Flew via American Airline through Dallas to Belize City, then on to San Pedro via Maya Airlines. All went smoothly. We were three families of four, so we took up one airplane to San Pedro, with one of our passengers riding in front with the pilot.
Our driver was supposed to meet us but didn’t, so we waited a little bit at the airport until they got that straightened out. They took our luggage in a van from the airport to the dock, while we walked with our carry-on luggage.
We rode in the boat with 6 other people going to Belizean Shores at the same time (12 + 6 + driver and luggage). We were packed in.
We got our rooms quickly and they wheeled our luggage up for us and carried it up to our room. Condo very nice, plenty of room for the four of us (we got an upper level, which has a pull-out couch in the loft). Many of the rooms overlook the pool area, with a little bit of ocean view (trees block view mainly). Buildings 1 and 12 face the ocean, with 2 and 11 most likely having more ocean views as well. We found our room very convenient to the pool, and had a nice sunrise view. Buildings 3, 4, 5 most likely don’t have the bright sun glaring in first thing in the morning.
Tip: Each condo is supplied with a large refillable water container.
First night in we ate at Caliente North, a short walk (south). It wasn’t busy at all, and our big group got right in. In fact, the whole time we were in Belize, we never had a problem getting a group of 12 in to eat fairly quickly. Nothing was ever very busy. The only thing we ran into problems with was getting golf carts on Saturday – they were all booked and none others to be found. Other places we ate during the week: Blue Moon (2 dinners, one lunch – we liked the food and the menu), Captain Morgan’s (we did have a short wait for this and our food took forever because of a larger group they had dining that night), a steak place upstairs from Fido’s (forgot one steak, then brought it out too rare…most were done eating by the time they got it right), Blue Water Grill (very nice), Pauly’s pizza (HUGE calzones!) and Elvi’s kitchen (because Carumba’s was closed Good Friday night). We had groceries delivered before we arrived, so we were well stocked for breakfast and lunch. One week of eating out and our kids were dying for a McDonald’s. At Elvi’s they let the kids order their dinner from the lunch menu as they had burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches and “normal” food.
Beach in front of B.S. is nice – not the best for swimming too far out, but you can walk in and get your feet wet. They have a roped off area at the end of the dock for swimming, with a nice stairway down to the water. The beach is raked every day, and much nicer than some of the surrounding properties, some of which are just being developed.
Cave-tubing & Xunatunich trip (could have seen the Zoo instead of tubing)
We filled a van for the driving part. Brought snacks for the kids (a must), and drank all of the Fanta beverages they packed for us (they had Belikin too). We ate lunch at George’s neighbor’s house – stewed chicken, rice & beans and fried plaintain. Almost everyone enjoyed it – a couple of the picky eaters (kids) weren’t so fond of it. Boat ride to the mainland was not bad at all. They serve journey cakes for breakfast (chicken or ham on a bagel like bread). Ours all had mustard on them, so not everyone ate them.
We heard the story about the man who walks 13 miles to chop vegetation at the home of his ex-girlfriend’s mother because of a voo-doo hex she put on him when he dumped her daughter. Anyone else heard this story? His clothes are tattered, he doesn’t have shoes and he looks like a wild man carrying a big machete. I guess he walks it every day, and has been doing this for the past 8 years. If anyone has a picture of him, I’d like to get a copy. A jacket came in handy for the boat ride home on this trip – just a bit chilly.
We rented golf carts, went in for lunch, then explored south of San Pedro and watched the crocodile feeding near the water tower. Shopped in San Pedro, stopped to see Victoria House (very nice!), etc. We rented golf carts three times – the kids got a big kick out of these (kids are 12, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16). Everyone is so friendly.
Snorkle trip. We went to Shark Ray Alley first then snorkled Zone A of the Hol Chan reserve. Very cool coral and fun to look for the fish. I thought the fish variety would be bigger, and there’d be more colorful fish, but what we saw was very interesting.
Scuba – Four of our group are certified divers, so they took an afternoon trip to Hol Chan.
Fishing – 3 dads and 4 boys with a guide in a fishing boat. They went outside the reef and one boy got a bit sea-sick. Fishing was good there, but they came inside for calmer water. Brought back enough fish for our lunch. We asked in advance at the Blue Moon restaurant if they’d cook up our catch of the day, and they said they would. Our guide cleaned the fish (and we let him keep some), and the kitchen prepared it 3 ways for us – awesome! I’d recommend smaller groups for fishing – it was a bit hectic, but at $35 per person, they thought it well worth the trip and wished they had done that more than once.
Lamanai Trip -
Only a few of us wanted to do another ruins/mainland trip, so two adults and 3 kids booked through Captain Morgan’s activity desk and had a whole tour to ourselves. We liked these ruins better, as well as the whole trip there. Boat over to the mainland (it had rained hard at B.S. ½ hour before our departure time and it looked like we were heading into some awful weather as we got in the boat, but we were far enough north of the rain and never got wet). We did have a covered boat on this one, although it wouldn’t have helped much in the rain. The boat trip up the Old northern river through the mangroves was interesting. Lots of wild orchids growing, but none in bloom (look for them in bloom in June). Stopped at Bomba to board a bus. There are about 4-5 huts with woodcarvings for sale – many of the woodcarvings sold in the stores are made here. You can shop on the way back too – no need to purchase and carry your purchase all over Lamanai.
Our bus driver stopped to pick up two of his kids along the way- a little girl about 2 years old and her older brother. Saw several little villages along the Old Northern highway, which is not paved. We were stopped where that road intersects with another main road by a security check. A guard entered our bus and walked front to back looking for something. He asked my husband if our backpack was his, and asked our guide to open his bag. Our guide later told us that that is the only road out of the area, and it’s known for marijuana growing and they were likely looking for that.
Took another boat up the New River to Lamanai. We told our guide we didn’t want to spend the typical 2 ½ hours at Lamanai, and since it was just us in our group, we got the abbreviated version. He pointed out a black orchid that had bloomed and several toucans. He noticed me listening and looking for birds, so he told me what they were. We saw a couple of howler monkeys resting in the tree branches on our climb up one of the ruins – it was a good view of them. The walk through the area is beautiful – giant fern like plants, vines hanging down, very green etc. We did not have any problems with mosquitoes or other bugs. We only saw one crocodile in the rivers, which was a bit of a disappointment to the kids. We passed a lot of fishermen, some of which would hold up their lines and show us their catch. We passed a Mennonite farm or two on one of the rivers.
Crossing back to Ambergris Caye was a bit rougher on the way back. We came in on the other side of San Pedro and I found that interesting to see how that side has developed compared to the more touristy side. We cut through the river (under the bridge) and then back to B.S. Again, a jacket was nice to have along for the island to mainland part of the trip.
We noticed a park on the south side of the bridge that we never noticed while crossing in the golf carts. It looked like a decent swimming area. There is another park more in the main part of San Pedro as well.
It rained a couple of days, but only in the morning – if not up early, you may not have even noticed. One day it rained longer and harder….and the water stayed in puddles on the road for several days.
They inspected bags at the airport and made me move my conch shell from carryon to checked luggage – it’s considered a weapon so you can’t bring it on the airplane.
We paid $2.50 per person security fee at the American Airlines desk, then another $31 per person at the Customs desk (American Airlines, Belize City to Dallas). This part can be paid via credit card or cash.
Not much to eat in the Belize Airport (small bar with hot dogs), but the shopping is fun (munchies and drinks available in some shops).
Overall a great trip – wish we would have had more time to see the southern part of Belize. Maybe next time………