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“Absolutely Amazing!”

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Isla Marisol Resort
Certificate of Excellence
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Level Contributor
13 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Absolutely Amazing!”
Reviewed November 15, 2011

We just returned from a week at Isla Marisol in October, and can hardly wait to go back! This eco friendly resort (wind and solar powered) lies 39 miles off the coast from Dangriga, Belize. it sits on Glover's Reef Atoll, so if you're into snorkeling or diving, you are literally 5 minutes from your dive sites. We snorkeled the first day, but then got the urge to try diving. Man, are we glad we did! Eddie Usher, the owner of Isla Marisol, is a PADI certified Dive Instructor, and the 4 of us essentially had private instruction. Eddie was an excellent teacher, and made us feel challenged, accomplished, and extremely safe. We also had the chance to dive with Mora, who is an excellent Divemaster. Nearly every dive had amazing visibility- we had a near brush with Hurricane Rina, and that was the only day you couldn't see forever under the water. Thank you so much for opening the world of scuba to us. It was life changing.

We stayed in cabana 4, which is ocean front. The water was literally inches from our porch, which made for beautiful views from the deck, the hammock, and even from the bedroom. The cabins are rustic and simple- they remind me a lot of summer camp. They are very clean, and the beds are some of the most comfortable that we've had while traveling. There are private baths with hot water, and a small dressing area. You have electric lights and fans all day, and air conditioning in the evenings and overnight for comfortable sleeping. In the beginning of our stay, we had an issue with no hot water, but that was swiftly taken care of. You may need to let it run a little while to get hot, but once it does, you have plenty. If you can request cabana 4 or 5- they are closest to the water.

There have been many comments about the food, and I'll second that- it is WONDERFUL. The ladies in the kitchen work hard to make healthy, great tasting meals, and we liked nearly everything they served. There is a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, rice, fresh breads, and fresh seafood or chicken. And they always had a dessert for those of us with a sweet tooth. Keep in mind though, that desserts in this part of the world aren't as sweet as what we're used to in the USA. But again, everything was great, and there was always plenty. We did take along with us some snacks, and hubby brought a bottle of tequila. :) Also, having your own mug for coffee and drinks comes in pretty handy.

You are free to walk the beach, kayak, explore the island, along with the one next door, and just in general relax (when you aren't diving or snorkeling!) The area is unspoiled, the fish and conch are abundant, and the people are sweet and hard working. There were 15 guests on the island when we were there, and a big part of the fun was having meals with everyone, diving with them, and hanging out in the bar. We were all from different parts of the country, and we enjoyed getting to know everyone.

All in all, BEST TRIP EVER. Can't wait to return. Thank you, thank you Eddie, Mora, Seth, Phillipa, Alex, and the rest of the wonderful staff! Isla Marisol is beautiful beyond words, but it is YOU that makes it paradise.

Room Tip: Cabanas 3 and 4 are closest to the water, two 2 bedroom "Reef Houses" are also available...
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
6 Thank Bubbles0205
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Pensacola, Florida
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed November 15, 2011

Now that the title has revealed an essence of "island" lifestyle, I feel I can digress. It's a very small island. What they bring on to the island, they take off. What needs to be replaced or fixed, generally won't occur until you leave (unless it's some minor fix). Take for example, running out of propane to heat your shower. Once it's empty, it's empty. No fix until they can get more from the mainland. This usually coincides with when you leave. Ours and two or three other cabanas ran out of hot water on the 4th day we were there. On the 5th day we took mildly cold showers and on the 6th day we had to ask to use another cabana's shower because it was eventually discovered that our group of cabanas were out of propane gas. This hints at my next biggest concern with Marisol - the lack of proper communication.

We went through Livingsocial.com's deal and received a very nice package for a very reasonable price - all meals included, a dive or snorkel a day, unlimited kayaking, fun, sun, and all the other stuff that comes with a relaxing vacation. One dive means exactly that, one dive. I'm so use diving as being two-tank dives. The people at Marisol resort even informed me that each dive was a two-tank dive. Low-and-behold when we get there, we discover that it is indeed ONE TANK, ONE DIVE. Every extra dive was $50 (extra snorkel, $35) My friend and I drummed up support for a night dive. The divemaster decided Thursday was the day to go and that by mid-day he should let the group know if we were still on for the dive and when to meet. 6pm rolls around and asking Mora at the bar what time to meet for the night dive and he informed us that the group had already left! Needless to say, we didn't inquire further that day because we kept trusting that Mora would inform us. He's the dive master and seeing how Eddie was not on the island, the overall manager of the resort. I feel it should be his duty to keep the guest up to date on what is going on. He did offer to take us out on a night dive Friday seeing as how we we're flying on Saturday, but we decided against it just because we felt we couldn't trust his word anymore. There was definitely moderate lack of communication on the island between guests and workers.

Other than that, the housekeeping and cooking staff were tremendous! Fish, pork, beef, Belizean cuisine, etc. Even lobster on the final night! Janice and Filipa couldn't have been more accommodating. These people deserve awards!

Cabanas were comfortable, but I would say that if you are not diving or snorkeling 3 times a day, be prepared to get to know your cabanas really well cause you'll be spending plenty of time in them or out on the porch in a hammock.

There are kayaks. A bit beaten up, but they're there. No hobie cats, destroyed by a previous guest(s).

Final thought. If it's relaxation you're looking for, this island is one of many on Glovers Atoll and a part of the barrier reef much closer to shore. This place is less a "diamond in the rough" and more "a dime-a-dozen" and based on research of other resorts around it, the full price of the resorts in the area of Isla Marisol are fairly similar. Plus the diving is all the same (extremely beautiful, but got bored after the third or fourth diver due to the fact I kept seeing the same things). I have a take it or leave it attitude towards this resorts (minus the kitchen staff). There are issues with this place that are so blatant, they cannot be overlooked. Then again, it was the tail end of the off-season.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
15 Thank Ecoaggie08
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed October 30, 2011

We came to Marisol for our honeymoon and it was absolutely the perfect postcard honeymoon experience - quaint, cozy cabanas with hammocks and little wooden chairs where you could sit and read on your own private porch, the wind rustling through the trees, vibrant pink and white conch shells lining the steps and walkways (not to mention tons of live ones near the shore - we picked one up and named him Bob). We had a cabana set back from the others, and at first were a little disappointed but then heard from other couples staying on the beachfront (as in, RIGHT on the waterline) that it was actually quite loud with the waves crashing - but I'm telling you, I could have been happy with a folding chair for a bed it's so beautiful. Either way, you can't help but relax and enjoy.

During the last week of October when very few resorts were open, Isla Marisol was lively. There was a hurricane that blew through and voluntary evacuations were taking place in northern Belize, but at Marisol we just had a day of light rain and a welcome breeze, gusty at times. Eddie was saying that there was an original cabana that was built in the 1940's that was still standing, and that if there was a hurricane, Marisol was the safest place to be (unlike Mexico which took a beating!).

Other than the incredible scenery - the staff is AWESOME. They go to every length to make you happy, and what made me and my husband happy was chilling at the bar with all of them, getting to play guitar and drums and make our own reggae beat, asking the awesomely hilarious boat Captain Seth when the last time he wore socks was (couldn't remember, had no need for socks! I guess I wouldn't either if I lived and worked in the Caribbean), hearing stories from Eddie about all the characters who had stayed there, and witnessing Mora the rockstar in his element underwater - during his safety stop he just crosses his legs and stays still in perfect buoyancy - Eddie and Mora are the best scuba instructors we could have asked for. Three of the folks staying there actually got certified right there on the island!

The other awesome thing we looked forward to every day besides the dives was the food. Homecooked meals - everything from fresh fish to Creole chicken to beef bourgignon, to tropical salads - and breakfast, oh breakfast! Fry Beans!! Gotta have em! So much love poured into that food from Chef Jenice and her crew. Absolutely delicious, and I don't say that lightly coming from San Francisco where you can get any type of food, cooked by experts and innovators. Marisol's kitchen gave SF a run for it's money!

The other great thing that really made this trip was the type of people that Marisol attracts - both guests and staff. Ecologically minded, fun, laid-back folks that are just looking to relax and enjoy the scenery, no pretenses, just fun in the sun. It's definitely not a place for stuck up aristocrats looking to get waited on hand and foot - although the kind folks at Marisol probably would comply with any wishes whatsoever - it's just that the people are so much more real, and friendly, and that just makes a vacation so much better because then not only do you get to enjoy a beautiful place with your loved ones, but you also get to meet amazing people that treat you like family - that's what Marisol is all about. This is one place that I hope to bring my children to many years from now!

Room Tip: It depends on what you want - we were in cabana 6 which was maybe 20 feet from the water, and it was...
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  • Stayed October 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank KaylaGesek
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CA
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed October 23, 2011

What made Isla Marisol so special was the staff. They were friendly, helpful, and dedicated to making my vacation a success. From the owner, to the kitchen staff, to the dive masters, to all the people who work behind the scenes cleaning and maintaining the grounds and rooms--- everyone was friendly and helpful. Thank you for a fabulous holiday! Wonderful food, beautiful room, excellent snorkeling.

I noticed some complaints in other reviews, and feel compelled to address them. First, the trash to be found on the beach is NOT "left there" by an uncaring staff. It is washed up on shore by the tide, having been thrown in the water in other locations by thoughtless people. The Isla Marisol staff picks it up every day. Second, things can go wrong anywhere. What is important is how it is dealt with. Yes, the power can go out when all the dive and snorkel boats return at the same time and power is in high demand for hot showers. But the staff takes care of it, and the power comes back on! Complaints about the composting toilets? How can you complain about the resort being environmentally responsible?

Any problem that I or any other guest had was dealt with swiftly by the staff. When I needed something not available at the resort, the boat picked it up on the mainland for me on their next trip. As a woman traveling alone, safety is important to me. I felt very safe here, and loved the sense of camaraderie with my fellow guests. This was a wonderful trip to paradise, and I plan to return as often as possible. Thank you Eddie, and your fantastic staff!

  • Stayed December 2010, traveled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank snorklesoul
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Diego, California
Level Contributor
28 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed October 18, 2011

From reading all the posts about the area, I was most worried about bug bites, but we had no problems there --- well, 3 or 4 mosquito bites each in a week's time and we didn't wear any protection (but we sure did during our week in the jungle --- natural ones, no DEET for us). We were there in the end of July.

Yes, there's a lot of snorkeling be to done right off the shore --- lots of different micro-biomes, and one excellent spot that's a bit of a long swim. There's another lovely island that's a very short swim or paddle, with more lovely shoreline and coral areas to explore.

Boat trips for scuba dives were fun and they bring you past other island vistas. There's a LOT to be seen under the sea and every site is different. The diivng beats Florida Keys, Hawaii, Bahamas, any Costa Rican shores, and certainly San Diego. The beauty didn't quite compare to Tahitian islands or the Grenadines except that there was much more coral variety and we certainly saw amazing things we've never seen before.

There's a bit of a take-over of lion fish right now. The locals are concerned as to whether they'll be eating too many of the small reef fish, but they sure are amazing things to see (and yummy to eat -- they are hunted because of their overgrowth).

The staff were enjoyable, warm, friendly, wonderful. We wanted for nothing. If something wasn't working, it was fixed within an hour or two. Of course, this is not your high-class Hilton tower --- the kind of place we detest. You need to be one who enjoys simpler living that brings you right in to the environment, without destroying it. Our cabin was about 14 inches from the shoreline. The views were all so beautiful, we spent much time just sitting and staring, from our cabin's porch, and from the bar at the end of the pier.

If you have children, I'm sure they'll enjoy playing with Eddie's darling, sweet daughters. We did, though they are kept isolated from the visitors so as not to have anyone expected to be entertaining them, unless they really want to.

No need for a swimming pool when the whole ocean is your playground. It's warm and wonderful and very kid-gentle along the shore on cabin-side of the island.

The management was open to turning on the heaters for us to have hot water showers but when there, you don't feel like wasting fuel for something so trivial. I hate a cold shower but these were luke-cool and if you shower in the afternoon, a little hot after a big activity, they're totally welcome.

Likewise, there was airconditioning available but we didn't find a need to use it to remain comfortable. It's wonderfully warm there, not horribly hot. The fans in the room make it just right. We tried it once, to try to dry out the inside of our leaky underwater camera. It cooled very quickly.

They have a windmill for some clean power, and two other power sources so you don't need to go without. A few nice boats, some kayaks. Some books and games.

OMG I forgot to mention how awesome the food was. We stayed the next week at Cave's Branch, known for their food, but we had been spoiled by Janele's cooking.

My guys have serious milk protein allergies and they accommodated them wonderfully, while also accommodating a guest with gluten intolerance just as well. Food allergies are not a problem here. We wrote ahead to have them purchase soy milk for us, which they were happy to do though they already stocked it.

Room Tip: If there's not a cabin right on the water available, you're going to need to walk 15 feet or...
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  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank lfpalmer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed June 28, 2011

I just returned at the beginning of June from a week of brilliant diving and magnificent hospitality provided by Eddie and his excellent staff.

The resort is really an eco-resort. These wonderful people are trying to live off the grid and tread lightly on the environment. They are 39-miles from the mainland and are providing all their own utilities by themselves. That means the electrical, waste, grey water disposal, internet facilities are all self-generated on this little atoll. Do things sometimes go awry? Yup. But no big deal. If you want a five-star Hilton resort, go elsewhere. If you want a friendly, easy-going, non uptight, relaxed experience where everyone in the community co-operates into making the experience a green, sustainable and ecological adventure, then you will find no better place than Isla Marisol.

The staff rotate every two weeks. Most have children and families that they forgo to give foreigners a beautiful experience of their island and Belize. From Manager Eddie, through the awesome kitchen staff, great divemaster Ralph, Captain Seth, snorkel master Ernesto to Miss Feliciana the head chef, the entire staff went far out of their way to make us feel welcome and provide us with the warmest hospitality I have ever experienced. The electricity crapped out a couple of times, but again the staff were not resting on their laurels and remedied the situation as quickly as they could. I know for a fact that Eddie is on the mainland buying a new generator. Unfortunately, there is no hardware, Home Depot or other convenience store to which they can run to pick up a spare part. It was obvious to all 14 of us that the staff were doing yeoman service and always tried to work out the kinks. I have no doubt that the mechanical challenges to running a resort off the grid will be met soon but regardless, there may always be some burps and glitches. Our group had absolutely no real problems with any of these issues. It was all part of the ambience.

This is the second time our group has frequented Isla Marisol. I did get 3 mosquito bites. Eddie continually sprays the island for insects and I was very impressed with the efforts. You are on a Caribbean island atoll; there are a few insects. Bring an insect repellant; no problem. Where in the world do you go where there is not a few insects?

The diving was superlative, especially at the "Aquarium" but I would return to Isla Marisol to simply to lie in their marvellous hammocks on the waterfront cabana porches and take in the bliss. And the cooking was sublime. Our meals were nothing short of fabulous home-cooked dining. And Cecelia makes great salads and plenty of fruit juices.

I have already rebooked a return visit in November but for three-weeks next time because this one was just too short.

This is a great place to come and chill out. Wonderful people, wonderful diving, wonderful ambience. I am missing it badly as I sit in 58F temperature in Vancouver, BC.

You guys and gals at Isla Marisol just rock!

Room Tip: ask for a beachfront cabana
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  • Stayed June 2011, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
6 Thank jamiek69
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed June 20, 2011

After three weeks at home, we are still enthralled with our vacation at Isla Marisol. The diving was superb, the hospitality was beyond reproach and the ambience truly paradise! Our visit started in Dangriga where we were met by Ronald, the van driver who was kind enough to stop at a local market to allow us to pick up some supplies for the week before we embarked on the 2 hour boat trip to the atoll. It was amazing to stay right on top of the second largest reef in the world. Thanks to Ralph and Ernesto (our dive masters) and boat captain Seth, we could not have imagined better dive sites or crew professionalism. We are both older divers and appreciated the patience and skill they demonstrated in assisting us. Kudos, guys! Angie's smiling face greeted us at the over the water bar where she made us feel at home and relaxed. We miss your Stingrays and Vodka tonics, Angie! The family style meals gave us a taste of fresh Belizian cuisine compliments of Jenice; she made dynamite ceviche one night from fresh fish caught by Nick, one of the guests. We really miss the food, Jenice! We really felt like family at the dinner table, exchanging conversion with other guests and the friendly staff, especially Marisol and Alisha who also performed double duty as housekeepers who took extra special care of our home-away-from-home cabana. Thanks also to the maintenance staff, Alex and Lucas, who kept the grounds looking great and the equipment running! Of course, none of this would be possible if not for Eddie, the manager of the resort, who took the time to explain the trials of island living and their efforts to keep the atoll and the reef pristine. We thought ourselves eco-minded, but a visit to Isla Marisol reminded us just how wasteful we are and how we can do better! Great job, Eddie! We thoroughly enjoyed our stay here filled with lots of fun, breathtaking diving, outstanding food, and the nicest people we've met in a very long time. We would definitely return to Isla Marisol and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a casual, relaxing, no-pretension vacation!

Room Tip: Ocean side
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  • Stayed May 2011, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
8 Thank DonnaandKevin25
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

Property: Isla Marisol Resort
Address: 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): $$$$
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Isla Marisol Resort 2.5*
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Isla Marisol Resort lies on a pristine, secluded palm-studded island on Glover's Reef Atoll (a UN World Heritage site) in Belize. Of the five inhabited island on Glover's Reef, Isla Marisol is the only one offering private en-suite bathrooms, fresh water showers, hot and cold water, air conditioning, and daily housekeeping service. Isla Marisol Resort also offers frosty cold libations at our infamous "over the water" bar and phenomenal Belizean style food in our dining room. Incredible watersports are just a stone's throw from the resort, with most diving and snorkeling sites just 5-15 minutes from the island. All ages and experience welcome! Anglers can hit the "grand-slam" from their front porch, with World class fly fishing for tarpon, permit, and bonefish, quite literally at our door step. Daily deep sea fishing trips for Wahoo, Kingfish, Marlin, and a host of other fun fish, depart from Isla Marisol daily. ... 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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