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Another trip report

Posted By: Retired2000

Another trip report - 11/19/03 06:36 PM

Another first time visitor “Trip Report”

My wife and I just returned from a week on AC and I want to put my two cents worth in.

First off, we are very well traveled, throughout the Caribbean, Europe and the Mediterranean. We decided to come to Belize for the scuba, and we had never been there before.

We spent a day looking around at hotels, etc., and AC does have a very wide range of hotels/resorts, from high end to really basic! Lan Sluder’s evaluations appear very accurate. Outside of the hotels, the infrastructure on AC is primitive. The restaurants are just OK, and if you want a fine meal you will pay a fine price – and still may get just an average meal. The cost of everything on AC, from basics to souvenirs, is very high. First time we have found prices at airport shops lower than local shops! I guess after monitoring this message board for a few months we had expected more. The “Green Guide” is little more than a booklet of advertisements.

We do give high marks to Zak and Peter and the Protech dive shop. Their equipment is tops and the personnel are very professional and personable.

We did have a good time and accomplished what we had planned, despite the wet weather. We are glad we came to AC, but if we come back to Belize, we will probably try one of the mainland resorts.
Posted By: seashell

Re: Another trip report - 11/19/03 10:24 PM

Ya either become an ACoholic or ya don't. Doesn't seem to be much middle ground.

Regardless, I agree with you on some points. The prices are generally out of proportion to what you could get many other similar places. However, there is still something special about San Pedro, that calls to me (and calls me back) more than any other place I have been in the world. That includes SE Asia, the South Pacific, and numerous places in Mexico and the Caribbean. And so, because of that, I've been willing to overlook some of the overpricing. I also quit eating in the "finer" eateries and found my favorites that were sure to deliver a good meal for a decent price. All that said, I'm sure you didn't make it to every restaurant in San Pedro and so may have missed some of the better ones.

I am sorry it didn't touch you too. Perhaps the weather kept it from you. Best of luck on your next vacation.

Oh by the way, where did you stay and how did you find those accommodations?
Posted By: Tippy

Re: Another trip report - 11/19/03 11:21 PM

What restaurant did you eat at.
Posted By: Chris

Re: Another trip report - 11/20/03 01:16 AM

IMO....

You're right, the Green Guide "is little more than a booklet of advertisements."

The thing is, that "little more" is, for many people, useful and sometimes priceless information.

He he....hilarious trip report....complains about the prices (somewhat justified in certain cases) and then complains about the only useful thing on the island that is free!
Posted By: Bobber

Re: Another trip report - 11/20/03 01:37 AM

Good question, where did you eat? The best food and cheapest prices are generally the spots with local ambiance. The fancier the spot, the higher the prices, and the food is not necessarily better.
Posted By: JoeB

Re: Another trip report - 11/20/03 02:05 AM

As a repeat (and soon to make the trip again) visitor to AC I never cease to be mildly perplexed by such trip reports. While as a simple visitor I hesitate to try to 'sum-up' AC in a few words, even cursory research reveals it to be a 'largely off the beaten path, not-yet overdeveloped, awesome dive / water sport location with extremely friendly people and a laid back ambience'. "The infrastructure ... is primitive?" ... I only wish I'd had to opportunity to visit 20 years ago! I can only hope the high-rises and chain restaurants continue to confine their development to neighbor Cancun. It's precisely that small town-feel, augmented by the friendly and exceptionally tolerant Belizeans, that contribute to laid back ambience. Local shop prices higher than at the airport? ... EVERYTHING is brought in by plane or barge! Of course imported items are expensive! Taking the time to get off-resort to find the bargains is half the fun. A Celi's Deli chicken makes the basis for a 2-person feast for under $10, while the street vendors at town-center make a delicious variety of filling eats that put a smile on even the most budget-conscious. Rainy weather? Just means you're forced to do more scuba diving (it's not raining underwater!)! My top 10 list for 1st visitors to AC would have to include a lazy breakfast at Estelle's under a palapa, snorkeling Skark Ray Alley, a splurge for dinner at the Jerk Pit (on the roof of course), mingling with the masses over a street-burger or plate of chicken and rice at the town-center, and doing the buffet at the Chicken Drop. I can't help but guess that - at most - you only did one of these things. I thank goodness that to all these qualities AC adds awesome spur-and-groove diving within 5 minutes of shore, directed by highly experienced professionals with modern equipment, for as little as $20 a dive ... you can't go wrong! I just hope word of this jewel doesn't spread TOO quickly ...
Posted By: alke ach

Re: Another trip report - 11/20/03 02:12 AM

Joe , could you finish your top ten please.
Posted By: LaurieMar

Re: Another trip report - 11/20/03 03:35 AM

Just goes to show, AC is not for everybody, but it sure is one of my favorite places in the world as far as people, food and of course, adult beverages and the bars (BCs and Crazy Canucks both rock!). I couldn't stand Cancun and can do without Hawaii, but the snorkeling in Cozumel is hard to beat (the only place I have ever seen a seahorse and sea turtle) - that was the only thing I was a bit disappointed with in Belize. But, then again, I am not a scuba diver.
Posted By: klcman

Re: Another trip report - 11/20/03 03:38 AM

Laurie -

next time you're there, take trip up to Bacalar Chico - have yet to NOT see at least one turtle, even snorkeling wink tohse critters sure swim a helluva lot faster than they crawl laugh
Posted By: seashell

Re: Another trip report - 11/20/03 03:52 AM

As for the word-usage "primitive", I prefer to consider it "quaint". smile

If you consider the most visited area of Belize as "primitive" what do you suppose you will find more appealing to you on the mainland? Not that I would in any way be trying to discourage you from visiting again. I'm just curious to understand your thinking on this issue.

And in that regard, I'm trying to figure out what places you are comparing to San Pedro. Where else have you been visiting? 5 star all-inclusives? St. Martin? St. Thomas? St. Croix? French Riviera, London, Paris, Rome, Athens, Greek Islands? Or places like Bequia and Saba?

By the way, what resort did you stay at and how long have you been diving?
Posted By: Pedro1

Re: Another trip report - 11/20/03 04:00 AM

Retired 2000

Thankyou for your comments on the "Green Guide" which as you must have noticed is free and available at a no. of businesses in AC.,and I agree that it does have a goodly no. of ads..
What I have decided to do is give you the rights to produce "The Red Guide" to AC with no advertising and you have to print out 18000 copies and distribute them for free-would you like me to send you a contract?
Posted By: seashell

Re: Another trip report - 11/20/03 04:04 AM

And the Red Guide should not contain any maps or helpful hints. smile It should be as large as a phone book so as not to fit easily into your purse or pocket.
Posted By: NYgal

Re: Another trip report - 11/20/03 04:06 AM

Honestly, do you all think that Ambergris Caye, San Pedro, Belize is perfect?

Everyone can learn from an honest semi negative post, once in a while. He/she didn't drop a bomb or anything, let them tell their story as others have told their's, in the way they saw it.
OK? smile
Posted By: seashell

Re: Another trip report - 11/20/03 05:19 AM

As far as I'm concerned, during rainy periods, San Pedro is one of the *least* perfect places to be. It can be horrid. So if one were to have their first San Pedro experience during a rainy week, well, they wouldn't like it much.

A good friend of mine was down last May. He chose to go because I always speak so highly of it. He was there for 5 days; probably the worst 5 days, weather-wise all spring. He can't figure out what the heck I've been talking about all these years.
Posted By: Chris

Re: Another trip report - 11/20/03 06:30 AM

"Everyone can learn from an honest semi negative post, once in a while. He/she didn't drop a bomb or anything, let them tell their story as others have told their's, in the way they saw it.
OK? "

But NY, no-one who posted here tried to stop him telling his story. No-one insulted him. No-one suggested he should pull his post...it was his view on the island and I certainly appreciated it. All people on this thread did was offer their (sometimes dissenting) opinions or make a gentle joke or three. Everyone was really very nice in their own way.

Is it OK with you if some people continue politely offering a different opinion to yours or should they stop?
Posted By: JSF

Re: Another trip report - 11/20/03 07:17 AM

Well, we just got back yesterday after spending the same week he did and we LOVED it!!! Rain and all!!! My husband was sitting on the beach eating BC's bbq on Sunday trying to figure out how much we would have if we cashed in our kids college funds and sold all our wordly possesions, so that we could live there forever!! We stayed at Mata Rocks, loved it!! Had awesome food, Caliente, Casa Pacaso, Blue Water Grill, Jamel Jerk Pit, etc. We giggled non stop taking the taxi to and from town...POT HOLES!!!! The only negative thing I can think of were the poor stray dogs!
We are determined to take the kids (all 5 of them!!) down next year. So add another Ambergris fan to the long! list..... laugh
Posted By: LaurieMar

Re: Another trip report - 11/20/03 09:36 AM

KLC: Will do. Wanted to do that the last three trips, but just didn't get around to it. Guess I was too busy doing absolutely nothing! In AC speak, that means having a hell of a good time.
Posted By: OHKim

Re: Another trip report - 11/20/03 03:10 PM

Has anyone had trouble bringing in pharmaceutical supplies for the Humane society? I am a drug rep in the animal health field and have accumulated a "stash" of product for the animals...am I going to have a problem getting this in?

Any advice would be appreciated!

Kim

We leave Cleveland at 6:30 am tomorrow!

Yippeeee! smile
Posted By: NYgal

Re: Another trip report - 11/20/03 03:26 PM

Chris, Chris, Chris, Chris, Chris..... smile
You posted all but the smile, hm.

Sure go ahead, no problem laugh
Thanks for asking, but there was no need.

This is a first, lucky Retired2000 smile
Posted By: Retired2000

Re: Another trip report - 11/20/03 09:44 PM

We stayed in a "deluxe suite" at Exotic Caye and it was fine, no complaints.
We ate at: Belize Yacht Club, Micky's, Capricorn, Cocina Caramba, Fido's, Coconuts, and some smaller local places.
I won't list all of the Caribbean locations we have been to, but I will recommend Malta as a destination that will surprise and impress the best. Great diving there too.
This board is fun to watch but some of you take it too seriously!! I said we had a good time.
Posted By: seashell

Re: Another trip report - 11/20/03 09:55 PM

My father has often enjoyed Malta and I just saw a travel documentary on it the other day. Made me think it should go on the list. I've never heard great things about the diving though.

What impressed you about it? I always want a dive component to my trips. Thanks in advance for your input on this.
Posted By: Gaz Cooper

Re: Another trip report - 11/20/03 11:12 PM

Malta is a well known destination for europeans and while the water is very very clear I found there to be a HuGE lack of fish life but the underwater topography was impressive.

Gaz
Posted By: Lan Sluder/Belize First

Re: Another trip report - 11/21/03 01:14 AM

My son and his girlfriend were in Malta for several weeks this summer. (I paid for it.) As Gaz says, it's a popular package destination from the U.K and elsewhere. I don't think you're allowed to go to university in England without going to Malta.

Not sure what it has to do with Belize, though!

--Lan Sluder
Posted By: Pedro1

Re: Another trip report - 11/21/03 02:22 AM

Which restaurants did you think were expensive for just a fine or not so fine meal?
Posted By: Beachy

Re: Another trip report - 11/21/03 06:03 PM

good question Peter, food and anything but rum is more costly to prepare here than inside of the US, but many restaurants, such as the one on page 23 of the green guide would be said to be affordable by US standards...
file under things that make ya go Hmmmm?
Chris
Posted By: jvid

Re: Another trip report - 11/22/03 03:31 AM

I love reading this stuff! we visited AC in april of 2003, loved it so much that we stayed extra, bought a piece of prime property on the north end,met a great architect, and along with his partner, they built us a house that takes the cake!! Within 6 monthes its almost ready to move in, which we are going to do on Jan.6 of 2004. You gotta love the island for what it is, simple, friendly and just plain beautiful! I have never met so many friendly, honest and just plain nice people as I have on AC, as for the food, once you know the right spots, and there are alot of them, you have it made. I thank God this island isn't for everybody, thats what makes it so special.Well... thats my 2-cents worth!! Thanks, Tom V, Chris B, Louis C and all the rest!!!!
Posted By: Richard Chambers

Re: Another trip report - 11/22/03 04:40 PM

Well said JV! :p
Posted By: Lan Sluder/Belize First

Re: Another trip report - 11/22/03 05:16 PM

Everyone has a different perspective on costs. For example, some of you may know "Sr. Ric" who moved to Belize from Colorado and lives in Corozal Town. He is back in Colorado for a while to get some medical stuff taken care of or something. After being in Belize for five years he said his take is that Colorado these days is much more expensive than Belize.

To quote him: >> Someone on the list awhile back said "Stop saying that San Pedro is cheap!" and I have always thought of San Pedro as being expensive --
certainly compared to Caye Cauker. But compared to Colorado Springs, ANYTHING in Belize is cheap. And I can't wait to get back -- I just don't
have enuf money to live here in anything but poverty!!<<

--Lan Sluder
Posted By: Bobber

Re: Another trip report - 11/22/03 05:28 PM

Retired2000, for some reasons we have never in 3 trips ate at any the places you mentioned so I can't make any personal observations. As far as expensive, we found that lobster, snapper, conch and even chicken was a lot cheaper there than up here. My point being that when we travel, we want something different, not the same stuff we can get at home. As far as fancy, a $20 dollar lobster there is better than a $60 lobster here. Rice and beans are not fancy, but they sure are satisfying.
70 days and counting (and recounting, and recounting).
Posted By: Retired2000

Re: Another trip report - 11/22/03 07:11 PM

We went to both the Belize Yacht Club and Capricorn expecting meals “a cut above” the typical Restaurant – maybe our expectations were a bit too high. I’m not saying that we had any bad meals, but some times one wants a meal with a higher level of presentation and service. We had better food at Micky's and Cocina Caramba, at least to our tastes.

I did fail to complement Belikin beer, as it was very good. We drank more beer that week than we have had all year! No headaches either.

I compared Belize with Malta as both are not your mainstream vacation spots, at least for most Americans. Both are small, have a lot of history, great people and a variety of water activities. Yes, it is a big scuba destination for Europeans. It doesn’t cost much more to fly to Malta, but vacationing in Malta was breathtaking and incredibly inexpensive.

We love traveling around the world and experiencing the varied cultures. There are a lot of places we still want to visit, but we are always happy to come home to our mini-farm in the hills of Tennessee. Belize is very nice.
Posted By: Bobber

Re: Another trip report - 11/22/03 08:52 PM

Definitely to each his own. We go to AC to get away from shoes and dressing up and we just like to kick back. We would rather go to Papis and have ruled out Capricorn, although we may try it once for a special occasion. We do enough fancy at home.
I've done a lot of spots, and I've gotten past the fact that if something costs twice as much, it is not usually twice as good.
If you like Belikin, you must have a fairly developed sense of taste, so I would have to trust you with the rest of it. I am not a normal beer drinker, except in Belize.
We are going to hit a few more eating spots this trip, so we can make a fair comparison.
Posted By: dogmatic prevaricator

Re: Another trip report - 11/22/03 11:53 PM

expecting a cut above, and getting sub-mediocre was exactly my experience at the Palapa bar.
Posted By: juba

Re: Another trip report - 11/24/03 05:10 PM

Retired2000, Can you tell me a bit more on Exotic Caye resort?
That's one of the places we're considering for our weddingmoon, along with Salamander and Hotel del Rio. Any info/opinion welcome!
Posted By: seashell

Re: Another trip report - 11/24/03 07:03 PM

Why is Hotel del Rio on your list of places for your weddingmoon?
Posted By: Retired2000

Re: Another trip report - 11/24/03 07:24 PM

Juba, this was first trip to AC so we considered a lot of places based on the internet info. We decided to stay south rather than north of San Pedro, and after being there we think that was a wise choice for us – you can be isolated north. We ruled out in-town, and again it was a wise choice for us. We found the town a bit primitive, buildings and streets crowded and no pavement – others call it quaint.

We considered Belize Yacht Club, Exotic Caye, Banyon Bay and Xanadu. BYC and Exotic Caye are the better locations as you can easily walk everywhere. BYC doesn’t have central air, just a/c in bedrooms – Exotic Caye has central air in the deluxe suites. Banyon Bay and Xanadu are a bit nicer but the location is farther out and a bit of a walk – taxi’s are cheap and available though. We also looked at Banana Beach but it seemed like a bigger motel to us.

We found the deluxe suite Exotic Caye very nice and roomy, with a good view. While we didn’t cook, we could have. They have a beach but the water has sea grass which precludes swimming off the beach. Protech is right next door for diving and snorkel, and other tours pick you up at the Exotic Caye dock. If we went back to AC again, we would probably consider these same four places again. So much is personal preference!

Have a great trip.
Posted By: juba

Re: Another trip report - 11/24/03 07:46 PM

Thanks for the info on Exotic Caye; it remains on our list of choices... Is swimming right off the beach better at some other hotels/resorts on the Island?
As for Hotel del Rio, we like both the price and the thatched roofs; the cabins look nice, at least from the website. I'd love to hear an opinion on this hotel as well.
Basically, we're on a budget, otherwise more upscale places like Mata Chica would enter the picture. The more expensive, the shorter we'll stay...
Posted By: seashell

Re: Another trip report - 11/24/03 08:14 PM

Did you look at Paradise Resort Hotel, not to be confused with Paradise Villas?
Posted By: Pedro1

Re: Another trip report - 11/24/03 09:52 PM

Juba

My opinion,looking at your needs/price and wants, is that hotel "Del Rio" is perfect for your requirements
Posted By: chismera

Re: Another trip report - 11/24/03 10:55 PM

Pedros Inn would be perfect if you like mud.
Posted By: juba

Re: Another trip report - 11/24/03 11:11 PM

We did consider Paradise Resort Hotel, but their website doesn't give info on the rooms or prices. I emailed them, but got no reply.
Posted By: seashell

Re: Another trip report - 11/25/03 02:19 AM

Try again, they are generally very prompt. Sometimes the email service isn't all that, down that way.
Posted By: Richard Chambers

Re: Another trip report - 11/25/03 05:28 AM

I've stayed at Exotic Caye twice and Coconuts and would stay at either again.Remember that the place you stay is just a place to leave your clothes and hardware while you enjoy the rest of the island! The only thing important to me was the AC at nights, which turned out to be shorter
than the days! Spend what you want, but enjoy all you can!!
Richard :p
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