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“Best Boutique Hotel by Far”

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Cocotal Inn & Cabanas
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed January 10, 2013

Our recent 8 night stay at the Cocotal Inn was fantastic. The people that work there are part of the reason. Ernesto, in the office was the most helpful office manager I have ever experienced. He went out of his way to arrange or provide for any requests. The housecleaning staff are very particular about keeping the resort clean and the rooms are spotless. As well the grounds keepers worked from morning until sunset keeping the property looking beautiful. We loved the location which is far enough from town to make it serene and peaceful at night, but close enough to ride the complimentary bikes there on a daily basis. It's about 2 miles by beach path and takes about 20 minutes. ( I might suggest here to bring along a gel bike seat cover if you plan to use the bicycles as much as we did!) Golf carts are available for rent but we did not feel the need to rent one. However, perhaps a one day rental is a good idea just to let you go and explore the rest of the island one day. Water taxi service is also available from the pier right next door though from what we could see this can be a bit unreliable from a time schedule point of view. You could spend as much time waiting for the taxi as you could to bike there.
The complimentary airport pick up and grocery stop after you arrive at the San Pedro airport was a really nice bonus. I do suggest you fly to and from the island as the time you save ( 2-3 hours) for the slightly additional cost is SO WORTH it!! You can ask your driver to stop at the Greenhouse grocery store for you to pick up some supplies. It is right across the street from the LIquor Box which sells the cheapest liquor in town and right beside the liquor box is a vendor that sells rotisserie chickens so, you can pick one up for dinner your first night. This is a great idea if you and later in the evening as it gets dark at 5:00pm so it's hard to explore. There are many restaurants within an easy walk on either side of Cocotal and though a bit pricey the Capricorn served fantastic food.
In conclusion, I recommend that you choose the Cocotal Inn as you will not be disappointed. We saw many people walk by and look longingly at our quiet little boutique hotel. Many of them took photos of the sign and I can only presume it was for planning their next trip. We too will be returning :)

Room Tip: If available choose the one bedroom casita. It doesn't have a full kitchen but does have the bes...
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  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Kathy W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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184 - 190 of 352 reviews

Reviewed January 7, 2013

Stayed Dec. 21-Jan.2/13. Great place to relax!

The staff are the best. Ernesto and Adelita in guest services took care of any requests from hair dryers to tour bookings or to just say "hi and how is your day going or could they do anything for you". Calvin and Peter are maintenance and grounds keepers, these two work solid all day and will do anything you ask of them, getting kayaks in and out of water, getting bikes ready or doing repairs as required or just to say hi with a smile on their faces at all times. And Dunee the maid is great, she keeps the cabanas very clean and equipped with all necessities, she kind of hangs back and knows when you are not in room and poof it is all cleaned again.

Mara the dog is great! We are not dog people but she is a great value to the resort, she will bark when anyone not belonging enters the grounds as a warning. She came to dinner with us most nights and every place new we were from Cocotal as we had Mara with us. She is allowed in most restaurants(not White Sands) as she is so well mannered, I would always save her some of my dinner and give it to her when we returned back to Cocotal. She was our guard dog most nights on our deck.

We were in cabana #5, very well equipped and comfortable king bed for Central America. The only thing lacking was a second wicker chair inside but we would just drag in one from outside and use the extra cushion for sitting on. It was nice to have a full kitchen and barbecue that were very well equipped for any meals or drinks you may wish to make. The taco/burrito guy comes by most mornings and these are good(the guy with the white pail on his bike has the best tacos/burritos). He comes by about 7-7:30 AM.

The pool is very nice and clean and was surprised how large it was for the size of the resort. Other resorts that were much larger had same size or smaller pool.

We well used the bikes to go up and down beach path or the very potholed road. Was an adventure in every way. Also took the kayaks out to the reef which was phenomenal, took about 15 minutes and we have never paddled a kayak before. We are 59 and 62 so anyone can do this, just pick a day when the breeze is not to strong and it will be easier. We were worried about not being able to get back in the kayak, but you can stand in the water, but make sure you have fins or water shoes on as the rocks can be sharp.

We ate out a lot as we were on vacation and never had a bad meal anywhere. Capricorn was good but a little overpriced but atmosphere is nice. White Sands next door had some of the best curried chicken I have ever had. Go to Lazy Croc for lunch, only open Thursday to Sundays from 11-3, have a huge lunch. Palapa bar has good food and drinks any time of day. Ak'bol for breakfast or lunch also very good. These are all within walking or biking distance. Bring flashlights for night or if you are lucky like we were, there was a full moon most of our vacation and also had Mara with us to guide the way.

The only downfall of the whole vacation was the sand flies, they must love Canadian blood as they would not stop biting us. The locals said to use baby oil, this seemed to work for about 10 minutes and then they would attack again. Deep Woods Off also helped somewhat. The bites were so bad I had to go into town to the pharmacy to get something to relieve the itching and took Benadryl at night to stop the scratching. We are from northern Ontario so are used to black flies and Mosquitos but these things were relentless, the only time they were not bad was at the beach or on the pier in the breeze. This was the only thing that would prevent us from coming back to this little slice of heaven.

Everyone was friendly on the whole caye, never felt threatened anywhere we went and we went all the way north to Rocky Point and south to the end of the road. Also went over to Caye Caulker for an afternoon, this is very quiet compared to San Pedro town. We enjoyed San Pedro but loved to come back to the peace and quiet of Cocotal. This is a perfect location as you can go to town(walk,bike or water taxi)for the party times but then come back to peace.

Tanya, you have a great place, great staff and Mara, thanks for the use of our little home away from home,
Helen and Bill

Room Tip: Choose casista or front cabana as more breeze to keep sand flies at bay.
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  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Helen A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 1, 2013

My husband and I stayed at the Cocotal over Christmas and were very happy with our choice. We stayed in the beachfront casita and definitely felt lucky to have that place. It has beautiful views of the ocean from the front porch, and the inside felt cozy, yet with plenty of space for two. We were also impressed with the beautiful mahogany woodwork throughout. It was wonderful staying in a smaller place as it was usually nice and quiet with plenty of privacy. After spending some time in downtown San Pedro, we were glad that we had opted to stay outside of town and away from the crowds and noise.

The service at the hotel was also top-notch. Ernesto was attentive to our needs and helped us arrange several tours during our stay. Our room was well-maintained, and we found the staff very friendly. We also fell in love with Mara the watchdog who accompanied us to dinner one night. If you're considering a trip to Ambergris Caye, we would highly recommend the Cocotal!

Room Tip: The beachfront casita is the best room with beautiful ocean views and breeze.
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  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank khermanhill
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 20, 2012

This was our first trip to Ambergris. We did not want to stay at a large resort and wanted a quiet place. Cocotal turned out to be the perfect place!!It was very quiet and we had all the amenities we needed. Food and drinks were close by, bicycles available and the sea kayaks!! The staff were very attentive to us and moved the kayaks for us whenever we wanted to use them. They also prepared some coconuts for us to drink. We loved lying in the hammocks and feeling the gentle Caribbean breeze. We stayed in the garden cabana which was very comfortable. The kitchen was well equipped and the bed was very comfortable! We watched the sunset from the lagoon side on several evenings. I hurt my foot and the staff even made a cane out of a board for me! That was such a surprise! After the 5 days, it was sad to say good bye to everyone--they were very very nice to us!

Room Tip: They are all good. One of the cabanas is closer to the lagoon and doesn't have a view.
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  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Marina C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 13, 2012

I feel so lucky to have found this place for me & my boyfriend to stay during our recent trip to Belize. We stayed 3 nights but definitely would have loved to stay longer. The cabanas are very spacious, clean, and luxurious. We love the full kitchen and they thought of every possible utensil we could have needed. Having cable TV and AC in the room was a nice luxury. They provide kayaks and bicycles for free which is a great plus. We walked up and down the beach but having the option to ride the bike is nice. The location is a bit inconvenient but there are enough restaurant options nearby. My recommendation is to stock up on groceries so you can cook all breakfasts and a few dinners during your stay. Everyone loves Mara the dog. She is very good at making all the guests feel welcome and special.

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank alifafa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 30, 2012

We spent six nights at Cocotal in late November. I had done my research and the reviews on TA were spot on about this small (tiny, actually) lodging north of San Pedro. We arrived late afternoon (via Tropic Air) and waited only a few minutes for the arranged taxi driver to pick us up from "baggage claim", which is the curb, right in the middle of town! We made the short trip to the grocery store (Richie's) and purchased a few staples to help us get through the week. The driver was in a bit of a hurry, so we didn't have time to browse. We took the 15 minute bumpy ride over the bridge and up the north road 2.5 miles to Cocotal.

The manager had already left for the day, so we were given keys by the onsite groundskeeper and told to check in at the office in the morning, We had Cabana #6 - the yellow one. It was getting dark, so we just uppacked and wandered up the beach in search of dinner. For high season, the area north of town seemed almost deserted. Luckily, we knew to pack a flashlight for the beach path. We followed the sounds of a band playing, and ended up at Belizean Cultural Buffet night at Captain Morgan's. For $22, it was just OK, but the atmosphere was ideal for our first night on the island.

The cabana is so well laid out and the designer thought of almost everything. The ceiling is so beautiful. The AC worked really well (you only need it at night, thanks to the screened windows and two ceiling fans). The bed was comfortable and our linens were changed mid-stay, and cleaned daily (so nice!). We went through two and a half five gallon containers of water during our stay, and it was very nice to have the large water dispenser in the room. We rarely took advantage of the honor bar near the pool since we had water, coffee and tea in our room. There was a coffee maker, tea kettle, blender, microwave - plus plates, utensils and cookware. Bring some plastic baggies and twist ties to help keep your food fresh in the room if you don't want to put it in the fridge. My only disappointment was that there are only two ice trays (I'm a huge ice fan) and there is no ice maker on the place. Ice doesn't seem to be priority anywhere on the island, so be prepared for warmer than usual drinks.

The bathroom is spacious (for a cabana) with extra shelves to store your toiletries. The sink is nicely tiled and there is ample lighting. The shower is plenty large enough and water pressure was fine, but the water only gets warm, not hot. The water in the sink gets very hot, though.

Even though I knew about the reef and the shallow water, I was still surprised that there is no surf (or waves) at the water's edge. I missed that sound, and the breeze it brings with it. Other than that, seaside at Cocotal was perfect - swaying palms, two palapas and a few hammocks, almost always empty except for us. We got to know Mara, the iguanas and the tiny hermit crabs our first day on this beach.

The pier is very vice, with hammocks and a nicer blue metal top. The water taxi stops next door, so the Cocotal pier is pretty much provate (the caretaker's family shared it with us on Sunday - they fished while we read on the hammocks) We kayaked out to the reef a few times to snorkel and got to see a huge ray and a dolphin. We loved the kayak but it probably wouldn't be great for those who aren't comfortable in the water, or aren't in decent enoough shape to paddle for 20 minutes. You do need to watch for snorkle boat and water taxis since that is the major waterway.

Food was not a priority to us on this trip, which turned out to be a good thing, since restaurants are not plentiful on that side of the island. We brought a few breakfast, snack and sandwich items at the store, and I had brought our own coffee, tea and sweetners, so we had enough to keep from starving between trips to Aji (very romantic), Capricorn (expensive but delicious) and AkBol (a far walk, but great prices and a varied but simple menu). We also bought breakfast burritos from the bicycle vendor that came by a few mornings.

Our snorkle trip was cancelled on morning so we rented a golf cart to tour the island.It was interesting to see the city but it was congested, hot, dusty and the roads are not in good shape - we suffered through back aches for two days afterwards. Even though you can glimpse the beautiful beach from the island road, you can't find a good place to park a golf cart that isn't on prvate property, so we gave up after driving most of the way down the island. We had a decent lunch at Carambas and watched some football (it was Thanksgiving Day), and tried the Coconut Ice Cream at Mannelly's (just OK).

It was amazing to stand in the middle of town and look one direction at the beach and sea just 100 yards away, then turn and look the other direction at the lagoon another 100 yards away. San Pedro is tiny. Almost everyone we encountered on the island was very nice and welcoming.

Everyone on staff at Cocotal seemed very pleasant and helpful. The grounds are kept spotless and the staff worked morning til night every day to make sure it everything was perect. The pool is a nice size for such a small place, and it gets shade in the afternoon, so it was great for relaxing after being in the sun on a snorkle boat. Mara really warmed up to us after the second day and followed us to dinner every night, She is the favorite dog at every restaurant (probably because she is so well mannered). She has the cutest way of wagging her head fro side to side when she wants you to follow her, or to hurry up so she can have a bite from the doggie bag. We really enjoyed her company on this trip.

We came prepared with bug spray but did not have much of a problem with them except after dark on the beach path, or on the lagoon side. We got awesome sunset photos from the lagoon dock. There were never bugs in the cabana but a small white gecko claimed a spot on the ceiling for the last two days. The large iguanas on the plantation were fun to watch. We thought we saw some bats in the dense tree by our cabana, but couldn't be sure - they may have been small night birds.

The beach path was very convenient and so scenic. We took two rechargeable flashlights that really came in handy since the locals go whizzing by on bikes even in the dark. You learn to jump out of the way when you hear the bike bell. Aji and Capricorn are within a five minute walk, with Capt Morgan's just a bit further. AkBol is about 20 minues south (can be a challenging walk in the heat).We rode bikes on the path a few times but found it easier to walk, especially at night.

Only one of our cell phones worked in Belize and we kept it turned off to avoid roaming charges The laptop picked up great connections at the honor bar during the first part of the week, and the later part, we were able to pick up a connection in the cabana. We tried to limit it to twice a day, since part of the charm of Cocotal is being "offline". The TV reception was excelent and we did watch alot of sports over the holiday weekend.

There were never any lines, waiting or crowds on the north side of the island. After sundown, the only people you saw were the handful that sat in the open air restaurants, There are no streetlights, so it gets very dark, very early. We went to bed when we wanted (usually early) and got up when we wanted (usually also early). Cocotal was a perfect getaway to help us relax, recharge and forget about our stressful jobs for a few day. If a small, well appointed cabana with well-kept grounds and very low-key atmosphere is what you are seeking, this is the perfect place.

Room Tip: The yellow cabana is at the back of the property - very private except for near the caretaker's...
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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Corgimom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 20, 2012

Upon arrival we were treated like royalty. The is second to none. Even Mara the resident dog is just the greatest. she came with us for dinner a couple of nights. Sure is nice to have companion with us for the walk back on the beach. We were in the downstairs suite in the main house, a very nicely appointed room. It had everything we needed. Ernesto took care of everything for us from info on things around Cocotal and the island to handling our excusions off the island. When I say a true holiday I mean we were really able to relax and not worry about anything at all. from lounging around the pool to just hanging out on a hammock on the beach or out on the pier. We will be back for sure not just once either I think we just might make this an annual stop for us.
Brad Hatton
Vancouver, B.C.

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Thank Brad H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Cocotal Inn & Cabanas

Address: Beachfront 2 1/2 Miles North, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize
Phone Number:
Location: Belize > Belize Cayes > Ambergris Caye > San Pedro
Amenities:
Beach Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Kitchenette Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 36 Specialty Lodging in San Pedro
Price Range: $140 - $304 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Cocotal Inn and Cabanas is a beachfront hotel and vacation property located 2- 1/2 miles north of San Pedro. There are eight units available for nightly rental. Intimate and low key, Cocotal is still only a bike ride from town in a quiet area of resorts and private homes. Our units are well appointed with fully equipped kitchens, air conditioning, cable TV, wifi and maid service. There is an in-ground pool, honor bar, BBQ, and free bicycles and kayaks for guest use - a beautiful property and a great value! This description is based on information provided by the specialty lodging. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Cocotal Inn And Cabanas
Cocotal Inn & Cabanas Hotel San Pedro
Cocotal Inn & Cabanas Belize/San Pedro

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