Belize is a colorful, lush place, and one often undiscovered outside the country’s main port, Belize City. But just a puddle jump away from the international arrivals hub lies a whole world of jungle landscape, cayes, caves, wildlife, and in this case, a luxury lodge blanketed by a canopy of greenery that also happens to be home to a brand new rum distillery dedicated to maintaining the integrity of the earth and life that surrounds it. Copal Tree Lodge in Punta Gorda is a remote paradise that is almost entirely self-sufficient (it grows the majority of its food on the property’s sprawling and conscious farm while also supporting the local community) and is quite unlike anything else on this side of Central America; it’s a retreat for guests to be undiscoverable and unreachable (well, there is wifi, but thematically speaking), so if you’re looking for somewhere you can truly get away, Copal Tree Lodge might just be for you. Here’s our guide to spending the perfect weekend in this idyllic tropical escape (and benefitting the world while you’re at it).
Touch down in Belize City and make your way to the domestic terminal to board a quick flight to Punta Gorda. Keep your camera handy for inevitable photo opps from a window seat on the puddle jumper––even better if you can snag the copilot’s seat. The flight duration is approximately 50 minutes. Upon arrival to the tiny but efficient Punta Gorda airport, a caravan driver will be waiting to transfer you to your accommodations at Copal Tree Lodge.
Once you’ve settled into the lodge’s property and had a chance to soak it all in, take some time to refresh after your day of travel and get ready for dinner, just steps away at the property’s airy multi-level hub. The Garden Table, helmed by local chef Yvette Ramirez, puts to use fresh produce and herbs primarily from the hotel’s own expansive garden and neighboring rainforest; the farm also raises organic chicken and sheep, and seafood is sourced from local fishermen. Chef Yvette’s fare is deeply rooted in Belizean culture and tradition, and if you’re lucky enough to share a few moments with her, she’ll likely offer up some cooking tips for you to use at home.
After dinner, you’ll likely want a nightcap on your way back to your room. Visit The Rum Bar downstairs, where you can try a cocktail with Copal Tree Lodge’s very own Certified Organic Copalli Rum, distilled on property from farm-grown ingredients (its byproducts are treated and put back into the earth as fertilizer). It’s a product brand new to Belize, but it’s already making waves. The operation simultaneously serves as the largest employer on the island and offers educational grants to local children to attend high school.
Get an early start this morning with breakfast at the main lodge followed by a long funicular ride (or staircase descent) through the jungle down to the water where your boat awaits, ready to set off through the river to the neighboring cayes for your “Snorkel with the Chef” experience. Chef Yvette and her bartending counterpart will be on board; you’ll explore the water and help catch lunch for Chef to grill on board.
Depending on your energy level following your half-day on the water, opt for some rest in your room, by the pool, or at the spa, or take advantage of Copal Tree Lodge’s other guest experiences. You can choose from a “Bean to Bar” chocolate class, a coffee cupping with beans roasted on site, or a hands-on cocktail class.
Sit down to one last drinks-and-dinner experience at the main lodge before getting a full night’s sleep in anticipation of your morning departure.
Depart Copal Tree Lodge via caravan for Punta Gorda airport.