YOU HEAR "Y'ALL" a lot around the two swimming pools, groomed beach, and elegant dining room of Victoria House, on Ambergris Caye. Not surprising, since Ambergrisa mere three-hour trip from Houstonis like a Hamptons for in-the-know Texans. With such a friendly vibe, Victoria Housean assortment of thatch-roofed casitas, plantation rooms, and tin-roofed villas, all freshly painted white with mahogany trimis anything but pretentious. First stop after getting settled should be the Fantasea Dive Shop, in a palapa on the pier, to rent kayaks; or sign up for all manner of snorkeling, diving, or fishing trips. Top on the list: snorkeling at nearby Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley, where you'll float around with southern stingrays, nurse sharks, and stoplight parrotfish. After dark, dine on snapper cakes and cashew-crusted grouper in the poolside garden. Or snag a golf cart for the two-mile ride to the funky, pastel town of San Pedro for pork and plantains at low-key Elvi's Kitchen. If you're feeling adventurous, take a water taxi 25 minutes north to hip Italophile Mata Chica Beach Resort for calamari fritti. Doubles at Victoria House, $155$485; 800-247-5159, www.victoria-house.com
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