Belize Advice - Caye Caulker diving, Tikal, etc.

Old Apr 19th, 2009, 10:13 PM
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Belize Advice - Caye Caulker diving, Tikal, etc.

Hello,

Wanted to get advice/reactions from the forum on the following itinerary (which I haven't set in stone yet). Going for eight days a week from now (we are last minute folks). My wife and I are certified divers with a number of dive trips under our belt. Would love to see a Whale Shark and manatees on this trip.

CAYE CAULKER (days 1-4)
Day 1: Arrive in Belize City, head directly for Caye Caulker using 45 minute water taxi. Have a guidebook, but wanted to ask forum for any recommendations for lodgings under $120/night.

Day 2: Three-dive trip to either Turneffe Atoll or Lighthouse Reef. Thoughts on which better, and which operators? Heard Belize Diving Services, Big Fish Dive Center, and Frenchies' Diving are the best operators on Caye Caulker.

Day 3: Dive trip to either Shark Ray Alley or Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Thoughts?

TIKAL/SAN IGNACIO (days 4-5)
Day 4: Head to Tikal. Heard it is maybe 4 hours from the Northern Cayes --- should we rent a car in Belize City instead of flying, or take a guided tour that includes all/part transportation? After Tikal (3-4 hour exploration enough?), want to head back across the border and stay overnight in San Ignacio. Or should we fly into San Ignacio from Belize City and book a Tikal tour from San Ignacio ?

Day 5: Time permitting, visiting the Caves Branch System or Actun Tunichil Muknal or a river tour. Fly (or drive?) in evening to Placencia.

PLACENCIA
Day 6: Dive trip to Gladden Spit to see Whale Sharks (supposedly more common here). Is this worth it or should we take chances seeing this during our Northern Cayes leg? Any recommended dive operators?

Day 7: Monkey River tour.

Day 8: Head back to Belize City early in morning and catch 1:30pm flight.

We are open to cutting short or cutting off parts of the itinerary (e.g. taking day trip to Tikal instead of San Ignacio overnight stay, removing Placencia from trip and extending Caye Caulker and Cayo District stays or replacing with trip up river to Lamanai and staying at Lamanai Lodge). Any and all advice including alternative scenarios, transport options (fly, rent car, bus), tours, hotels, would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Rob and Jen
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Old Apr 20th, 2009, 04:49 AM
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I don't dive, so can't help with that. I can tell you that Shark Ray Alley and Hol Chan are done on the same trip. I don't think you dive at Shark Ray, just snorkel. But, like I said, I don't dive, so could be wrong.

Unless you hire a charter, there isn't any commercial air service to San Ignacio. You could fly from Belize City to Flores in Guatamala, and then head to Tikal.

They say that the whale sharks gather for three days either side of the full mooon. Unless your trip coincides with that, I'd lenghen your stay in/around San Ignacio and skip Placencia for this trip.

If you do decide to head to Placencia, I'd fly from Belize City, especially, if it's in the afternoon. You really don't want to be driving in the dark. Too many people/animals/speed bumps on the road.
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Old Apr 20th, 2009, 04:52 AM
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Look at Seaside, Auxillou and Iguana Reef on CC. You can fly from CC to Belize Intl to Flores and then stay in Tikal park or in Flores. You can move from Tikal/Flores by road to San Ignacio. Do ATM from San Ignacio and the following day head to Placencia by road or air. Whale Sharks are present within 3 days either side of the full moon between March and July. Fy from Placencia back to Intl. Or rent a car after CC for the balance of the trip, but you can not drive the rental over the border into Guatemala.
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Old Apr 20th, 2009, 05:17 AM
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In my opinion, Tikal is well worth an overnight visit. It's amazing to get to explore the jungle and the ruins in the cooler early evening and morning hours when wildlife is active and you practically have the place to yourselves. The alternative is a long day in the car with a few hours to explore with the rest of the day crowds during the hottest part of the day. You can see much of the site in 3-4 hours, just won't be the same sort of experience.

Please post a travelogue! We'll be heading back to Guatemala and Belize this summer but it will be our first visit to Caulker.
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Old Apr 20th, 2009, 07:03 AM
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We had just stayed at Pancho Villas on Caye Caulker. the same guy who own Panchos Rentals built these. They are one bedroom with 2 beds, kitchenette with no stove, living room is part of kitchenette and a roof top view that you can see all over the island. It is clean new and just 100 yards of the main drag in the centre of the island. He advertises Shark Ray Alley and the Channel are a must. As far as I know you cannot fly to San Ignacio. I advocate driving to Tikal then you can stop and see the sites but don't drive a night. An older vehicle can be rented from Flames Auto rentals bside Eva's. This last trip we did take Collectivo's which was very interesting and cheap. When we go back next year we will rent a car again and go to Nakum. You can also stay in Flores after Tikal. Flores has a very low volume of tourists this year and there are deals out there for hotel rooms. We paid $50 a night. but could have found something for less. Full moon is May 8th. In Placencia we went out to Laughing Bird Keyes to do some snorkling.
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Old Apr 21st, 2009, 03:02 PM
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Hello! First of all, you will love Caye Caulker! I was just there two weeks ago and I dove with Frenchie's. I highly rec. them. I only did two dives in Hol Chan but it was some of the best diving I have done. The vis was incredible and the sea life was unlike any I have ever seen. I currently live in Guatemala and traveled to Tikal last May but I can assure you that your time won't be wasted there. When I was traveling, I was able to take a bus from Belize City to Flores (about 45 minutes outside of Tikal) and that worked just fine. It's much cheaper but it does take 4-5 hours. Since you are on a schedule, you may want to fly. I hope this trip goes well for you!

Also, in Caulker, there is a hotel a little south of the main part of town on the beach called Tom's. It was quite cheap but very clean and well kept. I would rec. this as well! Hope your trip goes well. Oh, one more thing, if you are wanting to do a snorkeling trip, there is an operation called Black Hawk Sailing run by a guy name Steve who does a great job. We had a great time!
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Old Oct 18th, 2009, 08:23 PM
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Rob and Jen HOW WAS YOUR TRIP?? My husband and I are now planning the same trip for next June so I'd love to hear your details

Thanks! jennifer & mark
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