Anyone been to Belize?

Mrs Squeegee and I are thinking of going to Belize for our 20th wedding anniversary. She wants to sit on her butt on a beach (the very definition of “vacation” for her :slight_smile: ), I want to see the archeological sites. We both enjoy snorkeling, neither of us dive. So we’re thinking of staying in the jungle for a couple of days at Chan Chich, then on Ambergris Caye, Xanadu.

Anyone here been to Belize? How did you like it? Anyone stay at either of these resorts, and love/hate them? Are there interesting things to see/do that you’d recommend? Are we missing out on anything staying in resorts rather than seeing the urban areas? Anything else we should know?

We went to Belize with the Pyramids and Playas Green Tortoise tour and enjoyed it very much. I’ve never been much for tours, but it really is a great way to pack in a lot of sight-seeing and beachtime in a short amount of time, since you don’t have to worry much about the arrangements, and the mix of people was mostly great fun. The days on Caye Caulker (Belize) were perfect for just hanging out on our own and snorkeling. Definitely take the plane ride there. I really can’t recommend Green Tortoise enough and we’d go on another tour with them in a heartbeat. Guatemala was incredible.
Pictures here, and there’s also a public group pool that they belong to that you can click through.

Hmm, it appears that Tikal in Guatemala are the coolest Mayan ruins around, short of Chichen Itza in Yucatan, which I’ve seen (and it was very cool). Is it practical to visit Tikal from western Belize/Chan Chich? Are the La Milpa ruins (mentioned on the Chan Chich site) interesting enough compared to Tikal?

I have been to Belize and loved it. I stayed on Caye Caulker near Ambergris Caye and then on to Duplooys in the jungle We loved (loved) Duplooys, Caye Caulker is only okay, but good snorkeling. Very easy to go to Tikal from Belize and a must in my opinion.

Thanks for the recommendations for Duplooys, I’ll check it out. Did you go to Tikal from Belize? How did you get there, and what was it like? I know that there are just bunches of unimproved Mayan sites around the Belize/Guatemala area, but I’d like to see sites that have been reconstructed, and Tikal sounds like that.

Missed the edit window:

Or would Caracol sate my Mayan ruins appetite?

I did go to Tikal from Belize. Duplooys set everything up. We just got in the car and they took care of everything else. You have to have a guide for Tikal and the staff of Duplooys have some they recomend. Our guide had been a worker during the excavation of the sight and had some really amazing stories. Most of Tikal is still underground, but several major buildings have been uncovered. I found helpful when planning my trip.

Hmm, Duplooys has no air conditioning. This seems like a deal breaker for me – no AC in July in Central America sounds really miserable. I live in a very dry area; I think high humidity would melt me and SO. Am I being too cautious?

Another vote for duplooys. My wife and I loved it. Tikal is great to. Be prepared for a long day. Duplooys set it up for us too.

We then stayed on amberquise caye, and even got to dive with sharks in the blue hole.

Caracol was lovely, but Tikal was even better, IMO. So much to see and marvel at, and not to be rushed through. We didn’t even get to see it all and we spent all day exploring. We camped there (outside the site, but right there) and didn’t have to have a guide.

Never been there myself, but. . . my cousin owns the only golf course in Belize.

It’s on Caye Chapel. If you go another cousin is probably there. Max, he’s been in a wheelchair all his life and winters there. If you explain that you know Uncle Donald’s oldest son he might get you a discount on the course.

Or maybe not.

I didn’t even notice it didn’t have AC to be honest, there are ceiling fans and it is on the side of a hill, it was plenty cool for me to sleep in.

I’m thrilled to see another person on the SDMB went to Duplooys, BTW!

I have a friend who tremendously enjoyed Belize.

He spent 17 hours on a bus with a chicken on his head, and developed a butt boil. But he tremendously enjoyed himself.

Bump, to catch those who didn’t see this thread because I should know better than to start a thread on a Friday night. Sinks like a stone, every time.

I just got back from Belize about 3 weeks ago. Here are my photos. They’re in the sets, “Hol Chan”, “Bacalar/Ambergris Fishing” and “Ambergris and San Pedro”.

Originally we were going to do 3 days at Black Rock Lodge but my boyfriend insisted on being somewhere that he’d get crackberry access so weswitched to 7 days at our resort on Ambergris. We stayed at the Blue Reef Island Resort because Mata Chica didn’t have bungalow we wanted availabe during our date. I highly recommend our hotel, as well as Mata Chica. It was expensive but worth it-we got a ginormous suite (I’ll try to update my Flickr with the remainder of the photographs) with a full service kitchen, living room, dining room, bedroom and big bathroom suite. It was located above the office so we got a good signal for the wireless internet access.

The only thing about many of the “luxury” resorts (Blue Reef, Portofino, Mata Chica) etc. is that they are very far north on the island and you’ll have to rely on your hotel to get you to San Pedro or other hotels if you don’t want to eat at the resort’s restaurant every night. Blue Reef, the one we stayed at, didn’t have a restaurant but they had an on-site cook and two menus that alternated every day. We ate there a couple of times (the night we got in, a couple of other times) and had breakfast there every day but there are better places to eat on the island.

Food is expensive-Here are the restaurants we tried

Blue Lotus at Brahma Blue: Indian food, great
Mambo’s at Mata Chica: modern fusion, great
Mama Caribe’s at Belize Legacy: Mexican/Caribbean, good
Wild Mango’s in San Pedro, not great even though the chef used to be the one who ran the restaurant at Victoria House
Elvi’s in San Pedro, island homecooking, great


Cave Tubing: A nice outing, but overall, meh. In retrospect, I’d have gone with Actun Tunichil Mukal (Crystal Cave) as a better land adventure. Do consider going with our guide-he’s an independent operator and a really great guy-his name was Vitalino Reyes. Independent tour operators like Vitalino seem to be increasingly edged out by big cruise ship tour guides. You can google for “Vitalino Reyes” and book through his website.

Reef Fishing: very nice outing, just keep in mind that you have to go early in the morning to get anything inside the reef as it has been overfished for too long. You’d have better luck with deep sea fishing. I don’t regret this excursion at all, as our guide was really nice-but keep in mind that you’ll get better deals if you organize your tours yourself than go through your resort. We booked the fishing and Hol Chan/Shark Ray Alley and they really ripped us off on the fishing. We could have hired our guy independently, cheaper, to take us Deep Sea fishing. His name is Bobby and you can ask around San Pedro. They were quoting some crazy insane price to take us cavetubing (our resort, I mean), like $700 American. I mean, WTF? I organized it with a personal tour guide (rather than in a group) that got the highest ratings on Tripadvisor for $300, flights back to the mainland inclusive, and we tipped him a $100 that went into his own pocket.

Hol Chan Marine/Shark Ray Alley: we snorkeled. Went through Costa Maya/Belize School of Diving and they did a good job and the prices were not ripoffs. I’ve read good things about L’il Alphonse as well.

We didn’t do any Belize ruins-I’ve already seen Chichenitza so Tikal was the only one that really interested me. Our resort discouraged us from doing it as a daytrip, which I regret. The flight to Flores probably isn’t even that long. I know that before we changed plans from Black Rock to Ambergris/Blue Reef, we were planning on going to Tikal from our resort. I’m pretty certain Chan Chich is downriver from Black Rock (they’re the ones with the butterfly farm, right?).

I felt like we had to tip every one in sight. We did-just keep that in mind for cash necessities.

One last thing about Belize beaches-they aren’t that great and the cayes are surrounded by ecologically necessary sea grass. You have to go really far out not to step on that mushy-clayey-seagrassy stuff. I felt the beaches in the Bacalar Chico were the nicest on the island and there is only one resort up there Tranquility Bay. It’s beautiful, just keep in mind you’re 30 minutes from San Pedro. They cooked our catch from the reef fishing excursion at the park adjacent to Tranquility Bay. Definitely the best beaches I saw on the island, with less seagrass.

If you have any other questions, shoot. I had a great time on our vacation. We wanted something reasonably close to California, a little different, my boyfriend wanted blue Caribbean waters but access to work, good range of activities/eco-tourism. Belize did not disappoint. Our other option was Costa Rica but it was a longer flight and I didn’t like the look of the beaches as much. It was a little more expensive than I had anticipated. It seems to be a popular destination this year though every one on the island was telling us the same sob story about the dropoff in tourism and we were there during the high season. I came back and 3 of my Facebook friends were on vacation there at the same time as us.

One last thing-I almost booked us into Brahma Blue but was worried about the mosquito situation (same everywhere on the island and was at a low since there were high winds when we were there) and not directly on the beach (it’s on the lee side of the island). I would probably still have stayed on the beach, as we did-but holy crap that is one luxurious resort and we stayed on one of the nicest ones on the island. They were running a special as they are only months old. It would actually have been cheaper and they have an amazing pool.

I have never been within a thousand miles of Belize, and can contribute nothing about the resorts or beaches. I do have several friends who go there on a mission trip every year, and their reports make one thing clear. You do not want to travel around, by yourself, outside of areas that are designed for serving tourists. The cities and the back-country are a genuine third-world nation, without reliable law and order. They’ve encountered towns dominated by violent gangs, corrupt police and officials, and other unpleasant features of life in Latin America.

Did you see my graffiti? :slight_smile: