Help! Logistics, getting around Belize

Old Aug 30th, 2002, 05:58 AM
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Help! Logistics, getting around Belize

We are planning an 8-night stay in Belize in Dec. We'll spend a couple of nights in the Cayo area doing the jungle thing, then head out to the water. We're thinking about hitting maybe two other areas - among these: Placencia, Caye Caulker, Tobacco Caye, Southwater Caye, etc. The question is how to plan it? Are three different areas too much to do in that amount of time? (and still be able to relax) Would it be better to go inland first after arriving in Belize City, then head to south caye then back to northern one? Or to the Cayes first? I've traveled a bit in Europe, but never in a lesser-developed country like Belize. So we're not sure how to plan actual travel time. We'll be relying on buses, or short flights if necessary. How can we make the most of our time? Our flight from US gets into Belize at about 3 p.m.; we leave the country at about the same time nine days later. Also, is the snorkeling better, or more convenient off of Ambergris than Caulker? And - for convenience sake, would it be just as scenic or cool to go to Placencia and then to the Cockscomb preserve instead of the Cayo area? (want to see rainforest, wildlife, beautiful nature) Thanks in advance!
Old Aug 30th, 2002, 07:42 AM
Lan Sluder
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* Three different areas in eight or nine days is pushing it a little -- two would be more relaxing, but if you like to pack a lot in a vacation, three is do-able.

* Probably the most popular mix would be to do Cayo and one of the cayes. Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker are easy to get to and from -- the others require a bit more time and effort.

* Opinions differ on whether it is better to go the cayes first, then inland, or vice-versa.

* The snorkeling is essentially the same whether you go to Caulker or Ambergris. It is different, though not necessarily any better, on Tobacco and Southwater, since those little islands are on the barrier reef and you can snorkel from shore.

* Although Placencia and Cockscomb both have a lot to offer, on a first trip I wouldn't miss Cayo.

* Having a car on the mainland makes everything much easier to arrange, but you can bus it or fly. Going to the cayes you will either fly or take a water taxi, depending on which caye. Cayo is the one major tourist area of Belize that is not served by air, so to get there you'll either have to take a bus or shuttle van (or rental car).

* As a rule of thumb, figure that in Belize, due to road conditions or transportation delays, it will take roughly twice as long to get the same distance as it would in the U.S.

--Lan Sluder
Old Sep 2nd, 2002, 08:23 AM
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Thanks Lan. Appreciate the help.
Old Sep 3rd, 2002, 09:10 AM
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considering what time you are arriving at the airport, you may want to consider staying a night in belize city and then head out the next day for the cayo district. spend 3 or so days there and then go out to caye caulker. you can do a full day snorkeling trip from there which will include a lunch break on ambergris. if you like it, you could always take the short water taxi ride between the two cayes and spend a couple of night on each caye.
Old Sep 3rd, 2002, 02:32 PM
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If time is an issue, Ambergris or Caulker (flight or boat ride from Belize City) would be easier to get to than Tobacco or Southwater (flight or drive to Dangriga, then boat ride out to the caye). Tobacco and Southwater have shore snorkeling if that is a consideration. On Ambergris, Caulker or Placencia snorkeling would be by boat or kayak. Personally, I found the snorkeling/diving to be more pristine in southern Belize but that is only a relative comparison within Belize. Compared to many other places, the snorkeling is great anywhere in Belize. Have fun!
Old Sep 3rd, 2002, 08:20 PM
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Thanks everyone. Patty - when you say the snorkeling is more pristine farther south, where do you mean? We do plan to do a lot of snorkeling, that is why I thought one of the smaller cayes would be more convenient in the long run. We could swim, snorkel from shore and not have to always pay for the boat trip. Where do you like to snorkel? And for that matter, do you have any experience/advice on budget to moderate lodging wherever that may be? Thanks Again!
Old Sep 4th, 2002, 10:54 AM
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We snorkeled near Placencia (took a canoe out to a small mangrove caye and snorkeled nearby) and also dived near Southwater Caye. It was the most pristine, untouched coral I have ever seen. And the sea life was incredible, saw huge nurse sharks and turtles. Ambergris was our last stop, so by the time we got there, we were a little jaded perhaps. You could definitely see the effects of more snorkelers/divers frequenting this area especially inside the reef. It's still better than most other places in the Caribbean though. And diving outside the reef we saw lots of sealife here too - turtles, sharks, rays, etc. It's been a few years since our trip so I'm not really up to date on lodgings. Try the Belize forum for suggestions -

Hope this helps.
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