First, thanks to all the board members for your invaluable info on AC -- I was lurking behind the scenes for weeks picking up great tips for our trip. We just returned after a week in AC and I would like to give back with this somewhat long, but hopefully helpful, trip report.
Husband and I are thirtysomethings from metro DC who have traveled the Caribbean quite a bit. Our usual destination is St. John USVI but decided to venture somewhere new. A couple of reasons we selected AC are the great snorkeling and laid-back atmosphere – we were not disappointed.
We stayed at Banana Beach in a deluxe one-bedroom ocean front condo that included a bedroom with a king bed, bathroom, and living area with kitchen, couch, and dining table. The bedroom had a kick ass a/c unit that helped us sleep at night and nap in the afternoons. We had a second floor room which had a great view of the beach and ocean. The pool and courtyard area at Banana Beach were nice and relaxing.
One of the main reasons we chose Banana Beach was because of the beach and it probably has one of the best beaches that we saw. Although the beach didn’t rate up there with St. John (which we knew going in), we enjoyed swimming in the ocean almost every day. There are a couple of patches of sea grass, but it’s mostly sandy.
We took four snorkeling trips and were pleased by the good prices. We took two ½ day trips to Hol Chan & Shark Ray Alley, once with Jeffrey from Searious Adventures and once with Alfonso (arranged through Monkey Business Travel at BB). The snorkeling was really impressive on both trips and we enjoyed the sharks & rays which were in abundance. Alfonso has a “buddy” at shark ray alley, so we got to hold a shark for the first (and probably last) time.
We also did the full-day catamaran trip with No Rush to Hol Chan, Caye Caulker, and Shark Ray Alley. Steve was a great guide. Only problem is that there is no shade on the catamaran so we were in the full sun for the whole trip. Lunch was at Caye Caulker where Steve directed us to his brother’s restaurant, which felt like a bait & switch, but lunch was actually very good and reasonably priced. In retrospect, I would probably stick to the half day trips.
We also took a morning snorkeling trip to Mexico Rocks & Tress Cocos with Jeffrey from Searious. He is a great guide and pointed out quite a few things we may not have seen. Both places were beautiful and each very different from Hol Chan. At Mexico Rocks my husband was stung by a baby Portugese Man-o-War jelly fish. Jeffrey saw it and said it was no bigger than a quarter, but my husband got a bad sting along with tingling the rest of the day. One hightlight he never forgets to mention to his buddies back home.
On land, we found some good places for food & drink. We found BC’s on our first day and went back almost every day. It’s a great hangout with good bartenders and Charlene taking care of every last detail – I loved the Michalada’s. The Sunday BBQ was the place to be. We also enjoyed drinks & lunch at the Palapa Bar, although we learned about the Island Ferry after a long walk from the hand ferry. We had a great dinner at Jerry’s Crab Shack -- I doubt we would have gone there on our own, but overheard some locals raving about it at BC’s. I think our best dinner was at Jerry’s. We didn’t think the food was AC’s strong point, but we never complained about a meal by the ocean with our feet in the sand and a Belekin in our hand.
The Chicken Drop at the Pier on Wednesday was a hoot. I think the best part was sitting outside with the local kids as they put sweets on your number for good luck.
The things we enjoyed most about AC: snorkeling with Searious Adventures, Shark Ray Alley with Alfonso, the laid back atmosphere, BC’s, the Palapa Bar, and the people and kids. We were also happy that we used Simon’s services with Lamanai Provisioning and arrived to fridge stocked with Belekins, water, diet coke, snacks, etc. We never had to make a trip to the store.
Overall, we had a great time in AC and it was a nice change of pace to our usual USVI vacations.