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Belize in August with teens

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Feb 22nd, 2010, 02:36 PM
  #1
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Belize in August with teens

Planning a 8 day trip to Belize in August with 2 teens (16 and 19). I have a few questions for which I'd appreciate advice: 1) I realize August is in rainy season, but is it usually a downpour of an hour followed by sunshine or long days of uninterrupted rain? 2) My initial itinerary, since we don't want to move around too much nor are we fans of small planes, is to spend 4 nights at Lamanai Outpost Lodge and 4 nights on Ambergris Caye. Is this too much time in Lamanai? We are moderately interested in ruins, jungle life, birds, and the teens very much love the beach/snorkeling so I've tried to strike a balance. Thanks in advance!!
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Feb 22nd, 2010, 02:45 PM
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We've visited Belize twice in August and the rains have fallen almost exclusively at night. In 2 trips, 6-7 weeks total, we've only had 1 day when it rained hard all day and it was a blast (Cockscomb Jaguar Preserve, 2003).

I'd probably scew toward more beach time but it's a personal choice. And I'd pick Caye Caulker over Ambergris but that's a personal choice, too.

My photos and travelogues are below for what they're worth. Have a great trip and be sure to tell us all about it!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections
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Feb 22nd, 2010, 04:33 PM
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I've only been to Belize once, but it was in August. We had only a little bit of rain, and it was at night. I haven't been to Lamanai, but if you enjoy ruins and if you can do any excursions from the area, it sounds like a great split. We loved Ambergris and there's a lot you can do from there as far as snorkeling and diving.
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Feb 22nd, 2010, 05:01 PM
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I don't know if you have any interest in Chaa Creek, but they have some package up on Luxury Link.
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Feb 22nd, 2010, 05:02 PM
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packages - sorry!
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Feb 23rd, 2010, 07:52 PM
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Thank you hopefulist, ShellD, and volcanogirl.
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Feb 24th, 2010, 07:01 AM
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Be very aware that every excursion from Amergris is going to cost a boatload (haha) of money. The beach is narrow, mostly hardpan, then the water has a lot of grass. Snorkeling might be ok if you go off a dock, but the boat traffic is very busy, especially out just past the docks. So, you'll have to hire a boat or tour (average ~$40/pp per outing) every time you want to snorkel SAFELY. If you are looking for a pure beach-swimming, walk-in-the-water to snorkel experience, there are other places in Belize you might want to try.
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Feb 24th, 2010, 07:25 AM
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You're welcome, j.

sylvia, what places would you suggest for pure beach/walk in the water?
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Feb 24th, 2010, 01:26 PM
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I'm not sure; I was reading the forums the last time I saw a sale fare, looking for an alternative to Ambergris or Caye Calker. I think Glover's Reef (or one of those many islands) has walk-into-the-water snorkeling (and swimming, of course).
I really didn't like being at the mercy of pre-planned, pre-paid, expensive group excursions, and was glad it was just two of us!
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Feb 24th, 2010, 01:40 PM
  #10
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Hmm, can anyone else comment on this and suggest better pure beach/walk in the water places?
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Feb 24th, 2010, 02:47 PM
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Here are places I know of, all spendy:

http://www.thatchcayebelize.com/index.html
http://www.southwatercaye.com/about.html
http://www.islamarisolresort.com/
http://www.slickrock.com/gloversreef.html

Also, if you don't mind roughing it, you can live like Robinson Crusoe in a thatch cabin (no electricity or running water) at Glover's Atoll Resort. The snorkling (even from shore)and diving are absolutely world class - folks who are pleased with what Caulker and Ambergris Caye would be shocked at the difference, I think. It gets mixed reviews (look on www.tripadvisor.com ) and is not for everyone but we've had a blast there both visits. It's relatively inexpensive ($250+/- per person per week including the 40 mile trip out and back from Sittee River Village) as long as you go out on Sunday and back on Saturday with their regular boat, otherwise the cost adds up; diving, gear rental, drinking water, etc. are extra. You can cook your own food or buy meals. Check out my photos and travelogues (2003 and 2009) and let me know if you're interested and I can answer more questions. Happy trails!
http://www.glovers.com.bz/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections
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Feb 24th, 2010, 03:14 PM
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Thatch Caye doesn't have walk in snorkeling but is a short boat ride to the reef (no shorter than Ambergris though). They charge $25 for a single site boat snorkel trip.

South Water Caye does have walk in snorkeling as does cheaper Tobacco Caye.

The above 3 cayes are are accessed by a boat ride (1/2 hour to 45 min each way) from Dangriga.

The resorts at Turneffe Atoll ((Blackbird, Turneffe Flats, Turneffe Island Resort) may also have walk in snorkeling but I haven't been there and they're generally pricier than the above.

Keep in mind that almost anywhere with walk in snorkeling will be single (or a few) resort cayes and won't have much else to do besides snorkel, dive and fish if that's a consideration.

I'd probably do a 3/5 split. We felt 3 nights was about right for Lamanai.
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Feb 24th, 2010, 03:18 PM
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Hmmmm...Thatch Caye's website says you can snorkel from the dock, guess that's not the same as "walk in" - my bad. Obviously my list wasn't complete. Interesting thread!
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Feb 24th, 2010, 03:32 PM
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Well, I'm assuming we're talking about reef snorkeling here. You could certainly snorkel from Thatch's dock but you wouldn't see much more from their dock vs a dock on Caulker or Ambergris It's mostly sea grass beds. We did see some rays swim by from our cabana. Thatch is still about 2 miles from the reef whereas South Water and Tobacco are on the reef.
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Feb 24th, 2010, 03:35 PM
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The difference between Thatch and Caulker/Ambergris would be the better quality of the snorkeling nearby, not that it doesn't require a boat ride.
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Feb 24th, 2010, 04:12 PM
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I've spent a few nights on Tobacco Caye, and while I did enjoy the snorkeling from shore, I know my kids (who are now adults) would have been bored silly after the first day. There is no town, no choice of restaurants, no where to explore.

On Ambergris, you can rent bikes or a golf cart and ride for miles on the beach. There's a town to explore. Lots of restaurants, lots of local kids to play beach volleyball with.

There are at least two docks on Ambergris that have small artificial reefs off the end. One at Ramon's, one at Caribbena Villas. There may be more, the above are the ones I've snorkeled at. No, it doesn't rival the reef, but, I've seen nurse sharks, rays, lobsters, moray eels, crabs, sea hares, and loads of small reef fish. It's a fun thing to do and the price is right.

Your kids may be different than mine, and will be content to do nothing but snorkel and perhaps fish.
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Feb 24th, 2010, 04:17 PM
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Are the docks in front of hotels considered public - can we snorkel there even if we don't stay on the property?
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Feb 24th, 2010, 04:29 PM
  #18
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Thanks JeanH - that was my concern too. My kids would appreciate the biking/golf carts/exploring in town. I think I may just have to deal with some sea grass on the AC beaches. Another question - I think we may have changed our itinerary to stay for a few days in a lodge near San Ignacio. Would we drive or be driven back to Belize City, then a boat to AC?
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Feb 24th, 2010, 05:23 PM
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Those carts are VERY expensive, and the biking is around crowded streets and a hard beach full of walkers; I wouldn't necessarily like teens driving/riding around. Note also that the only thing in town to "explore" is restaurants and maybe the cemetary; hardly any tourist shops (amazing!) However, if you do stay on AC, go out to the end of a dock with flashlights (if there are no lights) and enjoy the rays (we saw all kinds of them).
We also stayed in San I., and drove our rental car to
BC (left it in the parking lot by the ferry). Took the ferry from town to AC; a very nice ride, and a fraction of the cost of an airplane ride. I believe you can also take a bus from S.I., or arrange transport (lots more $) via your lodge.
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Feb 24th, 2010, 05:50 PM
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If you're only staying 8 days, I wouldn't do Lamanai Lodge, San Ignacio area, AND a caye. Here are the places I've stayed in the Cayo district, loved them all for different reasons:
www.cavesbranch.com
www.belizecamp.com
www.aguadahotel.com
www.thetrekstop.com

You could stay 3 nights and do the ATM cave tour one of the full days, then head to Tikal in Guatemala overnight and head from there through to Belize City and across to Caye Caulker or Ambergris Caye for the rest of your stay. Anyway, that's what I'd do on a 1st visit if I had 8 days.
http://www.pacztours.net/pages/tours/ATM.html
http://tikalinn.com/

Happy trails!
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