South Water Caye is another postcard-perfect, privately owned island 14 miles offshore from Dangriga  and 35 miles southeast of Belize City . The reef crests just a stone’s throw offshore, sitting atop a 1,000-foot coral wall awash in wildlife. The island stretches three-quarters of a mile from north to south and one-quarter mile at its widest point.
The Pelican Beach Resort (tel. 501/522-2044, www.southwatercaye.com , US$258–292, includes three meals) occupies the entire southern end of the island, with five second-story rooms, three duplex cottages, and two single-unit cabanas. The beach is available to other island guests and offers some of Belize’s best walk-in snorkeling sites. Power is from the sun, and composting toilets help protect the fragile island ecology. The owners also have a strip of island toward the north end that is home to Pelican’s University, which hosts student research groups throughout the year. Plenty of day trips are available with Pelican’s guides or with one of the island dive shops; they charge US$62 per person for the boat transfer to the island.
Lesley Cottages is the common name for International Zoological Expeditions (IZE, tel. 501/523-7076, U.S. tel. 800/548-5843, www.ize2belize.com , US$175 pp). Named for an old local fisherman, Dan Lesley, the compound here specializes primarily in student groups and “educational tourism” but also has some nice, exclusive cabins in addition to their own dive shop, dormitory, classroom, and the like. Beautiful rooms are nestled on the shoreline; included are three meals and transport. It’s a great spot for couples (but check to see if you’ll be sharing with student groups).
Blue Marlin Lodge (tel. 501/520-5104, U.S. tel. 800/798-1558, www.bluemarlinlodge.com ), sister resort of the Bonefish Hotel in Dangriga, offers a variety of rooms, air-conditioned igloos, and cabanas just steps away from the sea. The bar/dining room over the sea serves meals, snacks (included), and drinks (three meals roughly US$60). The Blue Marlin specializes in fishing trips, plus has a full dive shop, cable TV, and Internet. Many packages are available with a three-night minimum stay.