We are excited you chose Villa Mandevilla for your Belize adventure. We can’t wait to welcome you in person!
We are happy to answer any questions you have by phone or email, but please take the time to read this welcome brochure for all the information you need to prepare for your trip. Use the Table of Contents to quickly find information you’re looking for.
Owners Pat & Natalie + your on-site hosts: Johnny & Cora
Villa Mandevilla is a six-bedroom villa on a privately owned 5 acre lot, Plantación de Sueños, situated 4 miles south of the airstrip in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. The villa sits on 175 feet of beachfront on the Caribbean Sea, facing east toward the barrier reef.
Ambergris Caye, in its natural, original state houses some of the Caribbean’s most treasured mangrove ecosystems that are critical for the breeding and maintenance of the ocean’s fish and animal habitat. It is protected by a barrier reef that runs parallel to it’s shore, at varying distances from shore. From Villa Mandevilla, it is approximately ½ mile out. The barrier reef and mangroves provide for excellent fishing, diving and snorkeling, but it prevents the wave action that you may have experienced at other beach destinations like along the caribbean Mexico shores.
Villa Mandevilla is a two-story villa with two bedrooms, living room, kitchen and dining area downstairs and four bedrooms plus billiard and lounge area upstairs. With the use of two sleeper sofas in the common spaces, the villa sleeps a maximum of 18. If you’d like to have more than 18 guests, please contact the owner (Pat), you will need to make the arrangement and get approval in-writing. Here is how the sleeping arrangements break out:
The main (downstairs) floor has two (2) bedrooms with en suite bathrooms:
Main floor master bedroom 1:
Main floor master bedroom 2:
In addition to the bedrooms, there is a sleeper sofa on main floor living room that can sleep 2 (not private)
The second floor has four bedrooms, two with en-suite bathrooms and two sharing a bathroom:
Upstairs penthouse suite room 3 (sleeps up to 4):
Upstairs master bedroom 4 (sleeps 2):
Upstairs bedroom 5 (sleeps 2)
Upstairs bedroom 6 (sleeps up to 4)
Hollow Tree Casita is a one-story casita with two bedrooms, living room, kitchen and dining area. Here is how the sleeping arrangements break out:
The main floor has two (2) bedrooms with en suite bathrooms:
Main floor master bedroom 1:
Main floor Queen bedroom 2:
The 800 square foot, fully air conditioned space has a full kitchen, living and dining area with two private bedrooms.
Villa Mandevilla and the add-on Casita both have secure wifi. Johnny and Cora will provide the wifi password when you arrive.
We have cable that will provide you with a variety of English and Spanish channels.
Cnternational flights arrive on the Belize mainland at Goldson International Airport in Belize City (airport code BZE). Ambergris Caye is an island approximately 35 miles from Belize City. You need to arrange for transportation from Belize City to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye.
Once at Goldson Int'l airport, most tourists take one of two options to get to Ambergris Caye: commuter flight or public water taxi (by boat).
Whatever option you choose to transfer from the mainland to Ambergris Caye, please share the arrival details with Johnny and Cora so they can arrange to either meet you or arrange an escort to the property.
There are two airlines that operate commuter flights to Ambergris Caye. The flight provides 15 minutes of beautiful views of the sea and islands en route to Ambergris Caye, in a small (usually 14-passenger) plane.
The fares, based on 2020 rates, are approximately US$80/person each way based on one-way, or US$155 if you book round trip. We’d be happy to make your reservation for you if you provide Cora, our caretaker, the names in your party and your US flight arrival info. You'll pay for the flight when you check in at the Tropic Air counter after clearing customs. Each person can pay his/her own fare at check-in.
The least expensive (approx US$25/roundtrip) option is to take a public water taxi which can take 1.25 – 2 hours in boat depending on whether the taxi stops at Caye Caulker, an island en route to Ambergris Caye. We do not endorse any of these, and there may be more options, but here are a few we're aware of:
You will need a car taxi from the airport to get to the water taxi stop (approx. 30 minute ride) to board your water taxi. The taxi is approximately US$12 per person depending on the number in your party and luggage. Cora can arrange a taxi to meet you at Goldson to take you to the water taxi, or you can hail a taxi at the airport curb.
Cora can arrange to have taxis waiting to transport you either from San Pedro airstrip or water taxi stop to the villa. They are US$30 per taxi and can transport 4-6 people each depending on your luggage. If you take the water taxi, you’ll need to notify Cora WHICH taxi you are on as they arrive at different piers. We can also help line up golf cart rentals and have them waiting when you arrive to drive back to the house yourself.
are the best way to get around on the island. Passenger cars are not available to rent. For the most part, the only cars you’ll see are operated by taxis and contractors driving trucks. We can arrange to have the golf cart Company meet you at the airport with extra carts for your luggage and get you back to the Villa at no additional cost. Cost of a 4 seat Cart is about $295 per week. 6-seat carts are $495 per week. Note 3 - 4 Seat carts are less expensive than 2- 6 seaters on a per-person basis. Contact Cora to make a reservation.
Are also available to rent, but are not a recommended as a main mode of transportation.
The weather is almost always 84 and sunny, and dress is casual. In fact, if you’re comfortable, you could get away with a swimsuit and t-shirt or cover up and flip flops your entire stay. Although there are several nice restaurants (where even still, a swimsuit and coverup are acceptable), leave the high heels at home, as many of the roads are still sand.
We provide one bath towel and one beach towel per person, and hotel soap/shampoos.
In addition to your basic clothes, here’s a list of things we do recommend you bring:
You can find all of these items on the island, and there are pharmacies where you can find most items without a doctor’s prescription, but some (especially sunscreen and bug spray) are much more expensive than in the US.
Belize dollars are two (2) to one (1) US dollar at a fixed rate. US dollars are universally accepted at the 2 to 1 rate. When paying with cash US dollars, it’s recommended you pay and say (either out loud or in your head) the Belize value, as change most likely will come back in Belize dollars and you can ‘normalize’ to one currency. For example, if you are buying something for BZE$8 (US $4), and you’re paying with a US $20 bill, say “$40” when you hand over the bill so you’re mathematically expecting BZE $32 in change.
Major credit cards (Visa, Master Card) can be used for most expenses. If you want cooking and tour services you may want to bring some cash. Also, many businesses do tack on credit card fees of anywhere from 3 to 12.5%, so if you prefer to avoid those, bring MORE cash.
There is no shortage of grocery stores on the island, and there are several grocery stores close to the house. The purple Super Buy store about 1.75 miles north of the house, near Banyan Bay resorts, is the best all around. If you want to shop like a local try Marinas across from Super Buy. The store nearest to the house is Marin’s about .75 miles north of the house. It is a local small store with most essentials including rum, beer, milk, etc.
You can find most basic items and spices that you find in the US, but don’t expect to find many gourmet or more obscure items, or the variety of flavors and brands you’re accustomed to in the US or Canada (check out Wine de Vine for a good selection of charcuterie items). We try to leave some basic spices stocked at the house, but don’t guarantee any - best to check the pantry before you run to the store.
We recommend that you only drink bottled water during your stay. The house has 5-gallon water coolers and will come stocked with minimally two (2) full 5-gallon bottles + one on the cooler upon your arrival. You can exchange your empty 5-gallon carboys at most grocery stores for fresh water for about BZE $5.00. If you do not have an empty carboy, you will need to pay a deposit of $20-25 for a new bottle, so you’ll want to plan and take the empties to exchange. When you leave the house, please leave 2 full bottles at the house, or leave BZ$10/US$5 on the counter by the cooler. It is safe to brush your teeth with the faucet water, but take care not to swallow.
Note, the island has very limited recycling programs, so to reduce waste, we recommend you bring a reusable water bottle, or mark a plastic bottle with your name or colored hair or rubber band and reuse throughout your stay.
In addition to grocery stores there are several fruit & vegetable stands between the villa and downtown San Pedro. Common produce includes melons, limes, tropical fruits, ginger, bell peppers, tomatoes, onion, habañeros, and cilantro. If you’re looking for a wider variety of produce, including dark leafy greens, try The Green House (name of store) on middle street in town.
We often get asked about shipping liquor, particular US-brand beers to the island. We do not recommend it, as cargo can take weeks to clear customs and your shipment may never arrive during your stay (or at all). Although there’s not a wide variety of beers on the island, the local common brand, Belikin, is an excellent pilsner and comes in traditional and light. There are also a few other Caricom brands like Red Stripe and Landshark available.
If you’re after hard liquor, rum is not surprisingly the most plentiful on the island, but you can also buy local brands of vodka, gin and brandy. Wine is available, but good bottles are 1.5-2x more expensive than in the US. If you have particular brands of liquor you enjoy, we recommend bringing it in your luggage, or buying it at duty free en route to Belize. Belize allows two 750ml bottles per adult passport. We have gotten away with bringing in more, but do so at the risk of it being confiscated when you clear customs (knock on wood, this has never happened to us). There are also duty free stores at Goldson International Airport where you can buy most brands of alcohol for more reasonable prices than on the island. You can find US / International brands of vodka, whiskey, tequila, etc. as well as wines on the island, but be prepared to pay 2-3x the price you would pay in the US. As an example, a 750ml bottle of Crown Royal is typically US$75-100.
Our full time caretakers, Johnny and Cora, will welcome you to the property, orient you to the house, provide recommendations, review house policies, and are available to perform basic concierge services like making reservations for golf carts, transportation/transfers to mainland, and tours. Please do contact them if there are any problems or maintenance issues during your stay. We also have a full time caretaker, Jorge, who looks after the pool, beach, outdoor plants, and takes care of basic maintenance issues at the house. Please, if possible, respect that the caretaker team also deserves a day off, and contact them on Sundays only in case of an emergency or if arranged in advance with them.
Your rental includes the initial cleaning, which includes fresh bed linens, bath towels, hotel soaps and shampoos, and 1 bath towel and one beach towel per person.
The following services are not included in the rental of the villa, but are available for additional fees upon request:
Daily Maid service is available on request for US$30 to $150 per day depending on service requested. Please inquire with the caretaker about the range of services available and the respective fees. We do provide dish soap and sponge or clean dishcloth, as well as a broom to keep the sand off the floors if you want to do basic clean up yourself.
We don’t have a washer and dryer for guest use, however, we can do laundry for you. The cost of washing, drying and folding is US$15 per large load. Please inquire with the caretaker for this service.
Johnny operates tours directly from our house and is available for just about any adventure you can conceive of for your private group. He’s also a PADI certified instructor. If you’re taking certification classes for your trip, we highly recommend you do your open water tests in Belize - it’s much easier in warm waters with great views. Johnny grew up on Ambergris Caye diving, boating, fishing, etc. He’s one of the best guides on the island and all of our guests can’t say enough about him. All trips from the house are considered private so the boat is basically only for you and your group. Johnny can pretty much match any advertised price from other tour companies on the island, just talk to him when you get down to set up whatever excursions you'd like. Keep in mind that fuel prices in Belize are high, so generally, if only a handful of your group want to book a boat outing, the cost per-person will be a little higher. Johnny and Cora can also connect you with the best mainland tours (Mayan ruins, zip-lining, cave tubing, zoo, etc.). Contact them for details on any of these options.
Villa Mandevilla is a great base camp for daily adventures in wild Belize. If you love adventure this is a great place for your family or group. To start, we have great snorkeling straight out from the house at Hol Chan Marine National Park, including a stop at the famous shark ray alley. We can also take you cave tubing (hiking up a beautiful jungle trail with an inner-tube over your shoulder, then floating down an emerald green river through ancient caves). Belize boasts several Maya Ruins but I would recommend Lamanai, which includes a 45 min boat ride up a beautiful jungle river. You can hand feed spider monkeys out of the trees. You pass Mennonite villages where horses still pull carriages and plow fields. I also highly recommend the Belize Zoo. In partnership with Steve Irwin, the zoo, while small, has many unique animals and experiences. They even have an optional cage interaction with a jaguar. Other highlights included tapirs (Belize national animal), toucans, vibrant red macaws, vocal ocelots, and an impressive assortment of monkey species. While there is so much more to mention and I could go on and on the last thing I highly recommend for hard core explorers and adventurers is the ATM Cave.
ATM Cave The tour starts with a forty-five minute trek through Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve. It is a great way to soak in the majesty of the surrounding jungle. There are three river crossings on your hike. The first crossing is at the very start of the hike, across freezing chest-high water pulling yourselves across on a rope. By the time you arrive at the entrance of the cave, you will be soaked.
Your tour through the cave takes about three hours on average. Bringing a dry change of clothes for the deeper voyage is advised but not necessary. There's more swimming and climbing (in the dark) to come. If you suffer from claustrophobia, the ATM tour may not be the right fit for you.
There's a reason why tour guides are required for visits to the cave, and it's not just to preserve the skeletons and artifacts contained within. The cave itself is a labyrinth of interlocking chambers, and one can quickly get lost if they don't have someone to provide them with bearings.
The archaeologists and caretakers of this cave have been reverent in its preservation. All of the everyday artifacts were left as they were to preserve things as they were before modern people arrived, and a knowledgeable tour guide can provide you with a fascinating insight into how these people lived. Any of the certified ATM guides are highly trained to lead tours into this cave.
On Island Low Key adventures:
Marco Gonzalez Maya Ruins - The entrance to the Marco Gozales Mayan Ruins are about ½ mile from the house. There is a small visitors center with artifacts at the trailhead. If the guard is at the site when you visit they may ask for a small donation. There is a ¾ mile trail/boardwalk to get to the site. Once on site there are several excavated home sites and a trail with placards revealing a wealth of Maya history surrounding the city that once had up to 2,000 inhabitants. The origins date to 100 BC and were abandoned by the Maya circa 1500 AD.
BEACH BBQ! Catch your own fresh fish (Guided), then head to a remote undeveloped beach to relax, hang on the beach or the crystal blue ocean and enjoy the beverage of your choice, while your hosts prepare an unbelievable meal! Lobster and Conch is available seasonally.
We can provide a guide to take you on a tour of birds and wildlife found on Ambergris Caye.
We welcome small to large weddings and or events to Villa Madevilla at Plantacion De Suenos. New to Villa Mandevilla in spring of 2022 is a rooftop bar and event catering kitchen, with a restroom facility to accommodate up to 75 party guests. The bar is covered by a romantic large thatch palapa. There is also a trellis area perfect for magically lit dinner parties and receptions. With 360° views of the Caribbean and island, this is the perfect area for your wedding reception, birthday or other celebrations. Local caterers say it is the best large wedding venue on the island. For an extra fee, we have tables, chairs and linens for rent for parties up to 75 on the roof. We welcome families, couples, singles, children of all ages, and of course wedding parties. The catering kitchen on the roof has a full size fridge, stove catering/ serving area with sink and staging area can also be rented for a cleaning fee. The bar has a separate sink. We think our set up is the best on the island for weddings/gatherings. We are also happy to recommend caterers, photographers, bands, officiants, DJs, florists and do it yourself flowers etc. Please let us know how we can help.
If you rent the Villa 6 bedrooms or 8 bedrooms you will have access to the use the roof top area for your event. For an event/wedding we do charge an additional cleaning fee for the kitchen and bathroom of $150 that is not part of the base rental. Cleaning is just for cleaning, you will have to pick up and leave the area as you found it prior to the event.
One of our new favorite things to do is hire a cook and a bartender for the Day/Night and hang out eating and drinking our favorite beverages on the roof. We can recommend bar tenders for just such an event.
If your group likes to dine-in and prefers to take a vacation from cooking, we can offer catered in-house meals. We highly recommend our chef, especially for preparing some of the local favorite dishes like stewed chicken with rice & beans. Cooking services depend on the type and number of meals a day. We offer a la carte pricing for meals as most people choose to mix up en suite cooking with a few trips to town. If you’d like a quote for full time cooking (2 meals/day every day), let us know.
Our normal cooking rates are as follows. The caretakers will present actual receipts for grocery reimbursement in addition to the cook fees. Unless you want dinner cooked for you the night you arrive or the first breakfast, you can arrange as many or few meals as you'd like once you arrive. Please just give them 24 hours notice.
Breakfast - $7 Per Person + Cost of the groceries
Lunch - $7 Per Person + Cost of the groceries
Dinner - $7 Per Person + Cost of the groceries
Weddings – Please Inquire.
The nearest restaurants: Playa De Sala about ⅓ mile from the house on the back side of the island. Then Southern Charm, Pelican Reef Resort and Black Orchid are about 3/4 mile north of the house. There’s also a bar about ½ mile north of the house, Stax, that serves pizza and cocktails.. Beyond those, a variety of restaurants, bars and stores dot the road all the way into town.
We are frequently asked for restaurant recommendations. Honestly, we have never had a bad meal on the island, but here are few we think you shouldn’t miss:
If you’re celebrating one night, or just looking for a nicer sit-down restaurant, you shouldn’t miss the Blue Water Grill. Located on the beach directly across from the Tropic Air terminal in town, you’ll find a good selection of fresh fish, pasta, as well as chicken, beef and vegetarian options. They serve fresh sushi two nights a week (usually Tuesday & Thursday), but check and make a reservation if that’s what you’re explicitly after).
Pick your seafood out of the ice cold open coolers in front of Caramba’s, our favorite place to dine. Fresh seafood is their specialty but they have other great dishes like local favorites stewed chicken, and hamburgers. They also have a kids menu with the normal chicken fingers type fare. From Hog Fish to Crab Claws Carambas seafood will not disappoint. Reservations are recommended but not a must Try our favorite Whole Fried Hog Fish with a side of curry for dipping.
Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Robin’s jerk and BBQ chicken is a road side shack built from corrugated tin directly on the road about 1.5 miles north of the Villa and has some of the best food we have had in our extensive travels. Eat at one of their outside tables and listen to one of Robin’s Jamaican friends play some great music on an acoustic guitar. Or take it to-go with fresh fruit from the great produce stand next door.
Get lost at the Island’s Jungle Bar. Right before the turn at the only Gas Station on the south of the Island. The Island’s Jungle Bar is set in a Very lush vegetated rainforest setting.. Huge Stangle Figs cover most of the large bar area and reach down with their tentacles to create the perfect jungle atmosphere. The food is cheap and good. Try the Stewed Beef or Pork and the Quesadillas can’t be beat. At the time we are publishing this, the jungle bar is the most affordable place to eat and drink. The food, drinks and service are top notch.
For a true taste of authentic Belizean cuisine, check out El Fogon, one block toward town (one block north and one block west) from the Tropic Air terminal. They have daily specials stewing on a Fogon (wood fired outdoor hearth) - watch for gibnut on the menu and ask your server about its association to Queen Elizabeth.
The perfect beach front Breakfast. Mayan stuffed fry jacks (think sopapilla’s stuffed with scrambled eggs) at Estel’s Dine by the Sea are almost as heavenly as the view. Charles the owner is a friend a local, and a great guy. If he’s not chatting up someone at the entrance you will find him flipping meat by the extensive array of BBQ smokers near the entrance. Ohh yah I forgot to mention his Smoked BBQ sunday’s are one of the great reasons for living. Estel’s dine by the sea is an absolute can't miss in San Pedro.
If you’re craving a burger or smoked wings, try Scott & Jodi’s Palapa Bar situated on a pier over the water on the north end of town. I don’t know how, with the lesser supply of beef on an island in Belize than we’re used to in the US, Scott can make one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten, but he does! Maybe it’s the atmosphere of a grass palapa building situated on the water. Bring your swimsuit and take advantage of the floating innertubes for patrons’ use.
One of the longest-standing restaurants in San Pedro famous for its local fare, often personalized with Elvi’s own signature twist, is Elvi’s Kitchen (pronounced “El-vees”). It in on Pescador Drive, which the native’s more conveniently refer to as “Middle Street” (between Front Street lining the beach and Back Street lining the back side of island). This is a top favorite with tourists and locals alike. The atmosphere is Belizean nice, from the local woodwork art to the traditional sand floor.
Honestly, we feel guilty endorsing only a few, because there truly are countless other great places to eat. You can’t go wrong!
If your group doesn’t fit entirely at Villa Mandevilla and the Hollow Tree Casita, we’re happy to help you find other locations near to (or if you would like a little distance, far from) the property.
Here are a few VRBO listings that are within 1/4 mile of our house
Villa Incommunicada - 6 bedroom home ¼ mile north of Villa Mandvilla. Johnny and Cora also do the caretaking for this house - talk to them about availability and booking.
Next door to Villa Incommunicada Casa Amarillo
La Gran Casa Azul (1/2 mile north of us) - 5-bedroom house with option to rent 2-bedroom detached casita. These are friends of ours and you can likely get a better rate booking directly, but they’re also on VRBO/1253095 - contact Cora for help.
We don't represent any of these other VRBO listings, so I don't have any info on the properties. You'd need to contact their respective managers for any questions.
For smaller parties try the following hotels not too far from the house.
Pelican Reef Villas http://www.pelicanreefvillas.com/ About ½ mile Great Bar
Caribbean Villas http://caribbeanvillashotel.com/ About 1 mile. Great Bar, Food, and best beach close to the house
Banana Beach Hotel www.bananabeach.com. About 1.5 miles. Great Restaurant, affordable, comfortable.
Mahogany Bay (operated by Hilton) About 2 miles north of the house. https://mahoganybayvillage.com/.
If you’re looking to stay on the mainland for any portion of your Belize vacation, I would strongly recommend AGAINST staying in Belize City. Not many charming features there and might give a very bad first impression to you and your co-travelers. I'd recommend staying at a jungle retreat further inland. These two come highly recommended to me, however I've never personally stayed on the mainland:
If you're interested in bird-watching, check out Crooked Tree - we’ve heard the Crooked Tree Lodge is good.
Nicer place for a jungle experience minus the birds is Chaa Creek Lodge.
Sleeping Giant is definitely on our bucket list.
We often have families with small children stay at the villa. One of the upstairs bedrooms is a kids' bunk room (has a queen bed and a bunk bed with a twin bottom, twin top). We can remove the bunk beds if you like. The pool is NOT fenced or walled off, and the sea is immediately in front of the house - therefore small children MUST BE SUPERVISED and preferably wear life jackets at all times. The pool is 2' at one end, 6' at the other.
The house has all-tile floors. The tile has a grit to prevent slipping, but please caution children against running in the house to avoid injury.
We have a pack-n-play if you need one.
Ocean Swimming. We do have a walk-in beach that is roped off for swimming at villa Mandevilla. Most vacation homes in Belize have sea walls, so the walk-in option is nice. That said, we do have a barrier reef that protects the beach from wave action, so we do have turtle grass. We have cleared some of the turtle grass for swimming off of the beach. We do recommend wearing water shoes while swimming. Do not swim outside of the roped area due to boat traffic up and down the entire shore. There have been accidents involving tourists snorkeling too far from piers or shore (luckily not at our house). The depth of the water can vary from 1' to 4' depending on tides. Ocean swimming is not permitted from dusk until dawn.
There is a 24/7 clinic on the island staffed by about 2 doctors on the island. This is a pretty good option for minor emergencies. There are also two hyperbaric chambers for diving emergencies. We list current emergency contacts on our emergency plan at the house. For bigger emergencies there is a helicopter that can transport patients quickly to Belize City.
Many of the CDC recommendations for Belize may not apply to the island where I have never heard of a case of yellow fever, but if you plan on taking trips to the mainland, where most of the dense jungle areas are located, you may want to consider the vaccinations. While we don’t personally get vaccinated to come to the island we always recommend taking the advice of your doctor as individual needs for the vaccinations may vary.
We don’t treat the property for bugs, and we are in the tropics so we do have mosquitoes, flies and sand flees. The town does have a truck that sprays at certain times of the year when the bugs get bad. We recommend you bring bug spray. You can buy it on the island, but it’s generally much cheaper in the US. Baby oil, particularly on lower legs/ankles can be quite effective against sand flees which get trapped and die in the oil. If you’re not familiar with mosquito coils (like burn incense, but for repelling bugs), Johnny and Cora can introduce you them.
Johnny - (from US) +501 631-2349, from Belize just dial 631-2349
Cora - (from US) +501 602-3804, or within Belize 602-3804
Cora/Johnny general email: email@example.com
Whatsapp is the best way for communication in Belize that is free of cost as long as you have wifi. Cora also has an iphone and can text over wifi without SMS fees if you don’t want another app on your phone and use an iPhone yourself.
Please notify Cora of your arrival plans and they will arrange to meet you and make sure you get to the house.
Pat (owner) (303)957-7799, firstname.lastname@example.org