My take on AC & Placencia...

Posted By: Jono

My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/14/03 05:41 AM

My friend and I just got back from 4 days on AC and 5 days on Placencia. First off the weather was really bad. This was a major drag, because we are not scuba people and it effected the snorkling and fishing. We stayed at the Banyon Beach on AC and we had a really nice room. However, I was not prepared for how bad the beaches were. I have been told that this is how the beaches are when there is a reef involved.
What do I know? Let's just say that I was really disappointed in the beaches on AC. Also the restaurants were ok, but really overhyped and overpriced. I paid $17 for a fish special at Elvi's. It was good, but I can pay that here in NYC. I also didn't think the night life was anything to rave about on AC. Actually, it was really dead when I was there for the first week in Jan. If your into rap, then god bless, you will probably enjoy the nightlife. Im not. We made due at Fido's. They had live music. It was still really dead. Also, be careful who you pick for excursions. We picked the wrong people for both snorkling and fishing. The fishing guy brought his girl on our trip. Very unprofessional. The snorkling guy(Belize yacht club) had a hangover and basically stayed on the boat. And can someone please tell me why a country so close to Mexico only has one brand of Tequilla; and it's that Jose Cuervo crap. Even the bartenders smiled and agreed with me. All in all, AC is just one big hype....Sorry...
Placencia was not much better, but much more reasonable. Please note that they are still realing from the hurricaine last year. I was shocked at how unkept the beaches were. It seems like there is no public works down there. It's a shame, because there are lots of good people down there running hotels and trying to be entreprenuers. You can build all the fancy houses and hotels that you want; but if there is no infrastructure work, and the beaches aren't cleaned up, then people won't come back.
Next time Im going to Cayo and the mountains...
Posted By: Chloe

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/14/03 05:51 AM

Wow, I am sorry you did not have a great vacation.
Posted By: trina

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/14/03 09:19 AM

Jono, yes I gotta agree with you about the beaches. It's hit or miss. We were in Placencia pre-hurricane, and it was magical. We fell in love with the place. But the trash pick-up thing is an issue. As far as prices in AC, I also agree. It seemed much more pricey to me this past year, than when we went in 01. No great bargains.
Posted By: tincup

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/14/03 03:10 PM

couple of questions....were you there for New Years Eve and if so where did you do? I know Ramon's was recommended.
Also, who was your fishing guide? Just curious.
Posted By: mountain Larry

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/14/03 10:04 PM

I have read it a million times on this board, "Belize isn't for everyone" It sounds to me like you are one of those persons. My wife and I loved both AC and Placencia and can't wait to return in June. I feel the prices at most places are reasonable, and if you feel they are too high you can certainly get up and go elsewhere. As for the beaches, yes they are a bit littered in places but paying for clean-up services is costly.
Posted By: Barbara K

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/14/03 10:12 PM

Sorry to say this but if you didn't like AC & Placencia for all the reasons you stated - you are probably not going to like Cayo any better. In many ways it is even more primitive than the beach areas. Perhaps another country?
Posted By: mountain Larry

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/14/03 10:22 PM

Amen Barbara!
Posted By: AZ Diamondbacks

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/14/03 10:30 PM

Gez, you guys are amazing! Everytime someone expresses a less than Chamber of Commerce opinion, people start blasting them. The reason for this message board is to get an honest, unbiased opinion. If we wanted all roses and no thornes we would talk to a travel agent. Let's lighten up and let a fellow borad member express their opinion.
Posted By: ckocian

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/14/03 10:46 PM

And, what, SILENTLY disagree? Anyone can opine all they want. "Opinions are like **sholes: everyone has one but everyone thinks everyone else's stinks."
Posted By: Barbara K

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/14/03 11:02 PM

I'm not blasting him. I got into this business of offering travel ONLY to Belize because of meeting people in Belize who did not like it and were expecting something completely different. As a travel agent, that's a nightmare. I quickly learned that BZ is very different from other places (though they all look good & fairly the same in the brochures!) I have recommend to some of my clients that they NOT go to Belize for exactly this reason - it is not going to be what they want or expect. I can tell from the questions asked or amenities they are looking for. I referred them to another travel agency that does more general stuff. Some places will make the sale & send them anyhow and then deal with the fallout, but I don't need that crap, and MOSTLY I don't want people in Belize who are not going to love it. My mission (since I sent foot in the country many years ago) is getting the RIGHT people to the Right places in Belize. That is why I don't have pre set packages and why I ask 50 million questions of potential clients. It's also why I answer questions on this board and by email whether you book with me or not. I just meant what I said - if he didn't like the more "built up" places because of lack of infrastructure, nightlife, etc. - he sure isn't going to like the less built up/more rusic places. (Unless he is like my hubby who hates beaches & fun and ONLY likes mountains & strenuous activities!!! This is why I am going to be in BZ next week (with him) and ONLY get to spend ONE NIGHT in San Pedro!!!)
Posted By: MamaLiz

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/14/03 11:03 PM

AZ, I don't see any "blasting" here. No one is criticizing Jono for his opinions, in fact, Chloe expressed sincere regret. Mountain Larry made the point that Belize isn't for everyone; that is true for any holiday destination. I for one, would possitively hate Cancun & Cozumel. Barbera K added a very helpful non "Chamber of Commerce opinion" that rather than having another less than wonderful experience in Belize perhaps Jono might spend his precious vacation time and money elsewhere. I think that is very helpful advice from people who have been there done that. If Jono didn't like AC & Placencia and Cayo is more of the same, why bother?

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/14/03 11:28 PM

Bummer! I too was there when it was really slow, but that didn't bother me at all. Maybe I am an attention getter, but I liked getting more personal service. We went to Fido's twice to see Barefoot Skinny. We never saw him before and the 1st night we loved him. We sat at a table right across from the stage, so we had Skinny's attention most of the 2 nights we were there. The last night he even came to our table and spent his break shooting the sh--. That was a treat in itself. As for Belize in general, I would like to go again sometime, but like to experience different places, so off to the unknown for us on our next trip.
Posted By: RI Laura

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/15/03 01:20 AM

I thinks this point of view is critical to hear. Though I'm one of the converted, and think AC is just the right pace for me, I know that others will not agree. I've been asked for recommendation on Belize before, and I've always first asked enough questions to know if they would like it there or not. What do they expect in a hotel? What do they expect for beaches? What do they expect for night life? What do they expect for restaurant optoins?

What can be seen as a slow, relaxed pace for some, could easily be seen as a slow, boring pace for others. For me, the fun nightlife of some vacation spots is too crazy and crowded. I end up needing a vacation from my vacation. On the other hand, I usually return from my AC trips completed rested and rejuvinated.

Like others have said before me on this topic, to each his own. We all just need to be clear on what AC is and what it isn't. Let's just hope we all find a great place to escape and enjoy ourselves for our vacations! Jono, I hope your next vacation is more to your liking! Thanks for your honesty! - Laura
Posted By: Chloe

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/15/03 02:55 AM

My sister's husband wants to travel to Belize.
I have suggested he go with me and my family, and leave my sister at home. I know her well, and Belize is not for her, she would be miserable. She hates to walk, and is not a beach or water person, therefore just not enough shopping and such for her to fill her time with.
She has agreed, after I explained what a perfect vacation for me is like in Belize.
Posted By: Barbara K

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/15/03 06:09 AM

I hear you Chloe! The last people I want in Belize is my family (sister & parents). They would hate it. I always have been the black sheep....
Posted By: BrianH

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/15/03 02:25 PM

When I read the first post, I thought to myself, boy, this guy is really going to get blasted for saying these things. I see these things happen on other boards all the time, and the threads end up getting deleted because they get so nasty. But, (so far) I was wrong. Those who disagreed did so respectfully. This is why I like this forum and keep coming back.

Just my two cents...
Posted By: Bobber

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/15/03 03:06 PM

I agree. I saw an honest opinion, and no blasting. AC is not for everyone. neither is Paris or Grand Cayman or Cancun.
I met a couple last year sitting around the pool at Paradise Villas (older couple, apparently American but originally from Yugoslavia or some such country) that were totally disenchanted with AC. Exact words were "squalid" and "expensive". This puzzled me even more when they said they normally vacationed in the Mexican interior. No accounting for taste I guess.
My first trip, the cab ride from the airport through town to Paradise Villas, my mind did make the comment, what the hell did I get myself into? That lasted less than a day. :rolleyes:
Posted By: bywarren

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/15/03 03:11 PM

I don't know why this guy's post is creating all these responses. It seems to me that his comments were pretty accurate about the beaches and pricing etc on AC. The only thing that surprises me is the fishing and snorkle guides. I rarely here many complaints on them. But with all the new ones, I guess one might expect a complaint once and a while. What confuses me is the complaint about the "first mate" being a female. I usually have to pay extra for that. Good first mates, or as those of us very experienced in the sport of fishing refer to as "master baiters", are hard to find.
In all seriousness it appears to me that if the proper research was done ahead of time ( there has been ample discussion on this board concerning the beaches and pricing on AC ) Jono probably would have vacationed elsewhere.
I would still like to know who his fishing guide was for future reference.
Posted By: Lan Sluder/Belize First

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/15/03 05:32 PM

I think it's good to have diversity -- in opinions as much as anything else.

My perspective on Jono's comments on San Pedro are just this:

* He (I'm assuming) seems to have gone with some of the most expensive places -- Banyan Bay and Elvi's are two he mentioned. Banyan Bay is terrific, but you could stay at any number of places for half the cost there, or at Ruby's or Lili's for a sixth or an eighth of the cost. Ditto Elvi's -- you can eat very well in San Pedro at Los Cocos, Antojitos Santelmo, Papi's, etc. for a fraction of what you pay at Elvi's. So the comments on cost I think have to take that into account.

* The weather probably played a factor in Jono's reaction to Belize. Dreary, wet and cool weather often makes a destination less appealing than it would be otherwise, and vice-versa for great weather. When its overcast and cloudy, even the beautiful Caribbean can look gray and uninviting -- sunshine makes a big difference!

--Lan Sluder
Posted By: Seeking Tarpon

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/15/03 05:58 PM

I think this world would be a boring place if we all liked the same things. I totally agree with Bobber about the comment that AC isn't for everyone, but other destinations fall into the same catagory.

My wife & I happen to love Grand Cayman because of the beautiful beaches, awesome diving & snorkeling, great dining, and friendly people. But there are hoards of people that can't stand GC because of being built up and somewhat americanized. Being that we love snorkeling, fishing, diving, and some decent dining oppurtunities, we are excited to try AC for the first time this year.

The way I look at it, with all the information made available to us via the internet, shame on you if you didn't do your homework (before) you go on vacation somewhere. I am fully aware of the beach situation on AC, and the layed back atmosphere. But I doubt the restaurants will seem very expensive after dining in the me!! I'm sure the beaches are much better on other islands, but we aren't comming to AC for the beach.

Bottom line is do a little (or a lot in my case) homework/research before spending a bunch of hard earned dough on vacation. Unfortunately, some folks choose to learn the hard way. I very much appreciate the honesty of the original post.
Posted By: Bobber

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/15/03 07:18 PM

Tarpon, I tink you gonna like the place. A $15 dollar lobster in a place with a sand floor tastes just as good (or better) than a lobster that costs $125 in a fancy spot. My lobsters in GC cost me that, but on the + side, I did have a little left over for brunch on the beach the next day, due to the fact that my wife could only eat about $80 worth of her meal. laugh Women like that are hard to come by and worth their weight in gold. laugh
Posted By: Dr Buzzard

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/15/03 10:26 PM

For people that are into beaches, so to speak, I think the northern end of placencia peninsula is best. Maya Beach and Riversdale have proably the best beaches in Belize. These of course, don't compare to Daytona or Cancun, but they are certainly "off the beaten track."
Posted By: trina

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/16/03 12:56 AM

Tyshepp, I totally agree. Hubby and I would bike from Placenica north to Maya beach, and then cut over from the road and take a swim. Ah, fantastic. Not a soul around. That WAS the most beautiful beach in Belize, now that I think of it. Although, the north end of Placencia Bay, just on the beach outside Turtle Inn, looking south towards town, is pretty nice, too! laugh
Posted By: AZ Diamondbacks

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/16/03 01:34 AM

Thanks for the support. Hopefully we've all done our research before traveling somewhere, I have received the best input off of message boards, not a hotels website. That is why I feel it is so important to have a board that talks about both sides, good & bad. I want the honestly and then based on that honesty, I will make a decision as to visit or not. By the way my previous post mentioned travel agents, that was just tougue and cheek. I didn't mean to insult anyone if I did, just a timing thing.
Posted By: Jono

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/16/03 02:43 AM

Hi, first off I agree with one of the other posters that it's great that people can have different opinions without having a witch hunt. Actually, someone told me that my posts would be booted off of these forums. It was already removed from
I have read all 23 posts(so far) and everyone seems to be fair and reasonable. That being said, I will reiterate my take on AC and even Placencia: The beaches were in bad shape. If you don't think so, then you haven't been to nice beaches. Im sure you can find some decent beaches in Belize; I walked for miles and found very few.
Also, I was not looking for Cancun type nightlife. I did my research and was very aware of the difference. Bottom line: If you are single and don't drink to the point of not remembering last night and are not a big rap fan, then you are better off picking another location. I can see that most of the posts were from married folk and families. I have no doubt that you will enjoy your stay. Im not beig a wise ass, Im just giving my opinion. I will now answer a couple of questions that were asked about my trip. We used the Belize Yacht Club to snorkle. We explicitely told them to bring 2 sets of fins. They said no problem. We get to the snorkel site(there are really only 3 of them on AC, so it's best to learn scuba) and while the other 10 people jump into the water the guide just stares at us. He questions our claim of having confirmed the use of 2 sets of fins, and we just stare at each other. He says that there is no way to contact the shop, which turned out to be a lie, because he pulled out a cell phone after making us sweat for 10 minutes. Then he fanagles 2 sets of fins, that don't fit, off one of the other 35 boats within shouting distance from our own. The net result, was blisters on our toes for the rest of our trip...Fishing in AC: we used a tour operator in the middle of town next to that great ice-cream shop. To the person who questioned my complaint about the fishing guide bringing his girlfriend on a small boat that we paid for; I guess you have never fished..Initially he gave us due attention, but as time went on, he spent more time catering to his girl(very unprofessional)..To the person that made a big deal of the singer visiting her table at Fidos..Are you kidding me? Sounds like I was wrong about the nightlife on Im sure there are people who have had the exact opposite experiences that we had. Im just telling you what we saw..
Posted By: Mexicana

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/16/03 04:05 AM

Just gonna add my 2 cents worth on this thread...first I think that if I had taken 10 days somewhere out of the middle of my 6 months of living in Belize and rated just that 10 days..big trouble! Because weather happens!! Ankle deep mud and getting stuck in a jungle isn't that fun. However, for the most part I loved Belize. I think it is sad when folks (like Jono) go with a certain expectation and get either bad weather, or everyone's "off day" on the Island for the week or two they are there. SH** happens! My sister just returned from Cancun and HATED it!! She and her Doctor Husband stayed at the nicest resorts and could afford the best offered...she had some bad experiences that flavored the whole trip. Our friend that referred her to the Cancun area loved her trips, and has gone back many times with good luck... So I don't think anyone should be mad at Jono or anyone else that might have a bad trip report, we all take a chance when we go anywhere.
Enough said!
Posted By: rickcheri

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/16/03 09:51 AM

Posted By: Lan Sluder/Belize First

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/16/03 05:22 PM

This whole issue of beaches is a tricky one.

(And, yes, I know a little about beaches, having written a Frommer's guidebook to the best beaches in the Southeast U.S., having visited most of the best beaches in the main Caribbean and the Yucatan and having in the course of writing six guidebooks to Belize having visited nearly all the beaches in the country.)

But it's tricky to explain to someone who has never been to Belize what the beaches are like. I always try to explain in my guides that the beaches are not the wide, white sandy beaches with near dead zones you'd find in say, Anguilla or in much of the Yucatan.

As President Clinton used to say about the economy, "It's the barrier reef, stupid."

But some of the beaches in Belize are certainly beautiful, at least to look at, if not for swimming -- on North Ambergris, in Placencia, Hopkins, on a number of the small cayes and elsewhere.

Yes, there is a lot of seagrass washed up in many areas, and yes, especially in Placencia, there is a problem with trash. Some of it is a local problem, some a problem caused by trash dumped elsewhere and brought in by currents. Mostly it is a problem of not having the money or perhaps the planning and incentive to keep the beaches swept.

I always tell people that if wide, white sandy beaches are your # 1 priority, that all you want to do is to veg out on a classically beautiful beach, go elsewhere. But if you want a nice seaside setting with lots to do besides beach time -- snorkeling, diving, rainforest, ruins and more -- in an accessible, friendly, drink-the-water multicultural package, the coast and cayes of Belize offer a lot.

--Lan Sluder
Posted By: LaurieMar

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/16/03 05:42 PM

Lan's last paragraph sums it up pretty well. Also, AC in no way can be compared to Cancun. Cancun is an over-priced city; however, there are places on the Yucatan peninsula that are absolutely beautiful. After traveling all over Mexico, Hawaii and Tahiti, Raratonga, etc., I would take Belize over them all!
Posted By: Chloe

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/16/03 06:22 PM

Lan, has stated it correctly.

Just dawned on me, LAN, has the most perfect occupation. What a job, having to check out all the beaches, and then writing about the beaches.
Posted By: Seeking Tarpon

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/16/03 06:54 PM

Even though Jono said he had researched these places (before) he went, I have a hard time understanding why he seemed suprised at the lack of quality the beaches offered. Even with limited amount of research on AC, I knew that the beaches were not the strong point.

The tours that Jono took appear to be just bad luck or timing. From what I've read, bad tour operators won't last long down there. So hopefully, these folks are either gone, or have cleaned up their act. Again, picking from the plethora of tour recomendations through research may of helped in this case. I know all of our tours are going to be booked with proven winners taken from this message board.

Obviously, nobody can change bad weather, and it simply sucks when the weather turns sour on a vacation week (been there, done that). I don't care where you go, when the weather doesn't cooperate, it can certainly put a damper on things.

Jono, this is by no means a blast at you. But it's obvious that Belize was not your style, and it was an honest mistake in your choice of vacation destinations. I'm convinced better research would of prevented your misfortune. I sincerely hope your next vacation is more enjoyable.
Posted By: Lan Sluder/Belize First

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/16/03 06:57 PM

Actually, I don't even like beaches very much! And though I've written a lot about Belize and about beaches, that doesn't pay the bills. My day job is as a marketing and communications consultant.

--Lan Sluder
Posted By: Johnboy

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/16/03 07:37 PM

You know some people just don't get it !!!!!!
If you don't like a place then don't go to it again but don't try to convince us (the people that love it ) that it's not great....This board has a world of information on it, so use it to see if you might want to go to AC....It us correct to say that AC is not for everybody...I'm just soooo thankful that I,m one (of many)that LOVE it......John smile wink
Posted By: NYgal

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/16/03 07:39 PM

Next time Im going to Cayo and the mountains...
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This quote from Jono is interesting. He may enjoy the mainland.
I think that shows he would give himself a second chance to find out. Yes, it's more remote but it may bring him up to the realilty of the country, if he doesn't have a rainy week.

Fortunate for us, we've never had a rainy week so it's hard to tell what we would have thought too.

We first went to Belize and as someone posted, it was Maya Beach, on the Placencia peninsula where we stayed. HOOKED !
Then the return trips began.

I research most every day and learn more and more. Since we have become land owners now, we must have done something right and that little miracle happened, on Maya Beach. That isn't where our land is though.

Have a good adventure on another try to Belize, Jono.
Posted By: Mexicana

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/17/03 09:35 AM

While the weather can be challenging especially for home/business owners during a storm. My last night in Belize we were packing up to drive by caravan back to the states, we got a HUGE TROPICAL STORM!!! Thunder,lightning, and winds whipping the thatch of our roof and toppling a few coconut trees near the lagoon's edge. I loved the storm!!! IT was in such CONTRAST to the hot sultry weather we had experienced for 6 months... I welcomed it!! HOORAAYY!!! I said. I went out in the storm and got drenched then me and acouple of others went snorkleing and swimming in t storm. It was exciting and something I will never forget! VIVA BELICE!!!!!
Posted By: ckocian

Re: My take on AC & Placencia... - 01/17/03 08:18 PM

We've been going for about 10 years all over the calendar and each time have experienced true gratitude for the days when the sun was bright, the temp was comfortable, the greens were green, the breeze kept the bugs at bay, and the water was mirror-like. Because we could stay long enough to pass through other-than-ideal conditions, as opposed to people who have a schedule to keep, we know whatever the conditions at the time there would be a balancing of the elements eventually.

There is nothing more peaceful on a cool, slightly cloudy day than watching, from a hammock on a pier, a storm move down the horizon just offshore. Outstanding!!
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