Things to do in Caye Caulker and San Ignacio

Old Dec 31st, 2009, 07:49 AM
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Things to do in Caye Caulker and San Ignacio

My Girlfriend and I are planing on traveling to Belize in a couple of weeks. Through great advice from this form, we have decided to stay on Caye Caulker for 4 days and then in/near San Ignacio for 4 days. We have already reserved our places to stay.

Could anyone give us some advice on things to do in these areas. We are healthy and active. The ATM is a must in the Cayo District. What else is a "must" given our short time? Which ruins are a “Must”. My girlfriend would love to see a jaguar.

As far as Caye Caulker, where are the best snorkeling and dive spots. My girlfriend wants to see manatee. Any recommendations on places to eat?

Sorry for so many questions. Thank you in advance.
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 08:32 AM
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Your girlfriend's chances of seeing a wild jaguar are extremely slim but you can stop at the Belize on the way to or from San Ignacio. It's been a long time since I've been in Cayo but we'll be there next week!

For the manatee tour check with Chocolate (north end of town, just ask anyone) when you first arrive on Caulker as he doesn't do the tours every day. The manatees are around Swallow Caye.
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 08:36 AM
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Restaurants on Caulker - Wish Willy and on the other end of the spectrum, Habaneros. Also Cafe Amor (? someone correct me on the name if I'm wrong) for breakfast.
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 08:39 AM
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Oops, meant to say "stop at the Belize Zoo".
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 10:49 AM
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Ditto the ATM cave and the Belize Zoo. You can check out what other things we did (loved them all) by going to our photo collections and reading the travelogues linked on the main page of each:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections

As for seeing manatees and jaguars, my best advice is to view any sitings as icing on the cake and a lack thereof as an excuse to go back. If your girlfriend predicates the success of a trip on seeing wildlife, she's apt to be disappointed. As Mason Williams said, "Don't go down to the ocean with a notion of what you will find".

Have a great trip and be sure to tell us all about it!
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 02:18 PM
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As far as ruins, from San Ignacio it is possible to take a day trip to Tikal in Guatemala. These are the most spectacular ruins in the vicinity and are worth the full day it will take. Many people like to overnight there and spend two days, but your time is short.

If that seems like too much, the ruins of Xunantunich are close to San Ignacio and will give you some idea of Mayan architecture and cities.

Hope you enjoy your trip.
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Old Dec 31st, 2009, 02:38 PM
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We enjoyed ATM as well as Tikal--had about the same amount of time as you will have. Tikal was awesome as was ATM. As much as this area has to offer, I can't imagine anything that would have been more impressive than these. Enjoy!
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Old Jan 1st, 2010, 11:01 AM
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The manatees are regularly seen around Swallow Caye. While nothing's a guarantee, your chances of seeing manatees are much, much greater than a jaguar.
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Old Jan 1st, 2010, 11:08 AM
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As an example, we've been to Swallow Caye twice and saw multiple manatees both times. We've never seen a wild jaguar in two trips to areas known for jaguars (which I don't believe Cayo is considered to be).
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Old Jan 1st, 2010, 02:07 PM
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Don't miss the Mayan ruins right in town (overlooking San Ignacio). It's a wonderful, easy 1/2 day, well worth visiting.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2010, 04:12 AM
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I just got back from almost 2 weeks in Belize (and Tikal). While it looked like many operators are willing to take you to the manatees, Chocolate seems to be the most famous. Other popular dive areas include the local reef 5 minutes from Caye Caulker and the Hol Chan Reserve between Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye. I would recommend the Hol Chan trip, even though it will be crowded. We had some great lobster at Rose's, but I think the best food we had was at Fran's. She has a little yellow food hut right near the water and is only open for dinner. She pulls out her grill right by the street and cooks lobster, snapper, and other meals. It's more street food than a more proper sit-down meal--you get your food in a syrofoam container and sit at the nearby picnic tables to eat it--but the food is great and it seems safe enough to eat. You might be apprehensive when you see it (as I was), but do try it out.

There are lots of things to do in the San Ignacio area. We did a day trip to Caracol with a couple of stops on the way back (the Rio Frio cave and the Rio On falls for some swimming). Xunantunich is also neat. We actually hiked from where we were staying (Clarissa Falls ranch) to Xunan. That was a highlight of our trip; we saw lots of birds and iguanas along the way. We were told that there are jaguars around San Ignacio, but good luck seeing them in the thick jungle!

Tikal was also mentioned, and we actually stayed 2 nights in El Remate (45 minutes from the ruins) than in San Ignacio, because we wanted to get to the ruins at or before daylight. I don't think you can do that from San Ignacio. If you are staying in the San Ignacio area, I would highly recommend visiting Tikal rather than passing it by. Tikal was another highlight of my trip.

Good luck with seeing jaguars. My goal was to see one of the five cat species of Belize but I came up empty-handed (this time!).
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Old Jan 2nd, 2010, 04:56 AM
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We make yearly visits to Bosque del Cabo in Costa Rica where pumas are spotted regularly, close up and personal. We have spent hours on those trails and have yet to see one. If ever we do, it will probably be when we least expect it. It would take some kind of incredible luck/circumstances to spot a jaguar, but hey--it could happen!
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Old Jan 2nd, 2010, 06:00 AM
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We saw jaguar tracks in southern Belize, by Monkey River. Our cat sighting was in Panama, saw a jaguarundi on the Pipeline Road. He didn't see us for a long time, we got a really good look. Intesting looking cat, to be honest, we weren't sure what it was. Some guys from the Smithsonian happened by and told us what it was.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2010, 07:22 AM
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Hey, Gritty - I'm looking forward to your travelogue (hint hint).
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Old Jan 4th, 2010, 09:33 AM
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I like Rose's restuarant in Caye Caulker, But there are many different place to eat that are really good. If you want to see more Mayan ruins try Caracol. It probably will save you many hours of travel time. Tikal is the most impressive but a day trip does not do it justice.
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