Trip Report – Part 1
Yep, I am long winded here but figured I’d add a lot of details and advice as they may hopefully answer some folks questions about the trips, bars, food etc that I have seen asked on the boards over the last bunch of months. Overall, best island I’ve ever been to, and I have been to a bunch. We already plan on heading back the week of April 5th next year!!!
Saturday – Flew from Atlanta via Miami to Belize City. The flight from Miami to BC was international so we of course took advantage of the free drinks! Checked in to our Tropic Air flight and visited Jet’s bar in the departure lounge. Then it was off to Ambergris! We checked into our beachfront rooms and Banana Beach, the view is spectacular! The rooms were awesome too, a separate living sitting area with a couch, coffee tables, small dining table and chairs, full kitchen with dishes, pots and pans and a full size fridge. There is also a TV with some cable access if you feel the need to watch it, we didn’t! The bathroom had a hair dryer in it so I could have left my own at home. We immediately ordered a case of beer to the room from the front desk which arrived about 10 minutes later while we were unpacking. We also ordered a couple of golf carts for the week which the hotel also booked for us and were delivered that afternoon. That hotel will take great care of you!
After a quick nap I found my gang over at the Mata Rocks bar. We had 11 of us plus two folks, Tami and her husband Josh (aka Malibu Barbie and Ken) we had adopted in advance from the message boards who were from California and staying at the Victoria House. Plus we also ended up adopting other folks such as Ottzie - Michael (newly nicknamed Crock Tease.. later on that) and Gerry Ann (Barefoot Fluffie) from Oklahoma, also from the message boards. It makes it more fun to meet new friends and these message boards have been a great way to do just that! We hit Ramons that night for the Jim Morris show which was a lot of fun, and hung at the Purple Parrot bar before heading in town to Fidos. We had a little bit of a challenge getting out of Ramons, we kept whizzing around the little paths trying to find the exit until a nice security guard hopped on our cart and helped us out! The band at Fidos that night played more rock and roll type of music, not what we’d expected. But they were good anyway. We made the first night kind of an early one as we were all tired from the trip.
Sunday – We all got up relatively early and started the day on the beach and at the Squirrels nest bar again at Mata Rocks. Then it was time to head to BCs for the Barbeque I’d been hearing about a ton on the message boards. We definitely were not disappointed, the food was fabulous! I am not a big BBQ fan normally, but got the meat combo platter and it was absolutely delicious, the ribs fell right off the bone, the sausage was real tasty and the chicken too. It was a regular feeding frenzy! We met some real nice locals too who follow the message boards as lurkers so knew who Tami and I were and gave us some more info on the island. I definitely envy them being able to live on Ambergris full time!
After BCs we hopped on our golf carts and made the trek north to the Palapa bar. We had to take the little hand ferry which was pretty cool, its $5 round trip for the cart and us. The Palapa bar was a blast, this cool band was playing (Dennis White I think it was) so we had fun dancing and consuming lots of Belikens all afternoon. We met some more board members like OldMom and Gay and David there. When it was getting close to dusk, we hopped back on our golf carts and headed back to the ferry. My boyfriend attempted to work the ferry but just ended pulling himself off the end of it.. lol! Once we got back on land, we headed into town and to dinner at Caliente. The food there was fabulous, definitely my favorite place on the island by far! We split several appetizers on the table, flautas, conch fritters and jalapenos. The flautas were my favorite though all were great. Everyone raved about their entrees too, like the Ginger Rum chicken, the chicken or shrimp coconut curry and more. We knew we’d be back there again later that week for sure. Some of us then trekked over to the Shark Bar which was right over the water. They have a circular deck out back with a pen of sharks and fish in the middle, it is lit up at night so you can see them swimming around in there. My other half thought it was funny to jump off the dock and swim in to shore luckily he didn’t jump in the side where the shark tank was!
Monday – We were picked up at 7am from our dock by Elito from SEAduced. We sped across the water past Caye Caulker and other various islands until we reached the mainland. Keep a good hold of your hat, or preferably bring one with a string to keep it on your head!! At first we couldn’t see where the boat was heading, it was the somewhat overgrown entrance to the Belize River. They provided breakfast of juices, delicious blueberry muffins and fruit as we cruised slowly up the river. We stopped at a landing where we could all take a quick bathroom break before boarding the bus to Jaguar Paw where we would be cave tubing. Elito pointed out items of interest as we passed through Belize City, and then all the different foliage as we headed into the country. Plus some amusing stories about the Ramada (not the hotel kind, it’s a prison) and the Boys camp where they send unruly kids. We turned off the main road and bumped along a back road a little ways, passing small villages and various fruit groves till we reached Jaguar Paw. We had a place to change clothes and store our valuables in a locked room. Then we picked up our tubes for the short hike through the jungle. Tevas worked just fine shoe wise, as you want something with a decent grip that can handle getting wet. A waterproof pouch was a good idea too, I picked up a couple of Coleman ones ahead of time in the camping section of Sports Authority. It worked fine to keep some stuff dry.
Our guides pointed out items of interest along the trail, plus potholes and trees to avoid. We got to stop at a termites nest where we could try a termite if we so dared. I tried the first one, you bite into it and swallow and it tastes like mint.. seriously! A few other brave souls tried them too and also said they tasted minty. Then we headed on and climbed down to the put in point. You could either just place your tube and hop into it or jump off a small cliff into the water and someone would pass you your tube. We floated into the caves. Some of us had bought glow sticks with us for fun, and some little blinky light pins. So when you turned off your headlamps it was cool to see those in the dark. You could focus your headlights around the cave to see all the different formations on the walls and ceiling, it was really neat. The only thing is I got real cold, as did some others, but I am always one to feel the cold a lot. Having a T-shirt or hat on may have helped, or a shortie wetsuit if you really feel the cold. We came out about half way in to sunlight so that helped to warm us up a bit before we went back into the caves. I only saw a few bats and they were just hanging out on the ceiling. I didn’t notice any bugs or anything and the cave roofs were high enough that it was no bother anyway, so if you are like me and don’t like creepy crawlies, you really have nothing to worry about there. It was fun when you hit some small underground rapids, you just essentially have to raise your butt up, or assume the luge position as we were calling it.
Once the tubing part finished, we all got out the water and got dried off and warmed up. Definitely bring a towel with you and either a change of clothes or at least a dry shirt and something that dries real quick on the bottom. I reapplied bug spray, not that they were even a problem. I am just cautious as I am always the one covered in skeeter bites, but only had two the entire trip and barely saw any mosquitos! It was funny since our group had all packed a TON of bug repellent, mosquito coils and stuff for the week after reading the boards. Maybe April is just a good time bug-wise.
Lunch was right at the Jaguar Paw resort, they have a cute little dining room and bar area. The food was really good, grilled chicken and rice and beans. They serve a potent hot sauce on the side as well which you can add to your food for a little more kick if you want. After we all inhaled our food we walked around the grounds then boarded the bus for the trip to the zoo. At this time we all started hitting the Belikens and Rum Punch (you have choices of mild, strong or see you tomorrow!!). Elito was fun picking on folks and entertaining us all with more stories. We were all pretty happy by the time we reached the zoo! The zoo itself was really cool, Elito gave us a tour and information about all the animals. It wasn’t like a typical US zoo at all, there were only small fences so you could see all the animals really well and up close. From various monkeys practically over head to beautiful birds, the peeing Tapir (don’t get too close) and of course the big cats. All animals native to Belize which were either injured, pets or from other zoos at some time, not captured from the wild. Then it was back on the bus and more rum and beer, they even stopped to get more Beliken on the way through the city. We had a fun boat ride back, everyone was in great spirits as the drinks were flowing more and we were all chomping down on cans of Pringles they provided. We got dropped back off at our dock and tipped Elito and his assistant (who was real cool but I hate to say I forgot his name!!) for a great job! We had an absolutely GREAT time so I highly recommend booking cave tubing with SEADuced.
That night we got cleaned up and headed into town with some new Minnesota folks we met from our hotel for dinner. We went to Jambal Jerk pit and it was really good. Then went back to the hotel and the Mata Rocks bar again. We were all pretty tipsy, yep I even sat down and had a conversation with the sweet hotel dog, Suzy. Luckily I wasn’t drunk enough that she talked back…lol!!
Tuesday – We were up relatively early again and picked up at 9am from our dock by Amigos Del Mar. They took us out to Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley for snorkeling and diving. Since some of us are surface dwellers it was a good way to go out with our diving friends and both be able to enjoy the trip together . I have been snorkeling all over the Carribean and Florida keys but this just kicked their asses big time!! The fish were enormous and I have never seen so much cool and different stuff. From stingrays to big barracuda, giant parrot fish and moray eels. Lots of colorful reef fish and coral, the volume of them was amazing. We had a good guide go with us to point out the different fish and corals so that helped the experience more. At Shark Ray they dropped some chopped up fish to attract the nurse sharks over. They were pretty big but we got to pet them along with the big rays. It was a great and unique experience that’s for sure. Just bring lots of high SPF sunlotion as you will definitely need it! It is REAL pricey to buy on the island and you’ll go through it a ton!
After snorkeling we went back to the hotel and over to Ricos and Banyan Bay for lunch. The food was good, but nothing super special to me except I enjoyed the Conch Ceviche. I don’t eat fish or much seafood so don’t get as rounded a dining experience menu wise as some of my fish eating friends loved the Shrimp Burritos, enough to go back and get them again later in the week. We went to Sharks Bar for dinner which has fabulous pizza. There was a guy walking around with a microphone getting folks rowdied up with dancing and cheap shots of kamikazes. Then about 8:30 Barefoot Skinny came on. We had a great time dancing to his music that night. The California and Oklahoma folks showed up and joined us, plus we ran into folks from New York we had met on the plane as they were in town for the Jim Morris show. Some rasta dude was trying to get folks to buy a dreadlock so he wouldn’t go to jail. But then he kind of started harrassing some of our group so was tossed out of there luckily. There were also some wild chicks dirty dancing with each other, to the amusement of some of the males. It was definitely a wild party for sure!
Wednesday – The divers in our group headed out diving in the morning to the Mexico Rocks area. The rest of us were left to play at the beach so we headed to Ricos for breakfast, then had fun on our beach, at the bar and floating in the ocean as some of us had bought cheap floats from home (a good idea if you like to float in the water). After the divers got back, we had some more party time in the sun and then got cleaned up and hopped our golf carts into town. We went to the Pier Lounge as we wanted to check out the chicken drop. We were some of the first folks there but as it got nearer to 6pm the place got real crowed. I bought 5 numbers on the first game with no luck, and 5 on the second and low and behold, the chicken shit on my square!! So I had to climb in and clean it up. It wasn’t a big deal as they provide napkins so you just wipe it up real quick. We then got a big table at Caliente and had dinner there again, another fabulous meal for sure!! After dinner, the divers headed home with a few of the others who were tired. The rest of us went on our golf carts to Crazy Canucks which unfortunately wasn’t to crazy that night. But we had fun anyway!
To be continued...
Andrea in Atlanta
Andrea in Atlanta