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Planning a trip in August - need some information

New York City, New...
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Planning a trip in August - need some information

Greetings all,

I am traveling with my almost 14 year old son - maybe a friend of his coming along but unlikely. We are confined to the mid to end of August. Do not mind the "green" season - it was fine for us in Mexico and Costa Rica so hopefully.

We are looking into places that will have other families especially young teens if it ends up being the two of us. We like adventures but want to feel safe. Friends went to Cave Branch Lodge in Feb and suggested that. Sorry for the long post but I always get such great info here. So here are my questions:

-haven't seen many recent reviews on CBL here through searching

- will august in the juggle be too oppressive - heard there are only fans but did read one post that said electricity can be spotty.

- not planning on renting a car - best way to get to CBL or similar place in that area?

- want to get some beach time too - suggestions on which one? where to stay?

- transportation from mountains to the beach?

- excluding travel day on each end - plan to be away a full 8 days but can add 1 - 2 more. How to divide that between jungle and beach?

The Dalles, Oregon
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for Guatemala, Belize
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1. Re: Planning a trip in August - need some information

I would grab those extra days if you can - you won't be sorry. We have visited 3 times in August (3-4 weeks each time) and the weather has varied: 2003 HOT and HUMID, rain almost exclusively at night, 2009 not as hot, almost 0 rain, 2012 lots of rain (but partly because we were further south, in Toledo District) and a Hurricane Ernesto scare (we had to rethink our itinerary, still had a blast, and are heading back next spring to hit the things we missed). If you are sensitive to heat you might want to pick at least a stop or 2 with air conditioning or at least a pool or beach access for coolin off in the water.

I would recommend an overnight in the park at Tikal and a tour of Tikal and/or Yaxhá with archaeologist/naturalist Roxy Ortiz - she is amazing with people of all ages; check out her reviews here on Trip Advisor. Then pick 2 or 3 other stops depending on whether you like moving around a lot or not.

I will paste some of my favorite Belize links below - loads of ideas for specific tours and lodging as well as towns and islands to consider. Happy trails!

My photo collections with blog, travelogue, and review links: flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections/

My travel blog starting in 2012 (earlier ones linked with the photo collections): http://hopefulistinlatinamerica.blogspot.com/

My descriptions and reviews on Trip Advisor:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/members­reviews/hopefulist

Guidebooks I like: Moon Handbook, Fodor’s Guide, and Explorer’s Guide.

Laminated wildlife identification cards: rainforestpublications.com/belizeFieldGuides…

A very cool checklist book for Belize for the young or young­at­heart:

http://www.amazon.com/Play­Belize­Mesa­Somer/dp/0615198546/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1330549187&sr=8­2

­­­

Budget to midrange lodging site: http://www.belizeexplorer.com

Great island and lodging downloads: http://www.belizefirst.com Informative transportation blog: http://www.belizebus.wordpress.com ­­­

Shuttle recommendation: http://www.parrot­nest.com/belize­shuttle.html Zoo: http://www.belizezoo.org

Great jungle camp in Cayo: http://www.belizecamp.com

Great budget lodging in Cayo: http://www.thetrekstop.com

Great value hotel with pool in Cayo: http://www.aguadabelize.com

Don't miss cave trip: http://pacztours.net/actun­tunichil­muknal/

Another, less­visited amazing cave option in Cayo: http://www.actunchapatadventure.blogspot.com/ Lodge with lots of adventures: http://www.cavesbranch.com

­­­

Roxy Ortiz ­ fabulous, fun tour guide: http://www.tikalroxy.blogspot.com

My favorite hotel at Tikal: http://www.tikalinnsunrise.com

Good choice in El Remate, Guatemala: http://www.30minutesfromtikal.com/

Favorite midrange places in Flores: http://www.corpetur.com

Good value budget option in Flores: La Mesa de los Mayas, mesamayas@hotmail.com

­­­

Great inn in coastal Garifuna town: http://www.hopkinsinn.comf

Garifuna drumming center: http://www.lebeha.com

­­­

Apartment on the beach on Caye Caulker: http://www.staycayecaulker.com/sailwinds.html

Another Caye Caulker option: http://www.gocayecaulker.com/accommodations/maxhapan­cabanas

Great day snorkeling trip: http://raggamuffintours.com/hol­chan­snorkel/

­­­

Secluded resort on N. Ambergris Caye with snorkeling and flyfishing from shore: http://www.tranquilitybayresort.com

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Very rustic atoll experience, cheap if you have a week: http://www.glovers.com.bz/

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Great jungly place near Punta Gorda: http://www.hickatee.com

Rental apartments in the heart of Placencia: http://www.oneworldplacencia.com

Good Monkey River Trip guide: Jason Williams <wjason628@yahoo.com>

Good Placencia area fishing guide: Wayne Castellanos (dial 011 501 1st from US): 661.1151 or 634.2852 ­­­

Off the beaten track diving and snorkeling, Sapodilla Cayes: http://www.reefci.com

(haven’t stayed there yet thanks to Hurricane Ernesto in August 2012)

The Dalles, Oregon
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for Guatemala, Belize
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2. Re: Planning a trip in August - need some information

I don't know why some of my links aren't 'live' for clicking - you will have to copy and paste. Sorry!

belize
Destination Expert
for Belize, Placencia, Ambergris Caye, Cayo, San Ignacio
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3. Re: Planning a trip in August - need some information

CBL is a great options for the adventure tours they offer on their site, but if heat is a concern, look at some of the hotels in or just outside of San Ignacio town with a/c, from where you can do many of the same tours and are closer to Mayan sites, Mtn Pine Ridge and other attractions. For beach appealing to more social teens, I would look at either San Pedro or Caye Caulker, accessible via water taxi or air. CBL and San Ignacio area hotels are accessible by road or air

New York City, New...
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4. Re: Planning a trip in August - need some information

Thanks and apologies. I did not get the usual notification so totally missed these helpful responses. A lot of info but now I am a little overwhelmed. I still have not made any specific plans and ended up posting again recently before I saw all the suggestions.

Also I have been back and forth emailing CBL because I find the accommodation costs hard to understand as a single person - I think I already posted on that one. The all inclusive, community atmosphere sounded appealing since we are just one adult and a young teen hoping for easy ways to socialize at times.

Hopefulist - terrific resources and will review in more detail after work. I do not want to rent a car or do too much hopping around. Definitely the jungle experience and swimming/snorkeling. Are you suggesting best to go to Tikal for 2 days first? A friend just came back from Guatemala and felt the drive to Tikal was arduous and wondered if my son would find it so - he is not a wimp but not a roughing it kind of 13 year old either!

Would love more specific suggestions as to how to get around to 2 -3 main locations.

Katievalk - thanks for the beach tips. I am considering a main land beach stay and not a Caye - just for shorter traveling. Is snorkeling still good on mainland beaches? Is it worth staying a couple of days at a mainland beach place and also a Caye?

thanks again

belize
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5. Re: Planning a trip in August - need some information

Hopkins is 10 miles from the reef and Placencia 19 miles from the reef. Cayes are on or a mile or so from the reef; each is different, so ask.

New York City, New...
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6. Re: Planning a trip in August - need some information

I am beginning to understand the different beach options between Hopkins/Placencia and the Cayes. Although my son wants to snorkel, he doesn't need a full day of it. With a possible four nights in the beach areas; would it be a good idea to stay on a Caye 1- 2 nights to get snorkeling in and then the other two on mainland beach to swim? Accommodations with a pool could also be a nice break for swimming.

If that split works, is it best to have our last two days at Hopkins or Placencia for the trip to the airport?

thanks again.

Hopkins
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7. Re: Planning a trip in August - need some information

If your son wants to snorkel from the beach you have a third option in the cayes right on the reef. Tobacco and South Water Cayes are two and are about 9 miles out from Hopkins. You can swim and snorkel on the reef right off the beach. The coral there is much more colourful and pristine than near Caye Caulker and San Pedro. Check out the IZE web site, as they are now offering stays to families and individuals. You could even ask if they have families booked. I was there a few weeks ago and there were at least 10 kids, aged ten to teens. If you want to snorkel on a tour from a boat look at Hopkins and Placencia The boat ride from Placencia is twice as far as Hopkins and thus more expensive, but I consider the boat ride part of the adventure. You can get both full and half -day tours from Hopkins (and Placencia too, I assume). The full day is a better deal, as much of the cost is for gas. Full day trips include lunch, usually cooked/eaten on a tiny pirate caye (at least from Hopkins).

You can access the airport easily from both Placencia and Hopkins. There are airports a short drive from either village and you can fly directly into the international airport. Placencia is farther, thus more expensive and about 20 minutes longer to fly. If you want to take a bus, the trip from Placencia is much longer and the cost only slightly higher.

Saint James City...
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8. Re: Planning a trip in August - need some information

There's lots of swimming on Ambergris Caye, it's just that most of it is off the docks, rather than walking in from shore. There are a couple of resorts with nice beaches with walk in swimming. Ramon's, just south of town, Banyan Bay, about 1 1/2 miles south (although there has been issues with beach erosion there in recent years).

With four nights, I'd only choose one beach destination. Both Ambergris and Caulker are just 15 minutes from the international airport by air.

9. Re: Planning a trip in August - need some information

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