Hollywood A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio has fallen in love with the idea of building an eco-resort on an island he owns off the coast of Belize...

Leonardo DiCaprio has undergone a serious image overhaul in the last few years, transforming from a Romeo & Juliet/Titanic pre-teen dream to a bearded environmental activist.

The actor used some of his movie millions to snap up his very own paradise island in Belize in 2005 for £1.15 million and is now planning to turn it into an eco-friendly resort.

Leo purchased the island from Emerald Futures, who described it as a ‘beautiful, pristine island,' and its famous owner is keen to preserve that natural beauty in a green manner.

The staunch environmentalist has great green plans for the 104-acre Blackadore Caye island which is lined with white sand beaches and dotted with coconut palms and rocky outcrops.

It lies between mainland Belize and Ambergris Caye and is just a 25-minute boat ride from the Belize Barrier Reef, a World Heritage Site.

Leo plans to fund the luxury layout, which will include an 80-room hotel and a selection of condominiums and luxury villas, all with private pools and a green theme.

The very latest in innovative green technology will be used, including hybrid power systems and eco tours, which will respect the island's wildlife and tropical surroundings.

The Blackadore Caye project will be managed by hotel giant Four Seasons and construction is scheduled to begin next year.

Leo wants the island to become a ‘landmark example of sustainable development.'

Buying in Belize

Leo is not alone in wanting to build on Belize. Known as ‘Mother Nature's best-kept secret,' Belize has become increasingly popular with foreign buyers over the last few years, fuelling demand for homes to buy and rent.

Although Costa Rica and Panama get all the publicity, Belize is renowned as one of the easiest countries in Central America for overseas buyers.

There are no restrictions on non-citizens owning property, no capital gains taxes and low property taxes and the country uses English as the primary language.

In response to heightened demand, there are a number of new residential developments being constructed across the country.

Belize also boasts one of most liberal retirement programs in the region, the Retired Persons Incentive Program, which was introduced in 1999. Under the programme's terms, foreign citizens older than 45 can import their possessions duty free and gain special residence status as long as they meet some basic requirements.

Picture by clurr