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-   -   Non-divers (https://www.fodors.com/community/mexico-and-central-america/non-divers-237658/)

Effie Jul 8th, 2002 12:05 PM

Non-divers
 
Whoops! Posted this in the wrong forum by mistake...<BR><BR>We are non-divers, but do enjoy the water (we swim and snorkel), and have heard that Placencia is beautiful and worth visiting. Does anyone have opinions on this -- are there lots of non-diving things to do there?<BR><BR>We would be spending 2 nights/3days there at the end of our trip to Belize. Is it worth staying somewhere like Hamanasi if you don't dive? I like the sound of treehouses, but it is definitely more expensive than Kitty's Place where we had planned to stay.<BR><BR>Thanks!

Susan Jul 8th, 2002 12:20 PM

To be honest, I was disappointed in Placencia. I really enjoyed Ambergris Caye (we had 5 nights there) and also San Ignacio (4 nights). The beach wasn't particularly impressive in Placencia. The town is very small. The people are very friendly, so we appreciated that. We had a bad experience with our hotel (which is no longer in business, I believe), so that was a poor start to the trip. In retrospect, we wished we had spent more time in the interior and maybe gone over into Guatemala to see Tikal. I have to be fair though - lots of people really like Placencia so our experience doesn't seem to be typical.

katie valk Jul 8th, 2002 02:01 PM

Lots to do in this area:<BR><BR>full day snorkel trip based on a small island on the reef: 45.00pp<BR><BR>Full day boat trip up Monkey River to see howler monkeys, crocs, manatees and waterbirds: 45.00pp<BR><BR>Full day guided hiking in the Jaguar Preserve and swimming picnic at a waterfall: 55.00pp<BR><BR>Ful day guided tour of the ruins in the Maya villages in the south: 65.00pp<BR><BR>Kayaking, fishing, biking, canoeing, sailing and more.

Effie Jul 8th, 2002 05:23 PM

Thanks so much to you both. <BR><BR>I am thinking that maybe we will extend our Tikal trip by a day and spend only 2 days in Placencia. The acivities Katie mentions sound like they could occupy us for that time.<BR><BR>Do you have thoughts on the lodging situation? Hamanasi -- worth it for non-divers? Love the treehouse idea!

Lan Sluder Jul 9th, 2002 08:00 AM

If you are looking for a lot to do, San Pedro (Ambergris Caye) offers more than Placencia. Many more restaurants, bars, more shops (Placencia basically doesn't have any shops other than three or four groceries and a few gift shops in hotels), yet it's not overly developed or commercialized (by Caribbean standards).<BR><BR>I was in Placencia last about three weeks ago, and in the village there is still a lot to do to recover and clean up from Iris, though north of Seine Bight things are pretty much back to normal. I always enjoy Placencia, but in my opinion for most people San Pedro offers more, including better, easier to get-to snorkeling and arguably nicer beaches.<BR><BR>Hamanasi is a beautiful place. It does get quite a few divers, but like most other resorts in Belize it doesn't cater exclusively to them. There's a beautiful "zero effect" pool, a nice restaurant and a pretty good beach. The "tree houses" are basically just rooms raised on stilts set back from the beach. I personally preferred the one-bedroom suites on the beach. Hopkins is an interesting, friendly place, though again if you are looking for a lot to do, this isn't it.<BR><BR>--Lan Sluder<BR>www.belizefirst.com

Effie Jul 9th, 2002 10:59 AM

Thanks, Lan!<BR><BR>Our concern is the Ambergris is going to be a bit too touristy for us -- we wanted a quiet, simple place to do some snorkeling, canoeing and general lazing around in hammocks. Does this sound like Placencia? Or would one of the other Cayes do better for us -- Caye Caulker for example?<BR><BR>Good feedback on the treehouses. They sounded really neat, but I think we can go back to our original plan of Kitty's Place without feeling like we are missing out too much.<BR><BR>Thanks so much!<BR>Effie

Lan Sluder Jul 9th, 2002 11:18 AM

"Touristy" is in the eye of the beholder, I guess. In comparison with the rest of Belize, Ambergris Caye is developed. But really it's still much like the Caribbean of 40 or 50 years ago, before cruise ships took over most ports and every other shop sold Colombian emeralds and Swiss watches.<BR><BR>With the exception of a couple of hundred yards of cobblestone, all the streets on the island are sand. No building is over three stories, and most are one story. Golf carts are still the main form of transportation, though there are a growing number of cars owned by locals on the island. There are no American (or other) franchises. While the town of San Pedro and just south are pretty busy, there are large stretches of the island, mainly North Ambergris, that are undeveloped.<BR><BR>Caye Caulker is smaller, but because it's small and the village is compact, in some ways it feels more, not less, developed than the much larger Ambergris.<BR><BR>But if you want it quiet, REAL quiet off-season, with some restaurants and hotels closed, then Placencia could well be your cup of Red Fanta. And Kitty's is a great, laid-back little resort.<BR><BR>--Lan Sluder

Effie Jul 9th, 2002 01:04 PM

That's a good point. Since we are going during the off-season, places that are quiet during the high season will certainly be even more quiet. <BR><BR>Do you have any suggestions of a really laid back un-touristy place to stay on the beach at Ambergris? I'm strating to think that might be the right route. My boyfriend really wants to snorkel, otherwise I would opt for staying inland the whole 8 days.<BR><BR>Thanks!

Lan Sluder Jul 10th, 2002 06:36 AM

Not trying to talk you out of Kitty's -- it's great, one of my favorite places in Belize, and I've probably stayed at or at least toured 250 hotels in Belize (I've written or co-written six books on the country).<BR><BR>But if you want a quiet, laid-back place on Ambergris, you might look at one of the places on North Ambergris (most are a water taxi ride from town). Belizean Shores is a new condotel, really big pool, a good value now. Portofino is expensive but very nice, with a thatch ambiance. For something small, Capricorn (which is primarily a restaurant, arguably the best on the island) has three small cabins on the beach.<BR><BR>About 2 miles south of town, Victoria House is a beautiful, but again pretty expensive, resort. A good inexpensive laidback choice is Mata Rocks, also south of town about 1 1/2 miles. There are lots of other excellent moderately priced places, such as Coconuts, but these are in areas that are a little busier.<BR><BR>--Lan Sluder

Lan Sluder Jul 10th, 2002 06:55 AM

Forgot to mention Playa Blanca on North Ambergris. Small place in a beautiful setting, operated by Gaz Cooper. He runs a small dive operation so he gets a lot of divers, but non-divers also stay there.<BR><BR>--Lan Sluder

tim Jul 10th, 2002 07:23 AM

We just returned yesterday form Ambergris. We stayed at Mata Chica 5 miles North of San Pedro. It was awesome. The main road to San Pedro doesn't come up to that part of the island so you really feel like it is your own island.( There are several boat shuttles to get to town though) Room rates were pretty reasonable for the type of place you get. ($160/nite since it is off season). While we were there we looked around at Ramon's(too busy), Portofino(nice beach but not as nice), Victoria House(really nice, different, more conserative feel but beautiful)<BR><BR>Mata Chica is hip and understatedly elegant. Plus you have free use of sea kayaks for a short paddle out to the reef for good snorkleing. Ambergris Cay is a great place with many good restaurants and really undeveloped. Lan is really great in helping answer questions. He really helped our last minute trip. THANKS Lan!

Effie Jul 10th, 2002 08:02 AM

Thanks Tim and Lan!<BR><BR>Mata Chica does sound wonderful, though it's a little pricey. Do you know approximately how much beyond the price of room you spent on snorkeling etc. there? I know that breakfast is included with the room, and that dinner is around $30 per person, but I'm just trying to figure out how much more we will spend on additional activites etc.<BR><BR>Thanks!<BR>Effie

Owen O'Neill Jul 10th, 2002 09:39 AM

If you're not hellbent on having a good swimming beach and want to spend less money I can recommend Caye Caulker. I can well understand Lan's comment that because of its small size it may seem almost a bit more commercially developed than Ambergris but it's so reasonably price that it's worth considering. There's decent swimming (but nothing much to see for snorkelers) at the "split" and once can get a good dinner for $7-10 each not incl tip or alcohol. The fanciest restaurant that I saw on the island is Habaneros and entrees range from $10-13 incl a side dish. I stayed at Seaside Cabanas which was okay (not wonderful but acceptable) but before leaving I looked at the rooms at Iguana Reef Inn - wow! Gorgeous and really first class facility. Great beach area to longe under an umbrella and enjoy the sunset and I think they may have kayaks available. What I appreciated about Caye Caulker was the fact that everything was close together and easy to reach on foot. Snorkel trips are resaonbly priced and readily available (the diver service I used recommended Carlos Tours for snorkel trips). I went in late May which is one of the quiet times. Some hotels and restaurants were actually closed and the others were not busy. At the busiest times of day even the most compact part of "downtown" Caye Caulker was uncrowded. You won't quite get the feel of being on your own little isolated Caribbean Island there but you can have a great time for low $$.

tim Jul 10th, 2002 10:32 AM

Yes, continental b-fast is included(toast, rolls and fruit). Dinners can get expensive at Mata Chica and the food was Ok not great. We only ate dinner there 2 times and went to San Pedro and a place called Capricorn the rest of the time. We like to get out and try different places. Mata Chica offers a free boat to town leaving at 5pm and returning to Mata Chica at 7pm and 9:30pm. Perfect for a few drinks after dinner. If you want to stay in town later you can take a ferry for $10pp. We seemed to take the 9:30 back every night. Also, they add 8% tax and a 10% tip/service fee to the prices.<BR> <BR>Snorkeling is free at the reef you can kayak to at Mata Chica. We did take a few tours to snorkel and go inland to see Myan ruins and those get a little pricey, but the prices are the same as if you booked the tours in San Pedro(and the use the same companies in town)<BR><BR>Hope this helps. We had a great time.


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