Best Best in Belize for snorkeling & ruins?

Apr 29th, 2010, 10:44 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 97
Best Best in Belize for snorkeling & ruins?

First--I know almost nothing about Belize except that it is supposed to have incredible snorkeling, which is the main reason my husband & I are considering it as the detination for our 20th anniversary trip (yay!). Few questions for the Belize experts:

1) where would be the best place in Belize for snorkeling right off the beach, or is the best snorkeling experienced taking the chartered trips that take you out? Is there a location where there is pretty good snorkeling from the beach but the trips are easily accessible? We just don't have the money to pay for the chartered trips every day for a week.

2) is there a location that meets the above and also is close to some kind of ruins?

3) is Belize relatively a safe place to visit considering the drug violence in Mexico?

4) is Feb. a good month to go? If not what month closest to Feb. is good?

Thanks to all responding!
chellyroo is offline  
Apr 29th, 2010, 11:14 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,983
1) Belize isn't really known for beach snorkeling. There are some exceptions such as South Water or Tobacco cayes which are located on the reef. I've also heard that beach snorkeling is good from the atolls but haven't been to one myself. These locations don't tend to have a lot of other stuff to do other than dive, snorkel, kayak so it depends on what you're looking for. For some it's perfect, others may be bored.

More populated cayes like Caulker and Ambergris are a short boat ride to the reef. One resort cayes like Thatch and Coco Plum are also about a 10 min boat ride to the reef. As you head south, the reef gets farther away from the mainland.

2) While it's possible to visit mainland ruins on a long day trip from the cayes, it's better to split your time between the jungle and beach. Inland Belize has a lot to offer.

3) Yes

4) Feb is a great month, so is March.
Patty is offline  
Apr 29th, 2010, 03:03 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 97
THanks! I did look at some info on Caulker and Ambergris: although we are not at all interested in any night life, it seemed to me that Caulker might be a little too rustic for us. We probably wouldn't be looking at staying at a resort, usually we book something through; maybe that's not an option here?
So what do the boat trips out to the snorkeling areas run? Are we talking a small $20 "ferry" type fee or $70/person pop for a "tour"?
chellyroo is offline  
Apr 29th, 2010, 03:52 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,983 would probably work for Ambergris. Last time I checked there weren't a lot of listings for Caulker. We stayed at a condo at Seaside Villas and didn't find it rustic but in general Ambergris is higher end and has a lot more accommodations and everything else.

You could get a half day snorkel trip from Caulker for about $25pp with day trips running between $40-60pp. Maybe a bit more from Ambergris.

Altun Ha and Lamanai are two ruins that are day trip possibilities from Caulker/Ambergris. Between the two, I'd recommend Lamanai but again if you have time, I'd split your stay. How long of a trip are you planning?
Patty is offline  
Apr 29th, 2010, 05:35 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,066
If you think Caulker looks too rustic, I wouldn't recommend going to Tobacco Caye. We enjoyed our three night stay there, but it is pretty rustic. South Water Caye might be a better option, although I've never been.

There are a couple of piers on Ambergris that have ok snorkeling. We've seen eels, lobsters, nurse sharks, sea hares, crabs, and lots of small reef fish off the docks.

A trip to the reef from Ambergris for a half day snorkel is about US$35.00. We did a trip to Caye Caulker by sail boat, along with two snorkel stops for US$65.00. A very pleasant way to spend a day.

I like Belize in February. It's warm and not terribly windy.
JeanH is offline  
Apr 30th, 2010, 03:47 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 97
Patty: our trip would be 7 days (leaving on the 7th day).

JeanH: those prices you quoted are per person?
chellyroo is offline  
May 1st, 2010, 04:32 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,066
Yes, the prices are per person. Gas is extremely expensive in Belize, around US$5.00 a gallon.
JeanH is offline  
May 2nd, 2010, 05:23 AM
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 33
Take a look at Roatan, Honduras for beach snorkeling. I've been looking into these places and have settled on Roatan in February. You can walk write in and be on the second largest reef in the world - don't need a ride out to it. Many say that the beach is one of the prettiest in the world.
doried is offline  
May 3rd, 2010, 10:18 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,983
6 nights is the minimum amount of time I'd consider splitting a stay but it may also feel rushed.

I thought of Roatan too but haven't been there myself. From what I understand, everything is also cheaper in Honduras. Not sure how easy it would be to access ruins from Roatan.

Good luck!
Patty is offline  
May 3rd, 2010, 10:59 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 4,212
The beautiful ruins of Copán are on the far western edge of Honduras, about 3 hours by road from San Pedro Sula. It's possible to visit them as a day trip but the town is lovely and there are other interesting things to see and do (butterfly farm, exotic bird park, some great museums, interesting mountain villages, great hiking) in the area so it's a shame to race in to see the ruins and miss the rest. Other than searching for a private charter flight, you can't fly there.

Lots of photos and recommendations for Belize, Honduras, and Guatemala below. Happy trails!
hopefulist is offline  
May 4th, 2010, 09:39 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 11
Besides looking on VRBO for Ambergris Cay, you should also look into Cocotal Inn and Cabanas for a semi-independent way to go. It's a great little place 2.5 miles north of San Pedro - so out of the fray, but easy to get to and fro when you like. My husband and I rented one of their 2 "garden cabanas" and found it ideal--a romantic bungalow with all creature comforts, including a full kitchen. The setting is great; we loved being picked up and dropped off for boat excursions right at the property's pier. Beachfront is well kept and well-furnished - chairs, palapas, hammock, etc. There's also a pool and a central BBQ / honor bar / ice machine plus on-site assistance with arranging excursions, if you like. You can snorkel right from shore around the pier and also paddle a kayak out to the reef and tie up at a buoy. The kayaks are free, as are bikes to use for land-based sightseeing. It was also a great deal that round-trip transfers from the ferry or airstrip were free; a taxi driver picks you up, takes you into San Pedro for a grocery stop, then onward to the water taxi to Cocotal. For us it was the ideal mix of independence and staff support. Here is the website: You can also google for reviews; mine is posted on tripadvisor, along with many others. Sorry if I sound like an ad, but I thought this place was quite the find.
Tellurian is offline  
May 5th, 2010, 07:34 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 209
We had 7 days there and spent 4 on Ambergris cay and then 3 inland at San Ignacio. In San Ignacio we visited the jungle, waterfalls and took a birdwatching and cave tour. On another day we took day trip from San Ignacio into Guatemala to see Tikal, the best mayan ruins in all of central america in my oppinion. They are surrounded by jungle and also provide opportunities for spotting monkeys and other wildlife.
koala is offline  
May 6th, 2010, 06:46 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 97
I've looked at a few places and what we're coming up with is Turneffe Island Resort. Even tho I've been able to find several lodging choices that are, in themselves, cheaper, by the time we add in a trip to the Blue Hole (a must for us once we found out about it) and food, it's about the same. I think we've definitley decided on TIR> Thanks for all the input!
chellyroo is offline  
May 7th, 2010, 09:25 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,983
Have a great trip!
Patty is offline  
May 18th, 2010, 11:49 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 16,611
Note that the Blue HOle is more scuba, not snorkeling, destination.
sylvia3 is online now  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Mexico & Central America
Jun 12th, 2012 02:59 PM
Mexico & Central America
Nov 15th, 2011 04:24 AM
Caribbean Islands
Mar 10th, 2011 11:50 AM
Mexico & Central America
Nov 11th, 2004 09:50 AM
Mexico & Central America
May 23rd, 2002 07:54 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:33 AM.