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#1342 - 04/03/06 12:13 AM Trip Report - February 2006 (long)
PANDL Offline
Our first trip to Belize for our 5-year anniversary was fabulous! We were there for 2 weeks. We spent a few days at Paradise Villas and a few days at Costa Maya, 3 nights on the mainland in San Ignacio and then the final couple days back at Paradise Villas until heading home.

We arrived on February 6. I don't like to fly so I was a little leary of the puddle jumper to A.C. but I loved it. The views were spectacular!

Feb. 6 - 10
We arrived around 6 p.m. The hospitality was unbeatable. Alejandro from Nellie's Management picked us up from the airport and took us to Paradise Villas which we rented through Capt'n Ron's.

Paradise Villas was a wonderful place to stay. Great pool, excellent location, decent units. Very convenient to town, right on the edge.

Our first night we were starving so we wandered out to find dinner. Not having been to A.C. before, we wanted to find some place close to eat so we wouldn't get lost. We found Caramba and it was fabulous! What a great first impression!

The next day we slept in and went to breakfast at Lily's. Food was okay. Took 1 1/2 hours to get food but we weren't in a hurry. We went on a several-mile walk down the beach and took pictures of all the properties for future reference. We visited several during our stay on A.C.

Most of our days involved diving. We dove with Reef Adventures right in front of Paradise Villas and they were wonderful. The whole crew was great! It was nice to have small groups diving. Boats with 8 or more people are just not that much fun.

It rained one day so we shopped and visited the internet cafe. We also walked up to the cut to see the bridge being built. It wasn't raining real hard so we just walked around. For dinner we went to El Patio and I have to say, out of all the restaurants we were at, they had the best coconut rice. I love coconut rice! I need a recipe.

We rented bikes one day to bike to the end of the island. What a hoot! It was great. Except we got to the water tower and my husband got a flat tire so we had to walk the bikes back and get another one. Once we got a new bike we continued south to check out all the properties. We came across the crocodile feeding on our way back to town at the water tower. Very interesting!!

We went to Blue Water Grill one night and it was great! We also caught the Chicken Drop on the way back from Blue Water Grill, which I had heard about but forgot which night it was held on. It was hilarious! That's a must-do activity on A.C. I have to say I've never seen that before. Only on A.C.

Had dinner one night at Elvi's. Mine was okay and my Husband didn't like his food. Just a bad day, I guess.

We ate breakfast at Estel's several times. That place is AWESOME! I'm addicted to Fry Jacks. I need the recipe. I ate fry jacks almost every morning with apples and cinnamon.

Feb. 11 - 16

Onto Costa Maya, after a morning dive of course! Very nice resort. Our unit was very nice and the grounds are nice. Small pool.
It seemed very quiet there. It was weird. I felt like we were the only people there. There is nothing up there. But we got a steal of a deal for 7 nights. Otherwise we probably wouldn't have stayed here. It was so cheap, we decided to go inland for 4 days and have our hotels overlap and not feel guilty about it.

Our first night we had the buffet and it was good but pricey. Luckily we brought some groceries with us after hearing about no stores up north and the little shop at the resort was expensive and stuff was outdated. They were the only ones that had Diet Mt. Dew but it was $5 (american) a can and it had expired in September. Even after pointing out the expired date they left it the same price. I was surprised to even find Diet Mt. Dew, though. I'm sure they pay a pretty good price for it.

We rented bikes our second day and rode all the way to town. We checked out all the properties along the way. On our way back we stopped at Hamilton's because we heard they had really good pizza. We got there after they closed for the afternoon but they offered to make us a pizza anyway. Now that's hospitality! The pizza was fabulous. I think it's the best pizza on the island. Trixie the puppy was so cute!!!

Feb. 13-16. We left for the mainland. Thank goodness! Glad to get away from Costa Maya! (at least for a few days). Had a run-in with the resort manager or timeshare boss or manager, a timeshare rep, and the event coordinator. After they said nasty comments about some of our favorite places in town and insulted us, we were ready to get out of there.

We went to town and took the water taxi to Belize City, after getting some of Estel's fry jacks and a burrito for my husband to go. We were picked up at the water terminal in Belize City and off to Cahal Pech in San Ignacio we went. It was about a 2 hour drive. Nice resort. The little cabanas are pretty neat. Very economical place to stay.

We went ziplining at Jaguar Paw. It was okay. We've ziplined before. We also went canoeing at Barton Creek Cave. Very cool! Our tour guides stopped off to pick oranges on our way back to the resort. It was funny. They're all so laid back there! It's so cool. I didn't mind. We got some oranges too. Except my husband stepped on the EDGE of a fire ant mound (luckily) and got a few fire ant bites on his foot. I've never seen him move so fast. It was hilarious! I've got photos too! See my prior post in this section of photos.

We also went to Tikal in Guatamala. This was the main reason we came to the mainland. We wanted to visit Tikal. I'm somewhat of a history buff and we figured we were this close, we couldn't pass it up. It was amazing. I highly recommend it.

We also visited the Belize Zoo on our way back to the water taxi terminal. Very neat. Bummer we have to go back to Costa Maya.

I e-mailed Capt'n Ron while at Cahal Pech to see if he had an opening a day earlier because we wanted to get away from Costa Maya and luckily he did. He made our day. We were originally not scheduled back at Paradise Villas until the 18th but we were definitely not spending any more time at Costa Maya.

Feb. 17-21
Ah, it was good to be back near town! It's very nice up north of the cut but we prefer being close to town. We like to whoop it up a little bit. We ended up having to ride in the water shuttle with our 3 favorite people from Costa Maya to Paradise Villas, though. When they dropped us off at Paradise Villas, they made snide comments about the resort. Needless to say, we won't be visiting them again any time soon.

We went right to Phillip at Reef Adventures and got us booked on a Blue Hole trip for the next day. Spent a full day diving the Blue Hole and Lighthouse Reef. Another fabulous day of diving!
I didn't get seasick, which I usually do. I had gone to the drug store and got some Bonine and it worked!

Some other places we ate: We had the best chicken ever at Ali Baba! We also ate at Jambel Jerk Pit. That was fabulous. We love spicey food! Also ate at Jade Garden. It was okay. Went to BC's the day before we had to go home and had a really good time. Don't want to leave!

We spent time at the pool and did some shopping and hung out one night on our pier while Jerry Jeff Walker played at Wet Willy's. Oh, we went to Wet Willy's one night on Lady's Night too. I'm trying to shorten this very long post.

Our last day we ran to Estel's for my final order of fry jacks with the usual apple & cinnamon and my husband's favorite burrito thingy before we had to be at the airport at 10 a.m. Said good-bye to the guys at Reef Adventures and headed home. Boo-hoo.

A wonderful vacation! What a jewel! I hope it stays that way. Belize gets in your soul. There's only one other place that's in my soul after 20 years of traveling and that's Hawaii. That says a lot about Belize. It is a very special place, as everyone on this board already knows.

I am so glad I didn't let the negative people on this message board sway my decision on whether to come to Belize. After visiting the board the first few times, I was totally turned off by Belize. But after lurking awhile and figuring out who was who and where people were actually from, yada, yada, yada, I knew it would be fine.

If you're a first-timer to Belize, you won't regret it!

Thank you everyone!

#1343 - 04/03/06 05:27 AM Re: Trip Report - February 2006 (long)
J DOG Offline
Great report,sounds like you got the bug.
22 more sleeps & I'll be at the Blue Tang, right next door to P.V.

#1344 - 04/03/06 09:01 AM Re: Trip Report - February 2006 (long)
captjeff Offline
Pandl great report,again living the dream days in sanpedro,and belize.sorry about costa maya ,but most posts on this board say it is not a hot place to stay..$5 us for mt dew diet ,???I pay a $1 us a can for diet at island supermarket!! but too late now . You can tell you know how to enjoy life And good for you..lets see the photo's.and thanks again for the wonderful post......
Living The Dream Every Day!

#1345 - 04/03/06 11:40 AM Re: Trip Report - February 2006 (long)
Xoe Offline
I love your report. Thanks for taking the time to write it all down.

Bonine is a "don't leave home without it" item when I pack for sea destinations. It does the job without making me fall asleep, like some others.

My "soul travel destinations" include AC, the west coast of Vancouver Island, and parts of Hawaii (although heavy development there has eroded the magic of some places in Hawaii that I used to love). I LOVED not needing a car in Belize; that's hard to find in our modern world.

#1346 - 04/03/06 02:07 PM Re: Trip Report - February 2006 (long)
Razorback Offline

This is about the third bad review I have seen on Costa Maya and wouldn't you know we are booked there this month!! I have been concerned about the distance from town all along and have heard others on this site and Tripadvisor complain about the owner. I too got this at a good price (a getaway through our time share) and will probably have to make do.

Is Portifino's within walking distance? Any suggestions on how to make the best of it?

#1347 - 04/03/06 03:49 PM Re: Trip Report - February 2006 (long)
PANDL Offline
Hi, Razor, I wouldn't say Costa Maya is bad. I would hope our little run-in wasn't the norm. It is a very nice property for the most part. Our room was really nice. The grounds are nice and the views are awesome. I have pictures posted at the trip report section for Feb. 6-21. My first impression of the place was I didn't want to leave, until our little incident. Of course, no place is ever perfect.

However, it is a long ways from town and not feasible to get a golf cart way up there. Maybe consider renting bikes for the week from Joe's Bike Rental in San Pedro. If you don't mind bike riding, it's not a bad ride to town along the beach. The road does go part of the way up too. You could take the water taxi to town, rent the bikes for the week for about $70 (that's what we were quoted) and bike back up to Costa Maya. Then you'd be able to go to more restaurants in the north end. It's way easier to get around by bike too. It goes more places than a cart. They usually have a basket on them too so you can carry some things.

I think Portofino's is walkable. You have to walk the beach and it's kind of dark at night. I'm trying to remember which one was Portofino's. We didn't walk there because I wasn't comfortable walking at night up there. There's literally no one or nothing around.

The restaurant at Costa Maya was good when we ate there but the menu was small. We had brought a bunch of groceries up there with us because we had stayed in town several days before. So if you can get to the grocery store first, I'd recommend it, or early on in the week.

When you're picked up from town by the resort, the water taxi boat is very large and has room for luggage and groceries. Do you arrive on a Saturday? The water taxi on Saturday is free. We dropped off our luggage with the water taxi (there's someone from the resort always there), and we went and got our groceries, as did a lot of other people. It's only a block straight up from the Hustler pier which is where it will pick you up. The resort must stock up too, because there was lots of stuff for the resort, even a water heater. When you get to Costa Maya, they handle all your luggage, etc., so don't worry about having too much to carry. I wouldn't trust the little general store at the resort because a lot of stuff was outdated and who knows how long it had been sitting there; e.g., they had little bags of sugar, flour, mixes that they bagged themselves in plastic baggies. Who knows how old it was. They also sell boxed and canned items like Hamburger Helper and rice, cereal, but it's spendy. Check the dates if you buy anything there.

The beach area in front of the property is really big with little palapas to sit under and lounges. There's a small pool too. It is a full service resort and their activities fill up very fast and are only offered on certain days. e.g., if you want to go to Hol Chan, it's probably offered 2 days out of the week and that's it and once it's full, that's it.

And, a little bit of warning. If you go to a timeshare presentation and don't buy, be prepared to be treated differently the rest of your stay. They also seemed really perturbed that we left for the mainland for a few days. I suppose because they didn't make any money off of us.

Trip Advisor is not always accurate. Our local news just did a report on TripAdvisor and there are bogus reviews on it that get through. As is done on this message board, businesses bash other businesses and try to discredit each other. So, some are legitimate and some aren't. I would say most are accurate, though.

A.C. is so unique that where you're staying will probably not matter a bit. I would suggest getting out and about too. If you hate it up there, there's really cheap rooms in town, if only for a couple days, and the locals are by far the most hospitable of all the Carribean islands.

Keep an open mind! Belize is fabulous. If your only goal is to relax on the beach with a good book and enjoy the stunning ocean views, you will be a happy camper at Costa Maya. If you like night life, activity a little bit of bustling of people, you might get bored but you'll have plenty to do during the day.

Enjoy! And consider the alternative - not being on vacation! I would take Costa Maya over the cold Minnesota winter any day. (Unless I paid a lot of money for it).

#1348 - 04/04/06 12:17 PM Re: Trip Report - February 2006 (long)
sandytoes Offline
I am curious to hear SIN's response to the negative comments about Costa Maya. Isn't SIN the time share salesman there?

#1349 - 04/04/06 01:00 PM Re: Trip Report - February 2006 (long)
Pedro1 Offline

Sin left last year due to the owners not fullfilling their obligations

#1350 - 04/05/06 10:56 AM Re: Trip Report - February 2006 (long)
Razorback Offline

Thanks again for the info. I do feel a little better about our choice. I'll post info when we return. We are considering an overnight on the mainland. Would like to rent a car and do Lamanai, cave tubing and maybe the zoo and ziplinig. We have discovered on our travels that although tours are great. We really like to do things on our own at our own pace. How much was the hotel at San Ignacio? Any other recommendations from anyone on where to stay on the mainland keeping in mind the locations we are interested in?

#1351 - 04/05/06 11:35 AM Re: Trip Report - February 2006 (long)
Barbara K Offline
San Ignacio and Lamanai are at opposite ends of the country. But the cave tubing, zoo & zip lining are all in the same general spot. Easier to combine these with an overnight in SI than at Lamanai. And there are very good ruins all around SI. Or you could overnight right at Jaguar Paw where they do the activities you are interested in, or at Banana Bank or the Jungle Dome which are both very close to the same activities. SI is about 45 minutes from the zip, zoo, etc

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