North Beach (3.5 miles north of San Pedro), Ambergris Caye, Belize
A short boat ride from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye's only town, Las Terrazas is a 37-room Caribbean getaway with townhouse–style accommodations, tropical landscaping, a 70 foot pool surrounded by comfy loungers and a long stretch of white sand beach. Lovers, adventurers and serious divers—the world's second largest barrier reefs is a few minutes away—hang out with spa goers and occasional families.
Belize is a place where you can experience ancient Maya temples set in lush rainforests, home to howler monkeys and a plethora of birds and other animals; helicopter tours to eco–reserves; pristine white–sand Caribbean beaches; diving, snorkeling and fishing along the Northern Hemisphere's largest barrier reef and laid–back tropical island lifestyle. Belize is Latin America's only English speaking country, a place where friendliness reigns especially on Ambergris Caye, an island with a definite Caribbean 'vibe.' All this make Las Terrazas Resort an excellent and luxurious place to relax or to use as a base to seek sea, island or mainland adventure.
Arriving at the resort's dock after a short, 10–minute boat ride from San Pedro, we see a wide expanse of beach with oversized lounge chairs, rows of kayaks and Hobie Cats, and a dive shop. Beyond the palm trees is the resort with its white, modern Mediterranean architecture. Upon disembarking, we were greeted by the concierge with a cocktail of tropical fruit juices from the pool–side bar.
The 37 one– to three–bedroom accommodations of the resort are housed in two–story, modern design buildings that overlook the beach and dock, or the 70–foot lap pool, which is lined with comfortable lounge chairs some semi–submerged on the pool's edge. Most rooms have a split–level layout, with a living room (complete with two sofas and a flat-screen TV), a dining room, a fully equipped kitchen, and a king size bedroom upstairs. Although the look is decidedly modern, Belizean artwork on the walls and colorful furnishings add a local flair. Free Internet/Wi–Fi is available in all rooms. The furnished terraces overlooking the resort grounds are welcome spots for afternoon sun worship looking out at the beach or pool.
For a boutique hotel, Las Terrazas offers myriad water sports and outdoor activities, from diving and snorkeling excursions to the Blue Hole and Shark Ray Alley (there's an on–site five–star PADI dive shop), to bike tours and horseback riding in Bacab Eco Park. The on–site concierge will handle arrangement of activities and trips. The resort also has a complete, albeit small, fitness room and a full service spa.
We decided we wanted our trip to have a more romantic, relaxed pace, with day times spent on one of the oversize loungers on the beach or with an excursion to San Pedro, where small boutiques and waterfront restaurants give you a peek at the colorful island life. For local color stop by Maria and Jose's fruit and veggie stand on the south end of San Pedro. Try their homemade ginger bread and some fresh–squeezed orange juice. Also, stop by Wine de Vine for the most complete selection of fine wines on the island. While there pick up some of Ambergris' own excellent Kakaw chocolate.
One can rent a golf cart (the main means of transportation on the island) to see San Pedro and the surrounding area. Golf carts may also be rented at the resort, but water taxi is a better way to get into San Pedro. A water taxi to and from San Pedro and to and from the north of the island is available every hour.
Breakfast poolside was our morning ritual with fare from Las Terrazas' O Restaurant. One favorite was The Belizean, a tastefully prepared omelet with vegetables and bacon. We chose the typical Belizean Fry Jacks rather than toast. With butter and honey they were a perfect complement to the aromatic, strong coffee served.
You can enjoy dinner either poolside on in the chic O Restaurant, enjoying sampling from their complete gourmet menu of Caribbean and Belizean food and excellent list of fine wines.
Our final evening, the pièce de résistance, was a private dinner on the beach, served with flowers, candlelight, tiki torches and our own private waiter. The fresh crusted snapper, served with a fine white wine from the bar's extensive selection was excellent–topped only by the restaurant's special chocolate mousse. What a finale to a romantic stay in paradise!
Review and photos by John Lamkin