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mdb4906 Feb 16th, 2004 08:51 AM

Amebergris caye trip
We will be travelling to Belize for our honeymoon and have found a good deal including accommodations at Banana Beach Resort. Three questions- anyone have any experience w/ this hotel? How easy is it to arrange snorkling outings? Is it possible to do day trips to the mainland from Amergris Caye? Thanks in advance for your replies!

LanSluder Feb 16th, 2004 12:54 PM

I've stayed at Banana Beach several times. I've always enjoyed it. Banana Beach's staff is really friendly and helpful. I definitely would encourage you to spring for a seafront unit -- they're worth the extra money.

Good snorkeling requires a short boat ride, but that's easy to arrange. The hotel will do it, or you can do it yourself. There are lots of dive shops that do snorkel trips.

Sure, you can do day trips to the mainland. The most popular day trips are to Lamanai ruins and cave tubing.

--Lan Sluder

tobewed Feb 16th, 2004 01:31 PM

I've been looking into this as well. Check out this site for recent trip reports on BB: & go to the message board. Also, the hotel site has all the info about tours: . Good luck!

tobewed Feb 16th, 2004 01:32 PM

Do you mind sharing where you got a goodf deal? Thanks!

mdb4906 Feb 16th, 2004 02:57 PM

I found a decent price for air and lodging at Travelocity.

CatherineS Feb 17th, 2004 08:52 PM

We just returned yesterday from a week at Banana Beach. We really liked the hotel. We had one of the standard rooms, which was nothing special but totally fine. If you are getting a standard room, I'd ask for one on the ground floor. Although you could see the ocean from our second floor balcony, our main view was of the hotel being constructed next door. The wall between the two properties blocks this for the ground floor rooms. If you want to spring for a nicer room, the oceanfront suites looked really great. There are 2 pools in pleasant courtyards, and a nice beach area. The onsite restaurant, El Divino, is very good.

We arranged both snorkeling and other trips through the hotel's travel shop, Monkey Business. The staff there was incredibly friendly and helpful. You can do mainland excursions from Ambergris, but it makes for a long day. After one mainland trip -- to Lamanai, which was fantastic, but the journey was about 3 hours each way -- we decided to focus on closer trips for the remainder of our stay. I'd highly recommend a manatee watching/snorkeling full day trip. The hotel arranged this for us through Searious Adventures. We also arranged a private snorkeling guide for an afternoon through the hotel, which was fabulous.

cruisin_tigger Feb 18th, 2004 05:21 AM

hi CatherineS - we're going to Ambergris Caye in May and was interested in your manatee trip. How long is the boat ride to get to them? Can you snorkel with them or is it just viewing? Did you see a lot of them? Any more detail on that trip would be great. Thanks!

Brian Feb 18th, 2004 04:01 PM

I've done the manatee/snorkel tour twice with Searious Adventures and I'd recommend it. You get picked up from your hotel dock for a boat ride of about 1 to 1.5 hours. The manatees are near a mangrove island just off the coast near Belize City. The tour operator stops the boat and uses a long pole to slowly move through the water while you look for the manatees. The first time I did this we saw a few manatees, and one broke the surface right next to the boat. The second time, we didn't see any manatees at all. You don't get in the water with the manatees.

After looking for manatees, you head over to a very small island called Goff's Caye. This takes about a half hour or so. The island is about the size of a city block, with a clump of palms in the middle. The water there is incredibly clear, and the sand is white. There is decent snorkeling around the island. On the island, the tour operator prepares a grilled lunch, usually BBQ chicken, while you snorkel, swim, or just hang out on the island. Unfortunately, the cruise ships use this island for one of their excursions, so if you're unlucky enough to be there on a cruise ship day you will find it rather crowded. After lunch you start heading back, and may stop again to look for manatees. After looking for manatees again, you head over to Caye Caulker for more snorkeling at the reef just offshore. After snorkeling, you dock at Caye Caulker where you can walk around, do a little shopping or get something to eat or drink. After about an hour or so, it's back to your hotel.

This is an all day trip. You get picked up around 8:30 or 9 and get back between 5 and 6. Bring lots of sunscreen. Soft drinks, beer, rum punch and water are provided.

LanSluder Feb 18th, 2004 05:23 PM

Brian's comments are spot on.

Snorkeling/swimming with manatees is a no-no. They deserve better than having a bunch of humans splashing around in the water with them. Reputable guides won't violate the rules and let you in the water with them.

--Lan Sluder

CatherineS Feb 18th, 2004 09:00 PM

Yep, Brian's summary of the manatee trip is right on. We did both the manatee trip and a Lamanai trip with Searious Adventures and had great guides for both.

We spotted about 6 manatees, including a mother and baby. Several of them came very close to the boat. We also spotted a huge loggerhead turtle.

Because there were 3 cruise ships docked the day we did the trip, our guides altered the itinerary on the fly to avoid the crowds at Goff's Caye. Instead, we snorkeled off of another tiny caye that was just sand, and we had lunch on a small man-made island. The local fishermen who owned the island were incredibly friendly and hospitable -- showing us their lobster catch, telling us about how they built the island over the course of 40 years. It was a great experience; much better than facing the cruise crowds. On both trips I got the impression that the Searious Adventures guides are not fond of the cruisers, and do what they can to keep their groups away from the crowds.

JoniC Feb 25th, 2004 12:00 PM

I just got back from Banana Beach. The hotel was nice although it had a real motel feel to it because of the way it is laid out. The pool is in an interior courtyard, rather than overlooking the ocean, and the restaurant view is similar. If you aren't planning to spend any time in your hotel, though, it is perfectly adequate. After spending several days at Chaa Creek prior to arriving on Ambergris, I must admit I was rather spoiled but I'd recommend Victoria House or Banyan Bay if you are looking for something a little nicer. Both of these had much nicer atmospheres. Unfortunately, we couldn't get in to either of those, so we settled for Banana Beach.

I agree the staff were very nice (although one tried to rip me off at the gift shop by charging me twice the price of one of the items) and generally quite helpful(as was everyone we met in Belize), and the trips they arranged were top notch.


jacksono Feb 27th, 2004 06:47 PM

I have been to Banana Beach 6 times and never had a problem there with anything,especially that. Mistakes to happen, people are human. I seriously doubt if anyone intentionally tried to rip you off,especially in the gift shop. I am quite sure that when the alleged error happened, it was taken care of prompty. So, please do not give the hotel a bad rap, for a human error.

Also, there are two pools at Banana Beach and when you speak of motels, you speak of places that you park your car outside the room. I could not find a parking spot outside of mine.

The staff at the whole RESORT are unbelievable. I have never seen a group of people bend over backwards for a guest. Believe me, I have traveled to many place and never had the service that I had there. From day one, they treat you like family.

Yes, all of your trip can be arranged at Monkey Business, the travel shop at Banana Beach. These girls go out of there way to get you exactly what you want. They have plenty of books and knowledge and if they do not know, they will find out and get back to you.

LanSluder Feb 28th, 2004 11:10 AM

With jacsono, I suspect the problem at the Banana Beach gift shop was human error. Banana Beach has a terrific staff, always has. Tim Jeffers, who built the hotel and runs it, is on site and would never let anything like that happen.

Banana Beach is a good deal less expensive than Banyan Bay or Victoria House, especially Victoria House. They're all excellent in their way.

--Lan Sluder

Brian Feb 29th, 2004 02:44 PM

If I remember correctly, the prices in Banana Beach's gift shop are listed in US dollars, and since the exchange rate is US$1=BZ$2, that may explain the confusion.

JoniC Mar 1st, 2004 11:41 AM

Yes, it is very possible that the gift shop incident was an innocent mistake, although I had seen this happen before where the vendor makes the unsuspecting tourist think the item is in US dollars when it really is in Belize dollars, thereby doubling their profit. (When I am in a foreign country I tend to assume the prices are in THEIR currency, not mine, but not all tourists think like this!) And yes, at Banana Beach the gift shop items are already listed in US dollars. She tried to double it again and quote it as US dollars. Anyway, I did correct her mistake and she did apologize for the error. No harm done.

More importantly was the overall ambiance of the hotel. Several other hotels just seemed to be situated better, with the pool on the beach and the restaurant with a nice view of the water. This was not the case at Banana Beach and despite the friendly staff and nice rooms, we were partially wishing we had stayed elsewhere. We found ourselves going over to the Tropica restaurant next door that had a wonderful view of the water. The waitress even told us we could use their pool (also with an ocean view) if we wanted to!


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