You Better Belize It!

by Haven Lindsey on January 2, 2024 in Travels,

Two properties in Belize gives you the opportunity to experience the rainforest and the beach all in one trip.


If you are reading this article, chances are good you either reside in Texas or have a close connection to the Lone Star State. Chances are also good that you have a connection to the Texas Triangle. Keeping with the ‘Everything is Bigger in Texas’ mantra, the Texas Triangle, rather than three components, is comprised of four: Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio, and is home to 68% of the state’s 30 million residents. For anyone in the four-sided triangle, flying in and out of Belize, which operates on Central Time, is about as quick and easy as international travel can get.

Belize it if you can

Guests at Blancaneaux Lodge in Belize are a short distance away from the Maya ruins including well-known and historically important pre-Columbian Maya archaeological sites. Photo courtesy Blancaneaux Lodge, The Coppola Family Hideaways.

One may think the smallest country in Central America would feel tiny or limited. Not Belize. The English-speaking, drive-on-the-same-side-of-the-road-as-the-United-States nation belies its size thanks to a combination of its history, its world-renowned coral reefs, and its collective heart. It is the latter that was on display before touching down in Belize City.

The beautiful scenery of the rainforest will have you asking, “Is this real?” Photo courtesy Blancaneaux Lodge, The Coppola Family Hideaways.

Preparing for my two-hour direct flight from Houston, I noticed a difference in the travelers. There was a distinct camaraderie, an easy-going manner including a handful who divide their time between Texas and Belize. I later learned more about the Belizean vibe that proliferated throughout the diverse country, which has an average year-round temperature of 84 degrees. 

Belize it or not

The ease for an American in Belize cannot be overstated – even the electrical outlets are North American Standard. The currency exchange is not only easy but it is also fixed. $2 Belize is the equivalent of $1 U.S. – no need to pull out a currency calculator. I never found a place that didn’t accept the U.S. dollar, including street food vendors. Most prices are listed in both Belize and U.S. dollars and the ATMs generally accept U.S. ATM cards.

With nearly four acres of organic gardens, the restaurant at Blancaneaux Lodge located on the garden site rivals any farm-to-fork establishment. Courtesy photo.


There is a reason that surf and turf menu items are so popular: you don’t have to settle. Diners can enjoy steak and seafood with all the fixins’. Similarly, because Belize is small, traveling across the country, from beach (surf) to rainforest (turf), is decidedly easy – you don’t have to settle. 

Coppola’s propensity for ingenuity and success includes his signature wines, including daughter Sophia’s preference for sparkling and rose’. Photo Haven Lindsey.

Widely considered one of the best film directors of all time, Francis Ford Coppola understands not wanting to settle. Decades ago, Coppola fell in love with Belize and travelers can stay at one, or both, of his properties (surf and turf).

Blancaneaux Lodge

Sounds of the jungle, a nearby waterfall, and the sounds of chirping birds are about the only sounds guests here in the thatched-roof cabanas. Photo courtesy Blancaneaux Lodge, The Coppola Family Hideaways.

Once Coppola’s remote family retreat, Blancaneaux Lodge is a 20-room luxury hideaway. Although by “room” I mean thatched-roof luxury cabana. By “hideaway” I mean surrounded by more than 100,000 acres of the Mountain Ridge Forest Reserve and situated along the Privassion River. Nestled in a rainforest, even as a seasoned traveler, I asked, “Is this real?’ 

Horseback riding is just one of the many activities available to guests at the Blancaneaux Lodge. Courtesy photo.

The cabanas have every amenity, including a “Shell Phone” which, with a flip of the switch, connects you with an attendant who will answer questions, have food delivered, or schedule any number of experiences including spa services, horseback riding, or trips to the nearby Mayan ruins. Close to Guatemala, one of the Blancaneaux Lodge’s restaurants specializes in Mayan and Guatemalan cuisine (which was one of the best meals I had while in Belize).

Turtle Inn

With only 25 thatched-roof cottages, the Turtle Inn is luxurious and uber private. Courtesy photo.

How special is Turtle Inn? The fact that the Coppolas have homes on the property speaks for itself. There are beach resorts and then there is Turtle Inn. For all of the travel-inspiring photos seen online of seaside destinations featuring empty sand beaches, quiet poolside bars, and romantic dining options that are in reality over-crowded and loud, Turtle Inn is the real deal – it’s what other resorts wish they could be. 

The cottages at the Turtle Inn include indoor-outdoor Japanese-style baths. Courtesy photo.

Thatched-roof cottages with garden, pool, and Caribbean-sea views, the 25-room (meaning cottages) luxurious and uber-private property has none of the unwanted “noise” and all of the appeal.

Balinese influence is seen in the furnishings and decor of the cottages. Photo courtesy Turtle Inn, The Coppola Family Hideaways.

The property has a decidedly Balinese flavor with exotic décor including hand-carved doors, statues, and water fountains with fresh flowers floating on top. Called Turtle Inn when Coppola bought it in 2001, he kept the name – and the turtles. A short bike ride away is the fishing village of Placencia which is home to shops and restaurants. SCUBA diving, snorkeling, fishing, and watersport activities are a “Shell Phone” call away yet the resort’s private and peaceful appeal is a tad difficult to leave.

The calm waters in front of the resort are perfect for paddle boarding. Photo courtesy Turtle Inn, The Coppola Family Hideaways.

Belize has the second-largest coral reef system in the world. Due to the enclosed area of its reefs, protection measures, and much lower human activity compared to other coral reefs, coral bleaching is not seen like other areas. It is suggested that 90% of the reef is yet to be researched and only 10% of all species have been discovered, once again causing me to ask the same question I asked at Blancaneaux, “Is this real?”

You have to see it to Belize it!

Many outdoor adventures await guests in Belize, including hiking in the beautiful rainforest jungle. Photo courtesy Blancaneaux Lodge, The Coppola Family Hideaways.

Providing a luxury, private experience with accommodating staff members (many of whom have worked on the properties for years), the Coppola properties make the Belize decision an easy one. Blancaneaux Lodge and Turtle Inn appeal to honeymooners, vacationers of every type, birders, spa-seekers, and adventurers who want to hike through jungles and ravines to reach spectacular waterfalls as well as those wanting the salt-water experience.

The organic garden abuts the outdoor brick-oven pizzeria at the Turtle Inn. Courtesy photo.

For travelers wanting to support sustainable and environmentally friendly resorts, Blancaneaux Lodge is nine miles off the grid and generates 85% of its energy on-site. Both properties have organic farms on site and supply the majority of their produce. The quiet, natural settings are a haven for writers and creatives while also appealing to families (some cabanas include a 24-hour personal butler who is the sole point of contact handling everything from reservations to food service). The question is not, “Should we go to Belize,” rather the question is, “When?”


Cover photo courtesy Turtle Inn, The Coppola Family Hideaways.

Haven Lindsey resides in Taos, NM. She is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience writing on topics including healthcare, addiction, public policy, education, travel, food and human interest stories. She was recognized by NPR for her solo travel series exclusive to Texas Lifestyle Magazine. Haven’s second book, The Blue Dog and The White Horse ‘The Best of Friends’ will be published by Brandylane Publishing in 2024.