We visited Belize, from November 4 through November 14th . We flew Continental/United Airlines from Fresno to San Francisco, to Houston, to Belize City and then Tropical Air to San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye. All flights were on time and no luggage went astray. We stayed in Paradise Villas and dove with Reef Adventures Diving. Cap’n Ron http://www.reefadventures.net/CondoSite/index.html a partner with Tradewinds Travel http://tradewindsparadisevillas.com/ made all of our arrangements for our living quarters and diving. We dove Nitrox 32 the entire vacation with the exception of the Blue Hole dive which was air. We stayed in condominium building A2, which is a beachfront floor level condo. The amenities were much like home, complete with air conditioning, flat screen TV with cable, fully equipped kitchen and a comfortable bed. The condo included a living room, dining area and a small kitchen bar. There is a pristine white sand beach right out in front that I wish I had at home. Paradise Villa’s staff was top-notch. I even met the condos owner, who was a very gracious man. There was a small electrical problem with one of the outlets in the bedroom and the problem was remedied within an hour of my reporting it. The service simply could not have been better. Manuel the day clerk for the condo complex happily attended to our every need. The maid who we never saw – kept the condo clean and tidy the entire time. The complex is located close to every thing you might need from restaurants and stores to the airport. I highly recommend Paradise Villas even for non divers.
Reef Adventures Diving is located a stones throw from the A2 condo’s front door. Michael was our boat captain and dive master, with Chucky and Ivan the deck hands for the majority of the diving and provided great service. We almost never needed to touch our dive gear once we handed it over to the crew until the day we left. The boat was an open 22 footer powered by a powerful outboard motor and comfortably accommodated eight divers. There were six of us in our group, and most days only our group was on the boat. I have dove all around the world and the service just does not get any better. The diving on the outer reef, just 5 minutes out in front of the condo, was world class and because of the close proximity to the condos our surface intervals were done back at the condo! My wife really appreciated the ability to take a warm shower and put on a dry bathing suit between dives. This is the connivance of a live aboard on dry land! The Outer Atoll diving was with Amigos del Mar on the Papa Changa a modern well equipped dive vessel http://amigosdive.com/index.html. The service here was also top notch.
We made 20 dives while in Belize. The average water temperature was 81°. Visibility ranged from 45 to 85 feet. There was very little current. The reef structure was Ridge and Valley down to about 90 feet and then off into the abyss. Sea life was abundant, with lots of nurse sharks, groupers, turtles, eagle rays, Morays, lobsters and a whole host of reef fishes. There were lots of soft corals and the reefs appear to be healthy. We spotted black coral as shallow as 50 feet, which is an indicator of a healthy reef system. We made two long boat rides to some outer Atolls one to Lighthouse Atoll with the Blue Hole and the other to Turneffe Elbow. The diving out in front of the condo was so good that the trip to Turneffe was unnecessary yet I found the Lighthouse reef dives with the blue hole dive very interesting and worthy of the expense. I would definitely recommend this excursion even though it is a long 3 hour boat ride out. The Blue Hole Dive is now my deepest dive at 138 feet and yes I got narced but I was fully aware of my out of bounds depth and kept myself just out of deco on my computer. We made three dives everyday except for the last Sunday we could only do two before we flew out late Monday.
Just a couple of notes about the food:
Breakfast was either at Mathues across the street (closed Sun, Mon.) or Elaina’s south down the beach (closed Tue. Be sure to try the Fryjacks) both have good food and reasonable prices. Since we made three consecutive dives on most days we were really hungry around 3:00pm after diving and Caramba’s (south down the street one and a half blocks) was our late lunch/dinner choice restaurant; most days they are open when the others are closed for a siesta; be sure to try the Conch Fritters there, all of the food was good. If you are out before 2:00pm or after 6:00pm be sure to try Brianna’s. Run by a mother and her son this is a local’s favorite with unbelievable low prices for really good home style food. Dinner is whatever she decides to cook that day. The fish empanadas and her fryjacks are a must. From Paradise Villas go south on the street (left out of the gate) to the first intersection make a right (go west) to the first street and make a left (go south) down about ¾ of a block on the west side of the street you will find Brianna’s.
Worst food of the entire trip was breakfast in the San Francisco Airport - with a city full of great chefs they should be ashamed.
A couple of notes about the travel:
The Belizean telephone company owns the internet and your Magic Jack or a VPN will not work. They have them blocked. Be sure you have international calling on your cell phone and be prepared to pay $4.50 a minute to make or receive calls.
If you are going to renter the US in Houston 2 hours is not enough time to clear customs and get to your connecting flight. This is the third time we have reentered the US here and all three times we have had a problem making our connecting flight in two hours. We did make it but the pucker factor is just too high; 3 hours would be more comfortable. You think I would learn that by now.
A2 Great View
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC