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Planning the Getaway

Four destinations and itineraries for different kinds of newlywed adventure.

Thatched cabanas at the Cotton Tree Lodge.  

For Naturalists on a Shoestring
An ecofriendly stay in the wilderness
When to go: January through May; November and December
Hours from NYC: Six
Cost: $4,000 for one week

What to Expect
Nicknamed “the forgotten land” by locals, southern Belize is a sparsely populated region amid mountains and rain forest, bordered by the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. The closest you’ll come to civilization is the small town of Punta Gorda, where the most exciting nightlife involves a karaoke machine and a handful of off-key locals.

Where to Stay
Wake up to the sound of howler monkeys and toucans at Cotton Tree Lodge (from $109;, an off-the-grid retreat made up of ten thatched cabanas along the Moho River. Reserve the Honeymoon cabana (from $149) with its riverfront veranda, hammocks, and indoor Jacuzzi. Or stay in the Jungle cabana (from $149), so deeply enmeshed among the fig trees that you’ll need a flashlight when the sun goes down.

Where to Eat
The resort itself is dependable for regional dishes, like snook baked in banana leaves, prepared with ingredients from the lodge’s organic garden. But for a change of atmosphere, take a boat into Punta Gorda and go to Emery’s (501-701-2929), an open-air seafood joint a short stroll from the ocean. The shrimp burger is terrific; wash it down with a Beliken beer.

To Do, By Day
Guided outings (from $79) fall into four categories: villages, rainforest, river, and ruins. Hike to the Mayan village of Blue Creek, and follow a marked trail past a ten-foot waterfall to the sacred Hokeb Ha Cave. Swim beneath huge stalactites in its crystalline waters. Or, follow a bush doctor into the jungle to test the medicinal properties of plants and mushrooms (none hallucinogenic, sorry). Drink water from a vine, and try the edible leaves that (allegedly) prevent spouses from wandering. Another day, satisfy chocolate cravings at an organic cocoa farm, where you’ll learn how to roast, crush, winnow, and grind the beans by hand.

To Do, By Night
Take a quick boat ride down to Barranco Village for an outdoor concert. The colonial enclave is home to the Garifunas, descendants of African slaves and Carib-Indians who have preserved their own language, religion, and percussion-based music. Join a drumming circle on the bonfire-lit beach and dance to the bass boom of the barrel drums.

Side Trip
Go diving off of Franks Caye, (from $195 per person, an island on the southern tip of the Belize Barrier Reef. After a day of chasing sea turtles and whale sharks, spend the night in a rustic cabana.

Getting There
Continental ( flies nonstop from Newark to Belize City. To reach Punta Gorda, connect to Tropic Air (from $88; Most resorts can arrange transportation once you reach the town.


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