There are plenty of jungle lodges to choose from in Belize, but Bocawina Rainforest Resort has the rare combination of being both easily accessible by road from a city with an airport, but also in a national park teeming with wildlife. Lots of tourists stream through here on day trips, but if you stay at the lodge you’ll be home when you get done ziplining, hiking, or rappelling.
There’s plenty of good hiking in the area and since the resort sits right in a national park, you don’t have to go very far to get into wild spaces. The conservation group Panthera.org has sensor cameras up to catch shots of wild cats and has captured photos of all five wild cats of Belize in this rainforest reserve. You’re not likely to see a jaguar, but we did see paw prints from a mother and a baby on one hike I took. While sipping my coffee on the day of departure, I saw parrots, trogans, and aracaris in the trees just around the resort.
Bocawina is best known for its on-site adventure activities. The longest zipline complex is Belize is the centerpiece of Bocawina, with nine different runs through the jungle and across open spaces. If you get a group together, they’ll even do a night run. Experienced guides and good equipment ensure you can expect good safety standards and here in Belize, English is the main language. They also lead waterfall hikes that transition to rappelling down waterfalls and night hikes, when you’re most likely to spot the many nocturnal animals.
This resort has the rambling look of one that expanded organically over time, much like the jungle surrounding it. The smallest and cheapest rooms are in a simple blocky building with lawns in front of it and views of the mountains beyond from the porch. Then there’s an octagonal building toward the back of the property that has suites in several sizes, including a huge family suite with a king bed, a queen, and living room furniture. That’s the Sunset Suite I stayed in pictured below. The Antelope Suite also has the same family bed configuration.
The most private rooms are the casitas, which are free-standing thatched cabanas. One has two beds and the other has two adjoining bedrooms in a duplex set-up. All rooms have maid service (with whimsical towel sculptures and flower petals on the bed to welcome you). You can expect comfortable beds, baths with basic toiletries, and some kind of sitting area. Wi-Fi can be slow and spotty depending on which unit you’re in, but it’s hard to expect more when out here off the grid. This is an eco-resort, powered by solar panels in the daytime, but a generator does kick in at night for peak usage time.
An organic garden supplies some of the vegetables and herbs for Wild Fig, the surprisingly good restaurant. It’s not always easy finding good meals in Central America, especially at non-luxury hotels, but a wide range of reliably good dishes comes out of the kitchen here. The spicy blackened snapper was the highlight of my visit, but it was just one of many well-presented, tasty items on the menu. The hustling wait staff here goes above and beyond the Belizian norm as well.
The bar serves until 9:00 p.m. in this early-to-rise location, but you’re free to hang out for a while after that. There’s also a lounge building a few steps away that has books, games, and DVDs, plus some outdoor sitting areas for times when the bugs aren’t hungry. (Bring good DEET insect repellent here: these jungle ones just laugh at the organic versions and chomp away.)
From the welcome drink to the friendly check-out and transfer, staffers here are friendly and helpful. This complex is a part of the well-run Belize Adventure Group, which has been in business for decades. The closest city is Dangriga, but you can also reach Bocawina in a couple hours or less from Hopkins, Placencia, and Belmopan.
Rates start at under $100 including breakfast and top out at around $220 in high season. See more information and book direct at the resort’s website , where you’ll find the best room descriptions and photos. Or check deal rates online at Expedia.
Review and photos by editor and adventure writer Tim Leffel, who was hosted at the resort as part of a tour with Island Expeditions for another publication. As always, all opinions are his own.