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#40009 - 05/29/01 11:54 PM A trip report
Florian Offline
I receintly traveled to San Pedro, staying at the Mayan Princess and diving with Amigos Del Mar.

The short of it, in my opinion, is this. For scuba divers, the diving around AC is some of the best anywhere. It is a "must do" location. Get here while the getting is good.

If you don't dive, this island has little to offer, at least in comparison to other islands. Compared to the Caymans, the food on AC is unspeakable. Compared to Aruba there is no night life. Compared to Jamaica the resorts are lame. Compared to practicly anywhere, there is no shopping.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a diver and I enjoyed AC and do intend to go back, even if I do hate small dive boats with outboard motors. I just can't reccomend it to non-divers for a vacation, though.

For divers, well, you'll want to dive till you drop. The reef is HUGE. There are tons of big animals. They are healthy, too. I was really impressed by how there didn't seem to be any sick fish, no tumors, or infections.

This is one big, happy reef. I won't list all the different things I saw. Just look at one of those plastic cards for IDing Atlantic/Carrib fish. Everything was there, just about.

But then, our day trip to Turneffe was runied by lunch on a dirty, nasty little island with an outhouse over the water and the mangiest dog I've ever seen and her poor little pups. I mean it was heartbreaking.

So to me, my trip to Ambergris Caye was enjoyable, but only because of the diving.

Of course, this is just one person's opinion.

#40010 - 05/30/01 02:39 AM Re: A trip report
KC Offline
Wow! We had totally different reactions to AC! I do not dive, nor do I ever intend to learn, and I loved it anyway. My husband and I spent five days there and loved it so much that we bought a home. Of course, I do not vacation to shop or bar hop. To each his own! I'm glad there are some people who will never return... I'll put my house up for sale if it ever becomes like Cancun or Cozumel.

"You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."

#40011 - 05/30/01 03:25 AM Re: A trip report
rickcheri Offline
Thanks for your comments.. I agree with you about the diving, but as stated above.. This is no Commercial resort area, No US companies, no Mc Donalds to eat at, and no Pier One to shop at.. That's what make this island so different.... The island is not for everyone... but You are right about the diving and everyone has their perception about a vacation spot... Its funny when co-workers or friends ask about all inclusive places on the island.. I tell them its not like that, and If you get a room with a/c and a fridge you are in heaven!!!! Thanks for you report...
We will be going again, just for the island itself... Rick

#40012 - 05/30/01 11:42 AM Re: A trip report
Big Frank Offline
Thanks for the report. :^]

#40013 - 05/30/01 12:53 PM Re: A trip report
nina Offline
You are so right Florian! It's about time some one else spoke the truth. We just got back from A/C a week ago and I was never so glad to have a vacation end in my life. We are snorkelers not divers, and there was not much to do. We did take the tour to Altun Ha and the Manatee tour. They were fun, other than that the food absolutely sucked and their was no "shopping".

#40014 - 05/30/01 01:48 PM Re: A trip report
Florian Offline
Folks, I want you to understand that I'm not slaming AC or San Pedro. I'm just calling it the way I see it.

I remember my first trip to the Carrib. It was to the west end of Jamaica in '81. My wife and I were on hour honeymoon. I fell so in love with Negril that I felt like crying like a baby when I had to leave. We went back five times.

On those first trips I somehow never saw the bad side of things. The trash, litter, the skinny cows, lack of infrastructure, the poverty, the crime, and such. It was a tropical island and when you've never been to a tropical island before it's natural to fall in love.

Eventually the wife and I divorced and somehow I didn't want to go back to Negril anymore. So I took a run down to Cozumel. Then Aruba, then Key Largo, then Grand Cayman, Key West, St Kitts, St Thomas, Rotan, and several other places in the Carrib.

As you can tell, I like the Carrib. And maybe that's just it. I'm at the point where I love the whole sea, not just any one island. I'm not particularly partical to any one place in the Carrib. Each is unique and each seems to have something wonderfull to offer. For AC, that is the sea itself and the most spectacular reef in this hemisphere.

But I was frustrated by several things. One was this. I ran out of pages for my dive book while I was there. I use a standard PADI three ring dive book. I looked in every logical place and asked enough people to be sure that there was not one package of dive log pages to be had on the entire island. We're talking about a serious dive destination here, and they don't have even the most simple dive supplies.

I bought most of my dive equipment in Georgetown, Grand Cayman. The store was better then any dive store I had or have seen in the US. On AC I couldn't even find pages for my dive book.

Another example. On the way down the airline managed to break one of my sandels. So I went shopping for sandels in AC, and I came away empty handed. Oh, there were a few pair here and there but nothing worth buying. I started going barefoot (and the fact that I could do that is a major point in favor of AC).

I will say this .... AC has huge potential. This island could be developed into something really special. No no no, I don't mean McDonald's on every corner. Far from it.

What is unique about AC is there are no paved streets and very few cars. The island could be developed as a place where everything is resident owned, no Hiltons or Hyatts. But folks, the place needs cleaning up. It's dirty and dusty and there is too much poverty.

If I could, I would do something to attract some really good chefs to the island. I would forbid automobiles on the island. I would put in sidewalks and plant a lot things. I would make it so only folks that lived on the island could own hotels or resturants. I would get the power lines buried. I would fill in all those places where water stands and stagnates and breeds insects. I would get a compantent diesel mechanic on the island so that there could be some real dive boats. I would pay very, very special attention to developing a good sanitary sewage system.

In short, I would keep AC substantially the way it is, but I would cleen it up and exploit the good things, unique things, AC does have to offer. AC is not owned by huge international companies. That may be it's greatest strengty, and it's greatest weakness, at once. In so much as most of what I see as being AC's probelms revolve around a lack of investment capitol. Where you get investment capitol without bringing in the big hotel and resturant companies, well, that would be the trick, wouldn't it?

#40015 - 05/30/01 05:03 PM Re: A trip report
Nicki Offline
I just have to say that I did not eat a bad meal the entire time I was on Ambergris Caye. I thought the food was absolutely wonderful. There are so many wonderful little restaurants with home cooked food. I think the meals were my favorite part of the trip. Although the snorkeling runs a close second.

#40016 - 05/30/01 06:32 PM Re: A trip report
cajunflo Offline
I just want to know one thing...where else in the world can you go to a bar and see a millionaire sitting next to a guy who just paid 15$/night to share a bathroom with 5 other people? AC is for people who don't need room service, elevators, etc...I came back with a feeling of appreciation for what I have, not disappointment.

#40017 - 05/30/01 08:19 PM Re: A trip report
Punta Rebel Girl Offline
Very well said, Cajunflo. That is the whole point of AC I think. To remind us all of what is important in this world, and how very spoiled we all are that live in the States and are able to visit "poorer" countries for vacation. I came home embarrassed almost of all that I have and find that if I dare to complain sometimes, I want to smack myself for not remembering I have more than is ever necessary. I love AC for all that it doesn't have and all that it taught me in the 8 days I spent there.
Punta Rebel Girl
Debbie, the Punta Girl

#40018 - 05/30/01 08:39 PM Re: A trip report
Bobber Offline
A fair and honest opinion Florian. Personally, I did find the lobster I paid $120US for in Grand Cayman was a bit smaller and less tasty than the last one I paid $20US for in San Pedro. Must be something to do with the waiters tux and tile floors, they do cost money. I found Negril to be dirty and tacky in 91. Night life in Aruba is fine, if you are into such things. The resorts in Jamaica are great if you need someone to amuse you all the time.
See, everyone wants or needs something different. Isn't that great? There are so many choices for all of us. We can all have what we want!
Been there, done that, the washing machine ate the T-shirt

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