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“Isla Marisol, It's all about location!”

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Isla Marisol Resort
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed March 4, 2006

We recently visited Isla Marisol, and found it to be everything as advertised. I just couldn't get over how beautiful, private, and quiet the island is. As they say in real estate, it really is all about location, location, location. The sunrises and sunsets were amazing!

From the moment Eddie's smile greeted us in Dangriga it was obvious that service is his utmost priority. Eddie Usher (the owner) went out of his way to accommodate our early schedule to get us back to Dangriga in time to catch our flights home. He even arranged an afternoon dive for us the day we arrived, truly a bonus! It is also obvious that Eddie loves his piece of the world. This island has been in his family for generations. He truly loves it, and his heritage. It is very important to him to NOT go for the fast buck, but to protect the island and the reef system for the future.

The resort lodgings could be fancier (and more expensive) but Eddie prioritizes the important things: reliable fast comfortable boats, clean cabanas, comfortable beds, good food and great service. The cabanas are quite simple, almost Spartan, but have great decks with covered porches, complete with chairs and a hammock. Yes, trash and seaweed on the beach was a problem, but after watching the workers spend hours each morning cleaning it up only to have it blow back by the next morning, my heart goes out to them. They really do work hard to keep up! The workers don't clean the entire island shoreline however, just the part directly in front of the resort. Perhaps that is what the other reviews are referring to. The sand flies were not a problem, as we always had a breeze during our stay.


For people interested in going to Isla Marisol, they should realize it is a dedicated dive resort. They offer snorkeling and kayaking but other than that there is nothing to do but enjoy the beautiful location. There isn't any shopping, no night-life, no spas, no hiking. Just diving, eating, sleeping and enjoying the beach.

Take everything you need, from Meds, to sun-screen, bug spray, a small flashlight and batteries. There is nothing available to buy. For clothes, it isn't fancy. We never wore shoes during our visit. I would however, recommend a pair of long pants, waterproof jacket and light weight fleece as we had one windy day and it got quite chilly. The nights cool off too. After a day of sun, a long sleeved, light weight shirt came in handy.


I loved the food. However, if you are a picky eater you may not like it, and you may want to discuss your eating preferences with them before you arrive. There were no choices to be made, you sat down, and dinner (and breakfast and lunch) was served. The food was always freshly prepared and prepared well. The portions were very generous, and they were always offering us more. There were also several types of freshly squeezed citrus juice from Eddie's own orchards at every meal. The tangerine juice was amazing. I'm certainly not a food critic, but the best I could describe it was south-of-the-boarder, Caribbean type food. They call it traditional Belizean. It was somewhat spicy (not hot) with salsa, onions, rice, beans, and some veggies that I had never seen before. We were served fresh fish or shrimp every night, sometimes fried, sometimes grilled, always way more than a person should eat! Also, after an afternoon dive, dinner is a long way off, so I would recommend bringing some snacks to tide you over.

I have mixed reviews for the diving but I would still recommend it to anyone who wants to dive Belize. I loved 2 of the sites, but the others were just OK. The reef appears healthy with lobster and turtles, but there didn't seem to be tons of fish, nor the bright coral colors when compared to some other dive destinations in the Caribbean. The visibility was somewhat murky, but that can change at any dive site from day to day. The dives were long, lasting 60 minutes (provided you dove within the range of your computer and air consumption.) We were there for just a partial week and got in only eight dives. We voluntarily gave up one afternoon dive due to windy weather and another because we were flying out the next day. Had we stayed an entire week I feel I could better assess the diving. We have dove in lots of places including Hawaii, Turks and Caicos, Caymans, Costa Rica, Bonaire, Cozumel and Tobago, so I maybe scrutinize dive sites more than some people. I would definitely like to go back again to explore more sites some day. I know it would be worth it!

If you are tying to compare resorts on Glover's Reef there are many. But to my knowledge, only Isla Marisol and Manta Resort have private bathrooms in each cabana with hot showers and flush toilets. The others have composting toilets with a shower building that all the guests use. The biggest advantage I can see with Isla Marisol over Manta, is that Isla Marisol operates out of Dangiga with only an hour and a quarter long boat ride, compared with Manta's 3-4 hour ride out of Belize City. On the rough day of our crossing, I was happy to get on solid ground! Also Isla Marisol offers 3, 4 and 7 night packages, (Manta only Saturday to Saturday stays) so you have more options when planning your vacation.

In all, I feel Isla Marisol is a good value for the money (afternoon dives are included) and you will never find a more beautiful, quiet location.

  • Stayed: February 2006
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17  Thank scubajo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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183 - 189 of 193 reviews

Reviewed February 6, 2006

My wife and I had a great time at Marisol. From the moment we were picked up at the airport we were made to feel welcome. The owner, Eddie, was waiting for us at the dock next to the airport. We were transferred 38 miles off shore by boat, Eddie at the helm. The ride was a lot of fun. The island is on Glover's Atoll, an absolutely beautiful area. Swaying palms, pristine clear water and beautiful sunsets. The beach cabanas are cozy and rustic. Not even close to luxurious, yet adequate. If you demand luxury, forget about it. This place isn't for you. The photos of the rooms on their website are fairly accurate. The over-water bar was great. Meals in the main lodge were excellent. Everything is VERY fresh. My wife is vegetarian and they made her some great meals. Most of the fruits and juices come from Eddie’s orchards on the mainland. The fish, shrimp and lobster were great. I especially liked the kitchen's version of Kentucky fried barracuda. It was unbelievable. The ladies in the kitchen are wonderful - excellent cooks.

The diving was some of the best I have ever experienced and I've been to many exotic and highly rated places. 150' vis was common. Most of our dives were 60 minutes long and no more than 10 minutes away. Eddie was the dive master on all of our dives. He was very easy going and accommodating. He was a real pleasure. If you can get there around the full moon in April, you'll have an excellent chance to see many Whale Sharks.

The fishing is very good also. Large schools of bone fish everywhere.

If you are going for a beach vacation, forget about it. Even though they rake the beach every day and keep it clean, its not the place to go for laying on the beach. Diving, fishing and relaxation are the reasons to go.

There are only two negatives I can think of. 1)Bring along plenty of bug repellent. When the wind dies down, the sand flies are relentless - they killed me. When the wind blows they are nowhere to be seen. 2)The resort is fairly expensive. With diving, all meals and lodging we paid around $550 per day. We thought it was a little overpriced.

However, we did have a great time and are looking forward to going back some day. All in all, Eddie did a great job building up an eco-friendly resort from the ground up in the middle of the ocean.

  • Stayed: December 2005
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10  Thank Rochester_NYTrunkman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Chicago, Illinois
110
Reviewed August 31, 2005

The diving is fantastic. This island is beautiful. The owner, Eddie was very helpful.
I was there at the same time and have to second her review. Unfortunately, she missed out on the whale shark dive where we saw 2 whale sharks.

Eddie is very efficient at the whale shark dives. We surfaced in a squall and he offered to transfer us to a larger boat, we declined, and Francisco and Eddie got us back with no problem.
All of the dives were very relaxed and very cool.

We had a relatively large group of about 10 people. The staff really took care of us. We had one fisherman. He had an excellent time Bone fishing, catching in excess of 10 fish. I am not sure if this was a lot but this was his first time.

The food was incredible. Fresh fish everyday. The cooks rock. I saw one review prior to arriving that pointed out that the food was substandard. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The bar is great. It has great views.

The only problem was the flies. But you are in the Caribbean so you just go with the flow. Eddie will fog the place down and as long as there is a breeze you won't notice.

I could go on but our group loved the island.
p.s. I have more video that I am working on of most of the dive sites.

  • Stayed: June 2005
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10  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 2, 2005

My friend and I spent a week in February 2005. We are avid snorkelers so we signed up for the snorkeling package. While I overall enjoyed the place, mostly because of the ability to completely get away from everything, there were several disappointments.

The first and most major disappointment was the snorkeling trips. As another reviewer experienced, we were taken out on a boat by basically a teenage relative of Eddie’s, whose experience and interest in snorkeling were basically nil. His only qualification seemed that he could drive the boat. He did not take us to sites that were in the heart of the reef as expected. And in fact on one day, a fishing package couple decided to join us, and he took us to the SAME coral patch he had taken us the day before. With hundreds of patch corals in the reef, there was NO reason to do this other than the fact that this guy didn’t know where else to go. This was a very frustrating reality as we spent a bunch of time and money to experience the best in snorkeling, so we thought.

On the last day, the teenager wasn’t there and we thankfully got Ashton to take us out. He seemed extremely surprised we hadn’t been taken up to near the most Northern island where there were tons of excellent patches. He was also surprised we hadn’t been taken to any of the other islands to just explore, which he did. Anyway, the snorkeling on the last day with Ashton was the highlight of our trip. We expected, for the price and existence of a snorkel package, someone like Ashton to be our “guide” everyday. We were extremely disappointed that this wasn’t the case.

Another disappointment was the night snorkel we did. We had let Eddie know in advance we wanted to do a night snorkel and needed to rent lights. The lights they had for us barely worked and were very dim. Of course this makes seeing things underwater in the dark virtually impossible. So that really sucked…having made the trip to Glover’s for the expressed purpose of snorkeling and knowing that our experience could have been much better.

The cabanas were very rustic but fine considering where we were. Eddie didn’t explain how to get the hot water to work in the shower so we had several cold showers. Although there was hot water, it only worked on super low water pressure (to help conserve) so don’t expect long hot showers to get the sea salt and sand out of your hair. Another annoyance was that several times during our trip, the water was turned off with no notice as we were showering. So I was covered in shampoo and soap for up to 20 minutes before it was turned back on. My friend would go try and find Eddie each time, and he always said they were doing “maintenance”. It would have been nice if they would have warned us and/or scheduled all of these “maintenance” periods in advance at particular times and communicated them.

We noted that the beach trash was also a problem. They do have someone raking the shore once a day, but only in certain spots. Thus, the same trash (and LOTS of it) stayed right outside our cabana the whole time we were there. We actually got a trash bag and started picking it up ourselves.

We didn’t have any problems with bugs. I coated myself with Ultrathon, but my friend did not. We each only got a few bites that didn’t really bother us. The other couple on the island with us came out the same.

The bar ran out of soda and bottled water for half the trip, which was a bummer since we don’t drink alcohol. So, there wasn’t anything for us to drink outside of mealtimes.

Food was OK. Could have been better, could have been worse. Didn’t like the set mealtimes, especially dinner. We would have preferred to eat earlier than 7:30 because for one, lunch was at noon and we were really hungry by about 5:30, and two, we went to bed pretty early so we could get up early to take advantage of the daylight. There weren’t very many snacks put out in between meals and there was no place to buy snacks, so bring your own. Since there was only one other couple on the island with us, there was no buffet as described on the Web site, and the meals were basically take it, or leave it and starve. We were never asked what we might prefer to eat. By the end of the trip, I was a little tired of some of the stuff, but considering where we were, not that bad.

Despite the above, we really did have a good trip and I would go there again. It was great being out in the middle of nowhere. I think the island would be too crowded for me if it were at full capacity.
We were able to really relax and it was nice only having two other guests there with us. The snorkeling was good, and the night sky was amazing. However, the place is defiantly geared for divers and those who like to fish.

Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any more questions!

  • Stayed: February 2005
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14  Thank BringHomeTroops
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
Fair Haven, New Jersey
121
Reviewed July 12, 2005

Isla Marisol Southwest Caye, Glovers Reef Atoll, Belize
This is not a plush resort, but more of a high-end scuba and fishing camp. One comes here to dive or fish, not to loll around in the sun. Food can be excellent to mediocre, depending on the cook. Cabañas are basic. There are screens but the no-see-ums are smaller than the mesh and finer mesh screens would also stop the breezes, which is essential, given the temperature, humidity and no air conditioning on the island. Cabañas have both ceiling and free standing fans, which we kept on at all times. Bathrooms are small and clean, with plenty of desalinated water for showering. The rooms could use a comfortable chair and table for reading or working on cameras. Since insect repellant is essential and sticky, our legs and feet were usually sandy, which meant rinsing off before sitting on the bed or having sandy sheets. Reapplying insect repellant before retiring for the night is needed if one doesn’t want to wake up new bites. The cabañas have nice porches with beach chairs and hammocks, but sitting on them is an invitation for the no-see-ums to feast. So your choice really is to be in your cabaña, in the dining area or out in the bar at the end of a long dock. It is a blessing when the wind blows. Eddie had the island fogged most days, but it was almost futile, due to nearly daily rains that washed the oils away. He does try hard. The dive dock is perhaps the buggiest place, being surrounded by mangroves and grass. I put on my lycra skin in my cabaña before going to the dive dock. Out in the boats, away from the islands is the best place to get your tan. Heavenly after a long dive. Sans lycra upon returning from a dive, I often sprinted back to my cabaña to avoid the bugs. If not for the no-see-ums, I would return here many more times. I do enjoy lounging around outside on occasion, and that was impossible.

The diving is very good. I spent 2 weeks there both this June and last July. I did 73 dives over those 2 trips. All dives are drift dives, always with a dive master. The reef shows no effect of divers and has no trash. The reef critters are ‘wild’ with no conditioning by dive masters. Wonderful. Some combination of large groupers, sharks, rays and turtles show up for nearly every dive. One section of the reef had batfish for me every time I dove. There were also oceanic triggers nesting, many pairs of scrawled and white spot filefish, butterfly fish and angelfish of all descriptions. The reef itself is mostly shades of beige, which, when backlit by the afternoon sun looks like spun gold. Lovely. Lavender fans, purple sponges and gorgonians, yellow tube sponges and orange elephant ear sponges provide colorful touches. And the ever-flowing rivers of blue fishes: creole, snappers, runners and many others. There are large numbers of juvenile spotted drum here. Enormous rough and smooth barrel sponges abound here, sometimes with interesting critters nestled inside. Always worth a look. Scorpion fish, green and moray eels, trumpet fish, and many kinds of jacks. Looking through my Caribbean reef fish books, almost everything is here except the biggest sharks.
The dive masters are special. Last year I had an effervescent fellow, willing to do anything I wanted, always on the lookout for big stuff, and he usually found it. We had sharks, rays and turtles on nearly every dive. This year’s divemaster was the best ‘personal valet divemaster’ I have ever had in my 25 years of diving and 800 dives. I literally had only to get on the boat and get off at the end. Gear was perfectly set up, fins, weigh belt, mask, and set in precisely the same spot each time. If I was forgetful and left my dive socks in my mask instead of in my booties, they were back in my booties for the next dive. He took better care of my gear than I do. Everything was rinsed after each dive; fresh cold drinking water always was available on the boat. Should I forget to put on weight belt or fins, there was gentle reminder before he brought my tank to me and assisted me into my BC. Heavenly. This was possibly the first dive trip I went home from with my back feeling better than when I left. Of special note: there are a few 50 and 60 cubic foot tanks for light air users, which also helped my back. Nitrox is not available. All other dive gear, including computers, is available for rent. There are no dive time limits, except those imposed by computers and air. You do have to come up when the divemaster runs out of time or air. We were always close. My dives were from 55 to 74 minutes. I found no need for the two wet suits I packed. The 84 degree water was like a bathtub; the occasional upwelling was refreshing, not cold.

The bonefish here are special. A small group is literally a few feet from some of the cabañas. You could almost cast from your porch. There is a group of thousands of bonefish in shallow water a few islands away, 30 minutes by boat. Captain Ashton Richie is a fishing guide extraordinaire. Soft-spoken, intuitive, he knows what you want before you can ask and can spot the bones as the boat pulls in to the bay. For those interested in deep-sea fishing, I can only tell you that the boats never returned empty. Always wahoo, barracuda, king mackerel or more.

What is very special is the opportunity to have an island all to yourself. You and the divemaster on a private dive. You and the fishing guide, alone in paradise. The cook catering to your needs and desires. By the end of a trip here, you have new friends and the desire to return . . . soon.


I am the husband of the reviewer above, and a diver and fishpainter for more than sixty years. I got to Belize several times when it was still British Honduras, and many times later including a chartered boat dive trip the whole length of the barrier reef and two other atolls in Belize, Turneffe, and Lighthouse as well as almost every other dive site in the Caribbean and the Bahamas. We chose to go to the nature conservancy on the isolated atoll of Glover’s reef hoping that it would still be untouched by resorts, hotels, spas and other damages civilization has done to the waters and sea creatures of the Caribbean. After two dive trips to Glover’s I can say with convictions that it is the last place left in the whole Caribbean that is still like it used to be sixty years ago in the water, for the number and variety its fish, and for its direct simplicity. If you go there to enjoy hot tubs, lie in the sand while uniformed waiters bring cold margueritas and shiver in air-conditioned suites watching TV you will be totally disappointed. If you go for the diving, the fly casting, the off-shore game fishing and the direct simplicity of a family owned island, with good food, boats, guides and glimpses of how it used to before travel agencies and hotels, then Marisol is the right place to dive and fish. It isn’t Nassau, Roatan, Bonaire or Turks and Caicos, thanks to its isolation from the mainland, nor is it Ambergris Key in Belize or Grand Cayman or Cancun, thanks to the providence which has kept it mostly unvisited for so long.

  • Stayed: June 2005
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21  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 6, 2005

Located 35 miles off the coast of Belize, this resort is one of the more expensive options for your aquatic holiday. We picked Isla Marisol because the area had the reputation as one of the best coral outbreaks in the world, and because we assumed a level of service that would justify the added expense. Sadly it did not.

I must first state that we are not high maintenance people, to the contrary, our first port of call, was Pine Ridge Lodge, a rustic, no electricity lodge located in the Hills of Belize, and we loved it. But Isla Marisol had some fairly significant issues, that simply could not be forgotten, nor over looked.

Yes, the coral was pristine, and yes, the fish were in amazing abundance, but considering a host of other resorts and lodges are just a stone throw away, Isla Marisol is not your only option for these spectacular waters.

The first, and most striking issue, was the trash on the beach. Plastic bottles, shoes, bags, containers, and various other bits of plastic were strewn all over the beach. We were told that debris washes up from cruise ships, and other resorts, but that they have a man that collects trash every morning. Fair enough, we thought, as they shouldn't be blamed for others, but we saw the same junk for five days.

The other issues only compounded the overall sense that this place was all about making some quick cash. The cabanas, only two years young, were strewn with cracks, and looked like they'd been built in a day. "Eye sore" was the phrase that came immediately to mind, as they looked like military huts. The doors lacked screens, the non-working ceiling fan looked older then the coral, and the florescent lighting was not a pleasant touch. Again, I must point out that we are NOT fussy people, these huts were not simple, they were cheap, and were obviously made with zero pride.

The food was also a disappointment. Eddie Usher, the manager, told us about the fresh produce and promised us spectacular food. Canned tomatoes and onions passing as salsa, and a frozen t-bone steak with commercial BBQ sauce that was used the night before on mediocre shrimp was not what we had in mind. We had sampled some great food at Pook's Hill Lodge in the Cayo district, so we knew good food was a possibility in Belize. FYI, fruit cordial (squash) is not real fruit juice.

Finally, we come to the activities. Both my girlfriend and I wanted to snorkel, and we did see some amazing sea life, but the guides were not very helpful. This place obviously caters much more to avid divers, but they do offer a snorkel package for not that much less then the dive package, so some consideration was expected. No one sat with us, and asked us what we wanted to see, or do, in fact Eddie only talked to us to try and convince us to upgrade to the dive package. We weren't properly fitted with masks, or snorkels, and I had to rely on my girlfriends generosity to let me use her snorkel, when mine was obviously broken. They only took us to sites that were 10 minutes away by boat, and on the last day asked us where we wanted to go? Perhaps they had expected us to do extensive research on the area before hand, but isn't that their job?

By themselves all these issues might not be that big a deal, but compounded they show an establishment run by cutting corners, doing the bare minimum, and lacking the customer service one would expect a more expensive resort to have. We've both traveled a lot, and are realists in what to expect, and more importantly, what not to expect from people, but it can truly be said, that Isla Marisol falls short of the mark, far short.

  • Stayed: May 2005
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25  Thank drewnyc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 8, 2005

This resort is relatively new on an island owned by the Usher Family at the southern end of Glover's Atoll. The Ushers seem to be related to everyone in Belize, but the resort is the brainchild of Eddie Usher, a smooth-talking guy in his mid-30s. He has invested significant sums in the development of the resort.

Food was great -- much better than average. Accommodations were good as well...lots of desalinated water and hot showers, soft sheets and towels. The cabanas are airy, well constructed and clean.

Diving: All drift diving, which is the best. Ashton, the boat operator, knows the reef and marine life very well and will tell you much about fish and the reef. Glover's Atoll has some of the best diving in Belize.

When we were there, there were only two of us, and we dived with the dive master by ourselves all week. Lots of turtles, rays, nurse sharks, eels, etc. Visibility was less on this trip than I recall from others. Good dive shop; modern compressor; well maintained boats. Dive sites vary from coral heads to wall diving. Whale shark diving in the spring is a big attraction, but expect more people.

Cons. The place is a little more spendy because of the overhead to operate it (the diesel generator, though quiet, runs constantly). There are sand flies, so Gringos should take plenty of bug spray. Pica-pica, the bane of spring diving is also present, so a full wet suit is recommended, otherwise expect to get nailed. Prednisone and benedryl are good things to have along.

Once you are there, you are there, so take good books and expect to spend lots of time diving, relaxing, and reading.

  • Stayed: May 2005
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14  Thank James H
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: 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: $521 - $1,079 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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 NEW "over the water" bar and phenomenal Belizean style food in our dining room. Incredible water sports 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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