Whipray Caye Lodge
What to Expect: While this three-acre, palm-covered island 11 miles from mainland Belize attracts hard-core anglers seeking tarpon, bonefish, yellowtail, barracuda, and king mackerel, it also pulls in visitors who just want to swing in a hammock, read mystery novels, play darts, or relax in the thatched-roof bar. Accommodations are simple: two cabanas with two guest rooms each; rooms have ceiling fans, cross-ventilation from windows, and a pair of double beds. This is one of only three Belizean lodges in the World Heritage Alliance, which promotes sustainable tourism in communities around UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System.
What to Do: Borrow a mask and fins from the lodge and snorkel offshore along the coral reef; ogle an array of sea life: spotted eagle rays (called whiprays), nurse sharks, octopus, and fluorescent queen angelfish. For a fee, sign up for an expert fly-fishing excursion with Yellow Dog Adventures (888-777-5060; www.yellowdogflyfishing.com). Early booking recommended.
Getting There: The lodge’s own ferry takes guests to and from the island.
Insider Tip: Come for the fish, stay for the pizza: lobster pizza. It’s highly recommended by guests, as is the curried coconut shrimp.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.