If heading in from Mexico and want take your time and avoid a night in Belize City, check out Crooked Tree. This sprawling village on an island surrounded by a freshwater lagoon is not for those looking for a happening nightlife, but a back to nature sort of place.

Accomodation choice is limited and very similar. The locations tend to be the deciding factor, both The Paradise Inn (this is now the Crooked Tree Lodge) and BIrds Eye View Lodge have stunning lagoon views, especially at sunset. However, Sam Tillett's Hotel was the cheapest and most established, but Sam passed away last year so the hotel is closed. Sam was the local authority on wildlife within Crooked Tree, specifically birds, and many birders stayed just to pick his brain. 

The whole area encompassing the village and lagoon is a wildlife sanctuary with a wealth of fauna and flora. It is run by the Belize Audubon Society (pay $4.00 entrance fee) and internationally known for its bird life. You should ask for Robert at the Crooked Tree Lodge for birding tours. Of the 275 bird species, the flock of Jabiru stork and wintering Yucatan Jays are a speciality. Just ask Robert where they are and make your own way or book one of his guided lagoon tours. He was really a good bird tour guide and enjoyed his job, which always makes the experience better!

The newly refurbished Crooked Tree Lodge is still working out some kinks, but it is accepting guests. Just drive to the visitor center and they will give you a map of the village.