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Favorite Ambergris Tours?

Old Feb 19th, 2010, 09:05 AM
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Favorite Ambergris Tours?

Hi, all! I was curious what some of your favorite tours on Ambergris are? I already know we'd like to do Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley. Are there any others you'd recommend? And specific tour companies? Has anyone gone on a tour to see manatees? Would love your feedback and suggestions. You guys are a big help!
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Old Feb 19th, 2010, 09:25 AM
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We've enjoyed seeing the manatees at Swallow Caye. Keep in mind though that mostly, you'll just see glimpses as they come up for air and you may see more dolphins than manatees

We've gone from both Caulker and Ambergris. I can't suggest a specific company from Ambergris since it's been so long since went. From Ambergris, it's usually a full day trip (you have to travel almost back to Belize City) combined with snorkeling and usually a stop at Goff's or Sargeant's Caye for a picnic.

You can take the water taxi over to Caulker on your own to check it out. It's about half an hour away http://www.cayecaulkerwatertaxi.com/

If you're not sick of ruins yet I really like Lamanai. The boat ride down the New River and setting on the lagoon is really nice. Both the boat trip and ruins are good for wildlife too. I've never done this as a tour from Ambergris (we stayed at Lamanai) but have read have read many positive reviews of Tanisha Tours.
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Old Feb 19th, 2010, 09:57 AM
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If we had more time I would have done Lamani with Tanisha Tours. But it's a full day and as Patty says at the time we were sort of ruined out. As much as I love ruins and could spend days seeing them, the thought of the transportation to get there makes it a very long day from Ambergris so we decided to stick only to water activities while there.

I'd recommend Mexico Rocks even if you go to Hol Chan. It's a totally different snorkel experience. The fish are much different and the coral is more colorful.

We used Ecologic Divers and they were fantastic. They definitely do not promote handling of the rays at Shark Ray Alley and they seemed very safety concious. Also they take pictures of you during the trips and post them on their shutterfly site within 24 hours so you can view them and download them - FOR FREE!

If you find that you really love the reef and snorkeling, I'd also recommend the Discover Scuba Diving "excursion". I did that with Ecologic Divers and it was amazing. I was so glad that course and dive - it was so different from snorkeling even though we went to the same areas.

We also did a Sunset Cruise, which was included in our package and while I don't know if I'd specifically book one separately, it was wonderful. We went out on a catamaran, just us and one other couple. And it was so peaceful - we had music on, had rum punch, the guides told us about the area on the way out and on the way back we just relaxed, had chips and salsa and looked up at the stars - Let me tell you - I never wanted to go home...

Whichever hotel you end up with should have a book of excursions you can take - there's options to go on day trips to Caye Caulker for shopping and snorkeling, different trips back to the mainland - all kinds of things.
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Old Feb 19th, 2010, 11:16 AM
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I went on my third to Lamanai with Tanisha Tours a few weeks ago. It seems to get better each time I go. This time we stopped on the way and got to see manatees. They were awesome.

Tomorrow, I'm going to Bacalar Chico for the first time. You go up the 'back' side of the island, do some bird watching, then go through the canal that the Mayans dug that separates Ambergris from Mexico. At some point you get out of the boat and visit a very small Mayan ruin and visit the also very small museum at Bacalar Chico. Then it's to the front of the island, outside the reef, then back inside the reef for snorkel stops and a beach barbecue. Sounds like fun, I hope the weather is warmer than it is today.

I also like the all day snorkel/sailing trip to Caye Caulker. Several operators do it, a couple snorkel stops on the way to Caulker, then lunch on your own and a chance to look around. Fun day.
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Old Feb 19th, 2010, 01:28 PM
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Thanks, you guys, you are giving me so much wonderful information. It's a little confusing reading about all the different tours and snorkeling spots on the sites. Is it illegal to swim where the manatees are?
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Old Feb 19th, 2010, 02:46 PM
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Is it illegal to swim where the manatees are?

Yes, I believe it became off limits shortly after we did it in 1995 at least in the Swallow Caye sanctuary area. I don't know about other areas.
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Old Feb 19th, 2010, 03:55 PM
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I've always liked the manatee tour, not for seeing the manatees, but for the other stops and the boat ride. I've done this a few times. After you get picked up from your hotel dock, you head south along Caye Caulker and then toward Swallow Caye to see (maybe) manatees. Then it's off to Goff's Caye for snorkeling and a BBQ lunch. Goff's Caye is not much more than a sandbar with white sand and a clump of palm trees in the middle. The water is incredibly warm and clear. After some time on the island, you head back toward Caye Caulker and stop at a place called the Aquarium for more snorkeling. The final stop is Caye Caulker itself where you have some time to walk around the island and swim at the Split if you wish. It's a rather long day and you cover nearly 100 miles by boat.

I've done this tour with both Searious Adventures and Seaduced. Both are comparable, but it really depends on your specific guide. Some are very good and others are just OK.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2010, 05:27 AM
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Thanks, guys!

Can someone tell me the correct pronunciation of Ambergris?
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Old Mar 2nd, 2010, 01:49 PM
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AM-bur-gris (not am-bur-gree)
I second Mexico Rocks; it was almost deserted when we were there (as opposed to the Grand Central Station feeling of Hol Chan) the corals are much more colorful, and it's just different. Most of the tours that go to these few popular snorkeling places leave at similar times, last a similar amount of time, and charge similar prices: say, an a.m. trip or p.m. trip, for a few hours, to Hol Chan and Shark Alley combined. A few do Mexico Rocks combined with Tres Cocos (right out in front of town; very shallow water, interesting, but not any wow factor). Most provide water or juice, some soda, etc., after the snorkel, and the equipment, if you don't prefer your own.
When you get to Ambergris, you can walk up and down the beach and check out all the docks with their little offices on the docks; many have big signs with their trips and prices, some you can walk a few yards down the dock and talk to people, and decide what/when you want. Reservations for the next day are very easy (sometimes for the same afternoon; cc accepted!). Some have coupons in the local ads or phone book at your hotel/condo, some want you to come to their dock, many will come and get you at your dock, etc.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2010, 02:23 PM
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As long as you pronounce caye (key) correctly, you'll be doing better than half the tourists

I've heard it pronounced am BUR gris (accent on the middle syllable).
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Old Mar 2nd, 2010, 02:36 PM
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Thanks, guys. I was confused on the gree vs. gris pronunciation. Someone in my office said you don't pronounce the second r at all, and that just seemed wrong to me.

Is the accent in the area more Caribbean or British? I just can't imagine it for some reason. My CR side has them speaking Spanish which I know isn't correct - lol.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2010, 03:38 AM
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Didn't notice pronounced accents, so guess it depends on where you are; but the only truly "Caribbean" accent I heard was the owner of the Jamaican restaurant.
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Old Mar 5th, 2010, 01:32 PM
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Thanks, sylvia, and thanks to everyone for all the snorkeling/tour info. I had never heard of Mexico Rocks, but that definitely sounds intriguing.
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