My husband and I just returned from our 3rd trip to ambergris caye, belize. We got lots of great tips from this board. Thank you to everyone! We had a very small budget for this trip and stayed within this budget. Maybe by sharing some of our trip details it would help others (especially those with a small budget).
Lodging: We stayed at Rubys. We needed a clean place with a bed and bathroom. It suited our needs plus we got the extra of having an oceanfront room, great view, and wonderful veranda. I was glad we got a room with our own shower. Just my preference, you can save by sharing a bathroom. Our room was $35/night. That’s for oceanfront, double bed and private bathroom. Always had hot water. It was clean. This place is not for those looking for luxury. It is very basic. You get clean towels every other day and clean bedding every 3 days. For those who want clean bedding and towels daily rubys will not work for you. Housekeepers do clean your room daily. Also Rubys was a bit noisy while we were there. We had earplugs with us that we used and that helped but if you are a light sleeper and still want to go here, take earplugs. The people that were vacationing and staying at Rubys while we were there were a very diverse group. Everyone was friendly. I always felt safe.
Diving: We always dive with Amigos Del Mar. We dive with Tony and Renee. Hands down they are the BEST! They are the best team we have ever dived with. They take really good care of all their divers. Tony really seems to care about giving you the best dive he can and always has lots of things to show you. We observed him with new divers and he was GREAT with them. We both highly recommend Amigos del mar and specifically the team of Tony and Renee.
Dining: The following places were very reasonably priced for budget travelers. Highly recommend: Papis diner (off the beaten track but well worth finding it) they serve local food, Cocos (again off the main track but worth finding) local food. Rubys diner for breakfast the food is good and inexpensive. Mickeys (we went on Wed for burritos, they were huge and really good), cecils deli (really, really good, I suggest trying the cheesecake (desserts are homemade) street vendors (food was safe and cheap, my husband really liked the food, mine was OK. At Caye Caulker Rainbow bar and grill. The food was really good. A bit more expensive: Calientes by the pier lounge. The food was really, really good. Recommend the cocunut chicken (a bit different but really, really good) at caye caulker, rasta pasta, it was good food. We splurged one night and went out to (expensive for us restaurant.) This is NOT for the budget minded. The steaks were about $27 U.S. per person. Every dinner on the menu I saw was $25 or above. The restaurant was at Banana beach resort, it was named something like El Divino. Three different people highly recommended this place to us, they said the food was to die for. Anyway, we must have ordered the wrong thing. We ordered filet mignon. It was “fair”. The garlic potatoes and vegetables were really good. The rolls were “pretty good”, don’t think they were homemade. The key lime pie was “fair”. The wait staff were not friendly. The atmosphere was really, really nice. Personally, I would not recommend this restaurant for you if you have one or two days of eating out at a nice place. If you are going to eat out for $25 each meal then would be OK to try. If you do go, the two things that were recommended and we wish we would have tried were the brazialian feast ( it is a kabob with different meats, vegetables, and seafood) people told us this was really, really good. Also one person recommended the N.Y strip.
Clubs and bars: We really, really liked the barefoot Iguana. It is a little ways from downtown but worth the trip. The atmosphere is really cool. The owner greeted everyone and thanked them for coming. He made us feel very welcome. We were lucky to be there to hear the band ??The Rock Show?? If you get a chance to hear them we highly recommend it. They were great! They play rock and roll, really, really good for those who like that type of music. We also enjoyed Fidos on Sat night. We heard Category X which is a good band to dance to. The place was full the night we were there. Dance floor was crowded but people just dance outside or wherever and so it was fine. We went to and liked the following bars: Sharks bar, wet willys, cannibals, and fidos, bare foot iguana. There are LOTS of other bars that looked really good but we didn’t go to them. For the budget minded the drinks are expensive. $6 US for drinks like margurits, pina coloado, dacquirris, etc. Beer is fairly priced at $1.50 US . Soft drinks at some bars are overpriced, paid $2.50 for a glass of coke at one place.
Things to do: We enjoyed the following things. Some of them are free, some of them cost a little and some are a bit more expensive.
Free: 1) snorkeling at the following spots: ramons, paradise villas, caribean villas. Other piers would probably be good too. Snorkeling at the cut at Caye Caulker (this was the best shore snorkeling that we found) We saw lots of neat stuff here, including lots of star fish, a barracuda, and lots of fish around the pier.
2) walking on the beach. We found some nice shells. Good place to look is North of town on the beach by the park. Check to see if taking shells home is OK before you do this.
We took a few shells home but there was some conterversary at the belize airport.
3) Dancing, bands are playing all over. We would stop and listen to bands and dance when we felt like it.
4) Sunbathing. When you are from a cold place and go somewhere warm. It sure feels good to just sit in the sun, watch and listen to the ocean and soak up some rays.
5) The chicken drop at Pier lounge on Wed. eve. Not sure what time they start the fist drop. We got there at around 7 – 7:30 and they were on round 2 or 3 when we got there. This is fun. If you don’t make a bet and just watch it is free. The bets are $.50 US per #. This is a true belizian sport. We think it is a must do.
Cheap things to do:
1) rent a golf cart for hours or a day and explore the island. We thought it was a lot of fun to explore the island. It cost $52 US to rent a cart for 8 hours. We were told Ambergris Caye rentals were the cheapest. They didn’t have any carts so we rented from another place. We went to the southern most end of the island and snorkeled. It is interesting to see the landscape and natural environment. We went to the Northeren side of the island past Captain Morgans. The golf cart company only lets their carts go so far to the north. Again very interesting to see the different areas of the island. TIP: bring sunscreen, and bug spray. Also the lagoon side of the island is interesting to see. We stopped and looked for shells, walked on the beach, and snorkeled several places along the way. It took us the full 8 hours. BIG TIP: Take fully charged cart when you start North.
2) Take the ferry for a day trip to Caye Caulker. It cost a little for the ferry (don’t remember the amount.) It was a 20 – 30 min boat ride. They stay inside the reef so it is a smooth ride. We went to Caye Caulker two days. The atmosphere at caye caulker is very relaxing and laid back. We explored the town, sunbathed, read, and snorkeled.
More expensive things) 1) diving. We had great dives. We went to different dive sites each day. We saw lots of cool stuff including dolphins, octopus, barracuda, sharks, sea turtle, crabs, lobster, cow fish, grouper, moray eels,
2) Parasailing. It cost us $100 for 2 of us to parasail at the same time. This is fun and relaxing. The views you get are unbelievable. We went with Tony at Fidos dock. He said he has a 100% safety record. He and his crew were GREAT! We really enoyed parasailing.
Budget tips: We took a cooler that you can plug in to keep things cool. We stored pop, water, and snack food in the cooler. We took snack food, and peanut butter and jelly with us. We ate on our veranda some meals. OK we are cheap. We think snack food in belize is expensive to buy. Taking the snack food we like, candy bars, chips, cookies, etc with us saved us a lot. Buying your pop and water from the distillery also saves you a lot of $. They sell the pop and water by the case. We were there 12 days so we had to make 2 trips to the distillerty. Spend some days not spending $ by sitting on the beach, walking on the beach, exploring the town/island, enjoying the sun and weather, reading, watching nature, people watching, window shopping. We do not think you will regret the days you simply stop to relax and enjoy your surrounding. Most of us come to vacation to relax from our busy, stress-filled lives so we recommend you not forget to take a bit of time to just relax and enjoy paradise. IF you like to enjoy an alcholic bevarage buy your own. The distillery sells beer. Other places sell rum, etc. Like I said earlier in this report the drinks at the bars are a bit expensive for the budget minded. There are big and small grocery stars with lots of variety to pick from. Also fruit vendors with the freshest fruit/vegetables. Hope you have a great time on your vacation. We sure did.