Cotton Tree Lodge: Lounging on the edge of paradise
Cotton Tree Lodge was the absolute highlight of our travels through the beautiful jungles and beaches of Belize. From the moment we walked into the Lodge, everyone we met was so friendly, kind and helpful. It was a humbling experience - especially when walking into such an incredibly beautiful setting. It's obvious that a huge amount of care and work went into the creation of the lodge and cabanas, which rise up out of the jungle along the edge of the Moho River.
After getting a welcome rum punch drink, we were off to drop our bags, change into swimsuits and get into the river! The cabanas were beautifully decorated, cool in the dry season heat, and luxurious beyond the rest of our travels - hot water in the shower, flowers scattered throughout the room, and constant access to free, triple-filtered water (this was the most luxurious in Belize, where you have to buy all drinking water).
If you're like us and looking to spend your vacation doing rather than sitting, there is more than enough at Cotton Tree to keep you occupied. We spent our first afternoon swimming in the river, amazed at how the top few feet of water is cool, and the bottom layer is hot (at least 85 degrees F). This comes from the river being a mix of salt water and fresh water. You can borrow kayaks or a canoe and paddle down the river. We paddled for an hour and didn't come close to leaving the boundaries of the lodge (more than 100 acres!). But we did see iguanas, hear howler monkeys in the distance, and experience the kind of bliss you can only get while floating in sunshine through the quiet of the forest. There are also bikes to ride, a beautiful garden to visit (where the food you eat each day comes from!), or just wander around the grounds.
Beyond those free things, you can book tours through Cotton Tree. We took the Blue Cave Swimming Tour. It was one of the most fun and joyful experiences I've ever had. Exploring caves is fun. Exploring caves by SWIMMING through them is even more fun! We went with a group from the lodge, led by a guide, and spent the afternoon hiking through the jungle to the cave, swimming through the cave, and then having a picnic lunch before heading back to the Lodge. It was more than worth the cost of the trip and I was sad we didn't have time to do other trips, like horseback riding to a nearby village to learn how to make tortillas with a local Mayan woman.
Dinner at Cotton Tree is served family style with all the guests sitting at tables together. This creates a wonderful atmosphere of meeting and mingling and hearing funny travel stories.
Finally, there is really, truly no better way to start a day than to roll out of bed at sunrise, hop into your swimsuit and jump into a perfectly-temperatured river surrounding by beautiful forest.
I could go on and on. This really was one of the best, most exciting and fun vacation experiences I've had, filled with the kindest staff members who felt like friends by the time we left. I can't wait to go back.
Amazing river access, all day and night.
Beautiful winding boardwalks through the jungle.
Waking up to the sound of howler monkeys outside your cabana each night.
Even more amazing staff and owners.
Great tours, with lots of interesting things to do that you don't find other places.
Perfect mix of adventure and relaxation.