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Belize - advice - please!

Old Dec 14th, 2006, 03:38 PM
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Belize - advice - please!

Hi- Just booked flight to belize for arrival around 2:00 January 20 and departure at 3:30 on January 28. We are figuring out where to go/stay now. We are mid 30 and like a little hiking, alot of relaxing, beaches, and some good tropical fruit and food. What should we do and where should we stay?
To give you some insight: We went to Costa Rica last year and loved it. Went to Arenal to hike in the rainforest and by the volcano, but also LOVED the hot springs therw and going to Tabacon spa for massages. Other highlight was swimming in the ocean and laying on the beach in Tamarindo watching my husband teach himself to surf - which he did! So fun.
We don't demand luxury, just really clean well-situated hotels. (While in CR, spent 125 a night for hotel in Arenal, but then also loved our place in Tamarindo that was about 60 a night.) Any suggestions on hotels would be appreciated.
We are considering Ambergris and San Ignacio. I want to know something: can I swim in Ambergris? Because, really, what is the point of the ocean if you can't walk into it???!!! (I am a beach bum at heart!)
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Old Dec 14th, 2006, 06:12 PM
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There really aren't a whole lot of places on Ambergris where you can walk in and swim. I guess I should rephrase that. I don't know much about north Ambergris, but in town and for a couple miles south, your options for walk in swimming are limited. Ramon's has a great walk in beach, so does Banyan Bay. The beaches are public, you don't need to stay at these places to swim there. At other places there are piers, many with stairs into the water.

Personally I think splitting your time between San Ignacio and Ambergris is perfect. Others would say either Caye Caulker or Placencia would be better. I enjoyed the latter two places, but my heart (and the condo we bought) are on Ambergris.

There are so many places to stay on Ambergris that you need to make a couple decisions. Do you want to be close to town? Do you want a regular hotel room or more of a condo type place?
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Old Dec 14th, 2006, 07:12 PM
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I would recommend San Ignacio for more of the outdoorsy stuff then Ambergris for the beach. You might also want to consider a side trip into Guatemala to see Tikal. We went to Guat and Belize about 12 years ago and did San Ignacio and Ambergris - we looked at other places when we went back last year (primarily Placencia) but ended up back at San Ignacio and Ambergris.

In SI we stayed at the San Ignacio Hotel - not bad but frankly I think you can do better for the money.

In Ambergris we stayed at the White Sands Cove www.whitesandscove.com, north of the cut. We had a 1 bdr condo. I'd definitely stay there again, decent beach and nice pool. Only drawback was the lack of an onsite restaurant and limited dining choices north of the cut.

Twelve years ago, we stayed at Mata Rocks south of town - it looks pretty nice but was full when we went last year.

Btw - we went to CR two years ago and are headed back this winter.

The water is prettier in Belize compared to the Pacific coast of CR but you don't have the wide sandy beaches in Belize. Belize has amazing snorkeling / scuba which CR lacks (pacific coast anyway).
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Old Dec 15th, 2006, 03:49 AM
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Look at Hidden Valley Inn for excellant hiking, waterfalls and wildlife or duplooys with a formidible botanic garden. Mata Rocks, Xanadu Banana Beacn and Sun Breeze are all in your targeted price range. SB and BB have a seawall and limited swimming in the sea in front of SB due to boat traffic, but the others are fine for ocean swimming.
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Old Dec 15th, 2006, 06:47 AM
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Thanks so much for all of the feedback.

On Ambergris, we would like to be close to town, but also don't mind walking to get there if need be. We live in Philadelphia and walk from our neighborhood to center city frequently. I have read that the beaches north of the town are nicer, but then have heard things about south of town. I will check out the suggestions given by all here and see.

Thanks for the SI suggestions as well. My husband likes looking at birds (can't call him a birder - don;t think it reaches that level!), so time in the jungle/forest and doing outdoor things is great. I am intrigued by the cave that the mayans used for sacrifices (can;t recall the name of it), but am wondering how long that excursion takes and if it is more enjoyable/interesting to do that or simpy go kayaking in a cave. Any thoughts?
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Old Dec 15th, 2006, 06:55 AM
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Oh, one other thought: we do really prefer to rent a condo or house when we travel, and overall have had good luck doing so in numerous countries (there is a horrible story about Nice, France that I don't even like to recall!) Any suggestions as to whether this makes sense for where we are going?
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Old Dec 15th, 2006, 07:36 AM
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We had a blast in the Hopkins, Stann Creek District of Belize. Caribbean on one side and rainforest at the other.

We stayed at the Jaguar Reef Lodge (adventure lodge), there is also the Almond Beach Resort, and Humansi (spelling?). They are all adventure lodges with tons of fun things (JRL also offers massages).

At the JRL, you can walk in and swim (I did as well as several others). The waters are not the beautiful crystal clear waters with great snorkeling right off the beach (those waters are a short boat ride away at the reef) but great water for swimming.

If you want to see my pictures and report on JRL, goto http://webpages.charter.net/cvechkol...zeTrip2006.htm (Sorry, it takes a minute for pix to download. Click on arrows to get to all 5 pages of report).
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Old Dec 15th, 2006, 09:39 PM
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Hi, we stayed at The Banana Beach Resort in Ambergris and liked it very much. Large apts. with kitchen and separate bedrooms.the best apts. are those that face the ocean and are corner units on the 2nd and 3rd floor. Beach is good for Belize but the beaches are dirty. Lots of trash. The lagoon leaves a lot to be desired. Lots of grass growth and difficult to swim in at times. Personally, I dont like to swim in lagoons. I like the surf. I would spend 1/2 of my time here and the other 1/2 at San Ignacio. We went to Placencia but was not impressed.
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Old Dec 16th, 2006, 05:39 AM
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Lots of condo type options on Ambergris. Aquamarina is right in town, I've read of some financial problems recently, I'd be inclined to skip it, but it looks nice. Mayan Princess is also in the center of town, no pool though.

Belizean Reef (was my favorite place to stay until we bought a place else where) is just south of town. The condos are beautiful, but once again no pool. It is very close to Ramon's, which has a lovely beach. Next door is the Palms, we've stayed there too. Very nice condos, small, but pretty pool, located at the back of the property.

Belize Yacht Club is next, but there's been some nastiness there lately, although it probably wouldn't effect short term guests.

Coral Bay Villas (where we own), nice condos, not very large, free use of bikes and a kayak. Caribbean Villas, also no pool. Xanadu, Banyan Bay, Banana Beach. By this time you're about 1 1/2 miles south of town. And I forgot Exotic Caye, I've never been in the units, but the beach looks nice and there's a great beach bar. It's less than a mile from town. There are other options, these are just the ones I walk by frequently when I'm there.
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Old Dec 17th, 2006, 05:04 AM
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Thanks for all of the suggestions - I will definitely check these places out.

I was just flipping through my new National Geographic Traveler mag, and there was a short essay about the cave (ATM??) that the mayans used for sacrifices. Sounded like an amazing place, so will add that to the itinerary.

When we go to SI, would like to be close to town since we like to walk around and have access to a town when we are away. Is it worth it to make the sacrifice to stay at the lodge at chaa creek or is there a great place in town (or closer)?

Any other advice or feedback is always welcome.
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Old Dec 18th, 2006, 06:04 AM
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We stayed at San Ignacio Hotel, short (but steep hill) walk to and from town. It was ok, but when we go back we'll either opt for one of the jungle lodges or stay in town at Martha's guesthouse. If you're thinking Chaa Creek, I doubt Martha's is what you're looking for. Are you going to have a rental car? I don't like being 'stuck' at isolated properties, but I do think our next trip to the Cayo will be at one of the jungle lodges that has lots of hiking on site, probalby DuPlooy's.
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Old Dec 18th, 2006, 08:56 AM
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Really, we could go either way as far as accomodations - a budget place with little amenities but clean or a more luxe place. We can afford the more upscale, but sometimes choose to forego to save money and still have a great experience.

I was thinking of one Martha's or a comparable one in town, but am now leaning toward a jungle lodge with a pool. I have been swamped at work, and really feel like I want a place where after a 1/2 or full day of being active, I would like to lay by a pool in the sun, have a drink and read. Was thinking Chaa, but now am wondering about Hidden Valley Inn since they have a pool.

Am still looking....
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