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#77860 - 01/04/04 08:03 PM First Time to AC--Some questions
Marsali Offline
Hi There~

I just discovered this message board yesterday, and am finding it very informative. My mother and I are planning on coming to AC for the first time 2/3-2/11. I have done a ton of web research, but I do have a few questions though, if one of you can help me out!

* Is it true that ATM machines in San Pedro will not accept US-issued ATM cards?

* Does anyone have any information or firsthand experience to offer me on Ramon's Village Resort? From all that I can see, it looks like a very nice place. We are staying in one of the oceanside suites, since we heard thru the grapevine that the garden rooms can be a little noisy. I have done a ton of research on Ramon's and overall am pleased with our prospects, but I would love to hear from anyone with firsthand experience with the resort.

* We want to visit some Mayan ruins while we are there. Would you suggest Lamanai or Altun Ha? Also, Ramon's offers tours through their resort--anyone know if these are good tours? If not, what are some of the better tour operations out there?

* I don't dive, and I have snorkeled only a handful of times. I am a pretty strong swimmer, but my open water experience is limited. Are there snorkelling sites for novices?

* As I said, I would like to snorkel while I am in AC--one of the places that is mentioned repeatedly is Shark Ray Alley. The problem is I am DEATHLY afraid of sharks. Most of the info I have found suggests that nurse sharks are relatively harmless. However, I have seen a couple of warnings that nurse sharks will attack humans. Give it to me straight please (and remember you are dealing with someone who is phobic here!) is snorkelling in Shark Ray Alley safe???

* Lastly, I read that Shark Ray Alley has been designated as a marine preserve. Will this have any affect on divers/ snorkellers who want to go there.

Thanks in advance for any feedback you can give me.


#77861 - 01/04/04 08:10 PM Re: First Time to AC--Some questions
RestandRelaxationatLast Offline
Just returned from my first trip. Try snorkeling up north by Mexico Rocks instead. They told us no sharks up that way. Followed that advice because I had similar concerns and two kids. Worked out great.

#77862 - 01/04/04 08:57 PM Re: First Time to AC--Some questions
Chloe Offline
Marsali, you will be too relaxed and happy to worry about any of your above concerns.

Ramon's is great.....just go and love it.
Mayan Ruins....just pick one, and you will have a great trip.
Snorkeling....novice....my dear I am the lowest of snorkeling novices, and old grandmother too. I have snorkeled Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley several times, and not a good swimmer. The Guides will look out for you, no worries. The nurse sharks, will not harm you, unless you stick your hand in their mouth. If you are still concerned....snorkel Mexico Rocks.
(Explain your concerns and ability in the water to your Guide.) Enrique at AquaDive, is very patient and helpful with novices.

Yes, to reserve......that is a good thing.
Dare To Deviate

#77863 - 01/04/04 08:59 PM Re: First Time to AC--Some questions
indygal Offline
I'll answer a few for you, and someone else will fill in the others for you. I also was leary of the sharks, but I suppose several hundred people go out to Shark ray alley every week and all come back with their arms and legs. It really was pretty cool. I like to snorkle, but am not as strong a swimmer as I use to be, so I just ask for a life jacket. It works great,and is so easy. You just paddle & flot along looking at all really neat sea life. The waters are crystal clear. If the waters are ruff you might want to wait for a calm day, otherwise just Enjoy. Indygal
Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain.

#77864 - 01/05/04 01:43 AM Re: First Time to AC--Some questions
Skyliner Offline
1. I was unable to visit AC in 2003, however, as of 12/02, ATMs in San Pedro did not accept US cards. Credit cards work a lot of places, although we've encountered a number of merchants that add on a fee for credit card purchases to cover the haircut Visa or MasterCard gives them. I like taking traveler's checks - Milo's on Front Street gives a better than 2:1 exchange.

2. Do a key word search on this site for Ramon's - you'll find a ton of favorable reports about the place.

3. IMHO Lamanai is a better trip than Altun Ha. Search for a discussion several mnths back and you'll find a lot of information - pro & con - of which guide to select and whether or not to fly or take a boat.

4. I'd recommend contacting 'Lil Alphonse for at least two snorkel trips - one to Hol Chan and Shark Ray and another to Mexico Rocks / Tres Cocos. He'll help calm any jitters you might have. Frankly, snorkeling inside the reef is about as calm as you're going to find anywhere. One of the first snorkels you try should be off the end of Ramon's pier - there are a lot of fish and you'll get re-oriented to snorkeling.

5. Don't sweat Shark Ray - been there five times. You would have to try awful hard to get hurt by a nurse shark; I've never heard of a nurse shark attack. Assuming you go on a tour with other people, you'll likely see people holding nurse sharks and rubbing their bellies. The sting rays are equally playful. But, if you don't want to play with the wildlife, just float along the surface and enjoy the beauty.

6. Shark Ray is now part of Hol Chan, an underwater national park. The only way you're going to go there is with a guide (unless you happen to have your own boat). This won'd restrict your access to the area, it just means that you'll be paying an entrance fee.

Enjoy yourself - San Pedro is (in my opinion) a wonderful place. It's not for everyone (thankfully), but it is a favorite for my wife and me. Don't spend all of your time at Ramon's - Wander around town. Talk to some of the friendliest people on earth. Say hi to kids walking to school. Buy some fresh squeezed OJ from a produce store on Middle street. Buy cinnamon bread at LaPopular Bakery and eat it on the beach. There are so many touristy things to do that you could miss a lot of the simple little things that make Belize unique.

#77865 - 01/05/04 12:53 PM Re: First Time to AC--Some questions
Badco Offline
Marsali, I'll be down again during the same time frame as you & your mom. I've stayed at Ramon's and it was fine, but personally I prefer condos so I can cook when I have slept in late & missed breakfast. It is a beautiful setting, but very noisy as the airstrip is just across the road. The food is good and you'll enjoy the grounds.
I've done both of the mayan ruin tours you spoke of and much prefer Lamanai. It will give you some idea of the beauty of the interior as well as see many native plants, birds and wildlife. I love Tanisha Tours for this one. I also adore Tikal over in Guatemala. If your fit, you can see it as a good overview on a day trip through Tropic Air.
Best snorkle site for beginners in my opinion is Mexico Rocks. It's beautiful and shallow. Take the above advice about snorkeling in the pool at Ramon's or off the end of the dock there first, just to get your breathing down, you'll be glad you did. Then you can really take in all the beauty around you without feeling scared. I think you'll be sorry if you don't experience Shark Ray Alley. The nurse sharks are like cats that rub up against you, the last time I went there were so many I had to push them outta my way! (go on a day when the cruise ship tourists aren't there)
Take travelers checks and some cash. The banks can give you an advance on your credit card if you run out of money, but no ATM as of last year.
And the designation of marine preserve simply keeps people from fishing there or taking coral. It's protected for all to enjoy for years to come.
Go and enjoy youself & maybe I'll see you there.

#77866 - 01/05/04 01:06 PM Re: First Time to AC--Some questions
IRM Offline
We stayed at Ramon's twice last year and enjoyed every minute. The rooms are a little small but we didn't spend much time inside. Try to get an ocean front room on the beach side (#57 - 60). I've got tons of Ramon's pics on my web.

#77867 - 01/06/04 01:02 AM Re: First Time to AC--Some questions
Barbara K Offline
Great snorkeling under the dock at Ramon's too. Good Practice spot.

#77868 - 01/07/04 09:14 PM Re: First Time to AC--Some questions
Dessa Offline
Wow - what a great strand. My fiancee are planning our Honeymoon at Ramon's in June and I had the same questions that you did. Thank you to everyone who offered such great advice! I can't wait!!

#77869 - 01/08/04 03:12 AM Re: First Time to AC--Some questions
Marsali Offline
Thanks to everyone for the advice about all of my concerns.

I am planning on starting snorkelling off the dock at Ramons. My mom (vacationing partner) is going to be in a convention for a large part of my visit, so that is a great place for me to practice. I am also definitely going to have to try Mexico Rocks. I think I will have to start a new thread about it actually. BUT I just might get up the guts to do Shark Ray Alley. God, just the thought of being in the water with a shark terrifies me!!!!!! But I really want to see a sting ray. I'll let you know if I get the courage or not smile

Also, I think we decided on Lamanai so we can do the jungle cruise. And we are planning on bringing travelers checks. All in all, everyone's advice was indispensible!

Thank you so much!

P.S. Dessa, I'll post a trip report so you can see how it goes. Specifically about Ramons!


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