Belize -- several questions -- please help!

Old Dec 6th, 2013, 09:19 AM
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Belize -- several questions -- please help!

Is it better to go to Belize in December or March? Those are our only possibilities.

We will have 9 days that we want to split between snorkeling and jungle. We have two boys who will be 6 and 8.

The boys don't need any kid entertainment -- no pool, no kid activities are necessary. They will be happy with board games that we will bring plus with nature.

We are however picky about our rooms. We like larger rooms where everybody will sleep comfortably and also we like our A/C Although we could do without A/C if that will allow for a better snorkeling or jungle experience.

Also easy accessibility is a plus. We would not want to be in a car for 6 hours for example.

So my questions are the following:
1) Should we go to Ambergris Caye or to Turneffe Island? Which has better beach and snorkleing?
2) Which jungle lodge would you recommend? We are interested in animals, birds, hiking and possibly river tours or kayaking.

Thank you very much!!
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Old Dec 6th, 2013, 11:15 AM
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A/C isn't as prevalent inland as it is on the coast/cayes. We've traveled in Jan/Feb/early part of March and never felt like A/C was a necessity inland.

Most of Belize is pretty accessible. Not many places require a 6 hour drive and there's a pretty good network of internal flights. You might want to take a look at Lamanai Outpost Lodge. It's set on the New River Lagoon and getting there entails about an hour drive from Belize City plus an approx 90 min boat ride. There's good wildlife viewing on the boat ride and wildlife and water based activities onsite. A few of their rooms have A/C. To get to your next destination, you can backtrack to Belize City the same way and then fly/water taxi/etc or possibly charter a flight directly from the airstrip at Lamanai to wherever you're going.

Another popular inland area is the Cayo District. There are many more lodge options here. I've stayed at duPlooys which is located on the Macal River. They have a small beach area from which you can launch a canoe. It's about a 2.5 hour drive from Belize City. I don't believe they have A/C. I found the wildlife viewing to be a bit better at Lamanai but there are more choices of lodges and activities available in the Cayo region.

I haven't been to Turneffe but it's supposed to have excellent snorkeling. You may also want to take a look at Pelican Beach on South Water Caye. It's located on the reef and has a beautiful beach (for Belize which tends to not have great beaches) and walk-in snorkeling. To get there, you can fly from Belize City to Dangriga followed by an approx 45 min boat ride. I don't believe the accommodations here have A/C.

On Ambergris, you'll have a far wider range of accommodations and activities compared to Turneffe or South Water. It's a short boat ride to the reef for snorkeling and walk-in is a possibility if you stay at the far north end of the caye at Tranquility Bay. Beaches tend to be narrower strips of white sand with sea grass offshore. It's the most easily accessible of your choices being only a 20 min flight from Belize City.
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Old Dec 6th, 2013, 12:22 PM
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Thank you very much. So very helpful!
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Old Dec 6th, 2013, 01:22 PM
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We loved Ambergris. Victoria House is a great place to stay, and yes they have AC. Their beach is beautiful - big with soft white sand, but there is sea grass in the water. Snorkeling at Hol Chan was amazing - a short boat trip out.

We did Chaa Creek for our jungle lodge. Loved it, but no AC. I'd go with March because December is high season and can be pricey. Have always wanted to try the Lamanai Outpost Lodge that Patty mentioned as well. Chan Chich too.

We used Tropic Air for flights. The flight from Belize City to Ambergris was only about 15 minutes, very quick.
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Old Dec 6th, 2013, 02:01 PM
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Thank you, volcanogirl. What kind of activities / trips did you participate in at Chaa Creek? Was it easy to get to the lodge?
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Old Dec 6th, 2013, 02:28 PM
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We did a day trip over to Tikal with PACZ tours, did a cave canoeing trip at Barton creek, morning bird hike, did a guided hike on the trails, did a night hike - there's a lot to do in the area. There are also a few small things on site - a blue morpho butterfly house, tiny museum, etc. I know you're not that interested in a pool, but it was pretty hot when we were there, so we were glad to have it. The rooms and food were great. Service was really good and friendly. We saw some wildlife on the property, but not a ton - a keel-billed toucan, lots of other birds, howler monkeys, etc. and a porcupine on the night hike. They have canoeing and horseback riding on the property too. They picked us up at the airport and drove us to the lodge. I honestly can't remember how long it took, but it didn't seem excessively long - maybe a couple of hours?

There are two airports you can use - a municipal one and the bigger international one. We did that instead of taking the ferry to Ambergris because we were short on time.
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Old Dec 6th, 2013, 02:33 PM
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alisa, I meant to ask - did you guys ever make it to CR? I thought I remembered your asking about it, but can't remember if you made it there.
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Old Dec 6th, 2013, 02:46 PM
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Thank you!
No, have not gone to Costa Rica yet. We will definitely go but maybe in 2 years when the boys are a bit bigger. Going to Maui instead for now
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Old Dec 6th, 2013, 02:50 PM
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Chaa Creek is very close to duPlooys on the Macal so drive time wouldn't vary much. We canoed over (maybe a 20 min paddle), tied up at their dock and toured their butterfly facility. It's the more luxurious of the two and has a pool/spa. Pretty much the same activities would be available from either. We went horseback riding, canoeing, a bird walk and a night walk and saw some agoutis and possums at the botanic garden at duPlooys and a kinkajou on the night walk.
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Old Dec 6th, 2013, 02:54 PM
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Patty, does any of these lodges you mentioned has its own hiking trails where you could go without a guide?
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Old Dec 6th, 2013, 03:38 PM
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Chaa Creek has tons of trails. You don't have to go with a guide. We just did because we thought it would up our chances to spot wildlife. My husband got dive bombed by a toucan and lost his sunglasses on the trail; the next day they had them at the front desk for us!
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Old Dec 6th, 2013, 03:55 PM
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They all have their own trails and you don't have to go with a guide at any of them. We like to do a mix of guided and unguided as the guides are usually excellent spotters. At Lamanai, you can also walk over to the archaeological site any time (it's next to the lodge). You just have to pay the entrance fee. We saw lots of howlers and some spider monkeys here.

Chan Chich is another jungle lodge that's excellent for wildife and hiking. It's more remote so requires a 4 hour drive or charter flight. There are no water activities onsite but they can take you canoeing. You have the best chance of seeing a cat species here. We saw an ocelot on our night walk.
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Old Dec 6th, 2013, 06:35 PM
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Thank you for the answers! Although I have no idea how I will be able to choose between the lodges. All sound great
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Old Dec 7th, 2013, 06:01 AM
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I much prefer March, which is still high season. Chan Chich has a two bedroom villa with a/c; Lamanai has one room with ac and cable tv; Belcampo in Toledo has ac. Or the lodges in the Mtn Pine Ridge, like Hidden Valley on 7200 acres with 90 miles of hiking and biking trails and 7 private waterfalls, and cooler night temps and the rooms have fireplaces! Most other jungle lodges have ceiling fans. Overnight tmeps in March should still be comfortable.
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Old Dec 7th, 2013, 02:48 PM
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Thank you!
It seems like it will be very easy to choose a place to stay on Ambergis Caye since we want to be able to snorkel from the beach but I have no idea how to choose a jungle lodge! So many of them sound very good. I guess it is a good problem to have

My list now includes the following:
* Chaa Creek
* Chan Chich
* Lamanai Outpost
* duPlooy's
* Blancaneaux
* Black Rock lodge
* Mystic river resort
* Hidden valley inn
* Gaia River lodge

Anything I need to include or exclude? Any are too expensive for what they offer or could be uncomfortable for us? What do you think?
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Old Dec 7th, 2013, 04:55 PM
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We love Maui too; we went there on our honeymoon.

Chaa Creek is wonderful, but if you really want a.c. then you would want to stay somewhere else. They did have big fans, but it was warm in the room. If I remember correctly the windows were screened for ventilation. When we got to Victoria House, I told my husband that I just wanted to lie on the bed and have the a.c. blow on me - lol.
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Old Dec 7th, 2013, 07:39 PM
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volcanogirl,
IIRC your trip was in July, right? By May it gets pretty hot and I would want A/C then and throughout summer. I'm personally OK with a fan in the months that the OP is considering but everyone has a different temperature tolerance.

alisa23,
I felt that Chan Chich, LOL and duPlooys were all priced appropriately at their respective price points for what they offered. Chan Chich definitely felt the most remote with nothing much else around and was the most luxurious. LOL also feels pretty secluded though you'll encounter day visitors at the ruins. Staying in the Cayo lodges, you do get a sense of there being a bit more civilization nearby but perhaps not as much in the Mountain Pine Ridge area (I haven't stayed in this area). Also I think it depends on whether you want more of a self contained property where you do most everything onsite or whether you want access to offsite activities. The Cayo region would be better for the latter and stays here aren't necessarily as focused on the lodge itself though you can certainly spend all of your time on the property if you choose.

You have a great list and probably can't go wrong with any of them. Black Rock and Mystic River were on my short list too. Good luck with your decision!
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Old Dec 7th, 2013, 07:48 PM
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Thank you very much for the advice! We are fine with onsite activities only I think.

We would go in March so I have to figure out if we will be ok without AC
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Old Dec 7th, 2013, 08:40 PM
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If late March, that might skew more towards a/c.
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Old Dec 7th, 2013, 08:46 PM
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Yes, late March
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