Beautiful Belize

I almost hate to share this trip report for fear of letting too many people know about my “secret” destination. The one that pleases honeymooners, families, SCUBA divers, nature-lovers, and just about anyone looking for a laid-back, relaxing place to unwind on the beach. But, what the heck! Even if I keep sending clients to lovely little Ambergris Caye (Belize) it’s unlikely to spoil the casual, barefoot ambiance of this great little barrier island.  So here goes:

Annie –

I think you did a great job planning, per usual.  The information was plentiful ahead of time, and the process (not including the air transport part, which was in no way your fault) was fine and easy.  The park and fly was a good plan and the Hampton Inn was a very nice place to spend the night before our flight, as well as the day of our first flight out of Boston.  Everyone there was very nice and very helpful, and the process there was smooth.  We ate in their pub that night and it was sufficient.  The continental breakfast was huge and they had fruit and coffee out the whole time we were there.

The travel to and from Belize, had it gone off without a hitch on the side of Continental, would have been perfect.  The flights were long, but the Maya Island Air aspect was terrific, and the airport assistance in both Boston after the first morning cancellation and Belize City was great.  Everyone really tried to keep us on track to getting to our final destination.  The flight out from the island was great, and no one should feel worried about flying Maya Air.  Their pilots were awesome, and everyone at the airport was very helpful in both directions. 

As far as Ambergris Caye — Wow!  Where do I begin??  This, for us, was the perfect destination.  If you are the type who likes to spend time shopping, this is not the trip for you.  It is not a “cruise ship port” type of place.  The island is very mellow.  The people were very friendly and extremely knowledgeable of their history and culture, and did not mind sharing that information with us.   The beaches were great, and the water sports left NOTHING to be desired.  Everything was in walking distance, both along the beach as well as by the roads.  We did both.  Grocery stores were plentiful and we were able to easily find an ATM when we needed it.  Taxis were plentiful as well if you so desired one.  It was like no place WE had been before, and we felt very comfortable and relaxed there.

The Caribbean Villas were great!!  The room (actually an apartment) we were given was huge and clean, and the staff was wonderful.  Anything we asked them, they could answer and they helped so much when planning our excursions.  The companies they do business with were fantastic.  The only negatives were that there were tiny ants that would show up if we left any food out of the refrigerator, and the water pressure in the showers was like a whisper.  But the property was lush and beautiful, and there was always an empty beach chair, or a spot at the beach bar for a drink.  The continental breakfast was very good, and there is something to be said for drinking your morning coffee on the beach, with a yummy cinnamon roll and delicious fresh fruit.  I would definitely go back again.  I met the owners on the 3rd day, and they were so nice and hospitable. 

Choosing the best excursion is impossible.  We loved all that we did.  The diving and snorkeling was done through Belize Diving Adventures and was arranged by us walking into their little shop on the beach and asking to go.  They fitted the whole family with the equipment needed and the price was great!  The dive masters were excellent.  Glenn and Sam did 3 dives while there, and I snorkeled.  The personal attention from the people in this company was unreal!  The day I went out with them, there were 2 dive masters and just 4 passengers — the 3 of us and one other man.  The three of them went to the reef while I snorkeled with the dive master.  Since I had never done it before, he was very patient with me.  The reef is incredible, and Hol Chan park was teeming with life.  Such a super excursion.

The other excursion we did was the Lamanai Ruins.  We could have done the small plane ride to the mainland, but we chose to go with Seaduced By Belize.  We started with a one hour speedboat ride to the mainland.  The whole time, the guide explained what we were seeing, and gave us a history lesson of the islands and cayes.  A delicious breakfast of native food was served during the ride.  Once on the mainland, we took a one hour bus ride to the river where, again, we were given a lot of history and also told about the things we passed and current info about the area.  Then we took a slow lazy river ride to Lamanai.  The riverboat captain knew that river like the back of his hand, and would stop to show us crocs, plant life, bats, and monkeys.  We even had a monkey climb into our boat.  A super lesson of life along that river.  Once to the site of the ruins, we were given a picnic lunch, again of local fare which was outrageously good, and then we hiked in to the ruins.  Our river boat captain was also our guide to the ruins, and he was very friendly and informative.  The hike was easy.  There was also a museum filled with Mayan artifacts, and we were able to spend time there before we saw the actual temples and such.  After the tour, we were given Belikans and rum punch for the ride back, on the river boat, the bus ride, AND the high speed ride back the San Pedro.

I thought it was fascinating.  One thing that stood out to me was the respect and love the people of Belize have for the reef, and for nature in general.  It gave us the chance to slow down and see how completely different their culture and lifestyle is from ours.  It was a wonderful experience.

Here are my tips for others considering a trip to Ambergris Caye:

  • If you can rent a golf cart for the week, it would be worth it.  We did it for one night, but wished we had gotten one for the week.  It’s all anyone drives there on the island, other than bikes and taxi cabs.
  • Eat at Fido’s and Elvi’s Kitchen.  Those were wonderful restaurants that had standard American fare, as well as Belizian choices, which we always chose.  The stewed chicken with rice and beans was to die for!  I even bought spices so I could make it here.  In LOVE with that dish!!
  • Don’t bother with any dressy clothes or anything like that.  It is completely laid back, and shoes don’t even have to be an option.  Flip Flops are the shoe of choice there. 
  • Don’t feed the stray dogs.  There are plenty and they are all friendly.  In San Pedro, none look like they are starving.  Just pet em or let em alone.

Just to reiterate, this was a FANTASTIC vacation for us.  The place we want to go next – back to Ambergris Caye.  Thanks for suggesting this vacation.  It was more than words can express.

–          Cara

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You provided excellent guidance for us. I appreciated that you really had us think about what was most important to us when we were selecting the right cruise – and not to totally focus on what other people had to say. THANK YOU for helping to make this a memorable trip for our family! It really was a trip of a lifetime!

Clare and Mark (family cruise to Alaska)

The level of service we experienced was out of this world (and we did NOT make it easy on Ann). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go, when we would be able to go, or what “vibe” we were going for. After asking us some key questions (what we liked, didn’t like, why, etc.) Ann helped us narrow down our trip details and planned the honeymoon of our dreams. She helped book some of our excursions, answered some emergency questions while abroad and was always available/willing to help. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be using anyone else for future travel planning – Ann is a rockstar!

Carli (Italy and Spain)