Hatchet Caye - A Spectacular Island Oasis Just Off Belize's Southern Barrier Reef

A couple of weekends ago, SabreWing Travel had chance to visit Hatchet Caye, a small island resort located on the edge of the Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve in southern Belize off the coast of the Placencia Peninsula. We met our friendly boat Captain, William (who is a Placencia native) at the Thunderbird Marina on the lagoon side of Placencia and arrived at this gorgeous little caye about an hour later. We were greeted by the island manager, Miss Dasha, and a lively scene with families enjoying the sea trampoline, couples paddle boarding near the shore, and a few guests enjoying an early drink at the bar at the onsite restaurant, the Lionfish Grill.

This lovely island is about 7 acres large with nearly a mile of private shoreline and only 12 rooms offering plenty of space for guests to relax and enjoy the intimate location and the many onsite activities. The “Main House” is a cheerful three story wooden home built in a plantation architectural style. It has a rooftop crow’s nest with 360 views of the island and sea and 5 Main House Rooms, each with a private deck providing views of the island. Six Oceanfront Duplex Cabanas and the Honeymoon Suite face the east and the reef and provide privacy and the luxury of being on a secluded Caribbean island out on the reef. All the rooms at Hatchet Caye are appointed with comfortable king beds or two queen beds and simple but elegantly designed furniture, spacious private bathrooms with hot/cold showers, ceiling fans, air coordinating, and large windows to let is the bright island light and provide ample vistas of the island and sea.

We were staying in one of the Oceanfront Duplex Cabanas for the night and after settling in to our lovely room, it was tempting to simply want to kick back on our porch to enjoy the awesome view of the Caribbean and Silk Cayes in the distance. But we decide that we had better get out there and enjoy what a stay out at Hatchet Caye is really about: exploring the amazing marine environment surrounding the island! Belize’s barrier reef – the second largest in the world – is within site from Hatchet Caye, making it an ideal location for snorkelling, diving, and fishing trips and the perfect choice for those looking for an authentic small Caribbean island experience.

We headed over to the Pirate Reef Dive shop (Hatchet Caye’s onsite PADI Center) to grab some snorkels, masks, and sea-kayaks, and then we headed out onto the sea to make the most of our afternoon on the reef. One look below the surface made it immediately clear that the marine life is abundant here and you could easily fill your days at Hatchet Caye simply exploring the area around the island and enjoying this unique environment on your own right from the shore and the docks with the complimentary sea kayaks, pedal boats, hobie cats, paddle boards, and snorkelling equipment provided for guests. However, a variety of exciting snorkel, diving, and fishing trips all along the reef can also be arranged with the Pirate Reef Dive Shop.

After the snorkel, swim, and kayak tour around the Caye, we decide that it was time for a cold one and made our way over to the Lionfish Grill. Antonio made us some fabulous piña coladas, which we brought back into the sea, just footsteps from the restaurant. As we enjoyed our drinks we marvelled at the truly idyllic island scene unfolding around us: bonefish swimming in the flats, spotted eagle rays leaping into the air, and the warm Caribbean lapping at our calves, and the sun setting over the Maya Mountains in the distant horizon.

That night we enjoyed a fabulous dinner of lobster a la Veracrusana in the picturesque seaside restaurant pavilion at the Lionfish Grill. After dinner, we made our way out over the water to the covered pier where we had snorkelled earlier that afternoon. We found that they had turned on a blue light at the end of the dock and this was attracting hundreds of fish and spotted eagle rays, who swam in gentle circles as they glided through the water. We remained here for the rest of the evening, captivated by this dance and the occasional burst of lighting from a far-off storm and soothed by the fresh sea air and the lapping of the waves.

The next morning we were stirred from our room at dawn as the sun rising out of the reef was too lovely to be ignored. After a little stretch out at the pier we snuck in one more snorkel before a breakfast of fresh lionfish cakes – yum!

No one would ever be glad to leave Hatchet Caye, but we departed the island that morning feeling refreshed and joyous, invigorate by our brief stay on this stunning little Caye. The setting is absolutely perfect for either a romantic vacation or for friends and families simply looking to enjoy each other’s company in an intimate location. Hatchet Caye is truly a gem among Belize’s many spectacular island destinations and highly recommended for people looking for a Caribbean island escape in a thriving marine environment.