If you go - Turtle Inn

Transportation: You can fly from Houston-Belize City in 2 ½ hours; Dallas-Belize City is just under 3 hours. You can fly from Belize City-Placencia in about 35 minutes or take a 3-½-hours shuttle ride for roughly the same price.

IMHO:

     I’m not sure I can give a better endorsement for a place than to visit it two years in a row. And the only reason we didn’t spend the whole week of spring break here again was because we wanted to visit Tikal and another Coppola resort. Basically, if you’re willing to spend the money, Turtle Inn is a fantastic place for children of any age.

     With lots of area to explore and plenty of privacy, it’s perfect for either lazing around the whole day, or venturing out to snorkel or zip-line tours, returning afterward to the resort’s luxurious confines.

     As well, in addition to the centralized main pool (there’s another one that’s smaller but adults-only), there are three on-site restaurants: The Mare Restaurant is an open-air eatery that’s conveniently located off the main lobby area offering seafood and Italian options, including the pizza cooked in a wood-burning oven that was a favorite among our group; The Gauguin Grill, located about a minute’s walk from the central lodge/pool area along the beach with charcoal-grilled seafood options (and so many no-see-ums practically to eat Colin alive, so bug spray is a MUST); and Auntie Luba’s Kitchen, which offers traditional Belizean fare and is just a short walk across the street.

     Added kid-friendly bonus: You can order from any of the three menus in any restaurant, allowing my boys to eat cheese pizza for every meal if they chose.

     In addition to numerous food options, including the gelato bar and poolside service, across the street are a dive shop and the Sunset Spa (near Auntie Luba’s Kitchen). Whether you want a full-fledged diving experience, an hour-long massage or a sunset cruise, these amenities and more are just steps away from the resort lobby.

     One more option: a stable of bikes parked outside the dive shop, perfect for guests to bike ride into nearby Placencia village. A few of our favorite haunts there include The Shak for delicious smoothies, The Purple Space Monkey Bar & Grill for drinks and appetizers, and The Art Affair Gallery for handcrafted, beaded jewelry.

     But what if my children are too young to drag around Placencia, you ask? No problem! At Turtle Inn’s beach you’ll find an array of pool and beach toys—including a couple of pool rafts—as well as beachside bocce ball. You can also swim all day in the pool, kayak or windsurf from the shore, or snorkel out to the moored raft and catch some kid-free rays.

     The resort also offers an afternoon kids’ club, where staff take your children for two hours either to fish off the dive-shop dock, pick vegetables from the garden or eggs from the henhouse, and feed the turtles that greet you at the main entrance. (My kids most enjoyed fishing and picking eggs.) And best of all—drum roll please—you can hire an on-site sitter while you nap or enjoy a quiet meal in peace.

     Heaven. On. Earth.

Caveat for Parents:

     There's no easy way to say this: costs here add up quickly. Bottom line: If you're on a strict budget, this is not going to make your list of options. (Read "Placencia on a Budget" instead.)

PROS:

  • Cottages and villas offer plenty of privacy and space
  • Easy beach access offering sea kayaking and wind sailing
  • Extensive food and activity choices, including access to bikes
  • Close to Placencia Village
  • On-site dive shop and spa
  • Kid-friendly activities and babysitting services
  • Free wi-fi in main restaurant

CONS:

  • Price. The gelato bar alone will set you back about $7 U.S. per serving.