Belize Trip Report, 5-26-2003
I just got back from my first visit to Ambergris Caye and LOVED IT! I just wanted to take a few minutes to post my restaurant review and short trip report b/c the reports of others that I read is what helped me so much in making this trip a success!
The weather was fabulous all week with very calm and beautiful water. We had three blackouts - the first for 5 hours, second for 3 hours and the third less than an hour. Overall not bad - but do remember to carry a flashlight at night!!!! I was so glad I did!
Mangos - We had lunch their our first day. They have great smoothies1! The mango chicken sandwich was a great island welcome with its tropical tangy fruit sauce.
Calientes - I couldn't wait to try this restaurant b/c so many have recommended it. And it lived up to my expectation. I had the highly recommended coconut chicken curry and conch fritters - both were excellent. My husband had Chicken Jalisco which he said was VERY VERY hot but GREAT!
BC-s BBQ - This is a not to miss. It's on Sundays from 11-3. The BBQ sauce is made there and we didn't taste another one as good the whole week. We were fortunate to be able to go two weeks. Plus the prices are great! Chicken BBQ is only $5 U.S. Note: While I loved most coleslaw's on the island (which is served with nearly every meal) I didn't love BC's - it had raisins and curry and just wasn't my favorite! They also have panty rippers for $2.50 US (the cheapest I found minus happy hour specials)
Casa Picasso - Another one I was really looking forward to. However, I hate to say, but it was probably my least favorite all week. First of all we were staying at Ramon's and didn't have a golf cart. This restaurant is on the south end of the island and it probably took us 25-30 minutes to walk to and was in the middle of nowhere. The food was good, but the portions were so small. It'ss basically pasta or tapas. I don't eat pasta, so it was tapas for me. I had the salmon croquettes which tasted great but there were only two very small croqettes for $10 US. I would say you would need 3-4 tapas to fill up and that gets expensive!!! My husband had the pasta wich he said tasted homemade and was very good (he had the basil walnut pesto sauce). also, I had read before my trip that there are 2/1 martinis every night except monday when they're closed. However, that special doesn't start until 9 pm so we missed out on that. If you like, they have a screen set up and they show a movie starting at 9 pm.
Cannibals - excellen potato boats (shrimp garlic was awesome!) Also great drinks!
Jambel Jerk Pit - I had sauteed conch and absolutely loved it! My husband had chickedn jerk. Again very spicy but great flavor. We loved the coleslaw here!
Fidos - Excellent shrimp burger. Also my favorite coleslaw and french fries all week. Fries were freshly cut with skins on!
Ramons (Purple Parrot) - We ate there for the Tuesday night BBQ b/c they offered lobster for $18 US and you couldn't get it anywhere else on the island b/c it's out of season. So if you want lobster, go there. They had it at least twice for dinner and twice for lunch the week we were there.
Man on beach selling tamales and empanadas -there is a man with a bicycle and a cooler on the handlebars selling food his wife makes from scratch. You can't miss him - he walks to whole length of the beach yelling whatever food he is selling. The items are only $2 US and are so good we couldn't get enough! It is very hot and fresh and has a better flavor than anything we found in restaurants - don't miss this!
Celi's BBQ - this is on Wednesday nights. It was good - not quite as good as BC's, but good and cheap ($7.50 US)
Cocina Carumba - Apparently this is a newer restaurant - the only down side is it's not on the water and no AC. But to make up for it he has put plenty of fans in the restaurant making the heat tolerable. But it is well worth the trip. This was one of my favorite restaurants. First you get free conch ceviche and chips with dinner. They have wonderful smoothies and a very extensive menu. I had a shrimp burrito which was the equivalent of 2 burritos I buy at home. It was very good and I couldn't eat it all! It was also very inexpensive.
Mickey's - another cheap place to eat! And while it's also not right on the beach, it is air conditioned. This was the only restaurant we ate in all week that was enclosed with A/C! Note: many have said their burritos can't be beat but they are only served on Wednesdays so we missed out. But I had the Mexico sampler platter which was great. It looks like it would be huge from the menu description, but the portions are small enough that added together it is perfect for one person. They are also very accommodating and will let you order half and order or one and a half orders. My husband had fish and chips which he liked but not what he's used to. Rather than battered and fried it was more like seasoned and pan fried - but the seasoning tasted great.
Blue Water Grill- For us, this was our most expensive meal. And it was excellent! It was also the most americanized restaurant in my opinion but had lots of island dishes. I had inland snook in banana curry sauce which I loved. My husband had grouper in Japanese spice sauce and he love that too. We also had the coconut shrimp appetizer - YUM! They have a drink dcalled the Horny Monkey whcih was my favorite drink all week - I wish I had one now. Also, they have happy hour every day from 4-6 pm and all rum cocktails (ie: panty rippers, rum and coke) are only $1.50 US
Jerry's Crab Shack - I hadn't heard anyone on the message board recommend this but we tried it b/c it's close to Ramon's and I wanted crabcake. The crabcake sandwich was really good and it was the only place we ate at all week that even offered it! Also, if you get their garden salad as a side dish, their homemade italian dressing is to die for!
Elvis - I've heard mixed reviews but we LOVED IT! I had carribean chicken which was awesome! My husband had Mayan chicken which was equally great! And in my opinion, they have the best key lime pie!! It was cold and tangy - very refreshing!
That's it for restaurants. Just a few other comments:
We did the blue hole dive trip with Amigos Del Mar based on recommendations from the board. We loved them! They were 10-15 dollars cheaper than other companies and had tons of food the entire trip plus all the Belikins and panty rippers you could drink on the way home. the lunch was stewed chickent, rice and beans, potato salad and coconut pie. In addition in the morning they had muffins (which are awesome), pinapple and watermelon (again as much as you can eat). On the way home they gave us snickers bars - yum! I definitely recommend them. Also all the water, coke and sprite you want!
We also did our local dives with them b/c they were so good!
We have heard mixed reviews about the blue hole but I was so glad I did it. It was an awesome dive trip. In the blue hole dive, they put food out and probably a dozen reef sharks were swimming 10-15 feet from us - it was awesome! We also saw a lot of other fish, rays, turtles, eels, barracuda, nurse sharks, lobsters, crabs, etc.
We did the Hol Chan/Shark Ray Alley snorkel. While it is busy, it was still well worth it. The barrier reef at Hol Chan is so beautiful I couldn't believe it. And at Shark Ray Alley, they were feeding the fish so we saw tons of nurse sharks and rays and were able to touch and hold them! It was great!
We also parasailed with Tony at Fido's dock. It was an incredible experience and the water is so clear that even from 400 feet up you can spot rays, sharks, dolphins, etc. We went in the afternoon, but Tony says if you go first thing in the morning you will see a lot more fish than we saw! Also, if you love it and want to do it a second time, it's half price for all repeat customers!
Well, that's all I can think of. I just wanted to post our experience so that it will help you all have as great an experience as we had!!!!!
re: the blue hole, we did not need a jacket at all. It is very hot there. The only reason I would recommend one is if you are burned or want to stay out of the sun. even then you don't really need it b/c the boat has a covered hull and blocks most of the sun. The bad news is the trip leaves at 6:00 am and 5:30 am if they are to pick you up at the pier where you are staying (which they are happy to do). The good news is, you get to see the sunrise and while we were waiting there were several dolphins playing very close to the pier. It was incredible! I wish I would have gotten up that early more often! The trip consists of three dives. The blue hole is the first dive. Your bottom time is only 8 minutes b/c you are at 140 feet deep. But the dive masters are very good about safety stops and surface intervals. The surface interval is 1 hour and 15 minutes - most of it spent traveling to the next dive site which is called Half Moon Caye. This was a very pretty reef dive with lots of fish. We saw an eagle ray and a sea turtle as well as tons of other fish! That dive is around 60 feet deep and you stay down for about 45 minutes. Then you come up and dock on the little nearby island where they serve you lunch and you can go on a walk to look at "Boobie Birds" which I guess are a rare species??? Some people also saw giant iguanas which was cool. Then you head back out to the third dive they combined two dive spots for us - Eagle Ray Wall and the Aquarium. Unfortunately we saw no eagle rays, but since we had seen one the dive before it wasn't too disappointing. We did see a moray eel all the way out of its hole (first time for me) chasing a lobster for dinner - that was REALLY COOL! That dive depth and time is about the same as the second dive. Then you start heading back and the party begins. Like I said they serve drinks - they also play really cool islandy/reggae music (most of which you've probably heard) and the stafff is singing along and really happy - it was a wonderful experience. We were sad when it ended and seriously considered doing it a second time and probably would have if our first trip to the blue hole weren't towards the end of our trip to AC.
As far as the local dives, they leave every day at 9:00 am - they will also pick you up at your pier. They also have dives at 2:00 pm, but those are only if they have enough people (you only need 4 to go out). But everyone says morning dives are better b/c better chance of seeing more sea life. They were great dives too - we saw sea turtle (who swam with us most of the dive) a sleeping nurse shark, large grouper - who also swam with us most of the dive and again a ton of various other fish and lots of schools of fish!
If I can answer any other questions, please let me know! I hope you have as great a time as we did!
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