Belize and the beach. They just go together, like bees and honey, like cheese and wine, like me and Diet Coke. And then there’s Ka’ana Resort.
Ka’ana Resort is located outside San Igancio, a two hour drive from the closest coast — about as far as you can be from the ocean in Belize without backing into Guatemala. If travelers are going to include a jungle stop in their Belize itinerary, it’s most likely to be right in this region. The Cayo District packs an impressive punch of Mayan ruins, winding cave systems, lush jungle, and lodging at all budget levels.
Our first family trip to Belize twelve years ago also included a stay in San Ignacio; my first introduction to a tropical rainforest. I had very special memories of this place, and I was thrilled to return to the spot where my obsession with all things lush and lowland began.
San Ignacio was our second stop in Belize, after Hopkins. Our two home bases had distinctly different feels. Where Hopkins Bay Resort had been approachable and charming, Ka’ana Resort was chic and sophisticated. While we saw families at both properties, Ka’ana definitely had a more grown-up vibe. It’s a resort that would leave any designer swooning! We all agreed we were glad we’d gone to the beach first — Ka’ana would have been an impossible act to follow.
While two-bedroom suites similar to where we stayed in Hopkins Bay are available at Ka’ana, they were previously booked, and so our group of four split into two separate casitas. Considering the intimate size of this boutique property, it was no big deal.
One of the most impressive things I learned about Ka’ana is that every piece of art and furniture on the grounds was produced within a forty mile radius of the hotel. Talk about local pride.
Right down to the bathroom, I loved the focus on regional, all-natural materials and the effort to go plastic-free. Even the shampoo and conditioner were refilled each day into hand-carved little pots.
Whereas in Hopkins we had eaten as many times off property as we did on, we literally ate every single meal at Ka’ana. We couldn’t be bothered to take a cab into town when we loved the onsite La Ceiba restaurant as much as we did! In keeping with the local focus, much of the restaurant’s ingredients are sourced from the hotel’s onsite organic garden.
The hotel serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and we found that at lunch we literally had the dining room to ourselves. Most guests spend their days out on private excursions exploring all Belize has to offer, which means you’ll have peace, quiet and privacy if you decide to linger back for a day.
The dining room, like the rest of the property, left me swooning. And hey — so did the company.
Like at Hopkins Bay Resort, our most unique and memorable dining experience was a hands-on one. When we first toured the property on arrival, we noticed a small traditional kitchen set on a second story balcony, like a little treehouse of deliciousness. Immediately I recalled reading raving reviews of the hotel’s onsite Mayan Cooking Class, and was thrilled we’d signed up.
The evening of our class, we strolled over the the treehouse kitchen and met with a Mayan mother and daughter duo from the nearby village. They were delighted to hear we were also a mother daughter (and niece!) group, and we chatted about everything from their kids and grandkids to our day jobs to their favorite dishes to what we thought of Belize. All the while they were cranking out local treat like corn tortillas, tamales, and caldo, pausing often to explain the process and let us get in on the fun. There was a lot of laughter all around.
I may not be much of a cook — I suppose that’s an understatement — but I’m absolutely enamored with this concept. I love that we were so intimately introduced to an important part of the local culture, I love that we had such an authentic and lovely interaction with a local family, and I love that we loved the food. While we were really enthusiastic about our similar experience in Hopkins, we weren’t crazy about the local cuisine. Here, we ate so much we pretty much rolled ourselves out of that kitchen.
iPhone, please up your low-light photo quality game!
Of course, we were never too full for a nightcap in the bar, where there was a menu of regional ingredient-infused cocktails awaiting, along with an array of board games for good ‘ol fashioned evening entertainment.
We were so smitten with Ka’ana that we actually cancelled one of our activities so we could just spend a whole day hanging out there. Three nights meant we only had two full days in the area. One was taken up by an almost dreamlike excursion to the Mayan ruin of Xunantunich (post coming soon!), and for the other we’d planned to take a local ceramics class. But once we arrived, we were weary of being in the car and decided to scrap the ceramics in order to spend a full day soaking up all Ka’ana had to offer.
Like its gorgeous yoga platform. Group classes are offered a few times a week, but we weren’t there for one of them. Not a problem, as we’d brought our own! My cousin Kirsten is a freshly-certified yoga instructor, and we couldn’t wait for her to show us her moves.
After, I snapped a few photos for Kirsten’s future teaching website. What a gorgeous setting to practice in!
The rest of our “day off” was spent enjoying the pool and rotating through the spa for the massages my mom generously and spontaneously treated us to (she knows the way to this girl’s heart!). The spa menu featured intriguing regional treatments like a Mayan Abdominal Massage, though we went for the more traditional hot stone rub down.
The incredibly attentive service at this hotel really highlighted the heart of Belizean hospitality. Ka’ana blends big resort amenities with a small boutique feel, from the hand-written welcome notes that awaited us upon arrival to the adorable hand-made treats left in our rooms each evening.
The service was so fantastic we actually joked that they must have been bugging our room, as a smiling member of the staff always seemed to appear with whatever we needed, just as the thought we’d needed it began to percolate in our minds. Finished our impromptu yoga class? Our favorite bartender was waiting with a fresh juice and a towel. En route to our massage? A receptionist passed and wished us a relaxing treatment. Everyone we encountered was quick with a smile and eager to hear if we were enjoying their country — and they beamed with pride when we reported nothing but love.
Literally our only suggestion upon departure was that the staff wear name tags. The entire team was so quick to greet us by name, we were embarrassed when we couldn’t recall theirs!
Three nights barely scratched the surface of what this region, and what this resort, has to offer. Caving, tubing, ziplining, hiking, ceramic making… we could have stayed a week! Thanks to the lush grounds and the warm staff, Ka’ana Resort really felt like a home away from home. It fit my design aesthetic perfectly and now sits firmly on the list of my favorites around the world.
But once again, the best part of Belize was spending time with this crew of blondes.
Stay tuned for our Mayan ruin adventures!
Missed a post? Read all my Belize coverage here! Many thanks to Ka’ana Resort for hosting us and making our family trip so special. As always, you receive my honest opinions regardless of who is footing the bill.
You’ve actually made me feel like I am in rural Belize just by reading this! x
Then I’ve done my job 🙂 Thanks for reading, Sarah!
SPEECHLESS. Ok I do have a few things to say…
1) Refillable shampoo pots. I die. TAKE NOTE, HOTEL INDUSTRY!
2) That Mayan cooking demo! In a treehouse! What?
3) I am totally doing this with my husband. The end.
Your comments always make me smile and/or snort, Becky. And I love it!
Ka’ana looks like heaven on earth! It seems like the type of place where you feel removed from other people, and that’s just how I like it. Also – kudos on all the Belize-joke-based titles – I love them and totally approve.
I’m getting pretty pun wild around these parts, Marni! (Though sadly this comment is 100% pun-free. It’s too late at night to be witty…)
How did you get around in Belize?
When I was there 30 years ago it was difficult. Military issues, political unrest, shootings and hackings with machetes.
When we sailed the coast in a friends boat always needed to hire a guard to stay onboard when we went ashore.
Seems wonderfully different now and I must return. My memories need redoing but Interesting memories they are. The airport was full of British Marines with missel launchers on the taxiways. Harrier jets flying the pattern and fights in the bars. Kind of like an old Bogart movie but way too real.
Thanks for illustrating that some parts of Central America have come a long ways in a relatively short time. The natural beauty was always there.
Wow, that sounds wild Rick! We hired a transportation service to do all three legs of our trip and traveled comfortably in a big van (though the roads in Hopkins weren’t fantastic.) On my first trip to Belize twelve years ago we traveled by small plane between our resorts (living large back then 😉 )
I’m not sure what I’m loving more, your Belize posts or the punny titles!
Haha, now that I know this is a safe space to pun, I might have to go for it more often!
I would like to second that! LOVING the Belize-joke titles!
You guys are making my day! 🙂
What I really want to know more than anything is how you all managed to look so fresh-faced in the middle of the humid Belizean jungle. I’m melting over here in Montenegro. Like, makeup isn’t even an option. How do you do it, woman?!
Beautiful place, I suddenly want to be smack in the middle of the jungle! But I guess beach will do for now. 😉
I swear to god I get the most compliments when I’m in sweltering swamp-like environs. I guess heat and sweat agrees with me?! I know that whenever I have a tan, I abandon all but my eye makeup.
Very interesting post! I agree with Sarah 🙂 post and picture are very well crafted that me sitting in city of London feeling that i am in Belize. Also resort looks great and i can feel that rural aroma. Great!
Glad I could bring you along to Belize with me, even if just for an afternoon 🙂
You’re photos for this post are gorgeous and I really felt like I was there with you. Love your indepth descriptions and the warm feeling of the hotel, which came across as I read about it. It seems they really, honestly care about sharing their culture, way of living and friendliness with you all.
Wish I were there!
We were really impressed with Belizean hospitality. It’s very refreshing compared to some cultures that can be a bit indifferent towards visitors (which hey, that’s their prerogative I suppose!)
I use to be very anti-resort. At least the big box ones, not so much against the boutique ones. But I tried it once in the Dominican Republic and it was actually pretty good. Really good food’ clean beach and as much as you want to drink. Made the call to stay on the adult side so there was no munchkin marco polo breaking up the ambiance.
Um, I don’t think I knew about this adult side option. One of the things holding me back from the cheap all inclusive offers I see on Travelzoo and the like all the time is that I really don’t like being around screaming kids on vacation. I might have to look into this!
Aww, I’m in love with this place. It looks like THE PERFECT spot for a family getaway. I would totally love to go there with my mom and sister. Also, the Mayan cooking class looks right up my alley. Not that I’m much of a cook either, but I’ve always wanted to learn how to make my own tortillas and tamales 🙂
I hope more resorts adopt this idea, Justine. I’ve also seen it once in Indonesia. So much fun, and no need to leave the property again after a long day of exploring.
This looks absolutely gorgeous! I wish I’d known about this place when I was in San Ignacio last year!
Where did you stay, Arianwen? There’s so much to see and do in the San Ignacio area, it’s one I’d definitely return to!
Wow, a beautiful beach resort followed by a beautiful jungle one – this is like the perfect combination on a short holiday! Btw, Kirsten has some amazing yoga/gymnastics skills, and you guys all look so happy to be together 🙂
She is truly impressive — stay tuned to see even more in my next Belize post!
Love this post! Love the photos, storytelling – love everything! You made me wish I was in Belize right now!
Then my work here is done. *Drops mic*
Loved Belize…thanks of you 🙂 This is the second destination, after Inca trail, that I added to my list coz of your blog. Keep going!
I love to hear that Rekha! Let’s keep making that list longer 🙂
Love everything about this post!! and what a perfect setting for some outdoor yoga too. wanderlusting for belize now!! xx 🙂
Even more Belize to come… and it just keeps getting better and better 🙂
Oh this is a really good travel diary! I can almost feel the hospitality of the people in Belize! I also enjoy spending time with the locals so I bet that cooking class was amazing!
They were incredibly hospitable. Not having a language barrier really helped us connect to the locals in Belize.
I love you three gals in your brightly colored tropical dresses!
I know, it was perfect! We didn’t even plan that… though clearly we all think alike!
Sitting in a gloomy airport right now, this post was just the burst of colour and pixely sunshine I was looking for! You’d better Belize I’ll get to this place one day (sorry, couldn’t help it.)
Abi, I’d have been disappointed if you DIDN’T go for a Belize pun 😉
Gorgeous! I started this post a bit skeptical that you could convince me to leave the shoreline in a place like Belize, but you did it! I love when a resort provides everything you need like that, without feeling cookie cutter.
Yup, Ka’ana has that truly boutique feel. And there is that gorgeous pool, if you feel the need to get your feet wet 🙂
…and now I have to go to Ka’ana!
Perhaps a new wedding location, now that Silver Airways ruined your last one? 😉
This place looks absolutely charming. I LOVE it!
You should definitely add it to your Central America wish list, D!
Love everything about this post. Seems like an absolutely incredible place to say and so… real. It’s not often you come across a place that works so sympathetically with it’s local surroundings but this place manages too whilst beaming with local pride. Love the refillable bottles – i’ve seen it in Anantara and Sheraton’s but never in lesser priced accommodation, and it’s a shame – i feel like it’s something everyone should be doing! xo
Indeed. Ka’ana just did everything with love! A true shining star in the tourism industry.
This looks heavenly, I love all the little details! I was considering a trip to Belize in a few weeks, but am still not convinced since October is tail-end of the rainy season? If I make it, I would looove to check this place out!
I’m not really sure about the seasons, but if the weather looks okay I would totally go for it… I love that little country! This was my second trip there and I’m sure there’s a third ahead someday 🙂
So glad to have found your blog. My wife and I are headed to Ka’ana and then Victoria House on the beach in April of this year. You’ve made my anticipation all the more unbearable! Great descriptions of activites, cuisine and most of all, the interaction with local folks. I am so looking forward to saying goodbye to D.C and hello to Belize. And you can Belize that!
Oh, you’re going to have such a great time, Jim! Ka’ana is just so special, I absolutely adored our time there. The staff really is lovely — we really connected with them.