Umaya Resort – formerly Belize Ocean Club – straddles the narrow Placencia Peninsula of Belize, home to the country’s best beaches and a laid-back main village. It has a golden beach on one side with a pool, then a large lagoon with a mountain backdrop on the other side of the road. With a 5-star PADI dive shop on site, it’s also ready to take you underwater for scuba diving.
The small Central American country of Belize gets lots of visitors heading south to warm up and its extensive coral reef is a big draw for divers. You usually have to get out to the far-flung islands to find a nice beach, however. The main draw island of Ambergris Caye doesn’t exactly wow visitors with its beach scene.
Placencia is a different story though. When you look down from the window of a domestic prop plane flight from Belize City coming in, there’s clearly a long beach extending from the tip all the way up the coast.
You don’t have to contort yourself in just the right spot to get a good beach photo in this area. At any of the main resorts here you’ll be able to kick back in a lounge chair with your toes in the sand.
This upscale Placencia resort has quite a few advantages though, besides just the well-equipped dive shop. First of all, you will be in a suite no matter what. The rooms at Belize Ocean Club are all basically the same except for the top-floor ones having higher beamed ceilings and the second bedroom being used or locked off depending on your rate. That’s a good thing though because even at the lowest rate, you’re getting a fully equipped condo with a real kitchen, dining room table, living room, and furnished balcony in addition to the bedroom and bath. Take a look around in the video tour below:
Your view choices are good from either set of buildings. One set faces the pool and beach, the other faces the lagoon for sunsets and is closer to the main restaurant and bar.
The swimming pool at Umaya Resort is long enough for laps, with different depths and a swim-up bar. There are lounge chairs around the pool and on the beach, plus a covered palapa area where you can order lunch in the shade. Waves lapping the shore here are only ankle height, so this is a good place to let small children play in the sea.
Food served here at The Clubhouse Restaurant is quite good by often disappointing Central American standards, overseen by a chef who has clearly studied the craft. You can get upscale versions of Belizean classics, enjoy some fresh seafood prepared with flair, or get your standard international favorites. They try to utilize local ingredients and flavors and have a small organic garden on site. The bar at the pool is joined by a larger one in the main building, which is filled with polished local hardwoods and has a view of the lagoon and mountains through walls of glass.
You can also order food at the beach bar. Then there are a few other restaurants a walk, bike, or short ride down the road and a daily free shuttle to Placencia village 15-20 minutes away. Airport pickups are generally included in the rates if you’re not arriving by car.
Staffers can arrange all kinds of excursions on the water, including fishing and snorkeling, or you can head the other direction. Inland there are Mayan ruins, jungles to explore, and caves to go tubing through.
Rates on the official website start at around $140 in low season before taxes and a mandatory service fee, maxing out at about $750 for the best “penthouse” ocean view 2BR suite in high season. Check their package deals page for specials or see prices elsewhere at or Hotels.com.
Review by editor Tim Leffel, who was hosted at Umaya Resort while writing a feature story for another publication. Photos by the author, video tour courtesy of Luxury Latin America Belize.