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Belize Trip Advice Needed

Old Feb 16th, 2008, 03:54 PM
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Belize Trip Advice Needed

Hi! I am planning a trip to Belize, Guatemala and Honduras but for now, just focusing on Belize.
I have a few questions and would love some advice. I am planning on spending about 12 days in Belize. My boyfriend and I are both divers and adventurous. Here are a few questions:

We want to get in a good amount of beach and diving... would you recommend making a home base at Ambergris and taking trips from there or move around to Caulker or Placencia?

In general, is it worth it to head to Placencia or Hopkins or just stay in the Cayes?

We then want to head inland to explore the ruins, caves etc. Do you recommend making a home base in San Ignacio?
Any hotel recommendations?
Also, should we rent a car for this part of the trip?
Any advice is greatly appreciated!
RocketGirlAH is offline  
Old Feb 16th, 2008, 07:41 PM
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I'd recommend splitting time between beach and cayo area. Is budget a major concern? We stayed at Banyon Bay on Ambergris Caye for 7 nts and 3 nights at Chaa Creek. We liked Banyon Bay and loved Chaa Creek. FYI- Chaa is a bit on the pricey side (unless you stay at their river camp). We did a day trip to Caye Caulker (not a lot to do there) and did not make it to Palencia. Enjoy!
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Old Feb 16th, 2008, 10:28 PM
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I agree that a split works well. We chose to spend our blue water time on Glover's. If money isn't an object consider one of the atolls.

We stayed at Macal River Jungle Camp referenced above and absolutely loved it. Do fit in at least an overnight to Tikal. Our photos and travelogues are linked below if you're interested. Happy trails!

http://flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections
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Old Feb 17th, 2008, 04:53 AM
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Placencia and the northern cayes are different enough from each other that I don't think it would be a waste of time to see both. Placencia's beaches are wider and prettier. The village is more laid back than San Pedro on Ambergris. The reef is almost 20 miles out though, as opposed to less than a mile from Ambergris.

I'm on Ambergris now, there are literally dozens of places to stay. Prices range from US$15.00 per night for Pedro's Inn to $1000.00 a night for a three bedroom condo at Grand Colony.

You don't say when you'll be traveling, but you can get a nice hotel room or small condo in high season for about US$150.00.
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Old Feb 17th, 2008, 06:57 AM
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Thanks for all of the tips.
We will be traveling mid-June to July.
I was looking at the Mayan Princess on Ambergris because of it's affiliation with what I hear is the most reputable dive shop. I also like the lure of the kitchenette. Any thoughts on the Mayan Princess?
We are trying to keep costs down since we'll ultimately be away for about a month. We are looking to average about $100 night.

Do you know how full lodging tends to be at that time of the year? I'm wondering if we would be okay to book the first few days on Ambergris and then "wing it" for a few.
Thanks again.
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Old Feb 17th, 2008, 07:54 AM
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Mayan Princess is right in the middle of town. Large verandas. Just a little south (you can still walk from the airport) is Belizean Reef. Really nice one bedroom condos, large price break if you book five nights.

A mile south is where I own, Coral Bay Villas. I think the summer rate is still $105.00 per night. On the beach, use of bikes and a two person kayak is included.

In the summer, you'll be fine without booking everything in advance.

I wouldn't book a place based on white dive operator they use. Any of the operators will pick you up at any of the docks. The exception would be if you can get a really good stay/dive package.
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Old Feb 17th, 2008, 12:08 PM
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We just returned from a week at Banyan Bay in Ambergris Caye. The hotel is a bit overpriced--our modest condo with two bedrooms and two baths cost over $600 a night--but the beach is lovely. It is a good jumping-off place for fishing and snorkeling trips, but be warned about the price of all-day trips. One day we went out on a small boat with a guide, fished in the morning, ate our catch for lunch and snorkeled in the afternoon. It was a great day but cost $155 per person. On the other hand, a half-day snorkeling only cost $37 per person. Ambergris is not convenient for visiting the mainland, however, so you are wise to break your trip into two parts.
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Old Feb 21st, 2008, 06:27 AM
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RocketGirl,
Here is my trip report.
http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessa...=0&keyword=160
We started in Guatemala city and
finished in Ambergis.
You can finish the land first and
then head to the beach perhaps.
Krish
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Old Feb 21st, 2008, 06:05 PM
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$600 a nt at Banyan Bay? Granted it was 2 years ago (summer '06) but we paid around $250 a nt (2 bedroom / 2 bath)...2 adults & 2 kids
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Old Feb 24th, 2008, 10:26 AM
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Hi,

Placencia is very different from the cayes. If you want a beach where waves roll up, that's the place to go in Belize. The cayes don't have this really at all.

Awesome diving (so I hear, never done it) out of Tobacco Caye because it's right at the end of the barrier reef - see http://www.reefsendlodge.com

You can go diving from both Caulker and Ambergris.

If you do decide to get down to Placencia and are adventurous, Raggamuffin has a very cool 3-day sailing trip:
http://www.raggamuffintours.com/raggamuffin.asp

Be advised though, there are about 17 people on a small boat so not much room to stretch out, and you will be camping. However, sleeping overnight in a hammock on Rendevous Caye (an island smaller than a football field) is one of my best memories in life to date.

Also - it ends in Placencia. You *can* overnight back to Caulker with them, but that doesn't sound like fun.

I paid $275 or so to do this, which isn't bad in my opinion.


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Old Mar 29th, 2008, 05:42 PM
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Just got back yesterday, and I recommend doing the jungle/mountains part first if possible, because the jungle/mountain tours can include some long days, and you can slow down and relax more at the beach. Near San Ignacio, we stayed at Maya Mountain Lodge -- charming thatched cabanas and incredibly great food, and they hook you up with the best guides. Also, there's Windy Hill Resort, which is a bit cheaper than MML and also good. The cayes tend to be much more expensive than the mainland, so if cost is important, avoid Ambergris Caye and head for Placencia.

As for renting a car, we didn't. The lodge arranged for a driver to pick us up at the airport, and bus transportation is plentiful. Also, the guides are always willing to pick you up at your lodging and drive you to the Mayan ruins, river tubing, etc. It takes 3 hours from Belize City to San Ignacio by bus, 90 minutes by experienced driver. Driver will cost $50 to $100 US dollars -- bus is a fraction of that.

Flights from int'l airport to Ambergris or Caulker cayes can be arranged via 800 number or net reservations, from Tropic Air or Mayan Air. Cost to Ambergris Caye was about US$ 115-120 roundtrip, and boats also available but much slower. Flights to Placencia somewhat more.

Driving can be very difficult on the many unpaved roads - the clay surface gets extremely slippery when wet, and potholes are hazardous. I was happy to leave it to the guides.
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Old Mar 30th, 2008, 10:41 AM
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We loved Ambergris but day trips are somewhat limited (except for water related activities and a few other trips) so it work best for you to take at least some of your excursions from another area. Planning two home bases would probably work well for you. San Pedro is fun for a few days but 12 seems a bit much.
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Old Mar 30th, 2008, 05:28 PM
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Just got back yesterday from Belize. Split the trip up between Placencia and Ambergris. Did the inland trips from Placencia and the other islands from Ambergris. Do Caulker and go to Wish Willys. Also do all the snorkeling and diving your budget will allow. We did 5 trips in the 2 weeks. Amazing what lies under the water. Try not to rent a car the driving is hot, long and dusty. Best vacation we ever took
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Old Apr 7th, 2008, 02:47 PM
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Winging it inland will be easy since that'll be off season, which will mean you can spend a lot less than $100 a day! I would think you would want to rent a car. Renting a car is very easy. I'd recommend just renting it for a couple of days in the San Ignacio area since that's where most of the tours and the best sights to see are located. The car will allow you to cover more ground than if you did the guided tours, possibly allowing you to do 2 days worth of tours in one day(I've done that).
By using San Ignacio as your home base, you'll have tons of great food and many kick ass places to see. I highly recommend Rio On Pools, Caracol, and Barton Creek Cave(and the Barton Creek Outpost offers free camping if you're into that). I highly recommend not seeing the 1,000 foot falls(they were a letdown). You probably won't want to stay downtown, and staying just outside of town is actually cheaper even though you don't have the downtown noise...go figure.
Here's the Best of Cayo website, which lists tours and great places to eat: www.shc.edu.bz/marcus/couchsurfing/cayobest.html
And some neat hotels around the world site:
www.unusualhotelsoftheworld.com/

Have a fun and wild trip!
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Old Apr 7th, 2008, 03:08 PM
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Check out the Jaguar Reef Lodge in Hopkins area of Belize -- it's an adventure lodge. I'd split my time between it and Ambergris Cay if possible.
http://www.jaguarreef.com/

In Honduras, head to Roatan. Read my trip report on the Barefoot Cay Resort, Roatan. Titled Roatan Barefoot Cay Resort Trip Report.
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