i have stayed at both places and would have to recommend TCL as the preferable accomodation by far. i stayed at reef's end and had an upper room. it was long and skinny, with three beds in a row, a window on the end and a bathroom. kinda weird for one person. my friends were sharing one of the cottages downstairs and found it mosquitoey and low on ventilation. there was also some question of smelly standing water in a tank nearby. the food was good and yes, the restaurant is over the water, but its still a walled structure, not completely open. the deck is really nice and anyone can sit there with a drink from the bar and watch the sunset or rays swimming in the shallows below. the property is well tended and malo, the owner, and his sons are good drivers for trips/to from dangriga and to snorkel glovers and other areas. they have some excellent fishermen (hi patrick!) working for them too.
by contrast, the three duplexes at TCL all face the sunrise east and have a constant, flow thru breeze. you have your own porch to leave your shells or snorkel gear on and wee laundry line for hanging your suit and towel. there's a hammock and a chair on each porch, and hammocks in various locations around the well-tended property. the food there has always been excellent, including lots of fresh veggies and varied meals. i made friends with the cooks there over time and we made many things together and i've picked up plenty of belizean recipes. i can make a mean coconut pie or caramel cake anytime i am there. (loads of coconuts for the picking!) the dock is excellent for swimming and sunning and the palapa bar is a nice shady place again, for anyone from any hotel or day visitors to hang out. fermin, the lodge's driver and all around worker guy, made a crossing to dangriga in a sea i thought was going to swallow us. incredibly rough and scary but he handled it amazingly and we landed safely in dangriga with him firmly ensconced on my "hero" list.
overall, i prefer TCL for the smaller scalled buildings, the room configurations, abundant hot water---new in the last couple years, the food/staff, the eastern exposure including sun and moon rise and almost consant breeze. there is an uncluttered spaciousness to the property that i enjoy more than any other place on tobacco caye. i have always felt comfortable there.
miss lena from lana's is a sweetie and i think both raymond, who runs ocean's edge and david, who ran gaviota's last time i was there, are both nice guys and good hosts but my first choice is tobacco caye lodge every time.
peace in 2004