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live42day Feb 14th, 2013 07:00 PM

Wonderful Belize holiday
We have just returned from a 28 day trip to Belize. We are two couples, late fifties/early 60s. We are all pretty well travelled and none had been to Belize before.

We flew from Victoria BC to Belize on American Airlines for $650 CAD return. We cant even fly to Toronto for that price. We did have to overnight both ways, or do the red eye, but chose inexpensive airport hotels and still way ahead of other options to get to Belize.

The flights were all on time and except for the fact that I think they dragged our luggage behind the plane down the runway, we were please with American.

We arranged to be met at the airport by a driver from our hotel. He was on time in a large van and as it was before noon when we arrived we asked if he would stop at the Belize Zoo on our way to our hotel in San Ignacio.

I hate zoos, of any kind, but I suppose that this one was better than most as it was mostly rescued animals.

SAN IGNACIO: We stayed at Cahal Pech for eight nights. It is on the hill overlooking the town and walking distance to the Cahal Pech ruins. We opted for a two bedroom thatched bungalow beside the pool, $99 per night. We had a screened porch with hammock and chairs and a small fridge.

There was a lovely pool but there was a cold front and a lot of rain so we didnt get to use it much. The food at the restaurant was wonderful and the staff very helpful. Free computers and wifi.

TOURS: We hired guides for the day to see Xunantunich. We took a cab to the site, he came across on the ferry with us and drove us up the hill. We hired a guide at the ferry who came up with us.

Cahal Pech. We just walked over and did our own thing.

Tikal: Pacz tours. Four others on the tour with us. Great day. Leaves San Ignacio around 8AM and back at 5PM. We paid $140 and it included lunch.

Our friends did the ATM caves and said it was the highlight of their trip.

We did a canoe trip to Barton Creek Caves which we really liked a lot. There is a Canadian guy and his son who offer tours there and have opened up a zip line as well. We also did zip lining for the first time and it was amazing!!

Another day trip to Caracol Mayan Ruins. A very long and bumpy road. A lot like Tikal and the other ruins so one too many ruins for us, we could have done without it.

We found that there were very few people at any of the sites, my pictures don't have any other people in them.

We found the prices in all the restaurants good, the produce in the market very well priced and good quality. The people were so friendly and amazing.

Eight nights was far too long. I would have been happy with five or six.

We hired a car and driver and went to:


We could have spent the entire trip here. We loved it. Very laid back, the weather improved so that helped a lot, and the ocean was at our front door to walk out to swim every morning.

We stayed right in town at SEASPRAY for 6 nights. We each had our own unit with balcony and hammock, chairs tables outside which we used a lot. There was a full size fridge, coffee maker and microwave. We had our breakfast in our room every morning. Cost was $69 per night. Nothing special but it was clean, the location was perfect and everyone was so friendly.

For more upscale we went to see Roberts Grove which is about a $10 cab ride out of town. It had a wonderful feel to it and looked like a great place. We talked to some folks who were staying there and they loved it.

The locals were so wonderful. There were women who walked the beach selling their wares but if you said no thank you they just continued on their way. No pressure at all.

The food was good at most of the restaurants but if you go you MUST go to Tutti Fruiti for Gelato. OMG it is amazing!!!

Other than swimming every day in the ocean we biked the peninsula , went snorkeling which was just okay except that one stop we were with huge turtles which was great.
We sang karaoke with the locals.

We were going to hire a car and driver to go to Belize city to catch the ferry to San Pedro, but heard of this new bus service that just started up. We booked the bus for $10 each and waited outside our hotel at 6AM>

The 'chicken bus' showed up much to our surprise. It is an older school bus that usually takes locals with all their produce and livestock. This one however was the express so did not stop anywhere. We were fine with it. In three hours we were in Belize City bus station.

We caught a cab to the water taxi and arrived at San Pedro at noon.

We rented a two bedroom condo through 'flipkey' at the Oasis. It was on the outskirts of town, just before the bridge. Cost was around $160 per night split between two couples. We had a complete kitchen which was great, bikes and a welcome pool.

At first we were shell shocked. Hated San Pedro. It was noisy, with golf carts every where. You could not swim in the ocean except off a dock.

We sulked for a day and then pulled it together and remembered why we were there. Snorkeling.

We were in San Pedro for 10 nights and we snorkeled 6 times. We found the half days were the best for us. We would go out in the mornings and be back around noon. We used 'Chuck and Robbies' all but once. They were close to our condo and we always had the boat to ourselves. The guides we had ranged from amazing to nothing special.
The trips were around $45 each person per trip.

The snorkeling was amazing!!! I wish I was a diver. We swam with huge rays, turtles, nurse sharks, and so many fish. The colors of the fish and the coral was outstanding.

We took our bikes one day and rode the beach north and had a fantastic time.

San Pedro was really hot. If you were on the water it was great because there was always a breeze. If you walked one block over it was very humid and hot. We always tried to walk on the beach path to town.

There were a lot of great restaurants and the prices for the most part were good. Again we found the people so friendly and helpful. I never felt unsafe or threatened during our stay.
The bugs only came out at dusk. Mosquitoes that were not that bad. During the day there was no issue. There are fire ants however. Be cautious of those as they have a nasty and very itchy bite.
We did a day trip to Caye Caulkner. It was cute, slower and quieter but I would choose San Pedro again instead of it.

The guys went fishing twice. Once reef fishing and caught many fish and lobster and had a huge seafood cook up in the condo.

The second time was for bone fish, catch and release, but only managed to get one fish.

In summary: We all LOVED Belize. This is one of the few places that I plan to go back to. I would like to spend a couple of months here.

What would I do next time? Spend most of our time in Placencia. Spend less time in San Pedro, just a few days to snorkel, and go to Lamanai which we heard was wonderful.

I am happy to answer any questions.

hopefulist Feb 14th, 2013 08:10 PM

Thanks for this nice report - glad you enjoyed your trip!

volcanogirl Feb 15th, 2013 03:25 AM

Lucky you to have such a long trip. We thought the snorkeling was amazing too.

JeanH Feb 15th, 2013 07:02 AM

Thanks for the report. Glad you had a nice stay. And, happy you were able to 'adjust' to San Pedro. I love the place, but, it can be busy, especially in contrast to Placencia.

traveling Mar 2nd, 2013 06:58 PM

Sounds like a great trip! We are going in May. Can you tell me how long it took to get from Belize City to the ATM caves?
Where can I find Chuck and Robbies for snorkeing? Did you snorkel on Caye Caulkner? How did you get there? Is it worth a trip there or skip it and just relax if time is limited. Thanks.

JeanH Mar 3rd, 2013 05:43 AM

Chuck and Robbies Dive Shop is a few blocks north of downtown, right on the beach. Actually, a building out on a dock.

xyz99 Mar 3rd, 2013 10:59 AM

<< What would I do next time? Spend most of our time in Placencia and go to Lamanai which we heard was wonderful. >>

We just got back too, and planning a future trip. We did the opposite of what you did - we went to Lamanai (loved it), and we will explore Placencia next time. Great to hear such wonderful things about it.

live42day Mar 4th, 2013 10:13 AM

traveling. We stayed in San Ignacio which is where ATM caves are. The drive from the airport was around 2 hours. You could probably do a day tour from Belize city.

We did not snorkle off Caye Caulkner. Most of the snorkel places you go are the same from either Caye Caulkner or San Pedro however.
Whether it is worth spending the time would depend upon how much time you have?

traveling Mar 25th, 2013 07:45 AM

Live42day, Thanks. We may all just snorkel at Hol Chan and Mexico Rocks and look for other areas to snorkel/dive at the same time on other days. We are staying at Pelcan Reef for 7 days and want to get in as much time in the water as possible. Turneffe Atoll has been recommended, but don't know how far it is by boat and how expensive it would be. Do you think Chuck and Robbies would do a trip for just us 3?

JeanH Mar 25th, 2013 01:18 PM

If you're asking if Chuck and Robbie would take three of you to Turneffe, I doubt it. Just too far. I doubt if Chuck & Robbie even make the trip to Turneffe, although, I'm guessing they work with other dive shops if their customers want to go. It takes a big boat to make the trip, the smaller operators just don't have them.

If you're asking if Chuck & Robbie will just take out three divers, I'm sure the answer is yes. My husband was diving the other day, just with four customers (not with Chuck & Robbie).

Other years my husband has dove with Ecologic with just a couple of divers.

Hope this answers your questions.

janenicole Mar 26th, 2013 07:29 AM

Thanks for the helpful trip report. I'm starting to look into a family trip to Belize next year, and your report has a lot of good information.

rivet Mar 28th, 2013 09:10 PM

Nice report live42day. Sounds like you had a wonderful time.

That's a great price for the flight at $650! Considering the distance from Vancouver Island to Belize and contrasting that to my one and a half hour flight to your fine Island next month, that I bought for the rockbottom sale price of $380, I am even more impressed!

I just checked fares for next February, and they seem to be around $650. Thanks for the airfare tip and your hotel recommendations.

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