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-   -   Need advice -- 1st time to Belize (https://www.fodors.com/community/mexico-and-central-america/need-advice-1st-time-to-belize-385935/)

shillmac Jun 28th, 2008 05:20 AM

Need advice -- 1st time to Belize
 
Okay all you Belizers. . .hop in here!

Chan Chich has come to my attention, and I've found good FF flights for March. I just need advice about how to spend 6 nights. In fact, I need to know pretty much EVERYTHING!

Fly into BZE?

Where to spend a couple of nights at a beach location possibly? CC is a birding property and DH isn't one of "us"! Thinking 2 nights beach location front or end of trip. . .no idea where. Amergris Caye? Other? Time could be a factor. . .

Have no idea how to get from place to place although CC seems to advise charter flights to and from. Would prefer not to drive this trip. Don't need a car at CC.

I'm waiting to hear availability from CC--okay to go ahead and book the FF flights?

Beach location a problem with spring breakers? Stupid question. . .

Thanks in advance!

xyz99 Jun 28th, 2008 05:46 AM

Donít what to highjack your post, shillmac, but after seeing Chan Chich pictures on a different post, Iím interested too Ė thanks EDH. Please also include snorkeling information Ė where is a good place to do that?
Thanks

shillmac Jun 28th, 2008 06:15 AM

No problem--I need to know about snorkeling as well!

JeanH Jun 28th, 2008 07:11 AM

I'm a huge fan of Ambergris, I can't help you with Chan Chich, other than I'd love to stay there one of these days.

Yes, fly into Belize City. (BZE) I don't know if a charter to Chan Chich would leave from there or the municipal airport, a US$25.00 cab ride away. I'm sure they can tell you.

Anyway, I'd head there first, then come back to Belize City and head either to the water taxi terminal (if you're heading to either Ambergris or Caulker), or to the municipal airport. From the municipal airport you can fly pretty much anywhere in the country in under an hour.

If snorkeling is a high priority, you could check out South Water Caye, I think only three hotels on the island. Not much else to do...

Ambergris and Caulker both have tons of places to stay, loads of restaurants, and both are less than a mile from the reef. The beaches are better on Ambergris, but still lots of sea grass in the water, so most swimming is done off piers. There's also some ok snorkeling right off the piers where the owners have started artificial reefs.

Spring breakers aren't an issue. There are young people, but most that come are divers. Not that they don't party, but it isn't the focus.

If you decide on Ambergris, I'll try and help, I haven't spent much time in recent years anywhere else.

Katie_Valk Jun 28th, 2008 08:54 AM

Chan Chich is a destination onto itself. Huge swath of jungle, great birding, trails and wildlife, horses, canoeing and Lamanai Mayan site close enough for a day trip. Fly one way, drive the other way. I'm not sure about 6 nights at CC, unless you are an avid birder and hiker. I think the lodges in the Cayo district have more varied trips and activities to offer that'll keep you busy for 6 nights. For beach, Ambergris, Placencia or Hopkins.

EDH_Traveler Jun 28th, 2008 08:54 AM

Here is my review of Chan Chich which may help answer some questions. If not, feel free to ask more:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...eler&fid=6

I think flying to both the cayes and CC is the way to go. The roads are not good. The flight from BZE to CC is 95% jungle and really pretty (They do leave from the main airport). I believe you can also take a boat from BZE to some of the cayes but we are jungle people and haven't been to the cayes.

shillmac Jun 28th, 2008 09:28 AM

Thanks jean, katie, EDH--

Trying to process everything! Looks like, if I book the flights, we'll be arriving about 2:50 in the afternoon. Too late to head to CC on a charter flight? Will I lose out on an entire day of meal plan?

Suppose we go there first and stay March 17, 18 19, 20, then back east for beach time nights of 21, 22. Flight leaves late in the day on the 23rd, so we would have a good day and a half to snorkle and relax. Sound reasonable? Anybody recommending splitting it 3 and 3? I don't really care. . .husband wouldn't either. . .

That brings me to my zillionth questions: I like for someone to just tell me where to go (LOL!), so this is your chance everyone! For pretty beach, good snorkeling, moderate plus (bang for the buck) hotel on beach. . . .what are your recommendations? South Water Caye? Placencia? Otra? And what kind of expense and time are we looking at with regard to water taxi vs. air?

Air is almost free, hotel is our big splurge, and we'd like to keep other costs down as much as possible while still getting around in a timely manner. . .for example, I wouldn't mind at all a land transfer to CC and a flight back or vice versa. . .

EDH_Traveler Jun 28th, 2008 12:39 PM

I don't think 2:50 would be too late for a flight to CC. Ours was around that same time as well.

CC booked us with Javierís Flying Service and both flights were great and the pilots were very knowledgable. The owner, Vern, flew us out of CC.

shillmac Jun 28th, 2008 12:49 PM

Do you remember the cost of the round trip for two?

EDH_Traveler Jun 28th, 2008 03:18 PM

So, the one "less than positive" thing to say about CC is that it is pricey.

The charter flight was $626 round trip. Also, be aware that if you arrive for lunch on day one and also want lunch on your last day, they will charge you for that extra lunch to the tune of $45 for two people. (Yes, those are US dollar numbers).

For the price you pay, they could throw in that last lunch. (Bosque Del Cabo did..)

Finally, to say some coin, consider staying in a standard cabana. The deluxe had more than we wanted (double sinks, double shower heads, personal robes, etc). However, I do believe the deluxe cabanas have are generally around the edges and have more privacy.

shillmac Jun 28th, 2008 03:42 PM

$626 for ONE person?

We generally stay in a standard at Bosque del Cabo as well, although I like the larger decks on the deluxe.

I'm gonna have a ton of questions--hope you don't mind me bugging you!

If I book quickly, there's a chance I can get a 10:30 a.m. arrival. . .

shillmac Jun 28th, 2008 03:46 PM

EDH, do you have an opinion if we should do a 4/2 split or a 3/3, beach being last 2-3 days.

Still looking for a pretty beach with good snorkeling, moderate hotel. Best bet?

Toucan2 Jun 28th, 2008 03:54 PM

Shillmac, we spent a week in Chan Chich in 2003. My husband's the birder, I'm not. I found plenty to do! It is expensive, but for us a once in a lifetime experience and worth it. It's been awhile, but at the time the food was good so it wasn't like you were getting horrible food for that much money.

Instead of trying to book all the transfers and the island part of your trip on your own, you might want to start booking through either someone like Katie Valk or through the booking company for Chan Chich. They know the ins and outs and make it much easier.

For example, we flew into BZE, spent an afternoon and overnighted in Belize City and had an early morning driver pickup. They drove us to Orange Walk Town and we did the river tour to Lamanai, visited the ruins and had lunch, then the driver picked us up there and drove us the rest of the way to Chan Chich.

When we left, we flew to San Ignacio on a chartered flight for the next leg of our trip.

I suppose I could have done this all on my own(the arrangements) but I have to say it was a lot easier getting the suggestions and then choosing.

shillmac Jun 28th, 2008 05:32 PM

Thanks so much--this is very helpful. We are so used to arranging our entire travel all over Costa Rica; I can see it's a little more logisticallly challenging in Belize. . .

Do you have a beach location to recommend for 2-3 days?

Toucan2 Jun 28th, 2008 05:56 PM

We didn't do the beach portion as so many do, so unfortunately I don't have a recommendation. We went to San Ignacio and stayed at Ek'Tun. Friends went to Caye Caulker and really enjoyed it, but I can't remember where they stayed. It's my understanding that Caye Caulker has a bit more of a laid back vibe, and maybe Ambergris Caye a little more posh, but I haven't been so maybe it isn't fair for me to say. Have you also visited the Belize Forum? http://www.belizeforum.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi
There's also www.belizefirst.com. Both were good for lots of additional information.

I'm feeling very jealous right now! We just looked at airfares to Belize in December and gulped really hard. We won't be going ):

volcanogirl Jun 28th, 2008 06:02 PM

shillmac, I'm so glad you're going to be our CR guinea pig that goes to Belize. You can give us all the scoop! We've had our eye on Chan Chich for a while and were thinking of pairing it with either Placencia or Ambergris. Seems like things in Belize are a little more expensive than the CR prices we're used to, but it does look amazing, and we love the combo of wildlife and water.

EmilyMB Jun 28th, 2008 06:07 PM

Shillmac, you've been such a help to me on my CR trip, I want to pay back in any way. We were supposed to go to Belize so I had done a fair amount of research. I was looking for places that could combine both beach and jungle without having to move (see a pattern here :)), and Hamanasi was perfect for 6 evenings. We also looked at Almond Beach/Jaguar Reef Lodge in Hopkins and Roberts Grove and Kanantik in Placencia. All resort-y places. Most- if not all- included flights from BZE to the area.

Good luck!

JeanH Jun 28th, 2008 06:21 PM

Ambergris does have some higher end resorts, but, I think the biggest difference between Ambergris and Caulker is that Ambergris is simply way busier. More traffic, more people.

With that comes more restaurants, more hotel options, more beach bars.

I love renting bicycles on Ambergris, you can ride up the beach for miles, it's not deserted, in fact there's lots of construction, but it's fun, and there's plenty of places to stop for food or drink.

Are you guys divers? If so, I'd say three day for sure on the cayes, if not, depends on what you want to do.

shillmac Jun 28th, 2008 06:36 PM

Thanks, all. Let me digest the info for awhile. . .what we really want out of our 2-3 days at the beach is great snorkeling. We don't get that in CR--and a neat hotel (doesn't have to be high end). $200 per night is okay, but something cool for less is even better! AND we like to bicycle.

South Water Caye is best for snorkeling?

Ambergris has the sea grass, so you walk down the piers to get into the water?

Don't know anything about Caulker. . .

Guess it's time for me to e-mail Katie! :)

Anymore info? Please keep it coming! Guinea pig I'll be, vgirl!

JeanH Jun 29th, 2008 06:49 AM

I haven't been to South Water Caye, we spent a few nights at the cheaper Tobacco Caye a couple years ago. The draw for these cayes is the walk in snorkeling. Tobacco Caye is miniscule, you can walk entirely around the island in less than 10 minutes. South Water Cay is larger and way more upscale.

There are a couple resorts on Ambergris that have good walk in swimming on their beaches, Ramon's and Banyan Bay are on the nicest stretches of beach on the south end.

If you decide on Ambergris, next decision is how close to town you want to be. The north end of Ambergris is beautiful, lots of neat places to stay. You'll probably need a water taxi to get back and forth to town, the road up there really isn't a road. Only traffic allowed is golf carts.

There are also some nice places south of town. You can get out of the business of town, but still be able to walk or bike or easily go by golf cart. Or regular taxi.

I actually liked staying in town before we bought south of town. It was really nice to be able to run over to Ruby's and grab a couple of the wonderful cinnamon rolls for breakfast and bring them back to eat on the veranda.

Snorkel trips from Ambergris are usually half day affairs, although you can do all day ones that include lunch and such. There's also an all day one that has three snorkel stops, and also involves a stop at Caye Caulker for lunch. That was fun, although I would have liked more time on Caulker.

A few places have free bicycles for their guests, I know Xanadu does, as does Coral Bay (where I own). Otherwise, it costs about $5.00 a day to rent a bike. Certainly not a huge issue as far as where to stay.


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