Can't say enough positive things about my first trip to Belize. It was in a word, AMAZING! I knew it would be wonderful based on everything I had read here, but it was truly better than expected. Wonderful people, gorgeous water, excellent food, and love that Belikin beer! My husband, who is somewhat of a home-body, was talking about our "next trip here" just a few hours into our vacation, so that alone speaks volumes. Onto the details:
Part one: The Rain Forest
We spent the first 4 days of our trip at The Black Rock Lodge in the Cayo district. It was fantastic! We knew about the incident that took place there last year but chose the place anyway and were very happy we did. We arrived the first day that their access road was reopened after record breaking rainfall that flooded many of the roads in and around the Cayo district. The entire staff at Black Rock, especially the managers, Silvan and Nadia, were incredibly gracious and hospitable and made us feel very welcome (and safe). The location was perfect - overlooking the river, which was said to have risen 20 feet in 20 minutes during the flooding prior to our arrival. It was extremely remote, about 12 miles from the town of San Ignacio, 12 of the longest bumpiest miles ever but well worth the trip. It felt like I was entering something from Jurassic Park, though with much smaller and less formidable reptiles. The cabañas were spacious, clean, comfortable, and nicer than we expected. The first day we did some kick-ass hiking on their trails up the side of a mountain to a summit from which you can see Guatemala. The second day we did a 3-hour horseback riding trip right from the Lodge through the jungle to Vaca Falls and relaxed in the pools by the falls. This was the best part of our stay. We spent the afternoon tubing down the river. Each of these events were followed up by the coldest Belikins ever. Love that Belikin beer (& Craving it already now that I am home). And the food at this place was also amazing. Mouth-watering homemade bread everyday and group dinners with 4-courses, including scrumptious desserts. Wildlife? We saw some cool birds, lizards (including Jesus Christ lizards) huge toads, huge spiders, beautiful butterflies, and we heard howler monkeys one night, but did not see any for ourselves. Some other guests saw a tarantula and another couple saw a scorpion. Like I said, this was our first time to Belize so we have no way of comparing this place to any other but I would definitely recommend the Black Rock Lodge. If you go, bring plenty of those zip-lock bags for all your wet stuff…it never dries out there because of the extreme humidity (probably different during the dry season).
Part 2 – San Pedro, Ambergris Caye
We took the water taxi from Belize City to AC and found our way to the Palms. Another great choice, and again, better than we expected. We had a one bedroom beachfront unit with a living room, dining room and kitchen – all the comforts of home. The location would be hard to beat – close to town, but not in town, yet easy to walk to everything. We also had some very nice neighbors, the artists. And having Ramon’s right next door was also a plus. We snorkeled off their pier a couple of times and were actually impressed – there were a lot more fish and different varieties the second time than the first, including some very unique angel fish. Be patient out there and you’ll see some interesting ones. We also snorkeled at Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley and loved it. Can’t wait to see how my pictures turned out. We also spent a lot of time at Fido’s and met up with the message boarders there on July 1, including SeaJay, JohnBoy, Richard Chambers, and Elly. Enjoyed meeting all of them and their companions while rocking with Barefoot Skinny (who made it quite clear he is no fan of children being present for joke night - LOL). We ate a lot of meals at vendors and places like Ruby’s and another street front place with best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but splurged for the Capricorn one night and had a blast! Dinner was fantastic and the wine was divine. I’m pretty sure the entire water taxi group we were with was drunk for the return trip, which I suppose made getting soaked seem not so bad. Also had good meals at the Blue Water Grill (but do note that when they say Inferno, they mean INFERNO!!! Duh.), Estel’s, Pepperoni’s, and Ramon’s. Ran out of meals so we missed a few board favorites. Three nights in a row we went out for “a drink” planning to make it home early for a mellow night but always managed to find ourselves having too much fun to leave. That is probably why we loved it so much and can’t wait to go back. We went to St. Lucia last year for our honeymoon…this was a hundred times better. But ssshhhh. Don’t tell anyone.
P.S. Thank you for all the packing suggestions. We felt like we had everything we needed and still packed light. Big Zip lock bags saved the day!