belizes main airport, just north of Belize City, is a two-hour flight from Houston, Miami, and Mexico City, and under five hours from L.A. and Toronto. Once youve arrived and cleared Customs and health checks (see below), Cayo Espanto will arrange for someone to greet you, help you with your luggage, and escort you to the domestic side of the airport. From there, youll take the short flight to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. After that, hop in a boat for the 10-minute ride directly to your villa.Helicopter transfers are possible too.
Details on Belizes Covid protocols are at TravelBelize.org. Check regularly since, as with all countries, rules may change as the pandemic changes.
Entry rules depend on whether youre a Belizean citizen/resident, long-stay foreign national, traveling for business, or traveling for tourism (see this chart). There are currently no bans based on nationality or country of residence.
Belize is gradually reopening and has designated a Safe Corridor to limit interactions and virus transmission between international travelers and local communities (see Belizes FAQ). A Tourism Gold Standard Program was created to provide a range of hotels (Cayo Espanto is one of them), restaurants,transportation, and tour operators/guides that have implemented new Covid procedures.
Belize has a Covid Health App which youre required to download before arrival. Youll need to fill in some information in advance, receive a Unique ID, and, each day of your stay, the app will check in with you and ask you about your symptoms (Cayo Espantos wifi makes it easy to comply).
Belize encourages tourists to bring certification of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours (and some passengers will be randomly selected for a second test). For those who are unable to get an advance test, theres a test on arrival available at a cost of $50 US. A positive COVID test means quarantine at the travelers expense and two negative test results are required to exit quarantine.
Make sure you bring your mask with youtheyre required by law in the airport and in all public spaces in Belize. Ideally youll put one on to protect your houseman when he comes to your villa, but otherwise you can forget about the pandemic during your Cayo Espanto stay.
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