Belize has been on my radar for years. From the picture-perfect Caribbean coast to the inland rainforests, there’s much to appreciate about the country’s rich landscape. To determine the first feature for our Summer Getaway series, we piled together some of the best and unique options in Belize from the coast to the mountains. This week, we’re talking about Turtle Inn near the village of Placencia.
With its close proximity to Yucatan, Turtle Inn is a private 28-room seaside escape just 5 hours from Chetumal and 3 hours from Belize City. It’s the second addition from Family Coppola Hideaways, the hospitality company founded by legendary director Francis Ford Coppola, and one of Central America’s most awarded getaways.
As the story goes, Francis Ford Coppola landed in the remote regions of Belize in 1981 after shooting Apocalypse Now. He spent some time in Belize’s Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve focused on his writing. Back then, Belize was known as British Honduras. And as John Horn of the Los Angeles Times explained, Coppola was looking to “re-create the experience” he had working on Apocalypse.
Coppola converted his Belizean writing retreat into his first resort, Blancaneaux Lodge, in 1993. Today it’s home to twenty cabanas and villas along the Privassion Creek. Less than a decade later, Coppola opened Turtle Inn on the Caribbean coast. Much like his wine business, Coppola’s hospitality venture started as a hobby and has since expanded into a full-fledged empire covering Belize with Blancaneaux and Turtle Inn; Guatemala with La Lancha, Argentina with Jardin Escondido, and Italy with Palazzo Margherita. As its website states, Family Coppola Getaways sets to tie together cinema, wine, food, getaways, and adventure.
Expect subtropical climate, unspoiled territory, and a lot of diving.
With its seaside Balinese beach huts, Turtle Inn offers a Thai spa, PADI dive centre, a small library, and handmade Belizean textiles throughout the property. All of the villas and cottages are built from locally sourced material including thatch, bamboo, limestone and wood. Despite not having any air conditioners, Turtle Inn declares this as an effort to minimize its carbon print. But really, in our opinion, the lack of A/C only adds to the authentic experience of staying seaside in a beautiful Central American oasis.
When it comes to food, guests can choose between classic Italian fare at Mare restaurant, char-grilled seafood at Gauguin Grill, or traditional Belizean fare at Auntie Luba’s. In the evenings, guests can grab drinks poolside at The Laughing Fish or at Skip White, a fancier joint that offers Coppola’s own wine labels and a variety of rum-inspired cocktails.
After a day in the sea, Turtle Inn also offers nearby land adventures including a Jaguar preserve, ancient Mayan ruins, zip-lining, and horseback riding through citrus orchards.
Best advice for arriving.
If you’re coming from Mexico, and Yucatan specifically, many travelers will opt to drive. However, if driving isn’t for you guests can also take advantage of the scheduled water taxis from Belize City. Or for a truly off-grid weekend getaway, which we always recommend, guests can charter a 3-seater, 6-seater, or 12-seater Cessna from Javiers’ Flying Service. You can find out more information about that here.