I have a lot to say ( as usual) so please bear with me while I try and get this done.
We have been to AC a number of times in the past but it had been a few years since we had been back. Our very first trip was in either 1999 or 2000. I am blanking on that right now. ( age!) We always loved it but, we were busy however seeing other places and not wanting to make my Mother in law mad, we frequently go to Ireland to see her.( Yes, I'm sucking up)
As some of my very patient friends on here know I agonized over going back because I was afraid it had just become too developed and we would be disappointed. I am happy to report this was NOT the case!! Yes, certainly there are changes but it still retains its charm , scenic beauty and the extremely warm and welcoming locals that I always remembered.
This was our shortest trip ( 9 days)as in the past we would normally always go for 17 days. It always seemed to work out that way but now school vacations are more of a factor.
12/23/10 My husband, myself and my 14 year old son, Liam were up at 3:00 am to make an hour an a half drive to Newark.( We live in the Pocono's, home of the heart -shaped tub!) Pretty uneventful at the airport and I can say there were no pat downs or Scary TSA agents tormenting us like I expected with all the hype. It went smoothly.
Layover in Houston and then our trip to Belize City. We were all seperated on that flight and my son was seated across from me next to an extremely nice man from Canada. He owns a resort in Hopkins Village. He asked Liam if he wanted to watch a movie and before I could say "that's okay" he swiped his credit card and bought Liam a movie. I am continually amazed at how many nice, kind people are out there. He also wanted to buy me drinks ( NO not what you are thinking ha..) but I stuck with water. This was just a hint of what a wonderful trip we were going to have! So much kindness!
We had the Required rum punch in Jet's( I always stay out in the waiting area) and then boarded the second to last ( I believe ) flight to San Pedro at 5:15 pm. I could never tire of that view!!! As beautiful as ever! Arrived and got a cab to Banana Beach where we would be staying for the duration. I had a momentary minute of panic as we drove there as I saw hordes of people in the street. I realize in hindsight it was just busier at that time because everyone was headed home after work. Arrive at BB and was greeted very warmly by Shawna. ( I will say more about this later but BB was wonderful and when we go back we will not stay anywhere else but there!) We had a complimentary rum punch ( much better than Jet's I must say) and Shawna told us that "we had a suprise in our room". Hmmmmm.... I was really tired at this point and wasn't sure what she meant. Imagine our suprise when we got to the room and one of our fellow Boarders, Facebook Buddy and all around Good Guy KLCMAN had left Belikins, wine and soda for us in our fridge!!! He knows I don't like beer so he was thoughtful enough to have wine for me! That didn't go unnoticed K and I promise this is the last time I will be embarrassing you ( maybe! ) THANK You again for your thoughtful gesture. I have met SO many great people on this board, so thanks to Marty too!
I unpacked and then we all had a drink and relaxed on the balcony. The room was comfortable and the view was stunning. I like having a great view of the ocean when we travel and this did not disappoint. Since we were SO tired after a long day of traveling we decided not to go too far and had dinner downstairs in the hotel at El Divino. This was one of a number of very good meals that we had there, the food is wonderful! I had the traditional Stew chicken and Peter had the Grande mixed ceviche. Liam had chicken parm. The waiter told Peter that the ceviche was "large" what he failed to say was it was just enormous. We found out later from the owner, Jimmy Dean that is it is meant for FOUR people! Luckily my husband has a good appetite and did a good job on it however. He said it was excellent.
Few more drinks on the balcony and then early to bed.
12/24 Christmas Eve, was up very early , at 5:00 am and watched the sun rise. SO beautiful and peaceful, my favorite part of the day! I knew at that point we had made the right decision in coming back.
Breakfast was included at BB so of course each morning we ate there and it was always , very, very good. Our first morning we were lucky to have Mr. Entertainment himself, the Infamous Sergio as our waiter.I recognized him immediately from some of the pictures people have posted of him on here. I told him that and asked if I could ( jokingly) get an autograph. He liked that! What a Character, he made us laugh every day. Spent the morning lying on the beach and then we all took a walk on the beach south just past The Mayan Princess where we always used to stay. It's a nice place but we figured with it maybe being busier now, staying a little out of town would make more sense for us.
Lots of changes , new business names ect., but also a lot of the same familiar places as well, BC's, Cholo's ect.,.We were also surprised to see that it was quiet. Normally our prior trips were in Feb. or March and it was busier then. Talking to a lot of the cab drivers and they all agreed it was slow on the island. Later this changed as more people seemed to arrive after Christmas and prior to New years. It still wasn't crazy busy in my mind though.
I have to say, everyone and I mean everyone was as friendly as ever! I don't know how many people wished us Merry Christmas, locals and tourists alike. Great vibe! I had one local man welcome me "home". I also have to say we had no problems with anyone bothering us and we always felt safe. Took the normal precautions. No walking on the beach late at night and cabs at that hour. We were once approached by Time Share guys as we walked the beach, but a" No thank you" was sufficient and we were never bothered again. I think generally if you treat people with respect , you get it back. At one point my husband remarked about the people who would normally maybe hound you, "I think it's gotten better". We were not approached to buy drugs which on prior trips we had been. I always found that odd as we had a small child in tow on those trips!! I guess it was just be my Bad @ss appearance. *laugh*
Lunch at Antonjito's which is close by to BB. Small, local, family run place with GOOD food! Mostly locals in the place. Peter and I both had the grilled snapper, rice and beans and Liam chicken and fries with watermelon juice. I have to interject here and say the watermelon juice was fantastic at every place we went and I personally do NOT like watermelon! Go figure. I noticed that this was the juice of choice and we never saw papaya being offered like in the past. I later heard there was a problem with the Papaya crops. Lunch plus 2 vodka and Tonics each for Peter and I came to $50. US. I tried to keep track of the cost of some meals so I could share that info on here.
Back to relax on the balcony. Later dinner at Crave which is the sister restaurant to Hidden Treasure. ( we never did make it to HT even though it was highly recommended). Crave: Nice comfortable decor and a very friendly staff. We talked to Kate, one of the partners who was very nice and pleasant. You can tell they are trying very hard to succeed, the staff was all over you. I hate saying this because everyone was so nice but I have to be honest. I ordered lobster with garlic butter and garlic mashed potatoes and it was slightly over over cooked. It wasn't bad, but it was definitely too well done. My thoughts are that probably the next person who orders it may not have that problem. It may just have been one of those off nights. That's why I hate recommending places because you just don't know. Peter had the grouper and his too was slightly over cooked. Liam had the coconut chicken and loved it. I tasted it and it was good. Three drinks and a soft drink. Cost: $110. US
I wish them success as they were all very nice in there.
Did a bit of walking, I think ice cream at Dande's that night. It was good, but we like Manelly's better. Sat for awhile in the park and people watched. Mix of locals and tourist dancing and having fun.
A drink then at The Squirrels Nest at Mata Rocks , right by BB. It was VERY quiet. I guess with it being Christmas Eve and all. Early to bed and then up again early on Christmas morning....
12/25 Merry Christmas!
It certainly didn't feel like Christmas however but that was okay. Breakfast at BB and then we rented a golf cart from the hotel and decided to take a trip WAY south to a Rasta-Safari a restaurant/bar, for lunch. A friend had recommended it and we also asked at the desk about it. We drove for a long time, nice ride, I love this part of the island! We were almost down there when we stopped by an expat on another cart and she told us that Robert the owner was in the states and so it was closed. Oh well. We really enjoyed the drive and of course my husband managed to hit every bump much to delight of my son screaming in the back.
Headed back to town now to get some lunch. We were running late and with it being Christmas our options were limited. We finally had to go to Celi's had some chicken burritos ( really good) and they told us we could have them on the deck of the Holiday Hotel. had a few drinks and just relaxed. Back in the cart and this time a quick drive to the cut. Enjoyed seeing all the changes.
Back to the hotel, relax on the balcony with drinks ( my next trip will be to Rehab surely) and then later dinner at El Patio. We had eaten there in the past and it was always good and still is. Peter had the special, grilled snapper ,rice and beans, I had the grouper, Liam had Tropical chicken. All very good.
Over to Fido's for a drink. We were talking to the nice bartender and told him we were going to fish with Abel Guerrero whom we have always used on prior trips. It turns out this young man, Christian was Abel's grandson. We were telling him how we needed to confirm with Abel but hadn't caught him at home yet.He immediately got out his cell , called him and gave Peter his phone so he could talk to Abel. How nice!!! We were then booked for Monday and Wednesday. Early enough night.
Sunday 12/26 Breakfast with Sergio and then rented a golf cart again to head north over the cut. The plan was to go to the Palapa Bar as I was under the impression they had music on Sunday's. I found out that they don't anymore, not sure why. Not a problem however. We started across the bridge and both Peter and Liam gasped and said WTH???? as we all stared at the theatre at Reef Village. I had at least seen pictures of it on here and was prepared for it. I must say the pictures don't do it any justice at all...it is FAR uglier in person. My husband was shocked by it. It is SO out of place it's not funny. I'm sure the locals enjoy having the option of seeing some movies but really...wow. I am not crazy about the whole appearance of RV and really don't like the lagoon area. Just my opinion however. We had a nice drive up and like everyone has said the "road" is vastly improved. We went to the Palapa bar, it was one of those REALLY windy days and I held on very tight to my drink.
We ordered lunch there. Sorry to say it consisted of some VERY overcooked fish tacos and a dry burger for Liam. 2 mojitos, 2 Belikin's, 2 sodas $55.00 US. Go for the beautiful view. We always stop here whenever we go back.
Later we drove a bit further north, I think to The White Sands area and then headed back.
Stopped at Mischief , a little store near tropic and I bought a beach coverup. Nice things in there.
Back to the room, drinks, and got ready for dinner. Drinks first ( oy!!) at Fido's, nice Bartender called Raul. My husband dissapeared as he tends to do sometimes..*laugh* and eventually returned bearing a little package. He bought me a beautiful silver cuff bracelet with a stone called Larimar(?) from I think it's called Amber. It's one of Elizabeth's designs, located right there in Fidos. I was very pleased to say the least!
Next,dinner at one of our favorite places, Carumbas! We spoke with the owner Rene and I told him how on one of our prior visits we were in and he used to call my son Liam "Sponge Bob". So of course from that point on Liam was again Sponge Bob. Rene is such a nice , friendly man and you can tell he works very hard. The place was hopping!!! The food is great and the service is excellent. The waiters are very friendly. Peter asked on of them, "do you have Wahoo"? He answered "no, just Google". Badumpbump! *laugh*
I had the lobster burrito and it was great!
Early night as fishing in the morning......that turned out to be an interesting experience. I will tell you more about that later however as I am now going to rest my fingers and watch some football.....Stay tuned, lots more to come....
Where was I??
This day turned out to be the highlight of our trip! We were up early and were booked to go snorkeling at Holchan and Shark ray Alley with "Reef Seekers". Reef Seekers is owned by Mitch who is Abel's brother. It's the glass bottomed boat some of you may have seen.
We had been snorkeling may times before in the past but I think I forgot just HOW amazing the snorkeling in Belize is!! Mitch was a great guide, got in the water with all of us and pointed everything out. He had his adorable granddaughter Martha along who also helped out. We saw so many amazing creatures, we swam with a sea turtle, rays, sharks, barracudas and a jelly fish which Mitch helpfully kind of shooed away. Didn't need that!
At one point we were snorkeling and the reef dropped away about 30 feet ( according to Mitch) and below we saw a huge school of Tarpon. I'm not sure I can begin to really describe this and do it justice. Beautiful coral, just something amazing everywhere you looked. Schools of brightly colored fish a couple feet wide. This was the best part of our trip without a doubt and I can't wait to go back and see it again!
I also forgot how exhausting it is! You do quite a bit of swimming and that combined with me constantly keeping my son in my Mom Radar I was wiped out at the end. Oh and one word of caution, ladies when snorkeling be sure and wear a secure bathing suit. This is a family forum so I won't go into any detail but trying to deal with a wardrobe malfunction while bobbing around in the sea is not fun! :~)
Absolutely wonderful morning!!
Back to the hotel to change and then headed to Estel's to have lunch. I had grilled fish, rice and beans, Peter had the grouper and Liam had chicken I believe. We have never had a bad meal here. The food was great and of course everyone is extremely nice!
Dinner that night at Carumba's and again exceptionally good! Ice cream later at Manelly's and then we stopped at The Roadkill Bar. What a fun night that was! It was karaoke night ( I believe I have the right night here)and the place was packed. We sat and listened to some really interesting characters get up and sing! "Coconut Leo" was there and boy is he good! Bob Marley sound alike!
I was laughing and talking with two ladies from San Diego, we were busting ourselves laughing over the naughty lyrics of one guys song. At the end they said his name and I realized , hey I know him. It was "Wade the Gringo" from here on the message board. I introduced myself and my family to him and we chatted for a minute. Nice man. Wade, if you are listening however I am still blushing from your song choices!! You have a good voice!
I would never get up and attempt that myself however as there is simply not enough alcohol anywhere for that! I would definitely recommend stopping in there, it was great night. Good crowd and so much fun. This was my idea of a perfect day!
This was going to be our last full day so we agreed we were going to take it very easy and do absolutely nothing. We parked ourselves on the beach, read and would take walks off and on.
Lunch was at El Devino's at BB. Liam had a bacon cheese burger and said it was excellent. I had a REALLY good club sandwich with egg, bacon and cheese. The bread was so fresh. My husband again had the ceviche. The food here was always great!
Back to the beach. Later change and head out for a NYE dinner. We had wanted to go to Blue Water grill but couldn't get in. We were in Vacation Mode and not thinking and never realized reservations may be helpful!! We did stop then and made a reservation at Calientes and were able to get in there.
I had the coconut, curry lobster which was wonderful. Peter had the whole fish, good. Liam had the coconut chicken. Also good. I would recommend Calientes as like on previous trips the food was always good.
We then stopped in and talked with Christian at Fidos and had a couple drinks. We then walked across the street to a cute little cafe/bar called Sail Away Cafe. We talked with the owner who's name escapes me now and he was very friendly and outgoing. We had a drink and Peter had an expresso which he seemed to enjoy. Walked for a bit and then decided to head back as it was starting to get very busy. It was definitely more people on the island than there had been around Christmas day.
We aren't the type that enjoys a lot of crowd's so we headed back to the hotel to spend our last night *sniff* relaxing on our balcony. Liam fell asleep and at midnight we could see fireworks starting. I stepped inside to grab my camera..Peter said "wait...."...I didn't... step back out and the fireworks had stopped. *laugh*...oh well.
It was a nice relaxing night and we sat for a few hours and made sure there wasn't going to be any left over rum in the room!
1/1/11 Saturday. Happy New Year!
Had our last ( sad) breakfast downstairs and then got a cab at 9:15 am to the airport. We talked to "Wade the Gringo" again at the airport and then were lucky enough to be the first ones on our Tropic flight. Liam was able to sit in the co pilot seat and I think this was the only time he didn't mind me taking his picture.
Had a final drink at Jet's again and then lucked by getting direct flight from BC to Newark. We had been scheduled to have a layover in Houston but instead he put us on the direct flight which saved us SO much time! 3 hours and 40 minutes to Newark. Uneventful flight and no hassles at the airport when we landed. No lines, amazing. We sailed right through and drove home to the Pocono's.
I have to say that I am SO glad we went back and yes, while there are changes it's still the lovely place we always remembered. Thanks to all of my friends on here who encouraged me to go back, yes, you were right!
We will definitely be going back and highly recommend Ambergris Caye to anyone who is thinking of going. Do it!!!
Thanks for reading...:)