I just returned from 8 amazing days on AC yesterday. I hope to post some details about my trip later but I wanted to give you a quick rundown, as I also traveled solo on a budget.
I stayed at Ruby's for 17US a night and was very impressed. My room was small but always clean and replenished with fresh towels and sheets every morning. I stayed on the street side so it was a bit noisy (locals coming for breakfast at 6am everyday!) but I grew to appreciate the activity. The view from the hotel deck is wonderful!! The coolest people I met were the ones staying at Rubies-lots of fishermen and backpack type travelers.
I met friends within the first hour I was there and hung out with them most of the week; meeting people there is very easy! I felt alittle awkward sometimes being by myself, especially when others were out in such large groups, but I was never totally bored. When I felt lonely, I sat at Fido's for a drink or swung on my hammock at Rubies (if you can get to it before the late night security guard).
I went on a limited budget but found that my money went pretty far and I was able to do all of the things I had hoped to do. Hol Chan tour is a must, it was cheap and a fun way to spend a morning. No need to go for a day trip- 2 or 3 hrs. is plenty. Caye Culker (a neighboring island) is a fun day trip as well. I also did the Altun Ha trip with Searious Tours and had a blast. It was much cheaper than the Lamanai Mayan Ruin tour and very impressive. You see a lot of interesting things on the bus trip through the jungle. I was not into walking around ruins for hours so this condensed tour was perfect. The day also included a stop at the Maruba day spa for lunch and swimming (or a spa treatment if you have the money to indulge). This place is beautiful!! Try the viper shots if you dare! I rented a bike and went north to Captain Morgan's Resort one day(eat before you go b/c food is expensive up there). I swam in the pool at the resort because I did not find the water to be as pretty as San Pedro town. Still a great way to spend an afternoon. Rent a bike at Joe's on Middle St. for 12 bucks or so. I spent most of my days lounging on the beach or swimming off the end of the pier (the pier at Paradise is one of the better ones for swimming). THe most indulgent meal I had was 20BZ but many of my meals never cost more than 6 American- if you look around! The street vendors sell good food late at night for very cheap and I never once got sick eating their cart food! My friends were addicted to their hot dogs. Rubies has yummy coconut tarts for 1BZ and their coffee is good (get used to drinking it black though). Cannibals has great breakfast that is reasonably priced. If you are looking for a dirt cheap but delicious meal head up to Papi's Diner-- so good!!!! Drinks were also reasonable and I drank many many panty rippers (coconut rum with pinapple juice and a cherry!). I did not hot many of the placed recommended on this board but I don't feel I missed anything-- there is so much to do!
If you are a female traveling alone, I assure you that you are safe and will feel very comfortable. For the most part I didn't have any problems. My only complaint is that there were A LOT of tourists!! I'd go in the off season next time, but will definitely return.
Well, I wound up getting into more detail that I thought I would but I am really positive about the experience I had there. I have an amazing tan and some wonderful memories. I too left the east coast to escape the rat race and found AC the most wonderful getaway I've ever had!
Try to get into Ruby's if you can. Have a great time!!