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planning a very short belize trip for snorkeling, scuba etc, please help.

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Sep 23rd, 2013, 09:24 PM
  #1
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planning a very short belize trip for snorkeling, scuba etc, please help.

Hello,
I am planning a ~4 days trip to Belize with a friend. (Flying from NYC)
Since neither of us is expert traveler and we are both working ridiculous hours till the night before we take off (Nov 1st), we don't have much time to research. So, please help~~~!!!! Any input will help.

We are looking for a resort that either offers snorkeling/scuba as a package or have very close-by excursions of such. Any suggestions???
i have found quite a few resorts with snorkeling and scuba listed as close by excursions, but I just can't be sure how good those close-by excursions are... So, if anyone has an experience,, please share. =D

My friend and I agreed that 4 days is way toooo short for Belize, but both of us have always wanted to go and that's all the time we can possibly arrange.

We don't mind which part of Belize as long as we get to snorkel/ scuba and relax and be safe. (preferably closER to NY to save traveling time, I guess).

Also, do you guys think 4days is just way too short and it would be silly to even try? If so, I agree,, and Would you suggest any other places for such activities? Except Dominical Republic and Cancun.

Our budget is ~about $1000~1500 per person.

Thank you very very much.!!!
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Sep 24th, 2013, 02:32 AM
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You would fly in and out of BZE; would the $1000-1500 include airfare?

4 days wouldn't be worth it to me but I fly from the Pacific NW so spend a full day coming and going. If you can afford and justify the airfare, then maybe it would be worth it to you. Remember you'll need a day free of diving before your international flight to off gas.

For snorkeling and diving with a tight time frame, I'd choose between Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker; you can fly to either from BZE or taxi into town ($25US shared) and take a ferry. I've pasted some information from another forum below comparing the 2 islands. To read reviews of hotels, tours, dive shops, etc., check out www.tripadvisor.com

Good luck!
-------------------------

THUMBNAIL SKETCHES OF THE CAYES AND COASTAL BEACH AREAS OF BELIZE

By Lan Sluder

AMBERGRIS CAYE
Want a comfortable, shorts-and-sandals seaside vacation, at a moderate price? Just a bit off the beaten path but not too far, where the seafood is fresh and the beer is cold? Where the tap water won’t make you sick? An island with most of the modcons without the plastic tackiness, with decent diving, excellent snorkeling, beautiful water and pretty fair beaches? Where local folks are friendly and hablan English, though they may speak Spanish at home? A spot with dependably beautiful weather most of the Time? Then you’ll enjoy Ambergris Caye.

Though it’s developing fast, San Pedro, the only real town on Ambergris Caye, still remains mostly laidback and low-rise. Some of the streets have been paved with concrete cobble-stones (a mistake), but the side streets are still sand, and away from the main part of town the dirt roads are more paths than roads. Golf carts are still the main form of transportation, albeit the number of cars on the island continues to rise, and in some areas of downtown the traffic is really bad.
The air strip, despite being lengthened, is still a strip, not a port, and it’s literally next door to town.

No, this is not an undiscovered paradise. Yes, tourism is the number one industry in what was once a fishing village. Well over one-half of the 230,000 or so international travelers to Belize each year end up here. Commercial fishing is now so far back in second place that you can’t even see the hooks. This is not, however, the bloated tourism of Cancun, with millions of package tourists hitting the beach and sucking beer.

True, condos, houses and hotels have gone up right and left (though the real estate crunch and super recession in the USA has virtually reduced condo construction on Ambergris Caye to a standstill.). North Ambergris, separated from the south by a river channel, and with a new bridge for golf carts, bikes and pedestrians spanning it, is starting to achieve critical mass, with electrical power even to once remote houses and hotels and rumors, or worse, of big resorts and casinos. Some even think there will be a road and bridge from the Mexican side.

Still, most (not all) buildings on the island are no higher than a tall coco palm, or three stories. Hotels inexorably are getting more upmarket, with fresh water pools and aircon. Prices continue to go up, too, with the best suites in the best hotels going for the previously unthinkable US$400 a day, and higher.

But most hotels on Ambergris Caye are moderate by Caribbean standards. And a few rooms are available for US$25 or less.

This is not an island for backpackers looking for the cheapest deals by the sea. Neither is it for shoppers (though you can while away a few hours in San Pedro’s gift shops), golfers(though there’s a course on an island next door), gamblers(though there’s a little bit of gaming), oenophiles (though there are wine shops now, several restaurants have decent if small wine lists, and one restaurant makes and sells passable wines from imported grape juice), gourmandizers (though several island restaurants will satisfy even sophisticated palates and many serve dependably delicious meals), or those panting after one of those all-inclusive hedoheat experiences made famous in Jamaica (though the first Temptation Island reality show was shot on Ambergris Caye).

Ambergris Caye is not for those seeking the ultimate beautiful beach, or totally unspoiled diving, nor is it for sophisticates who summer in the Hamptons and winter in St. Barts. Yet, for both visitors and residents, the island continues to become more cosmopolitan. Restaurants are getting better. Expats from all over the world now call San Pedro home. The island is by far the first choice of Americans, Canadians and Europeans for their pied de mer. A number of Belize’s most successful business people maintain vacation homes here.

In short, Ambergris Caye is at that very special point in the development of a tropical paradise. It is beyond boredom, a bit before mass discovery and just this side of just right.

CAYE CAULKER
Caye Caulker is Ambergris Caye’s “little sister” island – smaller, less developed and a cheaper date. Caulker, whose name derives from the Spanish word for coco plum, hicaco, has the kind of laidback, sandy-street, tropical-color, low-key Caribbean charm that travelers pay thousands to experience, but here they can have it for peanuts. Less than 10 miles, and about 30 minutes by boat, from San Pedro, Caye Caulker is definitely worth a day visit, and some people may decide they like Caulker as well, or better, than San Pedro.

We are often asked to compare the two islands. Here are some of the key comparisons:

• Caye Caulker is physically much smaller, under 5 miles long and half a mile wide at its widest point, roughly one-tenth the size of Ambergris Caye. Hurricane Hattie in 1961 divided the island in two parts. North of “the Split” it is mostly uninhabited mangrove, and this area is protected as a nature reserve. As on many islands, there are basically just three streets running down the island, Front, Middle and Back streets being the main ones, though there are few street signs and locals usually give directions just by saying “go down to yellow house and turn right.” Most of the 300 or so listings in the Caye Caulker section of the Belize telephone directory don’t even include a street name or address, just the person’s name and phone number.

• Nearly all of the population of 1,400 live in the village on the south end of the island. Caye Caulker has streets of hard packeds and and far fewer cars than San Pedro, just a handful of emergency vehicles. Almost everybody gets around on foot or bike. As on Ambergris, a majority of local residents are Mestizos who originally came to the island from Mexico, and who until recently made their living by fishing, but the island also has Creoles, some of whom consider themselves Rastafarians, gringos and others.

• While it is gradually going more upmarket, Caye Caulker remains a budget island. In the 1960s and 1970s, the island was on the “backpacker trail,” a cheap place for longhaired visitors o relax, and smoke a little weed or sip a beer. Today, the most expensive hotel on Caulker goes for around US$145 a night, and most of the 40 or so hotels charge under US$50 double, with some as low as US$10.

Most older hotels, like the houses are on the island, are wooden clapboard, often painted in tropical colors, but more recently constructed hotels are of reinforced concrete. Rooms are usually small, often with a fan and simple furnishings and foam-mattress beds. Only a couple of the hotels on the island has a swimming pool, and some newer ones offer cable TV and air-conditioning, usually for an extra charge. The official view of the island, though, emphasizes Caulker’s new emphasis on middle-class tourism. Mo Miller, chair of the Caye Caulker Village Council marketing committee, says “Although Caye Caulker had been known for abackpacker’s paradise, it is now an up and coming upscale charming island with a fishing village ambiance. Except for the Euro tourists in August, the island usually accommodates middle-class tourists.”

• Caye Caulker has much the same mix of tourist-oriented businesses as San Pedro, but in most cases there are fewer of everything. The island has perhaps 20 simple restaurants, if you include those that operate out of somebody’s back window or side yard, a few casual bars, a handful of dive shops and tour guides, several pint-sized groceries, a few gift shops, two banks and several cybercafes.

• Beaches? Caulker has much less beachfront, and whatrbeaches it has don’t compare with some of the better stretches of beach on Ambergris Caye. A beach reclamation project in2000 did widen and improve the beach along the east side of the village (storms since have taken away and then given back sand). Swimming in the shallow water close to shore is mainly from piers and at “the Split.”

• The pipe water, or tap water, on Caulker is not as good as on Ambergris Caye, where it mostly comes from a treated municipal system. On Caulker, it often has a sulphur smell and comes from shallow wells that may be close to septic systems. We recommend you not drink it; use bottled water or rainwater instead. Caye Caulker also has sandflies. Especially on calmdays, they can be a real nuisance.Caye
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Sep 24th, 2013, 03:27 AM
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4 days is just a long weekend, you don't have time for Belize.
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Sep 24th, 2013, 05:41 AM
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The flight is 1 hr 45 mins from Miami. I would then visit either Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker, both a 20 mins flight from Intl and both less than a mile from the reef. There are many good dive shops on both who service guests staying at any of the hotels. What does your pp budget have to include?
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Sep 24th, 2013, 05:52 AM
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I'd go for it. We loved Ambergris. The snorkeling at Hol Chan is some of the best we've ever done - saw big rays, turtles, nurse sharks, and lots of colorful tropical fish.
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Sep 24th, 2013, 10:52 AM
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one last idea...

https://www.facebook.com/Belizechocolate
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Sep 24th, 2013, 11:54 AM
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Personally I would never spend the money to get all the way to Belize when you only have 4 days for the trip.
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Sep 24th, 2013, 11:56 AM
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Oh, for other suggestions that make more sense from NYC... how about Jamaica?
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Sep 24th, 2013, 02:51 PM
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Thank you all of you guys for great inputs. I guess I'll have to leave Belize for my next trip when I have more time.. !!!

All the inputs were very helpful!! I will definitely look into Jamaica. =D
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Sep 24th, 2013, 03:05 PM
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Not Jamaica if diving and snorkelling are at the top of your list. There are other destinations in the Caribbean better for that
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Sep 24th, 2013, 04:05 PM
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Like what?

(Not questioning that this is true Katie-Valk but your answer would be a whole lot more helpful if you told staples05 where (lol)!
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Sep 26th, 2013, 04:13 AM
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betcha the OPer knows about GOOGLE.....

http://www.caribjournal.com/2013/03/...s-for-2013/10/
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Sep 26th, 2013, 09:47 AM
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I still say Jamaica's worth considering for a short trip. These people are not expert scuba divers, just looking for some easy beginning snorkeling. Negril would be great for a 5 day trip from NYC.
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Oct 1st, 2013, 10:01 AM
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Groupon is running a 50% off deal for Blackbird Caye Resort starting 11/1/13, 4 night stay in standard cabana $999.00 per person includes meals and transfers. We stayed here a few years back and it is first claas, good food, good staff, nice cabanas right on beach, good snorkeling/diving.

http://www.groupon.com/deals/ga-blac...ess_choke=TRUE
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Jan 24th, 2015, 11:06 AM
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we are looking for a week of good snorkeling in March. Thinking about Belize. (or Bonaire?) Have spent much time in BVI and St John...so looking for new spot. Snorkeling was ideal in those places in past yrs. and still ok but bleached. We don't want guided snorkel trails which are good for novices and wonder if we are asking too much of snorkeling in the Caribbean/Bahamas in 2015. We have no interest in big nightlife-would prefer rental house, quiet pace.
appreciate thoughts.
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Jan 24th, 2015, 11:48 AM
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We've been to both the BVIs and St. John, and the snorkeling we did at Hol Chan was much better than what we experienced in those places. We went from Ambergris, but it might be busier than what you're looking for, so maybe try Caye Caulker.
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Jan 24th, 2015, 03:48 PM
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snorklemore,
You may want to start a new thread for your question. If you pick Belize, snorkeling is generally accessed via boat trips if you're staying on Ambergris Caye (unless you stay at the far northern end) or Caye Caulker. If you're looking for walk in snorkeling, you could look at South Water or some of the other cayes that are located on the reef. These cayes will definitely be very quiet.

I haven't been to Bonaire but from what I understand, there is easy access to shore snorkeling.
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Jan 25th, 2015, 06:01 AM
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We spend our winters on Ambergris. Most snorkeling is done via boat. It is possible to kayak out to the reef (when it's calm), and snorkel that way. Downtown San Pedro (the town on Ambergris) is busy and noisy. But, you don't have to get very far away for it to be quiet.

We've been to Bonaire a couple of times. Awesome walk in snorkeling. Downside is lack of beaches and the need to rent a car. We stayed close to town both visits and were surprised at the number of excellent restaurants for such a small island.
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