I am a tad late in posting this trip report but hopefully it will be of help or interest to someone.
DH, DD5 and I spent 6 nights on Ambergris Caye in mid March 2010. We loved it and we're so happy 1) that we decided to come to Belize and 2) that we made it the last part of our Costa Rica/Belize vacay.
Let me just say that I still cannot get over how gorgeous and clear the water is and how white the sand. I definitely could see us returning some time and I'm sure it we lived in a handy place like Texas we would return with some regularity.
We flew from Belize International on Tropic Air both ways. We like Tropic Air - nice aircraft, friendly, punctual (actual left early since all on board) and nice waiting area esp in San Pedro.
On Ambergris Caye we stayed at Ramon's (Seaside #2). I have to say it completely lived up to my expectations and we really enjoy our stay there. I would recommend it especially if want a hotel and/or have kids. You cannot beat the location. Loved the beach and pool area too.
While there we had a real mix of weather. Two days of rain, one overcast and the rest sunny. Activities wise we did the following:
1) 2 snorkeling trips with Lil Alphonse to Hol Chan/Shark Alley
2) Lamanai tour with Tanisha Tours
3) Half day fishing with Fishing San Pedro
We enjoyed Lil Alphonse - that's why we went a second time. We did a morning and an afternoon. The morning only had 6 people and was great. The afternoon had like 15 or so and was a bit crowded but still great snorkeling. He is funny and super helpful especially for those new to snorkeling or for kids. Hol Chan is a must if you go to Ambergris. I thought it was cool to snorkel with the sharks and rays esp for my 5 yr old. We saw eels, rays, nice coral, tons of beautiful fish. We have snorkeled all over the world and this is one of the best places we've seen.
The Lamanai tour....believe what you read about a long day. It is very long...a boat ride then van ride, then boat ride. Danny was great as a guide but unfortunately his voice was going out so he arranged for someone else to take over at the second boat and take us thru Lamanai. I really did not care for that replacement. He was humorless and very formal and a bit hard to understand so I think we missed out some. On the way over Danny was great about stopping and showing us various things in the mangrove. Our group was small - 7 of us. The lunch was tasty and filling but not too memorable. Our daughter really enjoyed the ruins. And for those who don't have other parts of the trip to see monkeys you definitely will at Lamanai. Would I recommend the tour. Yes but the 5 hrs of getting to and from and the 2-3 hours there make for a long day. Luckily for us it was overcast so the temps were very pleasant. Lamanai itself is worth seeing. Tanisha was good too.
FishingSanPedro was a big disappointment. I had high hopes of a fun morning. Communications with Steve the owner via email were great. All boded well until the actual fishing. Initially when communicating with Steve we were to be picked up at 7, after on the island we got word it was 8a. Not really a problem except that we had an afternoon snorkel arranged and it pinched our fishing time down. The two guys picked us up late then went to get sodas (which they never offered us any) and then we go spend 30+ minutes watching them catch bait fish before we got to do any fishing. So a 7-12 trip is now 8:30- 12:30(b/c we had other plans) and we spent close to the first hour not fishing. I'm not sure if Steve knows this is what is going on or not. Then we did some reef fishing. I had a decent time but my husband found the guy to be too instructive. We fish alot in Alaska (salmon, trout, halibut, bass etc..) and while the technique is a little different this guide was constantly telling my husband what to do - tip up, let your line out, and I mean constant. Maybe some folks like this but I can tell you my husband did not and even when my husband tried to express "I'm fine" kind of thing he kept up. Thing is yes we wanted the fun of catching fish but we were not keeping any for ourselves since we were leaving the next day. We did catch a few snapper and a baracuda and then some odds and ends that were tossed back. I enjoyed being out on the water and just the act of fishing but it wasn't my husband's favorite day which was too bad because this was my birthday present to him.
We did not rent a golf cart because of stories of problems we heard while right there on the island - thefts, breakdowns, excess charges and just did not want the hassle so we walked or took at taxi and in the end spent less than a golf cart.
We dined at the following: dinners at Blue Water Grill, Ramon's, Pinocchios, the Sandbar and the Sunset Grill and had lunch at Wild Mango, Estels and Ramons... well there must have been another place or two by I cannot recall now. We tried to eat at the Lazy Croc. There was no way for us to get there but by water taxi so we head up there on a Sat afternoon for lunch since they are only open Fri, Sat, Sun and guess what - they were closed. The place completely deserted. We tried to catch a drink at the cute bar right next door to wait for the water taxi but got swarmed by hungry mosquitoes. I was bummed but we did not try that again - just not worth the hassle so my advice is to call before you go.Ramon's actually was good and had similar food and prices to some of the other places in town. Of our dinners I liked Sunset and Blue Water for the best for food, location, and atmosphere. Dh loved his mayan fish at the Sandbar but I did not like the conch. I would not recommend the Sandbar though - it was one of our most expensive meals and yet offered the least. I did not find the place had atmosphere for dinner. I hear it may be closed now and I see why. Estels was quaint and very reasonable but the food was average. Pinnochios had a nice atmosphere and was tasty but pricey. Wild Mango was very good and we probably would have eaten here several times but you need ressies at night so we missed out the first few days and finally had a chance to eat lunch. Overall I think the food is pricey on Ambergris Caye even though most is pretty good.
We enjoyed walking along the beach, sitting in the hammocks and loungers just relaxing, swimming and walking around town (during the day). We found San Pedro safe but we abided by the cautions not to walk on the beach late or through less trafficked parts of town at night. We had a weird incident at the Island market or whatever that upscale market closest to Ramon's is. The clerk took photos of my daughter and I. When asked what they were for he said his personal use. The more we thought about it the more we disliked that so we made him erase the photos. That might seem harmless but don't kid yourselves...that was very strange and the management should not allow him to do that. You never know where your photos could end up or who they are given to. We avoided the place like the plague after that.
Ambergris San Pedro is quaint and still what I'd call underdeveloped which adds to its charm. I feel like it has yet to be truly "discovered". I know one of these days the word will be out how lovely Ambergris is and the giant resorts or developers might come because you see a little of that happening now.
Ambergris Caye Trip Report March 2010 - long
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