The notion of a private Caribbean island retreat is seductive enough in itself, but why stop there? Why not up the ante and throw in a 7,000-yard golf course that sprawls much of the island, along with a luxe clubhouse and some oceanside villas? Flying northeast from Belize City, this is exactly the spectacle you’ll witness off your right wing, a golfer’s Fantasy Island of sorts called Caye Chapel.
Where to Play
There is only one golf course on Caye Chapel (800-901-8938; www.cayechapel.com;); in fact, there’s only one golf course in the nation of Belize (once known as British Honduras). The good news is that the Caye Chapel track is both challenging and relentlessly picturesque. Designed by the island’s owner, coal magnate Larry Addington, the course covers most of this spit of sand, moving north and south from the monolithic clubhouse betwixt saltwater ponds and ever-swaying palm trees. Every hole offers Caribbean vistas, and several skirt the sea so closely that a quick swim is quite conceivable. Should you choose to skinny dip, there will be few prying eyes; Caye Chapel has a maximum of 50 guests at a time, so the course is quite literally yours (there are no tee times and no limit upon how many rounds you can play). Mid-round swimmers should avoid the ponds, however, as they’re home to saltwater crocodiles, indigenous to this part of the western Caribbean. The wind that rattles the palm fronds – a steady 30 miles per hour from the east the day I played – is easily enough to send a slightly wayward shot far into the drink, and helps explain Caye Chapel’s slope rating of 139. Resort guests enjoy unlimited golf for $50/day; day trippers pay $150/day, and must make reservations by emailing [email protected].
Where to Stay
Most who play Caye Chapel stay at Caye Chapel. The island offers beachfront villas which can accommodate up to 4 persons ($1,000 per villa per day during the winter high season) and marina-front casitas for twosomes ($300 per day). While villas and casitas have kitchens, there’s no market on Caye Chapel, and most take their meals at the elegant clubhouse restaurant (meal packages are $75/day per person). The entire island can be rented for $31,250 a day (three day minimum). Visitors seeking more shopping and nightlife attractions may opt to stay at Ambergris Caye (www.ambergriscaye.com), Belize’s busiest tourist island, which is a ten-minute plane or 40-minute boat ride away.
Home of the second largest barrier reef in the world, coastal Belize is renowned for its diving and snorkeling opportunities; moray eels, parrotfish and lemon sharks are regularly encountered. Anglers also flock here to pursue bonefish, permit and tarpon on the shallow water flats. Caye Chapel Island Resort can facilitate any of these aquatic pursuits, and also offers sunset cruises on a bar-equipped barge. Adventures to the mainland to visit Mayan ruins and the celebrated Belize Zoo can also be arranged.
Most travelers come to Belize via Belize City, which is served from Houston, Miami and Charlotte by various U.S. carriers. From Belize City, it’s a ten minute flight to Caye Chapel($70 per person round trip); the resort will be happy to make your flight arrangements.
When to Go
Temperatures and humidity are most reasonable December through April, though steady trade winds make the steamy summer months bearable. Slightly cooler weather returns in the fall, but there’s always a slim chance that a hurricane may pass through.