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Reviewed November 2, 2015

I was searching for an inexpensive Caribbean excursion for our mission teams we bring to Belize each year, and through much searching, I found Joe Jo's on Tobacco Caye. Louis, the owner, is a special man. He grew up on Tobacco Caye, and he now is taking a piece of property and creating his own little paradise. Please note - the island itself is "rustic" - basically, it's a fisherman's village. So you are going to see some ruined homes, rusty boats, a bit of trash, etc. But, by coming to Tobacco Caye, you are coming to someone's home, not a resort island owned by an international conglomerate. With that said, Joe Jo's property is BEAUTIFUL - restored cabanas, guest house, and kitchen and dining hall. Louis, his friend Winston, and Winston's nephew Darren do EVERYTHING they possibly can to make you welcome and create a customized stay. Snorkeling and kayaking are included in the price, and Louis even arranged an inexpensive charter fishing trip for my husband and his friend. A local fisherman took them out, and besides catching some wonderful "trophy" fish, they were even able to help him catch a bit of his snapper quota for market! The food was wonderful, and the ladies in the kitchen do a fantastic job. There is no AC in the rooms, but rotating fans does make the heat tolerable. If you want to experience the real Belize, I highly recommend Joe Jo's By The Reef

Room tip: The Cabana by the current dock can be a bit noisy as boats come and go - ask for one away from the dock if possible
Date of stay: October 2015
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank 2luvbird
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 1, 2015

We had the pleasure of staying at Joe Jo's for about a week in September for an anniversary, and it could have not have been a better experience. It was the off-season, so the island had very few tourists at the time. Louis, the property's owner, made us feel very welcome, like his personal guest, and Winston, the property's caregiver, took exceptional care of us through the week. The accommodations were newly renovated and seemed to set a new bar for the island. All the cabins had an unobstructed view of the reef with a cool breeze off the water. They were cozy, great for couples. The food was great! We have no food peculiarities and were happy to have what was served, but they seemed ready to accommodate any food-related needs we had. Not surprisingly, we had some outstanding fresh fish, but were surprised and pleased to find that it was also lobster season.

The fun stuff: the vacation was as active or leisurely as you want it to be. We were able to relax in comfort if we chose to, which we did occasionally, but the opportunity to see amazing ocean life was unparalleled on days we chose to take advantage of it. It was very easy to snorkel off the side of the island to the reef and see some spectacular sea creatures. We saw spotted eagle rays, enormous sting rays, a school of tarpon, 7 foot green moray eels, an octopus, all manor of snapper, triggerfish, trumpetfish, and others around the reef. There was also some beautiful kayaking to be had. We took a trip to nearby bird island, which is a sanctuary for frigates and other sea birds, and tried to see manatee, but were unlucky on that front, so we did some more snorkling further out on the reef. There was opportunity to fish and dive, though we didn't do those things. There is also a bar on the island if you're so inclined.

The drawbacks: We came at a time just before their first full season, so there are still some improvements being made. There is limited power during the day (but present all night), which is generator based at this time, though this seems to be a standard for the island as a whole. For some the absence of wi-fi or internet could also be viewed as a drawback, but for us being unplugged for the week was an added bonus. Having said that, both of those things were being addressed with plans to rectify them for the season with solar energy and installation of wi-fi.

Overall, Louis and his team have really put together something special on that little island. We're looking forward to my next trip back.

Date of stay: September 2015
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank Andrew C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 4, 2015

We spent our final two nights in Belize on Tabacco Caye at Joe Jo's. We had just completed a stay of almost six weeks in Belize doing service work and this was a perfect location to celebrate the end of our summer and enjoy beautiful Belize. Winston and his family were managing the property while we were there and we can't thank them enough for their hospitality. His lovely wife cooked amazing meals for us, his children (and nephews) played with our kids and helped them get acquainted with the island (including gathering coconuts and showing the kids how to get to the water and grind out the meat), and Winston was always on hand to help answer questions or get us what we needed. It was wonderful that so many local kids were on the island while we there. Our kids loved playing volleyball, hide and seek, kayaking and hanging out with them.

We stayed in the middle cabana right on the water. It was such a tranquil retreat with an amazing view of the reef, ocean and wildlife. The beds were comfortable and it was such a treat to have our own bathroom and a shower with hot water since we had not had either during time in BZ.

A few things I wish that I had known beforehand:
*Make sure you have cash for your lodging/food/drinks/activities - no credit cards
*There are a couple places on the island you can purchase food to eat - the Snack Shack at the Tabacco Caye Lodge is awesome for snacks or chicken etc...
*I was not clear about when the boats were leaving the Riverside Cafe in Dangriga to get out to the island. I think most times you set a certain time up with the manager and so it's cut and dry but we didn't have a clear time to embark and luckily happened to get there right as Michael with the Marine Reserve Station was returning and he let us hitch a ride.
*The ride was VERY bumpy and we ended up using our life vests to cushion the hard blows. The captain gave me a rain coat and I should have used it... my side of the boat was pelted with water almost the entire ride. Don't misunderstand, the ride was a fantastic adventure for sure but it would not have been easy for some people. I don't know if it's always like that on the way out or if the water was particularly choppy that day or we were going much faster than most boats.
*Be careful jumping off the docks into the water. The kids were doing it a lot and so my husband joined in too.... unfortunately, he's heavier and the spot he chose to jump into was a bit too shallow and he cut his foot pretty badly on a conch shell. Check out the depth and wear water shoes before jumping in.

Don't miss this wonderful island or Joe Jo's!

Room tip: The middle cabana on the water!
Date of stay: July 2015
  • Trip type: Traveled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
2  Thank BoulderBieks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 31, 2015

We stayed for three night at the Island. The cabanas are recently renovated, clean and simply furnished but you sleep well after a day on the reef. All of the cabanas have a balcony with a 180 degrees viem of the ocean. The restaurant where under renovation end not opened when we stayed there. Note that you need cash - you cant pay with card

Date of stay: April 2015
  • Trip type: Traveled with family
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank EvaLasse2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 19, 2015

I stayed almost a week at Joe Jo's By The Reef, it was simply fantastic. The lovely and clean cabins are new built, with private bathrooms, veranda with hammock and relax chair and seaview.
Just relax and listen to the sea :-)
The owner Luis and his manager Winston were totally friendly and always helpful if there was any question. The restaurant was at ongoing construction, so I had breakfeast and dinner just next to Joe Jo's at Jean's Place, which was absolutely delicious! Thanks to Miss Margret - the best chef on the island - and Salomon!
If you are travelling to Tobacco Caye stay at Joe Jo's by the reef, hope you will love it as I did!

Date of stay: January 2015
  • Trip type: Traveled solo
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
2  Thank babs-travelling
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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