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#118131 - 02/21/06 06:12 PM Where not to stay in San Pedro
Joel and Bethany Offline
Okay my wife and I just returned from San Pedro after our first (and probably last) vist to that area for some much needed R&R. Five days, six nights and Ramons Village the first week of February.
First some history. We are both experienced divers, my wife advance open water with over 300 dives and myself a Gold Instructor / Dive Master, with over 5000 logged dives. We have stayed at some of the best and now, the worst dive place we have ever stayed.
On arrival, Maya air couldn't fit one of our two bags on the plane so we had to wait at Ramons for 3 hours for the other bag to arrive. Even though they said it would be on the NEXT plane, in actuality it was about 6 planes later. Ramons was pretty booked up when we made reservations on December, and we were told to take a garden view room. Supposedly cheaper and quieter. The room was the nosiest room we have ever had. Right on the road. A/C was cold, beds firm, but the noise was never ending, all night long, between golf cart races, cars, heavy equipment trucks, and deliveries, not to mention directly across from the airport (less than 200 meters), so you can add engine run-ups on Caravans to the list of noise. They provide a gallon of drinking water in the room since the tap water stinks of sulphur and sewer. Shower drains right out on the sand under the room, and they wonder why the reef is dying. More on that in a minute.
Food prices are way too high for what you get. $8.00 US for eggs, toast, and potatoes! Portions are meager. You can do much better for meals in town. Fidos, Elvi's kitchen and a very good bakery near by/ Take some gallon food storage bags with you. Skip the gift shop at Ramons too. Service was pretty decent. Thank you Joel! Prices for alcohol again way to high. Staying at Ramons is no value.
Mr. Ramon wanders through daily, the former part owner, tanned, with his gold chains, and rubbing elbows with his guests since he is the figure head GM. I'll say this several times. THIS IS NOT A DESTINATION DIVE RESORT!!!
Decent beach, wind blows hard most of the time, and the diving is average thanks to Belizean practices over the years of draining their sewage into the bay (and they still do), as well as grey water runoff which is bleaching the coral. They make a big deal about the fact that there is a waste water treatment plant, but unfortunately most of the island uses septic systems and the cost to connect to the sewage system is outrageous. In addition at Ramons, you are constant harassed by time share salesmen and beach vendors. Speaking of time shares, friends of ours just bought two months at a time share up north. Very opulent, nice pool, killer designs and.....it all drains into a septic system, you guessed it....100 feet from the beach. They claim that with the sand it all becomes inert quickly, however, spetic systems don't remove bleaching chlorine from the water which in turn leaches into the bay killing the coral. Kind of Mexico light. And the feral cats. Dining guarantees 5-8 cats wandering through the dining area, sitting uder your table, and begging at your feet. And the kitchen feeds them....
Okay, now diving. Ramons has one Pro-42, with dual jet outdrives. Almost 3 hours one way to the Blue Hole, and 3 back...Need I say more? Okay, maybe one more word. Slow...Their other boats are smaller 30 footers, open with a bimini top, dual outboards and which you need to exit by back roll and re-enter by removing your gear in the water, and climbing up a side boarding ladder. Usually not a problem, except in Belize, with the prevailing winds howling, 5-8 foot seas outside the reef make this an adventure. Not for the new diver or inexperienced. The dive masters under Rick at Ramons are very good though. Toriano, Adolpho, Palma, Crazy Andy, work very hard to help everyone, and the bright spot in an otherwise over priced, beachfront hotel. Not a resort, compared to many other dive destinations. No camera exclusive tanks on the boats, even the Pro-42.
All in all, you get much better value, cleaner healthier reefs for much less money staying at a dive resort, not Ramons which is more fluff than substance for divers. Poor value for the money. We won't be back, and that's a shame as we dive six times a year in the Caribbean. If you want to stay in San Pedro try the Sun Breeze. Much better place, quieter, better food.
The reef is marginal at best, a lot of bleaching, broken corals, and general over use. Lighthouse Reef and the surrounding area though is still in very nice shape, so I would suggest staying closer to that area, and skip San Pedro. Walking the beach in San Pedro, you still see sewer lines running out to the bat, and water running into the bay from pipes draining through the sea wall.

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#118132 - 02/21/06 06:22 PM Re: Where not to stay in San Pedro
casa de amor Offline
sounds like turneffe islands are the best place for you, closer to the blue hole, a lot more remote, maybe you should stay/visit there on your next trip, better diving, "Okay my wife and I just returned from San Pedro after our first (and probably last) " sorry that you didn't find it relaxing and restful, this island is made for some poeple, but not all people i guess but thats fine with me, makes less traffic on the island, less wait at restaurants, and so on

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#118133 - 02/21/06 06:49 PM Re: Where not to stay in San Pedro
phillytodd Offline
I have to agree with J&B that SP really isn't a "dive destination", and that prices are just getting ridiculous.

I've also seen the pipes and water running into the water.. and having dived the reef 5 years ago and 2 weeks ago, can tell that it's going downhill.

I also think that SP is super laid back, the people are incredible, and that's what made my time there more enjoyable.

JB.. if you want GREAT dives.. try asia.. I go there every spring for a diving vacation.. and it's well worth it.

Enjoy AC and SP for what it is... a quiet place to recharge your batteries.

PS.. My wife and I sat next to Ramon and his son at Casa Picasso.. we shared appetizers and a bottle of wine with them.. they were a lot of fun to spend time with.. that ramon has a story for every occasion.

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#118134 - 02/21/06 07:26 PM Re: Where not to stay in San Pedro
diverdoug Offline
Sewer lines riunning into the bay?? you are an idiot to suggest this and insult the locals.
those are rain water drain lines from the street. The grey is the sand mixed in with them.
Ramons and all the other resorts are hooked up to the modern municipal sewer system which is located in the back side of the island.

Plus I dont like people who dont like cats.

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#118135 - 02/21/06 07:36 PM Re: Where not to stay in San Pedro
mobunny Offline
Meow.



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#118136 - 02/21/06 07:56 PM Re: Where not to stay in San Pedro
seashell Offline
Hey, it's the guy's opinion, OK? He's allowed it.

My only question would be where else he's been diving to compare. And considering all the dive travel experience, how he managed to end up at Ramon's?

No one I know would consider Ramon's as a dive resort, but go to dive San Pedro, sure.

As for rough seas, I'm confused by his comment. Experienced divers know how to get up a ladder in those conditions and I've done it many's the time myself. Sometimes it's even fun. Maybe Joel is used to liveaboards?

Oh yeah, one more thing, it's never taken 3 hours to get out to the Blue Hole on any trip I've ever been on, even before the Miss Mel came into service. I wonder if it just seemed like 3 hours, if the seas were that high?
_________________________
A fish and a bird can fall in love, but where will they build their nest?


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#118137 - 02/21/06 08:32 PM Re: Where not to stay in San Pedro
Happy Birthday Sir Isaac Newton Offline
I'm sure you are all marine biologists, but, I really don't think the water from your shower is destroying the Meso American Barrier Reef.

You have all rights to be upset but your exagerations dilute the validity of your claim.

You might want to believe this guy:

(looks kinda like Rykat)


Climate change: it's a term that for many conjures up images of deserts or snow storms ... not anything we have to worry about right. Well not necessarily. Every day scientists are discovering that the tiny changes occurring in our environment could add up to a dramatic shift in our natural resources and resulting quality of life. Today, local environmentalists and members of Belize's coastal community gathered in the old capital to discuss strategies for survival. News Five's Karla Vernon reports.

Karla Vernon, Reporting
Some came to the coastal community workshop seeking answers to issues such beach erosion, or as in the case of Timothy Flores of Dangriga, what appears to be a mysterious drop in the water table.

Timothy Flores, Gragra Lagoon Conservation Group
”When we go into the Gragra Lagoon National Park, we always go in a canoe. And many times when you are paddling you would touch the mud, now at this time. Before that, you could paddle with ease. So we know that something is happening; the water level is falling.”

Karla Vernon
“But you are not sure what?”

Timothy Flores
”We are not sure what.”

Timothy Flores
”It’s a wetland area, approximately twelve hundred acres of wetlands. And the area is important for Dangriga for more than one reason. One, it is important because it is the general area that excess water in Dangriga Town drains to. The second reason is that it is also an area where fish lay their eggs, the shrimp also lay their eggs in there. And so they are protected there because the roots of the mangrove can protect them from predators.”

The Mainstreaming Adaptations to Climate Change, MACC Project, is seeking to work with community groups like the Gragra Lagoon Conservation Group through specially designed projects. The gaol is to focus on public education about the bigger issues of global warming and climate change and how they affect things right in front of them: rising sea levels, coral bleaching, droughts, floods and other disasters.

According to public education officer, Tony Deyal, such information is critical to the survival of vulnerable communities.

Tony Deyal, Public Education Officer, MACC Project
”The idea of this workshop is to bring people together; develop an index so that any community, any individual can say “Hey, you know these are the risks, this is why I’m vulnerable to,” and get a sense of what the risks are and we will then be able to—we plan to have six pilot communities—work with these communities for them to help themselves. To see if we can mobilise resources, provide some ideas, but essentially, what we are asking them for is what we call sweat equity; put your own resources at your own disposal, work to help yourself.”

Candy Gonzalez represents the Belize Institute of Environmental Law and Policy based in San Ignacio. Her organisation networks with international agencies, but also speaks out on local environmental issues.

Candy Gonzalez, BELPO
”I’m attending this workshop because I see a lot of times that people talk about climate change and adapting or changing ways of doing things to climate change, but it never seems to get done. We do reports, we do studies, and we attend workshops but there is no action that comes out of it. And I’m here because I hope that I’ll help to be an incentive for action because nothing is really gonna change unless we act upon all of the recommendations and the things that come out of the workshop.”

Gonzalez says BELPO is already taking action on a climate change issue. In 2004, it filed a joint petition with Peru and Nepal asking the UNESCO to put the world heritage sites in these countries—in our case the Belize Barrier Reef—on an endangered list. The reason? The damaging effects of climate change.

Candy Gonzalez
”Next month, March, they are having a meeting in Paris to have experts from the three different countries come and try and educate more on how climate change and global warming impact world heritage sites; which we are supposed to be preserving for future generations, that’s part of the convention.”

Tony Deyal
”We have to get people to see that there are opportunities, benefits, there are risks and vulnerabilities that they have to deal with. And this hopefully is a start in Belize. The next stage is to have in each of the geographical areas, a big meeting of some of the communities, and we’ll meet with them, talk with them again. And then, with their help, identify six pilot communities in Belize.”

Reporting for News 5, I am Karla Vernon

The Climate Change Centre in Belmopan is the headquarters for the CARICOM project. The initiative is financed by the Global Environmental Facility and implemented by the World Bank.
_________________________
Check out my site: www.ambergriscayerealestate.net

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#118138 - 02/21/06 08:55 PM Re: Where not to stay in San Pedro
Anonymous
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#118139 - 02/21/06 09:23 PM Re: Where not to stay in San Pedro
LaurieMar Offline
Yes, the prices have gotten very high, at least compared to some other places in Central America. Psssst: try Panama!

Love the cat pics!

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#118140 - 02/21/06 09:56 PM Re: Where not to stay in San Pedro
LuvHotRods Offline
I don't know anything about diving. (I am a fisherperson instead), but I watched a short video made by National Geographic a short while ago.

It talked about Hurricane Mitch and unseasonally warm temps following it that has killed about 50% of the reef. They said that Mitch broke it up pretty bad and the warm temps caused the bleaching. They never once mentioned sewage run off. There is hope it may recover, but there is some concern it may not as well.

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