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“The most terrifying experience of my life” 2 of 5 stars
Review of Isla Marisol Resort

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Isla Marisol Resort
P.O. Box 10, Glovers Reef Atoll, Belize   |  
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Hotel website
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Hotel amenities
Certificate of Excellence
Portsmouth, Virginia
Level Contributor
43 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
“The most terrifying experience of my life”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 29, 2013

The previous reviews are right on the mark. There are a few minor inconveniences and plenty of joys at Isla Marisol that I don't need to repeat. However, this is all assuming that nothing goes wrong. And by that, I don't mean no hot water-- I mean wrong.

Other reviewers are correct that the ride to the island is rough, and that the boat makes several stops along the way. I had read reviews before the trip and had been prepared, or so I thought. My husband and I are an adventurous, outdoorsy couple in our mid-thirties, are used to roughing it, and have been on boats hundreds of times (my husband is a sailor, and we dive, snorkel, and whale watch any chance we can get) in all sorts of weather and surf, so we took anti-motion sickness medication and didn't think much of it, until we were taken to the boat in which we were to cross the sea. It was a tiny fishing dinghy (you can reach your arms across it), weighed down heavily with food and water for several resorts. We were given life jackets to wear, and without any warning, were given the ride of our lives. Within 30 seconds of entering the open ocean, we were completely soaked-- I mean down to dripping underwear, water up our noses and in our eyes, ears, and mouth --by ocean water and waves coming over the sides of the dinghy. There was a 6-7 foot swell, and the boat would rise off the waves at such a height and such a steep angle that you would lose sight of the horizon, seeing only the sky, and then the boat would slam back down onto the waves -- HARD. Really hard. It wasn't your normal washboard experience, it was getting hurled into the air, hanging for a few seconds, and then getting slammed down. Over and over. For hours. IN A DINGHY. We've been in rough seas before, and have many times experienced the situation I described, but in large enough, seaworthy vessels made for crossing oceans. It also rained on us, but that hardly mattered as we were completely soaked already. What mattered was that we feared for our lives. I thought that I might actually die, that we might get thrown off the boat, or that the boat would crack in half or flip over. We both independently thought (we were not speaking, as we were so scared and bent on survival) about the return trip, and how much a helicopter ride might cost instead. I screamed to the captain that I was scared. He very casually told me not to be scared. He then proceeded to tell us about two people who had died the previous week in a boat right where we were because the ocean was too rough.

We finally arrived to the island, and were given no apology, only an explanation that the biggest boat, the vessel normally used for ferrying passengers to and from the mainland, needed to be used for a large group of divers, and that the next largest boat was out of commission. In other words, the resort prioritized getting a group of divers out on the water over our safe passage. The resort might claim that it was safe, but it absolutely did NOT feel even remotely safe to us. Even if the captain did get us to the island alive, there was no warning of "it's going to be rough, but you'll be ok". The other guests at the resort were absolutely shocked when they heard that we made the crossing in the dinghy, as the trip is bad enough in the large double-decker boat.

We met the owner of the resort a few days later, and not surprisingly, he had not been told about the situation. He apologized and offered us each a free dive in compensation. We accepted, although we did not feel that one extra dive was worth what we had been through. I did not argue about it because I wanted a sincere acknowledgement of the situation rather than material compensation, and one cannot force that from someone.

Partway into our stay, we were hit with a severe tropical storm. A pair of divers went out right as things were starting to pick up (not sure why the resort thought that was ok), and the weather worsened as they were underwater. The swell got higher and the captain (different one from ours) was no longer able to follow the bubbles and LOST HIS DIVERS. He drove the boat back to the island without them. The divers and divemaster surfaced and there was NO BOAT to pick them up-- every diver's worst nightmare, come true. They had to swim for an hour, in high seas, back to the island. I believe that that captain was relieved of his duties.

In summary, Isla Marisol is a lovely place, but I would not trust them with your lives. In our situation, they had a choice to make in the vessel that they took us in across the open ocean. They made the wrong decision and gave us the most terrifying few hours of our lives. It was not an accident. It was a result of their poor judgement. I cannot imagine how it would have been if children or elderly people had been traveling and not us. In the case of the other divers, they made a poor judgement on the weather, and endangered the lives of the divers by stranding them out at sea.

We did manage to enjoy the beautiful reefs, the yummy food, and the sweet staff, which are the only reasons for my two-star rating instead of one, but the disregard for safety is what would absolutely keep us from coming back, even if we were offered a free trip. Not worth it, in my opinion. Both of the situations I described could have been prevented. What happens if an accident or emergency were to happen on Isla Marisol? I don't want to be there to find out.

If you go, make sure they promise that they will take you to the island in the big boat. And good luck.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 15
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
IMRGloversReef, Owner at Isla Marisol Resort, responded to this review, September 2, 2013
Dear Guest,

First off, As the manager of Isla Marisol Resort in no way was I trying to bribe you with a dive to compensate your travels to the Resort. Our Captain was instructed to change boat on his way in to pick you up from Dangriga and was instructed on his way out to change boat at Fantasy Island for your journeys out, unfortunately he made the decision to cross using our 25ft boat rather than our 38ft boat during your cross. I apologies for the rough ride by offering you a complimentary dive which you accepted.

As for the comments made on the diving, You we're not on the Boat or in the water with the dive master so you're repeating something which is not totally true. I'm enlighting you on what happened after discussing this with Mora our dive master for 12 yrs at the resort. Mora and Captain was out on the dive that morning, according to Mora the weather was fine going to the dive site and entering the water they had no problems, during the dive he heard the boat over head and the rain started. He was with a couple who had visited the resort before and dove with Mora before, once they surface from the dive they couldn't see the boat and the guest wanted to try and go directly to the reef near the lighthouse approximately 100yds away, Mora decided to guide the guest throughout the channel approximately 200yds ahead which due to the wave and current it took them 50 mins. to reach safety. During this treading water they could not see the boat Captian who never abandoned his position but was definitely not in position to see the divers. Once at the neighbor island on the beach, Mora and the security called the Boat Captian to come pick them up and returned to the island.

I've instructed Mora, all dive's will be done from Marisol using floating device to assure all guest they'll be pick-up from there dives and no dive are ever to go out in uncertain weather. I understand your upset about your boat ride out to the Island, It shouldn't have happened and yes the Captian was punished for his bad judgement. For 12 years operating Marisol we've been through all sort of weather from Mild hurricane and thunder storms. You made it sound as if we did this intentionally to you and your husband, I assure you our most important resource is our guest and we take pride in trying to offer you the best service and trip possible. The ocean change's with wind and currents. Our captian s are humans and sometime's over look what we're used to, that others might not think its natural or safe, i appreciate the sensitivity of your response to the remaining portion of your trip and as management its my responsibility to try and correct all matters pertaining to guest dissatisfaction as I'm doing today in hope's I'm apologizing to you and letting others know this is not a practice of the resort. Once more I hope by my response to you via trip advisor to say again we apologies for your travels on the small boat to Glovers Reef and also to let the world knows this was an error in judgement on our Captian but definitely not a trait we sponsor at the resort.

Isla Marisol Resort, it 36 mile's off the coast. the biggest boat we have is 45ft with twin diesel, any weather blowing in the range of 15 to 25 knots is consider dangerous and for 12 years we've made route's available that we can safely transfer our guest to meet there schedule departure or arrivals to the resort. some days its flat calm and you might feel we're charging too much for such a fast smooth ride, but when the weather is rough we usually prepare our guest for the crossing and we try our best to make sure safety is our number one priority. we travel almost every Sat. and Weds. to and from Isla Marisol Resort, the weather is one we cannot confirm with anyone but yet we make sure we arrive and depart within the schedule time sometime's even a little late just for you our guest to make sure everyone is happy at the end of the day and we don't get a report on Trip advisor saying we don't care or we're unsafe.

It's the little things that make a resort looks bad or sound bad, We're humans and we're trying daily to offer the best service to you our guest and when our Captians make bad judgement calls its our Job to control the situation and make sure it doesn't happen again. I hope I've clarified your issues by apologizing for the misjudgment and assure all other guest coming to the resort that this was just a bad judgement call on our Captian who lost his Job because of this review and will now need to seek a new position as we cannot afford another issues in the future..

Thanks for being concerned and highlighting our faults and we're correcting them immediately..

managemennt

Isla Marisol Resort
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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158 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (58)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Denver, Colorado
Level Contributor
70 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 13, 2013

This place is perfect for people like my husband and me - very remote, lots of walk to activities, delicious local food, and very informal. Major bonuses were air condition at night and a shower in our cabana. This is not a luxury resort so if that is what you are looking for then this is not the place for you but they certainly have luxuries for an extremely remote island (ac and showers in each cabana, wifi in the dining room). We are not exclusively divers and we would definitely return to the resort. We came hoping to kayak, which we did daily, but we also did many other activities We snorkeled around the fantastic patch reefs, and a couple of larger reefs. They took advantage of low winds to take us to an incredible reef that is only accessible when the waters are calm. The owner took me on two trips, when all the other guests were diving. The dive master, Mara, included me on some of the dive trips when there was nearby snorkeling. We also paddle boarded frequently. There was a lagoon, which was more placid for learning. It was just great to have all the activities accessible all the time without waiting. We were able to just walk out our door and kayak or snorkel or paddle board. The waitress and housekeeper, Analisia, was so kind and kept track of everyone's food allergies and preferences. She noticed our screen door wasn't working and had it repaired that day. The resort was very Belizian, which was very nice. Some reviewers have mentioned problems with connections and transfers. This was not the case for us. Everyone was prompt and insured we everywhere we needed on time. The owner, Eddie, is very professional and concerned for his guests enjoyment. We went fishing one morning and the fantastic cook, Ms. Jen, used our catch for several meals later in the week. Again, the meals were always healthy, fresh and local. We hope to return to this amazing little island.

Room Tip: Cabanas 3 & 4 are best for couples but we had Cabana 1, which we were concerned about being loud...
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 11, 2013

We just got back from Isle Marisol and had one of the best dive vacations we have ever had. This place is low key and laid back by design. According to the owner, Eddie, Isle Marisol is a genuine Belizean experience..."we don't Americanize"...The food and people are from Belize. We were so impressed how truly friendly and accommodating everyone is on this little island paradise. Whether it was the housekeeper, waiter, cook, divemaster, bartender, or boat captain, everyone has a warm smile and willingness to make your stay a pleasant one. The food & presentation is absolutely fantastic & we wanted to take the cook, Ms Jen, back home with us.

We are very experienced divers and we have been to a large number of dive destinations all over the Caribbean, yet our experience at Isle Marisol is among the best we have seen. Our hard working divemaster, Mara, is so kind & full of joy, he made every dive enjoyable. The dives are all drift dives but the currents were very gentle so all the dives were very easy and safely executed. We did 3 dives a day for the first 5 days and 2 dives one our last day for a total of 17 dives. Underwater, we were blown away at the sheer number of heavy schools of fish, large numbers of sharks, and the incredibly health coral!

Well it goes without saying...we will be back!

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 26, 2013

We wanted a week away from it all, to leave our busy, hectic lives behind for awhile, slow down, and relax. Well, we got it.
Every day begins with the sounds of the waves lapping on the shore, just feet away from the cabanas. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are thoughtfully prepared, fresh, delicious and plentiful. Try the local specialty salbutes - you'll ask for seconds! Diving and snorkeling is within minutes, great for experienced enthusiasts and beginners. My boyfriend actually had never been diving, took a Discovery course with KC and decided to get certified! He actually completed the course over the week, completing his skills within sight of sea turtles and spotted eagle rays.
There's A/C at night but not during the day - the breeze takes care of that and we never felt "hot." Your room is cleaned daily and the towels and sheets are actually very soft. There are hammocks and lounge chairs at every cabana, to enjoy relaxing under the palm trees in between dives or swims. The staff is wonderful, very accommodating, and will get you anything you need.
Do not come if you're expecting a chlorinated pool, a masseuse, or constant Wifi to be able to stream your experience 24/7.
Do come if you like to nap in hammocks with sea breezes rocking you, if you like to have the chance for diving/snorkeling/fishing any time of the day/night, if you like to be able to spend an entire vacation barefoot, and if you like the feeling of forgetting all of your cares for awhile.

Room Tip: Request a beach-side cabana. Though, the ones not "beach-side" are about 20 feet further a...
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Garnet Valley
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 22, 2013

Three weeks ago, we were on a chartered catamaran anchored near the Isla Marisol Resort when an accident occurred. I slipped and opened a big gash in my elbow. Our captain radioed Isla Marisol Resort and they told us to come over thinking they could provide medical treatment. It turned out that I needed sutures and they arranged my transportation to the hospital in Dangriga (25 miles away) which included being picked up and driven to/from the hospital by Eddie, the owner of the resort. All the resort staff we dealt with, as well as Eddie, were absolutely wonderful and extremely helpful. Thanks to their assistance, I was able to get to/from the hospital in a matter of hours and return to my sailing vacation with a minimal loss of time. Based on our short visit to the resort and the friendliness of the staff, we definitely will consider vacationing there.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Denver, Colorado
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 15, 2013

It's always nice to "get away from it all". Isla Mirasol certainly provides that and largely in a very nice way. Accommodations are minimal but certainly sufficient and really no different than my expectations. The best cabanas are right on the water, with the water lapping the shore right below your deck. The staff were a wonderful bunch of people, very friendly and very accommodating. The meals were very good, but I wouldn't go overboard like many reviews indicate. I've had better at similarly styled remote resorts. Yet mealtime was always looked forward to as the social gathering that it was and for a large enough variety of food that all tastes would find pleasing enough.

My biggest disappointment was the diving. Expectations (by being away from the crowds) of pristine reefs, fantastic visibility, and hopes of seeing a whale shark, were dashed. The staff was great, the dive sites close, the equipment fine. But the reefs did not appear healthy, the sites were largely the same, very little variation in terrain, visibility only fair (although it's not fair to fully judge based on one week's experience, since conditions can change that) and the whale shark experience, while expensive, netted us a total of zero whale sharks. Obviously, there are no guarantees and we tried our luck during the best possible time, season-wise and moon phase-wise. I was reluctant to spend the extra money for it since there had not been any sightings for the season yet, but for the possibility of something one rarely has a shot of, we had to give it a try. We did however really enjoy the supposed prelude to the whale shark experience. While an army of us swam through the deep blue, we suddenly caught sight of thousands upon thousands of snapper spawning below us. That incredible sight might have turned totally surreal had a whale shark surfaced, but alas, the amazing snapper sight had to suffice.

In spite of religiously applying insect repellent and never actually seeing any insects, I suffered bites galore, while my wife had nary a bite at all. Depends on your susceptibility I suppose. Walking around the island did not lead very far in any direction that we tried before ending in a trash heap dead end. We never did use the kayaks but they did seem like a better way to explore the area.

In spite of the criticisms I've listed, our time on Isla Mirasol was very pleasant. While I would have liked a more diverse and/or unique diving experience, our week there was still quite enjoyable.

Room Tip: The best located cabanas were the three (# 2, 3, and 4) right on the water. I'd highly recommen...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chichester, New Hampshire
Level Contributor
64 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 5, 2013

This simple resort is isolated on Glovers Reef, so be prepared to dive or snorkel 3-4 times a day or read 15 books! Nicely designed, very simple, dependent on generator power (which can be problematic). Do NOT count on any kind of consistent WiFi signal (this is in critical need of an update).

Staff are lovely people. Dive operation is pretty casual, seems geared at experienced divers who don't require personal attention. Diving is frequently from a smaller, backward roll-type boat; they have one "real" dive boat that isn't used every day (depends on # of divers).

We rented the Reef House - very large accommodation, but sparsely stocked - no refrigerator or even cutlery or dishrags... Showers were lukewarm to boiling, with little to no pressure. A/C in my room never worked; toilets quit for a day. An enterprising tree rat found it's way in to steal a bag of peanuts I had in my suitcase - be careful what you stash, particularly because of ants!

We got hit by a serious tropical storm at the end of the week that destroyed many trees, knocked out power, washed or blew items all over the island, sent the 'big' boat on an unmanned voyage.... It's going to take some major clean up to get back to normal! Kudos to the kitchen staff for making sure we "starving" Americans were well-fed despite it all!

Do take bug spray for sand flies (always) and mosquitoes (when calm). Drink prices are predictably steep - BYOB is allowed. If you are at ALL susceptible to motion sickness take Dramamine before you get on the boat OUT to the island - it's a long way, and can be a rough ride. Wave conditions on dives can vary; whaleshark expeditions also involve long boat rides and precautions should be taken.

Above all, the SCUBA diving was fabulous, all wall diving on the edge of the atoll! Lots of big animals - Loggerhead turtles of awe-inspiring antiquity, many shark species, rays, lots of large Grouper species. Great clarity. Despite the lack of whalesharks this April full moon opportunity, we did see the snapper spawning, sharks and dolphins - well worth it!

I would probably choose an island resort closer in to gain access to the Barrier Reef, or a mainland resort if I return to Belize (Hamanasi is my favorite so far). Isla Marisol was rustic and my need to dive was completely satisfied, so go for the remoteness and quiet.

Room Tip: Cabins are on the atoll side, Reef House on the ocean. Depending on the prevailing winds, one side...
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Isla Marisol Resort

Address: P.O. Box 10, Glovers Reef Atoll, Belize
Phone Number:
Location: Belize > Belize Cayes > Glovers Reef Atoll
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Glovers Reef Atoll
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Isla Marisol Resort lies on a pristine, secluded palm-studded island on Glover's Atoll (a UN World Heritage site) in Belize, and is the only full-service, all-inclusive resort on the atoll. It offers some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling in Belize. Incredible diving just a stone's throw from the resort. Other activities include kayaking and excellent fly-fishing and trolling. The resort features comfortable, air-conditioned cabañas, excellent meals & bar over the water. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Isla Marisol Hotel Glovers Reef Atoll
Isla Marisol Dangriga
Isla Marisol Resort Belize/Glovers Reef Atoll

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