Belize’s Best Kept Secret

By Lexi Reich
Photos Courtesy of Ka’ana Resort

Experience an intimate getaway in the LUSH RAINFOREST

When most picture Belize—the Central American oasis just a four-hour flight from Denver—sandy beaches and azure waters are often first in mind. But did you know that within the country lies an entirely distinct geographical realm rich with rivers, caves, mountains and ancient Mayan ruins? Enter the Cayo District of Belize, a region with a long-held enticing mystique. Although it may seem worlds apart from the coastal charm, Cayo stands as the fastest-growing ecotourism hub in Belize, attracting adventurers, artists and nature enthusiasts alike.

In close proximity to the Guatemalan border, this vibrant green paradise unfolds, boasting not only stunning natural beauty but also extraordinary historical sites. Among these treasures is the El Castillo pyramid, which stands tall amidst the Xunantunich ruins, and Caracol, the largest Maya archaeological site in the country.

The “Heavenly Place”

Following a two-hour drive from Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport, arriving at Ka’ana Resort in
San Ignacio feels like a long-anticipated exhale, where you’ll be greeted with a bright “Kulum Bilesh!” (Mayan for welcome).

“We built Ka’ana out of a love for Belize: its people, its past and its non-stop sense of adventure,” says Zinnia Kotch, a reservation coordinator for the five-star hotel. 

In alignment with its Mayan roots, Ka’ana, or heavenly place, is a boutique property that actually encourages its guests to get out and explore every day. Although you might find it challenging initially because the property is so beautiful and inviting, you may not want to leave. The minimalist, eco-luxury design draws you right in. 

“Every piece of wood you see at Ka’ana was grown, harvested and fashioned into furniture within thirty miles of where we are now,” Kotch says. “The soaps and cleansers you use during your stay are entirely organic and are made just eight miles from Ka’ana; the snacks in the mini bar are some of the local favorites; the art on the walls comes from local and regional artists, as well as some images we’ve gathered from friends over the years.”

Wandering through intertwining pathways leads to 17 hacienda-style suites and villas that are so intimate you can hear the harmonies of neighboring birds. A full-service pool, luxury spa, organic garden and “farm-to-jungle” restaurant are all on-site. Still, Ka’ana’s goal is to serve as a basecamp for the plethora of cultural and outdoor activities that await. Pottery and cooking classes, treks to ancient Mayan ruins, authentic cacao tasting, hiking at Big Rock Falls, cave tubing and native bird-watching tours, among others, are all at guests’ fingertips.

The San Antonio Women’s Co-op, a collective of indigenous Mayan craftswomen, offers a taste of Belizean hospitality with fresh homemade vegetable tamales as well as stories of their ancestry and customs. 

Belize is abundant not only in natural beauty but also in its layered past. The locals take immense pride in both their heritage and their relationship with the landscapes they call home. For visitors, this deep connection is palpable. Paired with the rejuvenating Caribbean weather, Belize stands as a bucket-list destination well worth the trip.

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