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vacation information and opinion please

Santa Cruz CA
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vacation information and opinion please

Hello and thanks in advance for your help

me, my wife and 9 year old son are planning a vacation to Belize March 28-April 13 2012.. I like to dive and snorkel, my wife likes to read, relax and of course do a spa or 2, our son likes to be a kid. He will snorkel with me and loves to make new friends and we love our beach vacations!. a few questions:

we thought of splitting out time between the mainland and Ambergris Caye. Should we go to Hopkins or Placencia?, they both look beautiful, which is closer to inland activities, Mayan Ruins, zoo, etc

any lodging recommendations? We looked at and loved this Hamanasi place but wow it's expensive. We want something nice and right on the beach with a pool. $150 on the low end to $250 on the high end is our budget. also any transportation recommendations?

As far as Ambergris Caye, I understand the north part of the island is more secluded. We liked Tranquility Bay resort, but the water taxi might be a bit much for my wife. Something 1-2 miles south might be more to our needs from what I've been reading here. We are looking at vacation rentals and hotels/resorts. Any

thoughts on this Pedro's place? Banana Beach? a nice vacation rental villa on the beach (will go to $300-$350 a night for the right place)

We are experienced traveler's and we might consider a nice high end experience for a week and a less expensive experience the next week. any recommendations on which part of Belize for each? Dive shop recommendations? any 10 ten "must do and see? We are looking forward to experiencing the local cultural, as a working musician (Congas) I might look to "sit-in" or jam with a local band. So yes, this is your typical "I'm coming to Belize please tell me everything question" Again, thanks for your time and insights.

Saint James City...
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for San Pedro
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1. Re: vacation information and opinion please

I'm not an expert, by any means, on the ruins in Belize. That said, many of the ruins are most easily accessible in/around San Ignacio. There is also caving, water falls and other activities. You could even easily go to Tikal in Guatemala.

With two weeks, I'd spend a few days inland, at the above mentioned Cayo area, if you're interested in the ruins. You can see the zoo on the way, either coming or going.

On Ambergris, Tranquility Bay is really the only resort with accessibility to the reef by swimming. It's far enough north that the water taxis don't even go that far. It does have its own restaurant. It's a lovely looking spot, but, too isolated for my personal taste.

Banana Beach is ok, doesn't have a swimmable beach, there's a sea wall. Pedro's is more of a hostel. Good for cheap stays, but, not for a family vacation.

I'd look at Caribbean Villas, nice, if small pool, pretty beach, cute beach bar. Only about a mile from town. Close to a few restaurants and grocery stores. They have an artificial reef off their dock. Not great snorkeling by any means, but we've seen some neat fish there.

If you can make do with a one bedroom, look at Coral Bay Villas as well (I own a unit there). Nice pool. They have a two person kayak for guest use, as well as bicycles.

More money, in the same neighborhood, is Xanadu. One of the few, maybe the only heated pool on the island, although by the end of March, that will probably be a non issue.

I've never been to Hopkins, can't help you there. I like Placencia, I've only stayed in the village itself, lots of restaurant choices. Great place to spend some time.

Last time I went to Placencia, it was by bus from Belize City, after taking the water taxi from Ambergris. It took a good part of a day, but, was a nice way to see part of the country.

Have fun planning your trip.

San Ignacio, Belize
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2. Re: vacation information and opinion please

With that amount of time, I'd also split it up between AC, Cayo, and Placencia. Along with the ones above, you might also look at Belizean Reef. It's close to a little beach that is nice.

You might check out Crazy Canucks and BC's for sitting in. It's been known to happen. Be sure and see Derrik Banos, who will be the next Geddy Lee in regards to bass playing.

ATM is one of the must do 10's. I also think Mountain Pine Ridge and Caracol are too. You'll love the zoo, as will your child, and in Cayo, the Iguana Hatchery is one of the coolest things to see.

Good luck!

Philadelphia
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3. Re: vacation information and opinion please

We're going to Belize during a similar time frame ( March 28-April 11) and are traveling with our 7 year old son. I've done tons of research on these forums as I had the exact same questions as you. I finally booked Table Rock Jungle Lodge outside of San Ignacio for the jungle/ruins experience (we're stopping by the Belize Zoo on the way down), then after 4 days we are moving down to Chabil Mar in Placencia for Monkey River and snorkeling/fishing for 4 days and flying up to San Pedro for the remainder of our trip and staying at Banyan Bay Villas ( snorkeling, fishing and Easter festivities ). If time and money permits I would also like to get my Open Water certification. I hope you will find this helpful, happy planning!

Edited: 14 December 2011, 01:18
Herts, UK
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4. Re: vacation information and opinion please

to jolajarek from philly; just been to Table Rock and happy to share some insights with you - email me on philip271151@gmail.com if you're interested

Ambergris Caye
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for San Ignacio, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye
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5. Re: vacation information and opinion please

Caribbean Villas and Belizean Reef as mentioned above great spots closer to town. Also the Palms is nice too http://www.belizepalms.com/index.html

If you do not mind being a few miles north Grand Caribe is a nice spot to stay and they have good specials on. They have kayaks available for guest use and snorkeling is good near there. http://www.grandcaribebelize.com/

Santa Cruz CA
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6. Re: vacation information and opinion please

thank you all. I love trip advisor because of the insightful, thoughtful people like you guys!

Keep the comments and recommendations coming please. I am taking notes!

Edited: 14 December 2011, 16:08
Milton, Delaware
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7. Re: vacation information and opinion please

While you are in Placencia, you can use Splash Divers, www.splashbelize.com, for your open water certification, since they are directly across the street from Chabil Mar at the marina there.

Hopkins
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8. Re: vacation information and opinion please

Hopkins is closer to mainland activities than either San Pedro or Placencia. Take a look at this map and see where things are: http://ambergriscaye.com/pages/town/map.html If you think you can do without the pool and full service hotel atmosphere that Hamanasi provides you can stay at one of the "mom & pop" operations on the beach in the village. If you really need that pool and the extras that a full staff provide, then Hamanasi might be the best place for a splurge. They are close to Butterflys Spa as well. There are two smaller dive operations in Hopkins besides Hamanasi. Since you are a musician, you would really enjoy the Drumming Center, home of the Lebeha Drummers, winners of the 2011 Battle of the Drums

Santa Cruz CA
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9. Re: vacation information and opinion please

thank you , the map link is wonderful and so useful

nothing is finalized except we are NOT staying at Hamanasi, just to far out of our budget. so far, I think we will head to AC to detox from the all day flight, get orientated, relax and get a Mojito. spend 7-9 days on AC, then get back on the mainland for our mainland tour. I like the idea of the river run up to Lamanai from Orange walk, any thoughts on this welcome. (can we do the river run up from Orange Walk Town?) We want to get to the southern part with a stop in Hopkins if possible and final destination of Placencia, I hear the beaches are very nice with nice snorkeling and diving spots. We might splurge at Chabil Mar, but the Maya Beach Resort is an option if we are getting way over budget. I thought about San Igancio for some Ruins experience, but that might be pushing it for a road trip. more comments and thoughts are welcome

thanks

Saint James City...
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for San Pedro
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10. Re: vacation information and opinion please

If you don't mind a long day, you can do the tour to Lamanai from Ambergris. Boat trip to the mainland, bus ride of about 45 minutes, then another boat up the river to Lamanai. Pretty incredible, lots of wildlife sightings.