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If you've been to Belize?

Old Jan 20th, 2010, 08:31 PM
  #1  
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If you've been to Belize?

Hi, guys! I was curious, for those of you who have been to Belize, would you go back? Where did you stay, and would you return to the same spot again? Thanks for the help! I'm kind of interested in Chan Chich, Chaa Creek, and/or somewhere on Ambergris. Just really exploring at this point.
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Old Jan 20th, 2010, 09:01 PM
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We had a blast in Belize with our family in 2003 (kids were 17, 18, and 20 at the time) and revisited last summer (2009) with an extended family group that included our daughter and her husband. Our photos with blog/travelogue links are here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections

There may be some ideas there for you but we prefer a combination of jungly places, ruins, village stays, and Robinson Crusoe-esque island time so we haven't visited Chan Chich, Chaa Creek, or Ambergris.
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Old Jan 21st, 2010, 02:54 AM
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Well, I think you already know my answer , but I would definitely go back. I would definitely stay at Chaa Creek again. If I were to go back I would for sure get one of their packages. There were many people there that did not and they ended up not going on excursions because they couldn't find people to share the cost of the travel expenses. For example to go to tikal - the entrance fee might not be a lot, but the travel there, you have to pay for the ride. Sort of like when you go to BDC. So if you can split that expense with another couple or group, it makes the total expense less for you. Also having the meals already paid for was nice. There's really nowhere to go easily for your meals, so eating right on the property made sense.

I don't have anything to compare Ambergris to -as far as the other Cayes, but when we researched the trip, I chose this one because of the proximity to Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley. The excursion whas right there. Also, the choices for hotels was more in line with what we were looking for. I chose Portofino because of their package and price. While I loved the resort - it was like a deserted island paradise - we had our own little beach cabana and it was amazing. The people there were the nicest we met. The food was good and they have a great pool. It's remote. If you don't mind that - it's a perfect place. You have to take the water taxi to get to town. I didn't mind that - but some people will. You can't just hop on a bike, or walk into town. But they have their own water taxi that goes into town a few times a day and if anyone is going into town to dive or snorkel, the boats will take you. There's also the taxi you pay for, and it's not really expensive and you can get a weekly pass. I loved it there.

The food in Ambergris was great - a lot of really good restaurants to choose from. My husband is a chef, and it was nice to go on vacation and have such variety and have him looking forward to eating out! The meals were also very reasonably priced.

I do think Belize was much more expensive than Costa Rica - for a comparable trip. First for us the airfare was much more. And comparable hotels, were more expensive. Once we were there however, the expenses were about the same, as far as food and excursions.
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Old Jan 21st, 2010, 05:16 AM
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My answer is obvious as well, since I'm on Ambergris for the winter. We'll be here until April. We love it here. We live a mile south of town, so it's pretty quiet. Every morning we walk the beach, either two miles south or two miles north.

My dream hotel would be Chan Chich, maybe an anniversary splurge one year.

We are planning to go to southern Belize sometime in March, stay around Punta Gorda for a few days, then a couple days in Placencia.

I haven't spent much time on the mainland, but I'll try and answer questions about Ambergris.
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Old Jan 21st, 2010, 06:04 AM
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We stayed at Chaa Creek and would definitely return. The grounds and accommodations are beautiful, the staff helpful, the food pretty good. Great, bracing margaritas made with fresh lime and no sugar. Since we did not have a car, we took day tours to Tikal, Xunantunich and Barton Creek. Also paddled a canoe on the river.

On Ambergris we stayed at Caribbean Villas since our first choice at the time, Banyan Bay, was full. It was perfectly adequate and I hear they have added a pool. I think I'd try the Victoria House if we return. I like this area, south of San Pedro for its easy access to the village. We snorkeled at Hol Chan and Mexico Rocks, cast for bonefish off a skiff, and generally just decompressed. Nice time.
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Old Jan 21st, 2010, 06:11 AM
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Me and my teen went in 2008, had a blast, and yes, we would def go back! We didn't get to see everything we wanted. I wouldn't want to stay at Ian Anderson's Caves Branch though. We stayed in the treehouse, it was nice and all, but I think we'd probably try Chaa Creek. We stayed beachfront at Xanadu on Ambergris and that was perfect! I'd stay there again in a heartbeat. or try Victoria House. Love Belize!
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Old Jan 21st, 2010, 08:09 AM
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We've been to Belize 3 times so the answer is definitely yes! We've stayed at Chan Chich and would go back as well as return to Lamanai Outpost Lodge (our favorite) and duPlooys. Each of those are very different and in different areas so it depends on what your interests are.

As far as beach/cayes, we've been to Ambergris, Caulker, Thatch, South Water, Dangriga and Placencia. Our favorite so far has been South Water due to the ease of access to the reef (it's right on it!) and the fact that we tend to prefer isolated areas (I know not everyone's cup of tea). Next time we'd like to try Turneffe Atoll

Eventually we'd like to make it down to Punta Gorda too.
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Old Jan 21st, 2010, 09:10 AM
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Wow, lots of rave reviews. It's fun to read about everyone's experiences!
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Old Jan 21st, 2010, 09:24 AM
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Tagging along here.
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Old Jan 21st, 2010, 03:35 PM
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I'd go back in a heartbeat, volcanogirl, especially if jeanh is cooking again! Hi, Jean. Glad you and DH are getting to spend lots of time this year. Good for you! It must be wonderful.

vgirl, we loved Chaa Creek. Wanted Chan Chich, but later realized that Chaa Creek's location was really better for what we were interested in (Tikal, ATM caves).

On Ambergris, we stayed at Ramon's. I wouldn't suggest eating there (remember pricing being tricky on the menu and it seems a ploy to make a few extra bucks). We did really enjoy the location of Ramon's and the little piece of beach in front of it (hard to find on the island close to San Pedro). We loved being right there close to town and made frequent trips over a block or two for this or that. Enjoyed bike riding, and the nearby huge choice of restaurants. Ramon's is for sure overpriced and the rooms are certainly nothing to write home about, but the location is outstanding. Might not stay there again, but would choose to stay close to town again.

We went there with FF miles and still it was expensive! We didn't do the Chaa Creek package (poor, rushed planning on my part), so paid a good chunk for that part of the week. We LOVED Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley--would love to do some of the other snorkel trips now. March was a great time to be there!
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Old Jan 21st, 2010, 03:37 PM
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Note to jeanh--DH mentioned the other evening that he wished he were sitting at that little beach bar where you guys gather most evenings! He loved that.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2010, 06:25 AM
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Hi Shillmac, we've been trying to stay home more, rather than sitting at BC's. We're still there frequently though. It is wonderful to be here.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2010, 09:32 AM
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I've stayed at both Chaa Creek and Chan Chich. I've been to Belize twice. It is a great place. Chaa Creek is a little more luxurious. Chan Chich is a bit buggy since it is in the middle of a giant rainforest. But as long as you are prepared it is not bad enough to be a problem. If you like birds, wildlife and nature, you will love both of these hotels. If you are into nightlife and partying, these are not for you.

On Ambergris we stayed at Victoria House which was very nice. We also stayed at Turtle Inn in Placencia which was just amazing. Probably the best hotel I have ever stayed at in my life and the most relaxing too.

JoniC
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Old Jan 22nd, 2010, 11:09 AM
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We're definitely not into night life and partying; we're used to going to Costa Rica and getting up early to go see wildlife. If we stay up until ten, we're proud of ourselves - lol! I love all the wildlife ops at Chan Chich, but I'm thinking Chaa Creek would put us in a lot better position to go do the tours like the ATM cave and to see ruins, etc. Is that right? We've done Bosque del Cabo, so thinking Chaa Creek would be a little different for us in a good way. I've had a little bit of sticker shock looking at some of the prices of these places, but they look wonderful. Did you guys see birds and wildlife at Chaa Creek? Not a necessity, but it would be a fun bonus.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2010, 11:18 AM
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10pm? Night owl! ;-)
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Old Jan 22nd, 2010, 11:28 AM
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Yes we saw wildlife at Chaa Creek but MUCH more at Chan Chich due to its location as it literally is in the middle of nowhere. At Chan Chich we could not sleep past 5 am as the Howler Monkeys and Oropendolas would wake us up. There were alot of mammals right near the room including monkeys, agouti, coati, foxes, etc.

If you are into birds, Chan Chich really caters to birders. They have a lot of outings from the hotel but they are mostly to see birds, so if you are into that, you might feel there is not enough variety of things to do for your liking.

Chaa Creek also has a lot of wildlife but nothing in comparison to Chan Chich. You are right that Chaa Creek is more centrally located to see the caves, ruins, etc. There is a larger variety of things to see and do from there.

Both are pricey but when I went, Chan Chich's price included the food and tours. Chaa Creek was extra, so you'll want to check that out and factor it in. Since Chan Chich is very remote, you are better off doing the package that includes everything since there aren't any other choices anyway.

Something else that I felt was really cool about Chan Chich was the flight in, in a tiny little 2 seater plane. I loved it. My husband hated it. I was literally the co-pilot and he was stuffed into the little seat in the back with the suitcases squashed into the tail of the plane. But it was a beautiful flight and you could really appreciate the vastness of the rainforest. We even saw waterfalls. Very cool.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2010, 11:44 AM
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I love all the wildlife ops at Chan Chich, but I'm thinking Chaa Creek would put us in a lot better position to go do the tours like the ATM cave and to see ruins, etc. Is that right?

Exactly. Guests at Chan Chich tend to stay on the extensive property as most go for the birding and wildlife. You can hike, bike, horse ride and they offer guided walks and drives (both day and night). The lodge itself sits on partially excavated ruins and there are ruins nearby to visit (which we didn't see since we never left). Your best ruin opportunity would probably be Lamanai enroute if you opt for their road/boat/road transfer from Belize City with a stop and tour of Lamanai (also good for wildlife viewing opportunities on the river, lagoon and at the ruins).

I haven't stayed at Chaa Creek but have stayed in the Cayo District twice and saw less wildlife there vs at Chan Chich or Lamanai. In Cayo, we've seen plenty of birds, iguanas and agoutis, a couple of kinkajou and possoms and heard howlers. Here are my photos from a recent stay at duPlooys which might give you an idea of what we saw http://www.kodakgallery.com/gallery/...05%3A628702044 From Cayo, you have a number of ruins you can visit including Tikal in Guatemala (possible overnight or two if you choose) or within Belize, Caracol, and closer by Xunantunich, Cahal Pech, El Pilar, etc. ATM is also accessible as a day trip.

Chan Chich and Chaa Creek are two of the more expensive places to stay in Belize and you certainly don't need to spend that much. Cayo in particular has lots of accommodation options in all prices ranges.

I also wanted to comment on the bugs. We didn't encounter any biting insects at Chan Chich when we were there last March so it could be a seasonal thing. In general, I've found biting insects to be worse on the coast/cayes than inland.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2010, 11:45 AM
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vgirl - If you get a package at Chaa Creek, it's much more reasonable. It's still more expensive than CR and other places we've been . But the package price helps out a lot. We did: http://www.chaacreek.com/packages/expedition/ the 5 night package. So two full day and 1 half day tours were included. It was a perfect mix. And all of our meals were included as well. We only had to pay for alcoholic drinks and tips. Also included was the transfers to and from the airport and the taxes I believe.

Anyway - I wouldn't try to persuade you from CR because I loved it there too - but I love to go to new places, and I'm so glad we tried Belize! Next on my BIG getaway list is Galapagos!!! Gotta save up seriously for that one though!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2010, 02:03 PM
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Patty -- Do you have any less expensive places you could recommend? Especially for wildlife and hiking on site?
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Old Jan 22nd, 2010, 02:26 PM
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Much like CR, I'd divide your time between a couple of spots. We divided our time between Cayo area (Chaa Creek) and Ambergris Caye (Banyan Bay). Ambergris Caye is very nice, laid back, and great for snorkeling / diving. We visited Caye Caulker (much smaller and much more laid back) and found it too small / laid back for us (we have kids and need a few more activity options). If we did not have young kids, I would consider staying out on one of the Atolls e.g. "Glovers". Enjoy!
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