I normally post exclusively about Chan Chich Lodge and Gallon Jug Estate ... but I couldn't help myself. We've just returned from Belize's Ambergris Caye where we did a short bat survey and then took a couple days to relax.
The Turtleman's House (above) is named for biologist Greg Smith, "the Turtleman," who has lived on northern Ambergris Caye for well over 20 years. The house over the water, pictured above, is where we stayed. It was like something out of Swiss Family Robinson, put together with driftwood and other found objects. Most would call it "rustic" but we were completely comfortable and extremely well fed thanks to the excellent fresh-caught fish prepared by both Greg and his wife Rosemary.
I'm not a fan of long boat trips to crowded snorkeling spots so the fact that we could wade out from the house over the water and enjoy snorkeling in 5-6 ft. water at our leisure, was a real pleasure. Greg was on hand, along with the 3 knowledgeable Smith children, to answer any marine questions and identify the myriad fish species for us.
The Smiths enjoy having guests, but do keep in mind that you need to be a hearty adventurous sort. Most tourist accommodations are designed to offer an "experience." Turtleman's House and the Smith family are authentic, the real deal. Check them out here: http://turtlemanshouse.com/
And as for us, the trip was a big success combining a little slice of paradise with a short research project.