From another forum board
Member # 11455
Rate Member posted 03-14-2005 01:10 PM
Since I was frustrated that there wasn't much positive posted about Costa Maya Reef Resort on Ambergris Caye (CMRR) before my husband and I went for our vacation there (we just returned last week) and several others have posted queries about it on this site, I thought I would post our review so that others might have a better idea of what to expect. Sorry this is a bit lengthy but figured people would have the same questions I had....
We had a fabulous time at CMRR and it exceeded our expectations in many ways. I saw a lot of bad press on the Belize forums from several years ago but I don't think any of that is relevant now.
However, there are a few caveats to this since it probably depends on what you like. Yes, it is pretty remote (6 miles north of San Pedro), only accessible by water taxi, but I found that to be one of its charms....it was very relaxing. However, if you wanted to go into town, the island ferry comes every 2 hours, the resort provides a free shuttle into town a couple times during the week, or you can rent a golf cart to go into town (we didn't but heard that was an adventure in itself...takes 1-2 hours).
Because the Belize Academy of Diving (BAD) has their dive shop right on CMRR's dock and the majority of tour operators would come pick you up at your dock since transportation was usually built into their fees, we didn't really see an issue with being 6 miles out of San Pedro. The resort has pretty much everything you need: good beach chairs and shaded areas, a fun bar on the beach, a nice pool, the rooms weren't anything fancy but were entirely functional and had AC, adequate space, storage, and kitchen items with a great view of the landscaped gardens or the beach. All had wonderful porches with hammocks to relax in.
You did need to pretty much bring what you needed as far as food, sundries, etc for much of the week before you got there but most people went to a grocery store in San Pedro and brought what they needed on the free boat shuttle the resort provides for check-in days (packing an extra tote bag for groceries would be something I recommend).
There's a restaurant at the resort, an activities coordinator, and the staff is warm, friendly and accommodating. Laura, Candace, Eddie, the folks at BAD (Tracy, Craig), everyone else (sorry, I can't remember more names!) did a great job of making us feel welcome and doing what they could to make our stay great. We had a couple snafus (our luggage didn't make it from Charlotte and came in the next day and one of our tours got switched from one day to another) but we found the staff very professional and they helped us out to get things straightened out.
You can snorkel right off the dock or right nearby at Mexico Rocks and see an amazing assortment of fish and even eagle rays. I would think it would be a pretty fun place for kids.
We did a tour of Xunantunich and the cave tubing and both were great. We would also highly recommend a snorkel trip to Hol Chan and another one on Ambergris Caye that was billed as an "Bacalor Chico ecological snorkel trip" that gave you a tour around the whole island, especially the Bacalor Chico national park, the channel between Mexico and AC, combined with 3 snorkel stops on the north east end - they were quite amazing....the variety of fish/sealife and corals up there was overwhelming...we actually saw reef squid which was quite cool.
Although I had read that it could be a problem, we didn't see a single mosquito the whole time we were there (early March). Also, as far as safety, there are security personnel (I think it was a father and son) that patrol the resort in the evening and at night and there are safes provided in the rooms.
1) they could use a small gift shop for snacks, suntan lotion, aftersun lotion etc on site....make sure you bring enough with you.
2) if you do arrange tours to the mainland (zoo, cave tubing, ruins), you will be riding in a boat down to the south side of the island (~15-20 minutes) and then ~50 minutes west to get to the Belize mainland. The 50 minute ride to the mainland was pretty bumpy in a small boat.
3) there are no phones in the rooms. There is a payphone near the front desk and also a hotel phone at a little table by the pay phone. We found that using a calling card to call home and then instructing family to call right back to the hotel phone using the main number was the cheapest and easiest - then you could sit at the little table to talk instead of standing by the payphone and it cost half as much.
I hope this helps the next person planning a stay at CMRR and that your stay is just as fun!
"The Little Store" is now open for business at Costa Maya Reef Resort