When I travel, I look for places that are unique to the environment, locally owned/operated, in a beautiful rural setting, and not too expensive. Cohune Palms met all these requirements and exceeded my expectations. I should have posted a while ago, but feel a responsibility now in response to some of the recent posts. I honestly feel, with all respect, that the few negative reviews do stem from misconceptions.
As far as the cabanas themselves, they were thoughtfully built and maintained on property that has been in the family for generations. They are unique and fun, and definitely fit with my fantasy of staying in a jungle. I loved the location by the river, the lightening bugs, the tiki torches at night. Rope swings brought out the the child within. They had character, charm and ambiance that made for an unforgettable Belizean experience. For me, this is destination travel at its best.
Melanie is the best cook I've ever come across (that's something everyone agrees on!). It was great to have locally produced, home cooked meals. Isaiah was fun to go tubing with and was a great guide for telling me about the life along the Mopan. I felt Mike treated us as real people, not just tourists. One of the pleasures of staying there, was that we got to meet and talk to locals (his friends included), not just be surrounded by other tourists, though it was certainly nice to visit with them too.
We didn't have a rental car, but found it a piece of cake to take the shared taxi's from Bullet Tree Falls in to San Ignacio where you could take another taxi or buses anywhere you want to go in the country. We were able to easily visit many Mayan sites on our own, by using local taxis. Mike was super helpful in helping us plan the guided tours we did. We didn't want to do a "canned" tour and he assisted us in finding a perfect guide (Tony) to take us exactly where we wanted to go (Big Rock Falls, Barton Creek Cave, Butterfly Ranch and lunch at Frances Ford Coppela's place), on a private tour, at a fair price. Even if he hadn't been available, with the free internet access and the multiple tour companies in San Iganicio, we certainly felt we had options.
If folks do advanced research on Belize travel forums, they will see that cash paying discounts are almost always available and preferred over credit cards (which are excepted as well). I don't really see what the big deal is. When using a credit card in Ireland recently, there were hefty foreign transaction fees, etc. Its just a part of travel out of the States, in my opinion. I'm a budget minded traveler, but I wouldn't let a 4% credit card transaction fee entirely make or break my good time. How much is that, really, per night at CP? Less than $4.
When we were there, the border was kinda scary. I know, because I kept myself informed (something kind of important when your traveling). The comments about Mike being untrustworthy because he gave safety advice on traveling across the border… not the way I see it! To me, it shows he cares. Chances are we wouldn't be victims to violence, but being cautious, listening to local advice, and keeping informed about local conditions is just smart, savy traveling. His advice was based on real events that happened to real people, and I don't think it shows lack of character that he would tell folks to be extra careful.
I highly recommend CP for adventurous travelers, lovers of great local food in a beautiful, rural setting, and for independent travelers who want to get a feel for the local flavor. I also found it a romantic destination where my hubbie and I could relax, enjoy and play. It is one of the most memorable places I have ever stayed, and the people who run it and work there are fabulous! We were invited to a local soccer game and to a community beach bbq. Thanks Mike, Melanie, Isaiah and Tony for your wonderful hospitality. In my opinion, it is the locals that really made it so special. It would not be the same (to me) if they had a full time concierge and front desk staff, and hotel shuttle all available to cater to us tourists. You would go there exactly because you are looking for something a bit off the beaten path.
We loved every moment of our stay and wouldn't have stayed anywhere else.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.