How This Digital Nomad Community in Southern Belize Became The First in the Caribbean

by Carolee Chanona

We let go—or rather, paused—a lot of norms in 2020 thanks to COVID: shaking hands with strangers, unmasked faces, and for most, even working in an office. Suddenly, there was no need to be tied to a commute. So why be tied to a traditional office? Meet the workcation. New in name but not in concept, digital nomads and expats have long paved the way to workcations pre-COVID, but Caribbean destinations have now seemingly perfected it. Lured by promises of paradise and digital nomad visas, some remote workers took the plunge with one curious destination. Putting out the siren song of great Wi-Fi and co-working spaces where white sand and rum punch are bountiful, Umaya Village became the first dedicated digital nomad community in the Caribbean.

The Creative Power of Community

Did I mention scoring a month’s stay at this luxury resort is less than your rent in North America or Europe? But don’t just take it from me—more than 250 digital nomads have since passed through Umaya Village. After all, Belize offers up a wilder take on a Caribbean paradise. There’s more than just pristine beaches and fruity cocktails; there’s epic jungle-framed waterfalls, the second largest coral reef in the world, meandering riverscapes, and beckoning adventure as of 5:01 pm at clock-out. But it’s not just a new perspective on balancing personal and professional time—it’s also an opportunity to learn a new skill, form lifelong friendships, and discover an entirely new destination.

Belize is just two hours from North America, with a 2-to-1 equivalency to the U.S. Dollar and English as the first language. At Umaya Village, founders partnered with Umaya Resort owners to build a global community and remove the isolation of working away from home.

The Promise of Umaya Village

Set in a former hotel between a salt-water lagoon and a pristine beach, Umaya Village has been kitted out with all the toys and tech digital nomads need to work, rest and play. Each guest enjoys two-bedroom condos with over 1,000 ft. of living space—each with a bathroom, shared kitchen, lounge, and a private balcony starting at just at just $62/night. The all-important reliable and rapid wifi connection? Check. On-site workspaces? Check. But what makes this nomad-centric utopia different from say, working anywhere else in the Caribbean?

The 430-feet of uninterrupted private beach definitely doesn’t hurt, but the true secret is in its range of community activities, exercise classes, adventure trips, and even professional development sessions. And for those craving coworkers, Umaya’s 3,000 sq. ft. Clubhouse restaurant doubles as an open plan workspace during the day. In essence, it’s being surrounded by curious nomads alike.

Knuckle Down, Then Kick Back With Adventures

Morning asana on the beach? There are three yoga classes a week, aside from a host of resident-led training sessions and group exercise classes on offer. There’s even a weekly beach volleyball class for beginners. Weekly excursions give you the option to hike, river tube, snorkel, and even grab your own PADI dive certification with their Scuba Dive Work Away package.umaya-village-jump-caribbean-sea

“Umaya Village is not just an office upgrade, but is a space where you can connect with kind and curious nomads from around the world while immersing yourself in local culture. I am walking away from this experience with new skillsets, perspective and most importantly, beautiful new friends.”

Hallie Cross; Music Marketer, Universal

Although every week is different, the community dines together at least two times a week, with one group talk, and one group excursion. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or doing some of these activities for the first time, the community at Umaya has got you covered.

belize-underwater-coral-shark-Bill-Carmella-splash-dive

Diving the Belize Barrier Reef in Placencia. Image courtesy Bill Carmella/Splash Dive Center

Not to mention, you’re on the edge of the Western Caribbean, where the second longest barrier reef beckons just offshore. Can’t take a few weeks off work to go diving? You don’t have to. Umaya Village even offers a Dive Certification package to fit your work schedule, without ever missing a day in the office. Regardless if you’re a complete beginning or certified diver, you can compound the already thriving community with this all-inclusive experience here.

Not the adventure type but culturally curious? You can check out other weekly activities, like making your own chocolate from cacao pods or going on a local Belizean spice tour.

How To Work Remote in Belize with Umaya Village

Guests can enter Belize for a period of 30 days on a tourist visa issued at no charge upon arrival. This is provided neither the guest, their employers, clients, or customers are based in Belize. In short, Belize is not your place of business. When entering the country, we suggest selecting ‘vacation’ on the immigration form and using Umaya’s address; Umaya Resort & Adventures, Placencia Road, Placencia, Belize.

The minimum stay at Umaya Village is 21 days, but if you need to stay longer than 30 days, then visitors can renew their visa at the nearby immigration office located in Big Creek for $100 USD.

Find your tribe at Umaya Village here. All images not captioned, courtesy Umaya Village. Header image courtesy @saskia_rabbit.

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