Planning a wedding and a honeymoon while running two of Chicago’s best restaurants can be daunting, which is why Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard of Girl & the Goat and Little Goat sought help. She asked the pros at Jet Set World Travel (members of AFAR’s Travel Advisory Council) for a honeymoon destination that was adventurous and relaxing. Their answer: two wildly different regions of Belize.
“We spent the first week in Placencia, a peninsula in southern Belize, at Francis Ford Coppola’s Turtle Inn (above, from $319). I loved the outdoor showers and that our villa was cooled by nothing but ocean breeze. For the second part of the trip, we rode a helicopter over the great Blue Hole—a giant sinkhole—to Blancaneaux (below, from $279), Coppola’s other hotel in the mountains of northwestern Belize. We hiked in the rain forest and soaked in our cabana’s private pool. The place felt so off the grid and peaceful.”
“One day, we went snorkeling off the coast at Lighthouse Reef. While I spotted angel fish underwater, the chef grilled freshly caught spiny lobster for a picnic. We spent lots of time at the divey Barefoot Beach Bar (Main St., next to MnM Dock). It’s probably quite the party at night, but we went only in the day, for the amazing fish and shrimp tacos. Everywhere you go in Belize, you’ll find the best homemade flour tortillas; I replicated them when I got back, and now I serve them at my restaurants.”
Beyond the Beach
“I can’t sit on the beach all day, so we booked lots of excursions. Blancaneaux’s concierge set us up with a trip to Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve, known for its crazy network of caves. While in Placencia, Mama Noots Bocawina arranged a 2,300-foot zip line through Mayflower Bocawina National Forest. I’m not that into birds, but it’s pretty cool watching toucans fly past you!”
Traveling to Belize? Tips from Stephanie Izard
“On restaurant menus, watch for such local dishes as conch ceviche and tostones—fried slices of plantain.”
“When in Belize, try Belikin, a tasty local lager—or just order any drink that has coconut. Bartenders will climb up trees, pull a coconut down, and hack it open in front of you.”
This appeared in the November/December 2014 issue.