The Very Best Part About Staying at Cayo Espanto – A Luxury Private Island Resort Off The Coast of Belize
Words by KC Shomler Photos by Steven Shomler
What’s the best part about visiting Cayo Espanto? Nothing.
There’s a whole lotta nothing going on here.
Let me explain:
From the Moment We Landed in Belize…
From the moment we landed in Belize, the staff at Cayo Espanto had it all in hand so we could relax our death grip on the details of modern life. We were enveloped by this oasis of care as soon as we stepped off the airplane in Belize City when a friendly guide met us after a harrowing travel day. He proceeded to shepherd us through the airport maze, trailing luggage, and passports along the way through multiple checkpoints before finally depositing us at the gate for our connecting flight to Ambergris Caye (pronounced “Key” if you don’t want to sound like a total rube).
We were handed off to the gate agent who kindly promised to keep an eye on us, even if we were to wander off for our first taste of a cold Belikin beer with the rest of the overcrowded terminal. After a long and frustrating travel day, we gave in to the siren call of the suds, but kept our eyes firmly fixed on the boarding gate. Not quite in relaxed vacation mode yet, missing the last flight of the day to Ambergris was not gonna happen if we could help it!
Time for a tall, cool one
Next Stop: Ambergris Caye
Safely boarded onto our puddle jumper, we were briefly on our own with 14 other passengers for the short, incredibly scenic flight. Lulled by the drone of the engines, the gorgeous view of crystal clear blue water strewn with tiny islets and our senses pleasantly dulled by the beer, relaxation finally began to creep in around the edges. 14 minutes later a new set of hands quickly scooped us up once we landed in San Pedro. Before we even had our bearings, our luggage had disappeared into a hired car that briskly whisked us away to the water taxi dock. Boarding the small boat, we were greeted with a cold towel to mop ourselves off while our first drink order was radioed ahead to Cayo Espanto.
View from the air en route to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye
Airport savior number 2
Cool towel on a humid day
Water taxi to paradise
Time to Say Hello to Cayo Espanto
After 10 minutes skipping across the vibrant Caribbean, a receiving line of staff members greeted us with another towel for mopping (it is quite humid) and our first tasty rum drink that exactly matched the color of the sea. Having grown up in the 70s and cutting my teeth on bad tv, I immediately got Fantasy Island vibes from this scene, only instead of Mr. Roark in his white suit you have Rosita with her walkie talkie and the only “Tattoo” in sight was my own.
Gorgeous private island
Staff to greet us
Drinks and cool towels
The first of many rum drinks
First Walk on The Island
The two housemen assigned to care for us during the length of our stay plus one of the chefs escorted us on the short walk to our villa, one of 7 tucked away on this tiny, picturesque tropical island. En route, we passed palm trees, a giant outdoor chess board, a selection of water toys, outdoor sofas and cute designs drawn into the white sand. We arrived at our stunning villa, Casa Solana, with all doors and windows thrown open wide to receive us. I felt like I was in a rom-com movie.
Water toys ready for adventure
Poolside Champagne with a Snack of Fresh Ceviche
A quick orientation tour of the villa, instructions on how to use the walkie talkie to summon assistance day or night and then we were led to a table set poolside with champagne and a snack of fresh ceviche. We sipped, snacked and contemplated the incredible color of the surrounding sea ranging from light green to deep turquoise and aquamarine blue – intoxicating. After confirming our dinner selections, the staff left us to our own devices, and sans devices we did our best to take it all in.
Our island home, Casa Solana
Sandy welcome message
The all-important walkie talkie
Made from sweet, local shrimp
Exploring Casa Solana
Big, white, fluffy, romantic bed overrun with down pillows of all shapes and sizes crowned with mosquito netting? Check. Multiple outdoor seating areas on wraparound deck to take advantage of unobstructed views of sea and sunsets? Check. Fully stocked mini-fridge, Bluetooth speaker dock and cable tv? Check, check, check. Marine type weird toilet – well, I guess that is part of the price of private island paradise.
View of Casa Solana from the water
Villa open on 3 sides to catch the Caribbean breezes
Sunset side lounge chairs
The hammock situation
I still dream about sleeping in this bed
Eager to test out the walkie talkies, we ordered up a couple of martinis to accompany our first sunset on the island. Cocktails taste better while perched on a padded lounge chair, surrounded by the Caribbean Sea as the sun glides down and finally blips below the horizon.
A Romantic Dinner in Paradise
An amazing 4-course dinner by lantern light was served while the housekeeper freshened up the space and the housemen closed the villa to get it ready for the night. Afterward, sated, we gazed at the stars, dug our toes into the sand and listened to the gently lapping waves before retiring to that royal bed for the best sleep of our lives, with AC.
Casa Solana in nighttime mode
The Days Quickly Fell into a Pleasant Pattern…
The days quickly fell into a pleasant pattern: Morning bought out the birds and their various voices. A quick call on the walkie talkie for coffee, tea, tropical fruits, and fresh orange juice not to be missed (plus or minus booze). And then the day unfolds with a peaceful rhythm. Breakfast, listen to the birds, open the villa up to the sun and sea and wind. Read in the lounge chair, eat lunch. More sun, maybe a stroll, gaze at the sea from the shaded pool, more reading or relaxing in the hammock. In-room massages with the doors and windows wide open to catch the sea breezes. Cocktails at sunset, dinner in a new setting every night thoughtfully selected and decorated by the housemen. Look at the stars. Close up the villa, sleep in big fluffy bed, repeat. During the 4 nights we spent on the island we never even saw another guest, thus avoiding any need or opportunity for small talk.
The Best Part of Cayo Espanto
And this, I discovered, is the best part of Cayo Espanto, not to be missed – doing nothing. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to allow yourself to do nothing. They take care of everything here and do it exceptionally well. Even before arrival you are provided the opportunity to share your desired foods, preferred drinks and any special requests so that once on the island, there are few decisions to be made. The staff thoughtfully creates menus and experiences based on your previously stated preferences. Heck, we even mentioned on our survey, somewhat tongue in cheek, the role of chicken pot pie in our personal love story. Low and behold, Chef Patrick ran with the idea and we had the best damn chicken pot pie for lunch in paradise. That is just one example of the level of attention to detail they do here.
Such a fun and meaningful treat
Waiting for sunset
The Big, Beautiful Part of What Cayo Espanto Offers
So, can you let go and let yourself be exceptionally well cared for while you do absolutely nothing? Can you avoid the news and scrolling social media for a while and instead watch the tropical birds fishing in bright blue water? Can you take a break from seeking adventure and crossing things off your bucket list and just be still? Can you put work aside and allow yourself to be rocked in a hammock by gentle Caribbean breezes? Can you abandon your diet for your stay and let the chef work his magic with the bounty of Belize to nourish your body and soul? This is the big thing that Cayo Espanto can offer you – the chance to just be.
The Culture of Busy-ness vs Rest and Relaxation
I am an American and my culture does not lend itself to rest. We are taught early on that being productive is the path to success in life. We must be always busy because anything less is lazy. And lazy is naughty. Busy is the badge of honor for which we all compete. Who is the busiest? Who sacrifices the most? Who sleeps the least?
When did we forget how to slow down, be unreachable for a while and simply watch the world go by? What happens to our brains when we aren’t constantly bombarding them with news to absorb, tasks to do, problems to solve? When do we ever just bask in the beauty of our surroundings and let someone else handle it all for a while?
This was largely uncharted territory for me. At first, I felt antsy, like I should be doing something more. I should be out kayaking, or try out that paddle board, write a travel article, or perhaps book a tour to see some ruins… It occurred to me though that a big, beautiful part of what Cayo Espanto offers is a chance to slow it down, go along with the rhythm of the day, don’t overthink. Give your body and mind a chance to rest. I mean really rest. The biggest decision you need to make here is what to eat and when. Can you just be and do nothing? It’s harder than it sounds.
Cayo Espanto Changed Me
Despite not a lot going on externally, I found that a whole lot was happening internally. As I moved around the exterior of the villa throughout the day from my sunrise perch with tea and journal in the morning to the hammock midday followed by cocktails and dinner on the sunset side in the evening, I found something I didn’t even know I wanted or needed. Deep relaxation. Like something inside of me was loosening up, letting go and being renewed after years of constantly doing and giving and figuring shit out on a daily basis. Not to get too woo-woo, but it was an inner peace like I have never known and am unlikely to forget.
Was it hard to leave after those four amazing days? Not a bit. I felt deeply rejuvenated and inspired and grateful to know that such an experience in such a place exists on Earth. Turns out doing nothing is a big something. Go ahead, give it a try. See what happens.
Words by KC Shomler & Photos by Steven Shomler
Follow KC Shomler on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/kc.is.me/
Follow Steven Shomler on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/stevenshomler/
SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE DETAILS AND PHOTOS FROM CAYO ESPANTO
A peek behind the scenes…
Set up for podcasting
Executive Chef Patrick Houghton
Cayo Espanto Executive Chef Patrick Houghton Culinary Treasure Podcast episode 99
For more about what it is like to stay at Cayo Espanto check out Culinary Treasure Podcast episode 99 featuring Cayo Espanto Executive Chef Patrick Houghton – https://www.culinarytreasurepodcast.com/executive-chef-patrick-houghton-cayo-espanto-a-luxury-private-island-resort-off-the-coast-of-belize-culinary-treasure-podcast-episode-99/
Follow Cayo Espanto
Website – https://aprivateisland.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/aprivateisland
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/aprivateisland/
Scenes From Paradise – A Day on Cayo Espanto in Pictures
Good Morning Cayo Espanto
Breakfast Overlooking the Caribbean
First, coffee and fruit
Incredibly good orange juice
Following the Sun
A Delightful Lunch
One of our personalized lunch menus
Fresh and delicious on a warm day
The freshest, sweetest shrimp you’ll ever eat
Icy, cool and yummy
Island-Baked Cookie Treats
Midday Gin and Tonic
Late Afternoon Changing Light and Cocktails with the Sunset
Dusk Was Enchanting
Dinner for 2 by the Pool
Goodnight Cayo Espanto
More Food and Menu Pics for the Foodies
Each night we dined in a new spot somewhere around our villa with a personalized menu
More photos from our villa, Casa Solana
Time to Head Home
Can’t wait to go back!