Ready to move to AC though so I won't have to be sad at home anymore....
Here is my trip report (which started short and somehow got really long):
Arrive to Belize City on the Continental flight from Houston on Thursday. Was slightly taken aback by the little yellow card they give you that basically says "if you get sick in the next few weeks, give this card to your doctor because you may have been exposed to SARS." The line at Tropic Air was way long so headed over to the Maya Island desk where they said the 2:40 was full but "we have more than one plane and will get another one for you..." They did. It even left early so we had made it to SP by about 2:45. I was also a bit annoyed by what appeared to me to be a scam, but maybe I just misread the sign - when you come through immigration, there is a sign that says you have to pay Bz $1.50 for domestic departures. Then when you get to the counter they ask for US $1.50. I suspect they assume you are confused, and it is a quick way to make US $.75/passenger, which adds up quick. When I asked about it, the dude at the counter only took US $2.00 (for two of us), which didn't make much sense either, but I wasn't going to bother with it - afterall, I was prepping for "island time/life" anyway.
So we arrive to San Pedro and walked across the runway to get to The Palms. We checked in without issue and opened the door to our room at which point I think we both agreed we had died and gone to heaven. Among other things, we took off our shoes and stuck them in the closet (for the rest of the trip), and kinda just chilled for a while and unpacked before heading to Jambel's for dinner. OH MY GOD! "Jamaican Me Crazy Shrimp" is the S**T! Even went back on our last night so we both could order it - first night we had one shrimp and one cocunut curry chicken which was awesome too. (Also discovered Mannelly's ice cream - yummy!)
Thursday afternoon I also called Ambergris Divers who I had corresponded with several times via email to figure out the best options for my boyfriend to "try out" diving. They told me the weather was bad. I was like "WHAT THE..." After a couple of days, I understood that the wind did constitute "bad" weather.
Friday was still windy so we ventured out to rent a golf cart. We got it from Moncho. I thought it was a little on the expensive side, but whatever... it was convenient. Checked out the southern area of Ambergris... Also discovered the joys of "experiencing a smell". As we were driving around we started smelling some wonderful flavors, so we decided that everytime we smelled something good, we were gonna stop and "sample". There is a little green shack just north of Banyan Bay and across the street from the bamboo furniture "showroom" that had great chicken curry. Check it out.
One thing that we noticed when we arrived to Belize were the chairs/benches in the airport at BZE. We also noticed them at the Palms on our veranda and thought they were great. On Friday we found the shop of the guy who makes them - Grainel's Dreamland. Dreamland is accurate as after our visit Friday, we spent much of the rest of the weekend discussing (dreaming about) what we could have them make for us for our new house that we are building and how to get it back to Annapolis. By the end of the trip, we had made a visit out to the workshop near Banyan Bay and picked out of couple of the chairs to bring home. We asked them to pack the stuff up and deliver them to the Maya Island air desk by Tuesday at 10.... they did. We figured, even if we had to pay an extra baggage fee, it would still be cheaper than shipping the chairs. In the end, there wasn't even an extra baggage fee. YEA!
Friday we made good use of the cart, as we also took the hand ferry to the north side and drove around up there too. The hand ferry was entertaining to say the least, but the best part of the north side seemed to be the Palapa Bar. How can you go wrong with a place like that. The hotels and such up there seemed pleasant enough, but I think I would not like being that far away from everything. But if a quiet, and likely secluded place is what you are looking for, the north side would be perfect I would think.
So anyway. Friday, ate at Lagniappe (sp?). Was good - had snapper, and then Mannelly's of course after.
Saturday morning, the wind persisted... Kinda hung around in the morning, including breakfast at Rosie's (again) and lunch at Blue Water Grill. (Try the appetizer coconut shrimp there!) I was tired of not being able to go diving, so I started calling around to other places to see if anybody else could take us out as Ambergris still wasn't going. I know people have had less than stellar things to say about Aqua Dives, but they were very pleasant and helpful in our dealings with them. They were able to do a Discover Scuba Diving course for my boyfriend with no notice, and took us out Saturday afternoon to the Marine Reserve for a dive and a snorkel. Carlos was a great dive master, and the boat captain was really good with the group when we got to snorkelling at Shark Ray Alley, bringing the "wildlife" for an "up close and personal" meeting. Cleaned up and ate at Caliente for dinner.
Sunday morning we discovered Estel's on the Beach - my boyfriend wanted a "real breakfast with sausage and stuff". Very good food - especially the OJ, although I didn't have any OJ that wasn't pretty great the whole time anyway. Went to the Internet cafe to catch up on a little of the outside world so it would be a little more bearable when we got back. (Ya know the story, trim about 200 messages, so it ain't 1000 when you get back.) Then went to BC's Beach BBQ which seemed very popular. Vegged at the pool and beach some more at The Palms and ate some AWESOME chinese food at Jade Garden for dinner. The people were particularly pleasant there....
Sunday afternoon the wind died down a bit and Monday morning Aqua Dives said they were going to do some local dives (not the Marine Park where they had been sequestered to for several days prior). We walked over there after breakfast at Blue Water Grill and they took both of us in one of their (at that point) two packed boats - I guess everybody was anxious to get some local dives in. We got outside the reef and HOLY CRAP there were some big swells, batman! I personally had a little trouble equalizing for some reason, but one of the divemasters on the boat stayed with me all the way down to meet up with the group - he held the side of my arm and just calmly waited for me to adjust. It was very comforting and he was great. Really professional and that experience alone would cause me to go with them again. The dive was the Tacklebox which was pretty cool. Not much sealife (in the scheme of things), but nice coral and neat canyons. Once we surfaced, the water was very rough to handle, and breakfast wasn't sitting to well at that point, so we decided to call it a day for diving.
Got back to the room and chilled for a bit, and then went out and got another cart, this time from Cars R Us. Nice cart. Better price than Moncho. Less convenient hours. Did our last minute shopping (since we had the cart) including the visit to Grainel's workshop, and then ate again at Jambel's. Man I love that shrimp special!
That's about it. Tooled around on Tuesday morning before getting our flight back to BZE. A couple of side notes -
We had room 22 at the Palms. Looking at the view each room appeared to have from the beach, we think this room had one of the four best views. The suite was clean, quite large, had a phone, small TV, full kitchen, AC in the bedroom, and lovely decor. I think that taking into account the size of the suite, the nice pool, proximity to town, etc, etc.... basically taking everything into account, I think this was a EXCELLENT value for the dollar and would definitely stay there again. One post made a comment about morning road traffic. I personally did not experience that problem. The only complaint I would have is that I wish they changed the sheets more - You walk around barefoot everywhere, and you clean your feet off in the foot bath and such, but crap still gets in the bed from getting stuck to your feet or not thinking about it on your "rookie" day or whatever.... The sand and such stays there for a few days because the sheets aren't changed. No biggie, but just a thought.
Did not personally experience any problems with pica pica, although one lady on the boat was complaining about it after going to the marine park. Not sure if it was pica pica or not. Tiny little jellyfish were washing up on shore Saturday morning though.
At one point (Friday I think) we ate lunch at Purple Parrot at Ramon's. It could have been the only meal we didn't enjoy, and to top it off, it was expensive in our opinion.
You GOTTA try the Papaya Jam they serve at breakfast.
All and all, a fantasic trip. Can't wait to plan the next trip. In fact, my boyfriend keeps trying to figure out a way we can move there and/or buy/build a house and/or make a living there. So relaxing.... I think of myself as being fairly well travelled - Ambergris Caye is seriously unlike anyplace I have ever been.
Thanks to everybody for providing such great info on this message board that made the trip even more enjoyable.... Just trying to return the favor here by offering my experiences.