hey bobber...need a comparison...

Posted By: mikell

hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/20/03 12:56 PM

just discovered this chat a new boardie who is researching a trip to AC this coming winter...

read a post which mentioned that you've been to negril and i would like to read how you would compare it to AC/San Pedro...

we loved negril last winter...but we're looking at AC as a place that might compare favourably...small, laid back, friendly...but better snorkeling...

we're not big resort type people...negril had a small town feel where you get to know people easily and feel relaxed all the time...i get the feeling that san pedro is much the same...

just wondering if we'll find the same would you compare it?
Posted By: Bobber

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/20/03 01:41 PM

Probably tough to compare. We were in Negril in 91, during the Gulf War. The significance here is that the place was relatively deserted. We never had to put up with crowds at the restaurants, and the cab drivers would actually fight over the fares. They would take us to an eating establishment and wait outside for a couple of hours to catch us on the way out. If some other cabbie tried to grab us, they would exchange harsh words and once even came to blows.
From friends I have learned that the place has built up quite a bit in the last 10 years. Our decision not to go back was driven by some unrest at that time toward tourists by negative elements, we didn't really feel safe, and it had a real commercial feel to it in spite of the atmosphere. We also don't like to take taxis everywhere, or eat at the same places every night to avoid a cab ride. We enjoyed it, as we do all island vacations, but we were still searching for someplace with a little more. All the following places we went to (St. John, Bonaire, St Maarten, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres and a few others) all offered something different, but also seemed to be missing something else. We decided to try Ambergris Caye, as we had previously done some research because my son always wanted to go there. Naturally, the first time we went, he didn't go (and hasn't yet. He's going with us in Feb.) From the first day on AC, it was apparent that this place was "different". The people were friendly, it was fairly small so we didn't need a car, the beer was drinkable and the food was very good and inexpensive. The feel of the place, and the laid back atmosphere is totally different than anything we'd seen anywhere else. You can do as much as you want, or as little. The people are friendly, the dogs and kids are friendly, nobody puts any presssure on you to spend money (but they do give you plenty of opportunities). The resort grounds are beautiful with plenty of palms and flowers.
As far as comparing, If you liked the "atmosphere" of Jamaica, I think you will love AC. The beaches are not comparable, so if you are predominantly beach people you might be disappointed, the diving is probably better if you want to take a boat ride, and snorkeling off the beach is not real great. A little boat ride can easily fix that. The dive operators we used in Negril were not very safety conscious, and the equipment was not well kept up. We found in Jamaica that their "No Problem, Mon" actually means "it's not me problem, mon, it's yours". If you dive or make tours (on AC), it's
not just as another tourist, you make friends with the operators and they look out for you. If you see them later in the week in town, they will say hi and chat. I think you're going to like AC. It's not for everyone, but since you have to make a little effort to get there, you're not plagued by the casual tourists, everyone else there made the same effort to get there. Follow the suggestions here on the board for places to eat and things to do and see. You may have noticed everyone has a favorite place to stay or to eat or a favorite dive operator. That's because most of them are very very good at what they do.
Enough rambling. If you liked Negril, I think you will like AC.
Posted By: Bobber

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/20/03 01:50 PM

One other thing. This website is rich in stories and pictures. Check them out. Notice how even the sober folks are relaxed and happy. Go through some of the articles in the San Pedro newspaper on some of the local people. These are not just articles, they are real folks that you could run into at breakfast. You can get a great feel for the place through this website.
Posted By: mikell

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/20/03 01:57 PM

thanks so much for the detailed info...

our experience in negril was much more positve than yours...much of what you said about AC held true for us in negril...the friendliness of the business people we met included...

we are not beach people...stayed on the cliffs and went snorkeling right off them in front of our villa...that was incredible but only fair snorkeling areas...a boat trip to the reef was better...

we walked most places...found lots of great dining within a few minutes of our resort...but the cab rides to the beach area were hair raising! and yes...the constant pestering for rides was too much...but we got used to we did the vendors trying to sell you was never REALLY obnoxious...

i didn't find it too commercial...but san pedro sounds like what negril must have been 20 years ago...and i have the feeling we are really going to like it...we don't need a lot of attractions or ammenities ....just warmth and relaxation...

glad to have found this board and will keep reading for many suggestions...

Posted By: kippe

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/20/03 02:03 PM

No comparison! Have spent a lot of time in Negril, started going there in the Seventies, and to other parts of Jamaica as well, but I somehow always felt like a stranger. Went to San Pedro for the first time a couple of years ago and cried when I had to leave! Never cried when I left Negril.
Posted By: Bobber

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/20/03 02:21 PM

We had stayed at a place called Rondell Villas, maybe a mile or so outside of "town". We could walk the beautiful beach into town, but it was a hike. We did snorkel off the cliffs, and it was gorgeous, but not an everyday thing. We rented motorcycles and went off the beaten path. That was an experience (cows being herded up city streets, large estates with no road access and armed gaurds, kids that liked to throw rocks). I picked up my passion for warm water lobster at Rick's (blackened lobster with some raw sugar in the butter). We thoroughly enjoyed our stay. The people we dealt with were friendly, but in more of a commercial way. We were kind of leary of the common working man, as we had been warned to avoid the everyday folk (and watch our backs at night). That didn't make for total relaxation.
We did snorkel the reef, and it was pretty, but the boat crew was inexperienced and we had some tourists that had a hard time floating in even salt water.
If San Pedro had a seven-mile beach (how many of those are around?) and easier access, it would probably turn into another Cancun.
We spent last Feb in Puerto Rico, on Culebra. Beautiful beaches, good snorkeling if you wanted to hike or boat, but very little else. Food was limited but good. It pointed out that there was a big difference between being relaxed and being bored. That was boring, AC is relaxing. Which is why we are going back.
One further point, the beaches on AC are not comparable to a seven mile beach, but are not bad either.
I think Kippe summed it up very well.
Posted By: Bobber

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/20/03 02:57 PM

Just thinking about it Kippe. You're right. All of the places we've been, when the time came to go we were ready. And needed a week or so to rest up afterward. For those subject to it, the place gets in your mind and your body. Feels like home as soon as you get there, hate to leave, and withdrawal symptoms afterward. Feels more like you belong there, not just a short time outsider.
Posted By: evening

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/20/03 05:20 PM


No comparison! I've been going to Negril regularly since 1982 - and made my first (and most likely last) trip to AC this past April. I liked AC and loved Belize (I will definitely go back) but I guess the big difference is the hard drinking crowd in AC (just do a search for the word "Beliken" here and you'll see - no judgements here - my parents live on an tiny island and drink 10x the amount they used to) - compared to the laid back alternative wink you typically find in Negril! I will get flamed for this, but based on the comments from the majority of people on this board - but I am sure Negril attracts a more liberal type of crowd!

Then there's the chance to see Ziggy Marley or Wyclef Jean playing in a small neighborhood bar!

And the curried lobster at Erica's...

As one who regularly stays at older hotels on the cliffs, I can tell you the hotels/condo rentals in AC tend to be a lot newer (quieter air condition units) and less musty. But, nothing in AC can compare with Rock House's or Xtabi's cliffside cottages for location!

Toplessness/nudity is frowned upon in Belize (as it is in most of Jamaica, except Negril).

You definitely encounter fewer "hustlers" in AC, but will meet little boys selling bracelets for their father/sister/grandfather's brain tumor operation (it's fun to compare the stories with friends staying in different hotels). Some one just posted a message about constantly being offered drugs in AC, but no locals offered them to me in a week.

Hope this helps-
Posted By: dogmatic prevaricator

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/20/03 06:17 PM

Nice post, evening. I always go to Negril for Jamacian sojourns, and my eyes got red just reading your post.
Posted By: Bobber

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/20/03 06:27 PM

"Hard drinking crowd"?, Oh please!

To each his own, I guess. No nude sunbathing? so what, most of the nudity I've seen elsewhere was perpetrated by folks who should be prohibited by law from ever being uncovered (exception, St. Martin). I was approached for drugs once on AC (in 3 trips), just said I was not interested and that was it. The bus to Negril had more joints than a spider, and everyone was hustling.
Evening, you are definitely the liberal. I seem to remember back in the early 80's Negril was basically a hippy/druggy hangout before it became a tourist hot spot.

But, to each his own.
Posted By: mikell

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/20/03 10:50 PM

thanks for the input on this...

we stayed at the rockhouse in're would be hard to find a comparison to that least for the price...

i would go back to negril in a heartbeat...but we figured it was a good idea to see a few other places...and san pedro/AC seems like it's close to what we're looking for in terms of being relatively uncrowded and laid back...and then there's the snorkeling...which we found only fair in husband is keen to check out the reefs of AC...

so...i guess we'll try it out...

we're really people who could be happy most places and don't have high expectations or extravagant tastes...just looking for a warm spot to chase away the frigid february cold of upstate NY...give us some sun, waves crashing, warm water to snorkel in...and a hammock or lounge chair near the beach...we'll be happy...

i like the idea of being able to walk barefoot in town! altho my flip-flops will do nicely...

i guess there are similarities and differences ...but i have the feeling we'll be as comfortable in AC as we were in negril...

we're not drinkers...but hope they make something similar to a dirty banana in AC...and must check out the crazy cannucks place...being an ex pat cannuck myself...i hope they are too???
Posted By: KathyA

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/20/03 11:52 PM

Bobber, I saw where you posted that you had been to Isla Mujeres. I have toyed with the idea of going there next May. However, I was just in AC (June) and feel drawn back there. Could you give me your ideas about both. I really loved AC.
Posted By: Bobber

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/21/03 12:30 AM

We found Isla to be nice and laid back. Decent food, a lot cheaper than cancun and few hustlers. It kind of reminded us of Cozumel ten years back. The folks were friendly and accomodating. Beautiful beach on the north side by the resorts. The diving was not too good, but we didn't expect it to be. It has a few things to see, the ruins and lighthouse, the turtle farm, the aqua park. The square is quaint and clean and the shops are tidy, and like all Mexican towns, Sunday on the square is fun. We looked on it as a fun, cheap, extra vacation. It was a little too lazy a spot for us to consider as a main vacation. Liked it, but didn't love it, if you know what I mean.

P.S. If you do go, sit up front on the ferry. You just have to ask and they will let you up front.
Posted By: Richard Chambers

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/21/03 02:01 AM

Mikell, Have Ada at Coconuts make you a "Dirty Banana Colada" !
Posted By: klcman

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/21/03 02:19 AM

good source says Ada is gone but Margie still rocks......Rick, hire her back, those 2 are killers
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/21/03 03:20 AM

Ada is gone, and swears that her bartending days are over (but she did bartend for Butch's birthday party on Sunday). She's pretty happy working next door to Coconuts-- office hours and the number of drunk tourists are a bit better there!! But definantly stop in to see her. That's what she says she misses the most... is seeing her old friends.

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/22/03 02:05 PM

what is ada doing now? is she at woodys? or the barge eek
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/22/03 03:38 PM

She is working at (spelling????) Perla Escondida, the new condos next door to Coconuts. Stop in and visit her!!
Posted By: sherry

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/22/03 04:44 PM

Originally posted by KathyA:
Bobber, I saw where you posted that you had been to Isla Mujeres. I have toyed with the idea of going there next May. However, I was just in AC (June) and feel drawn back there. Could you give me your ideas about both. I really loved AC.
Posted By: sherry

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/22/03 04:48 PM

Originally posted by KathyA:
Bobber, I saw where you posted that you had been to Isla Mujeres. I have toyed with the idea of going there next May. However, I was just in AC (June) and feel drawn back there. Could you give me your ideas about both. I really loved AC.
We have visited Isla Mujures many time and LOVE it! Beautiful beaches & water, great restaurants & bars, friendly people and very reasonable rates Check out Secerto Beach Hotel! We're going to AC for our first visit on Sun and plan to check out Caye Caulker too Can't wait! I would recommend Isla Mujures to anyone !!!!!!! :rolleyes:
Posted By: ScubaLdy

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/22/03 11:37 PM

Mikell and other non-drinkers: wink
Everyone can find their own crowd in A.C. I drink A LOT - just not alcohol. Yes, there are people who go to A.C. and drink a lot or hang out with the drinkers. If that is what one is looking for it is easy to find. Since there is only one beer in Belize; Belikin, it gets a lot of press.
Just my opinion, but the early morning drinkers go to Estelle's for bloody Mary's, the working people go to Ruby's for coffee and pastry and the in-betweens hang out with me in the mornings at Lily's. When I'm on the island I can usually be found there from 7:00 to 9:00 A.M. -- minimum. When the land crabs are out playing we have been known to sit for hours watching them. Very exciting -- in a laid back kind of way.
My dive operator, Hustler's, picks me up at the dock in front of the Myan Princess, a feet feet away from Lily's. In the afternoon I snorkle and play with the kids around the docks. The kids are GREAT!
I'm moving to Belize next month after 8 visits there. When people ask me WHY? I simply say "The people." I only have a few enemies there. LOL -- You know who you are. frown I'll probably make more.
I've met many people who are regulars on the board and many more who have never heard of the board.
Look me up on your next trip -- I'm the short fat lady seeking the shade and always smiling.
Posted By: mikell

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/23/03 01:42 PM


thanks for the advice/tips!

isn't the internet wonderful? when we went to negril last year, i researched everything about the place for months before we went...and by the time i got there...i "knew" so many people who would be there...and almost felt like i was going to a familiar place...knew where to eat, what to see, what to expect...and it lived up to all the surprises!

i expect by the time we get to AC it will be much the same...several months to go...and time to learn what we need to know.

i am very grateful to everyone who takes time to answer questions here...and hope that i get to meet a few of you! smile
Posted By: Bobber

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/23/03 02:03 PM

We do a lot of research also every time we go somewhere new and it helps immensely. Most help is from other people, not the business ads, as they all tend to look good. We would rather have some real personal input from people who are just like us (?). Our first trip was made before we discovered this board and website, so we were a bit blind. We were whisked through the streets of SP in a broken down van just after dark, and were not initially impressed. The next morning everything looked different, and we were immediately stricken by the charm of the place. One thing you may notice from a lot of the trip reports from first timers is that they do get bitten by some sort of feeling of well being and relaxation that they weren't expecting. This is the charm and it's not something you can describe in a report, but if you are susceptible to it, it hits you like a hammer very quickly
We'll be at the Palms first week in Feb.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/23/03 03:24 PM

You may have already answered this, but where in Upstate NY??? I lived in Amherst for about 7 years, and miss it (but not the weather) terribly. Still a HUGE Bills fan and try to get back up a couple of times a year....
Posted By: KathyA

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/24/03 12:27 AM

Thanks Sherry!!! I will probably go back to AC next June but I appreciate your input on IM. It is definitely on my agenda for a future destination. You will have a tres' fabulous time on AC.
Posted By: mikell

Re: hey bobber...need a comparison... - 08/25/03 01:38 AM

hi vicki...

we're in rochester...or at least a suburb of rochester...and we never miss a bill's game...but only on TV...a bit too far to drive as the weather gets cold...but nice to curl up on cool fall sundays with cider and donuts and the buffalo bills on tv...the only reason we can let summer go...


we're planning our trip for the end of february...if you'll still be there? i'll ask closer to the date to see who we might run into from the board...
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