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Ambergris Caye or Riviera Maya?

Kansas City...
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Ambergris Caye or Riviera Maya?

I went to Jamaica last year. Stayed at Breezes Rio Bueno. It was fine for what I wanted--lazy days on the beach--but the food was just ok. I want to go somewhere different and don't really need to go the all-inclusive route. I wanted to try Ambergris Caye, but my travel agent suggested Riviera Maya. My travel agent said Ambergris is really only for divers and snorkelers (which we are not). Any truth to that? I am looking for great food, a great beach and the opportunity to do activities if we choose. Ambergris or Riviera Maya (or somewhere else entirely)? Thanks!

Saint James City...
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for San Pedro
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1. Re: Ambergris Caye or Riviera Maya?

In my rather limited experience with travel agents, I've found that many of them are really only familiar with the large resort properties/destinations. Get a bit off the beaten path, away from the large all inclusive resorts, many of them just don't have any experience in the areas.

Riviera Maya has a better beach than anywhere in Belize, including Ambergris. However, the sand on Ambergris is soft and white, and the water is blue and clear. The reef is only about half a mile off shore, so the surf breaks on the reef, essentially no waves on shore. This means lots of sea grass growing in the water. A nursery for all the little sea creatures. It also means most of the swimming is done off of docks/piers. A few resorts have cleared the sea grass and you can swim from shore.

Although Ambergris is a diving destination, lots of people there who don't dive, me included. I do snorkel some, but, I'm happy just being on the island. Good food, friendly people, during high season, lots of live music.

Large variety of accommodations, from hostel type places to hundreds of dollars a night. What you won't find are all inclusves and large resorts. Most places have less than 50 rooms, some way less.

You can take trips to the mainland for Mayan ruins, cave tubing, canoeing, horseback riding. Actually, if you plan on a lot of those activities, I'd spend a few days in the jungle, then head to the beach to relax.

We used to spend a bit of time in Playa del Carmen, about an hour south of Cancun. It's grown too large for our liking, complete with McDonalds, Wal mart and Starbudks. It's still a fun beach town, though. Lots of choices for hotels, both on and off the beach. Literally hundreds of restaurant choices.

Davie, Florida
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2. Re: Ambergris Caye or Riviera Maya?

your travel agent is an idiot. read the things to do link and look it over on you tube and gmaps. take your destiny into your own hands and make a decision.

Ambergris Caye
Destination Expert
for San Ignacio, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye
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3. Re: Ambergris Caye or Riviera Maya?

Ambergris Caye suits many people beyond divers and snorkelers. Laid back friendly, fun, good food, and lots of nature.

For Riviera Maya Tulum is really nice area, ruins, great beach and lots of Cenote's in the area.

New York City, New...
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for Yucatan Peninsula
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4. Re: Ambergris Caye or Riviera Maya?

Travel agents send people to the places that pay the most commission. A lot of them wont even book smaller hotels - or know that the smaller hotels exist - and Ambergris has a lot of smaller hotels.

You'll find a lot of people vacationing on Ambergris or other parts of Belize started in the Playa-Tulum area (aka the Riviera Maya), then worked their way down the coast when that area got too touristy/All-Inclusive-invaded. I started in Cancun in 1991 or 2, moved my way down the coast to Playa del Carmen, went to Cozumel, Tulum and was a regular in Belize by 2003.

I still go back to Mexico regularly (just got back from a Merida/Campeche trip on the 2nd) but would probably never stay in the Riviera Maya for more than a night to be near the airport. Costa Maya is another story - but you might as well be in Belize - they're right across the water from each other.


Edmonton, Canada
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5. Re: Ambergris Caye or Riviera Maya?

I can't vouch for AC yet as we are about to head there for the first time at the end of the month but others here can attest that it is lovely.

We have stayed on the Mayan Riveria on several occasions. Twice in nice large AI resorts then 4 more times renting a condo right on the beach. The Akumal area has lovely beaches. If you don't necessarily need to book air and accomodations together I highly recommend checking out "locogringo.com" they have several forums and also take care of booking accomodations. We've also used VRBO to book accomodations in Akumal. I am very partial to the Akumal and Puerto Moroles area - great beaches.

From what I've seen on posts you will encounter nicer sandy beaches on the Mayan Riveria (particularly around Akumal, Playa del Carmen and Tulum). I avoid Cancun - big resort city on the beach, not my cup of tea.

Another great area for nice beaches and great snorkling/diving is West Bay on Roatan. Been there 3x

Regardless I think any of the 3 areas will be great.

6. Re: Ambergris Caye or Riviera Maya?

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