How do you Build a Caribbean island?

Thatch Caye Resort is best described as a hand built private eco-resort.   But, how exactly do you hand build an island?  It took a starter from Mother Nature, a whole lot of people power and more than a little bit of vision.  Here's the story of how we ended up with this:

Arial View of Thatch Caye Resort

Back in the '60s, the cocoplum chain of islands was actually one long island set just 9 miles off the coast of Belize near Dangriga.  But Mother Nature showed her force with a significant hurricane that came through and split the chain into 3 distinct islands.  What was left on the north end was a long spit of sand and some swamp.  One local Belizean saw an opportunity and purchased what was left.

Building the island started with rock collection.  A team of workers traveled up river into the mainland jungle and hand picked thousands of rocks out of the river bed.  These were transported to the coast and barged to the island.  The rocks were then hand moved onto the island and distributed around the perimeter to form the beginning of the sea wall. 

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Once the sea wall was secured, our hardy workers began the long process of sand collection.  Again, by hand, our team shoveled sand from local sand bars into canoes and rowed back to the island.  The sand was shoved back onto the land and distributed, without the use of any heavy machinery, around the island.  It took almost five years to fully create our 11 acre paradise. 

North End of Thatch Caye Resort

But paradise is a garden, so layers of seaweed were set within the sand to create a nutritious base upon which we could plant.  We started with fast growing Australian Pines which have a huge root base and created a wind break for our other plantings.   Mangroves, Palms, Coconuts, Hibiscus and other local plants were added to enhance the root bed and create a lush surrounding.

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In 2007, building started.  We added five over the water cabanas along with four garden casitas and the family villa in addition to our infrastructure buildings.  Once again, this was all completed without the use of heavy machinery.  We added in wind and solar power to continue our focus on minimizing our environmental footprint. Accommodation for up to 24 guests makes Thatch Caye the perfect destination for groups of friends, family or business events.  

Building the family villa on stilts over the water

Building the family villa on stilts over the water

Adding thatch to the roof of the Main Palapa

Adding thatch to the roof of the Main Palapa

Adding the boardwalk along the shoreline of the island

Adding the boardwalk along the shoreline of the island

Adding additional casitas and cabanas

Adding additional casitas and cabanas

Thatch Caye finished and ready for guests.

Thatch Caye finished and ready for guests.

Shannon Kozak

Shannon (Shaz) Kozak is a PADI Course Director and owner of Ocean Pro Divers in Surrey British Columbia. In addition, she manages the dive and marine operations at Thatch Caye Resort in Belize.