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Can't decide between Roatan and Ambergris…Help!

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Milwaukee...
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Can't decide between Roatan and Ambergris…Help!

My fiancé and I are planning our honeymoon next Christmas and can't decide between Roatan and Ambergris Caye. We would stay at Infinity Bay on Roatan and Victoria House on Ambergris. Neither of us have snorkeled before, however, we are excited to try it out. We like hanging out at the pool/beach, exploring the town/shopping, and trying lots of different restaurants and bars. Roatan seems to be cheaper overall, is that correct? We would also love to do some land excursions. Ambergris seems to have a lot of companies that go to the mainland, however, the expense for going back and forth will certainly add up. My fiancé is also very concerned about safety as we are not the type of people to be back home by 10pm. Any thoughts? Thanks!!

colorado springs
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1. Re: Can't decide between Roatan and Ambergris…Help!

Congrats! I just returned from 10 days in AC. Victoria House is lovely. Beware the beach!! The beach in AC is narrow and fairly rough (trying to be kind) in a couple of spots that would be on your walk to town on the beach. Safe place overall, never felt threatened at any time, with that being said, always be careful and take taxis back after 10 pm or rent a cart. We rented one for half our time and had a blast. Tons of shopping (for food and alcohol), tons of restaurants, great place to go. With that being said, we will be heading to Roatan for our first visit next Christmas. Seems like a much better beach destination, similar snorkeling but it seems in Roatan you can snorkel from shore. Enjoy.

Austin
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2. Re: Can't decide between Roatan and Ambergris…Help!

Been to both, most of the snorkeling you will do in AC will be by boat and none as good as the shore snorkeling in Roatan, not to mention the AC excursions get pricey quickly. The town itself is much bigger than anything in Roatan and we had tons of fun in San Pedro. But between the snorkeling and exploring the rest of the island, it was Roatan hands down for us.

Menlo Park...
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3. Re: Can't decide between Roatan and Ambergris…Help!

Hi. I'm glad that you put your post on the Roatan board as well as the Belize board. I get a lot of nasty comments on other boards if I knock Belize or Grand Cayman or Bonaire or Provo in favor of Roatan on their boards. These are the likely destinations for divers and snorkelers or people like yourselves wanting a nice memorable trip without breaking your bank, or his father's, depending on who's paying for the honeymoon.

Roatan is a long mountainous heavily forested island surrounded with reef. West End and WEst Bay are on the leeward coast and so are well protected from the wind and waves. The west and north side of the island have lots of long beaches, with easy walk-in snorkeling. The sea is usually totally flat, like a mill pond. Infinity Bay is the big new beautiful popular place on the nicest beach, with very easy snorkeling right in front a few yards out. It's a great place to learn to dive, if that's of interest. It costs about $300 to get certified, and then you can dive anywhere for the rest of your lives. There's no better place to learn or to dive, at least in this hemisphere. West End and WEst Bay have lots of little resorts, bars, shops, restaurants, rental houses and condos, all very low key.

Ambergris is quite homely and flat. The beaches face the prevailing trade winds so they are littered with junk and weed, unless they are constantly raked. To snorkel you have to boat or swim out to the reef, over a quarter mile away. Ambergris fans are quite sensitive about their lack of beach or snorkel spots, often saying that you can snorkel under the docks, and there is indeed sand once you sweep up the garbage. Cognitive dissonance, you know.

If you stay in Infinity they have a great shaded swim up bar and a shaded lounge part of their beach. I love the water taxi ride between West Bay and West End, and you'll take that often.

Roatan does not have the mainland offerings that Belize has. I can only compare it to Ambergris. So if you get replies on the Belize board about how their snorkeling is the best and their beaches the prettiest, maybe you could look at some of the pictures in the hotel review section, and decide for yourselves.

The Dalles, Oregon
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for Guatemala, Belize
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4. Re: Can't decide between Roatan and Ambergris…Help!

I'm a diver and also a HUGE fan of walk in snorkeling. I'd choose between Tranquility Bay which is secluded up on north Ambergris Caye

http://www.tranquilitybayresort.com/

or someplace on Roatán. We've never chosen to stay in West Bay but have loved the SE, NE, and Sandy Bay areas and are giving West End a shot in June. Congratulations and happy planning!

Regina
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1 review
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5. Re: Can't decide between Roatan and Ambergris…Help!

Hi Anneliese,

I can only speak to Roatan, my husband and I spent two weeks at Infinity Bay from the end of Feb to mid March 2013, that is where I spent my 30th birthday (to give you an idea of our age range). Just a few tips. Infinity Bay is lovely, great staff, food and the beach cannot be beat. There are many different restaurants and bars along West Bay beach that you can walk to for supper or during the day for lunch or drinks. The beach bar at Infinity Bay closes at 10 pm so I can't really say there is any kind of wild nightlife on West Bay beach, if that's what you are looking for. West End would be what I consider "going to town" and has the majority of the dive shops, from my perspective most of the young people, there to dive and stay for cheap and quite a few bars and nightlife. I didn't feel there was a lot of "exploring" to do in town, it is small but we did enjoy when we went in, both during the day and at night.

There are far fewer organized tours in Roatan than other places most people are used to (ie Mexico, Dominican etc). That certainly doesn't mean there is nothing to do, just fewer tours. I think having a private tour of the island, going out on a catamaran tour, or just spending the time snorkelling the different beaches is really where you might get your value rather than say ziplining (but I have ziplined in Costa Rica and am a bit hard to impress now).

If you have never snorkelled before, Roatan is a great place to start. It is the best snorkelling I have EVER experienced. You have a short swim right from the beach and you are in beautiful reef with fish and lots of great things to see. That alone is why my husband and I spent most of our time on West Bay Beach, we just could not get ourselves to leave when we could spend lazy days snorkelling and enjoying the beach (we are beach people primarily, but the Infinity pool is nice as well).

The one thing I did want to bring to your attention, and maybe some people who have spent more time on Roatan throughout the year can share their thoughts(again I have only been there once, and likely returning this March), is that December is right in the heart of rainy season. From my reading, November and December are likely the two rainiest months with high likelihood of rain each day. Some people experience sunny days but it would certainly be a big risk to go to Roatan in December for your honeymoon if you had the expectation of a sunny vacation. Rainy season ends mid February and given most of the things to do in Roatan revolve around good weather, my suggestions would be to go when you have a guarantee of hot sunny days so you can really appreciate the laid back, relaxing, beautiful island of Roatan.

Enjoy your honeymoon wherever you decide to go!

Washington DC...
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6. Re: Can't decide between Roatan and Ambergris…Help!

Congratulations on your coming wedding! My family (my husband, daughters 19 and 17 and me) spent two weeks (Dec 21 - Jan 4) this year in Roatan (in Sandy Bay), the previous year in Ambegris Caye (just north of the bridge at the Landings). My husband and I just had a lengthy compare and contrast session between the two. Let me recap where I think helpful:

1. Roatan is the best snorkeling we have ever done, and all of it was from the shore, most of it on the reef. The real snorkeling we did in AC was from a boat. We did some minor snorkeling around the piers in AC, but there wasn't much to see, and we were always concerned about the boat traffic.

2. Walking around in the shops - I think AC has it better in that area. San Pedro has more of a "town" area that is conducive to walking around, exploring, eating, etc than West End in Roatan. What we saw of West Bay, there isn't much for the walking around and going in shops. Coxen Hole is considered "the city" in Roatan, but not really a great place to walk around and shop.

3. There are no cruise ships coming into AC. When we were in Roatan, there were cruise ships in four days one week, three the other. West End and West Bay were swarming with cruisers on the days. Granted they are all gone by 2 or 3 in the afternoon.

4. Roatan is a beautiful, lush island, filled with trees and flowers. AC is rather flat and sandy. However, we found the humidity that comes with being in Roatan a bit bothersome, mainly in that things never seem 100% dry - even hanging towels and suits out on the line never seemed to get them totally dry. The door frames, etc swell and rub. Every place smelled just short of musty.

5. We did several excursions while in AC, including one to the mainland. We enjoyed all the excursions very much, but they made for very long days and they are indeed expensive. There seems to be more to go see and do in Roatan - big parks, etc.

6. We rented a golf cart in AC, the manager at the Landings secured us a bridge pass also. this made us very independent, we did a lot of driving around, including after dark. We always felt very safe. The roads in Roatan are horrific, we would not consider renting a car, so we depended on the taxi and on occasion the bus. We found most of the drivers spoke English and did not have a problem. The taxis were very inexpensive.

7. Expense wise, we found two big differences, one in the cost of the flights and the other in the cost of eating. The flights to Roatan were considerably more expensive (about $400 more) than what we paid the previous year to Belize City. Even with the cost of the short charter between Belize City and AC, the Roatan flight was more. In AC we ate "take out" from the food carts as well as lots from the bakery. In Roatan we bought groceries (always expensive on any island) or ate out.

8. With the weather, both locations have December as the final month of the rainy season. Both locations we saw very short showers (15 - 30 minutes) most days and one day that truly rained most of the day. The weather was warm and breezy otherwise.

Please PM me if you have any specific questions about either location. We truly loved both, for different reasons.

7. Re: Can't decide between Roatan and Ambergris…Help!

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