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Belize (Ambergris Caye) Trip Report

Discussion in 'Belize' started by Hostage, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. Hostage

    Hostage Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Rochester, NY
    I just got back Belize on Saturday and my only regret is leaving.

    This is the 3rd time I have been to Belize and I went with my fiance and my family. It has been 10 years ago, since I last visited and the island has developed a lot since we were there. Dirt roads were replaced by cobble stone and it does not feel as secluded as it use to.

    While staying there we stayed at the Victoria House, one of the nicest and expensive locations on the Islands. Though some rooms can be as low as $180 during the off peak season. Personally I don't mind staying at a cheap hotel, but my mother does have expensive taste. We ended up renting a 3 room house called "Casa Del Sol" (House of the Sun or Sun House). The first floor was all one room, which included a living room and full kitchen. The upstairs was split into two separate rooms, which can be rented out separately. When we arrived at the resort we were greeted with fresh fruit drinks, trays of fresh fruit, and cookies. The presentation was top notch and we were all impressed. The staff was all friendly and spoke fluent English. Note: Belize is the only country in the Central/South Americas to have English as it's official language. Many also spoke Spanish and Creole. The water on the Island is not palatable, so we were provided with water bottles for brushing our teeth and for hydration. The resort was very relaxing and felt remote, we all felt very safe and there was a Policeman regularly patrolling the beach.

    The food was amazing there, we decided to do the meal plan, which was more food than we could possibly want. I came back 3lbs heavier. When we go back there, we will opt out of the meal plan. The Victoria house does have some of the best food on the Island, though it isn't the cheapest either. You have a few options dining there. You can eat in the nicely presented linen dining room or opt for the Nelson's Bar or eat outside. I preferred the bar and outside as I wanted to enjoy the weather as much as I could. My sister who is a mosquito magnet preferred the safety of the restaurant. I did not get bit once, while I was there.

    The resort also had free bikes to use to go into town. The roads which now are cobble stone are not the easiest things on the bottom, so we road in the drainage ditch, when we could. The Village of San Pedro is about couple miles north of the resort. The Village has a nice grocery store, which was the size of a CVS drug store. The prices were a little more on imported items than local items. A bottle of Belize Rum was about $5, while a bottle of Bacardi was about $50. We also came home with 5 bottles of rum.

    The village had street vendors, which had lower prices than the brick and mortar stores. I ended up buying a few beautiful wood carvings of various animals from a vendor named Leslie, who sets up shop next to the Post Office or the Bank depending on where the sun is. I looked at many of the vendors carvings and went with his as his had better quality and the prices were about the same. Don't feel hesitant to negotiate.

    My expectations of diving were a little higher than I received. The first time I went scuba diving I was 18 and did a resort dive in Belize, I remember it being amazing. I was hoping to have that same experience. The dives were outside of the reef and in a little deeper water. I guess it is never as good as the first time.

    After many recommendations on Scubaboard, we went with Island Divers. Rudy and his staff were very nice and knowledgeable. They also handled a boat with excellent precision. We were greeted with fresh fruit during every surface interval and they kept bottle water on the boat, all included in the dive. His team pointed out fish and objects of interest that would not be apparent to the novice eye.

    My father and I out of the group of 6 of us that came to Belize together were the only scuba divers. We did 5 dives, one of which was a night dive. We went to a max depth of 113ft and averaged about ~55ft for the day dives. During those day dives, the water was very rough. I did feel a little sick, when I was on the surface. My father took under water photos as I enjoyed the show. There were many people there hunting down the dreaded Lion Fish. I gave it a try, though only managed to injure one as he swam deeper into the coral. We saw many nurse sharks, a couple or turtles, stone fish, sting rays, a large eagle ray, and whole lot of tropical fish. We dove the Tackle Box and a few other places.

    The night dive at Hol Chan was one of the worst and challenging dives I have ever been on. When we dove in, we hit a current that was about 5mph. I burned though as much oxygen in that 20ft average dive than I did in a 55ft average dive given the same amount of time. After skimming the 5ft depth carpet of sea grass we went into the channel ~30ft. We saw the glowing eyes of sting rays sleeping and the most impressive part was the moray eel that was attacked by a lobster, which my old man got on video. The way back I used less than a quarter of the air I used to get there and we attracted worms to our dive lights.

    We considered doing the Blue Hole, but some friends said we won't miss much by not doing it. When we come next time I think we will opt to do more of the distant adventures such as the Blue Hole and Light House Reef. We didn't want to do anything to extensive and wanted to spend more time with our non-diving family.

    The diving was good, though I think I am partial to the wreck diving up in Alex Bay. Snorkeling is what I think Belize is really great for. Most of the things to see are very shallow. We did two snorkeling trips with Island Divers, one of which was guided by a man named Edgar Lima, who was contracted from Amigos Del Mar. He had to be the best snorkel guide we have ever had. He not only had a good eye, but he also would take the time to explain and tell us about things. We dove Hol Chan, Shark and Ray Alley, and Mexican Rocks. We enjoyed Mexican Rocks the most, though we did have a very experience guide during that trip.

    My fiance, who was scared out of the water from the first snorkel trip ended up loving the second one after I did some practice snorkeling off the dock of the resort.

    We did meet some interesting people while we were there. We met a someone from my home town in Texas as well as a guy who not only lives near me, but also works for the same company. We also dove with some nice marketing people from NYC. One person on our dive trip said she was staying at a hotel for only $25/night called Ruby's.

    In all I have to say I love Ambergris Caye. The range of price for hotels makes this place be accessible to everyone. It is no where as expensive as Hawaii and you do not have long flight as well coming from the states. It is a little more remote, but at the same time you don't have the crazy College Cancun scene. The scuba is good, but the snorkeling is amazing. This is a place where you can disconnect and still have a lot to do. My family and I decided we are going to come back to Belize as more of a yearly occasion. Though if you are looking for a strictly diving situation, you might consider a live aboard some where. Also if you have time, don't forget to check out the main land. The cave tubing was amazing when I did it 10 years ago.

    I think we will be back next year, but with a larger group.

    I hope you guys find this helpful,


    Last edited: Nov 28, 2011
  2. Aquanut2

    Aquanut2 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Upstate NY, USA
    Hey Hostage
    Great report and yes I'm the guy that works & lives near you small world huh? I still have to get my report posted on SB but still sifting through 13 GB of photos video I took and catching back up at work. I'll pm you with my contact info.

    Aquanut II
  3. Downing

    Downing Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Portland, Oregon
    If either or both of you would post some topside photos, that would be most appreciated.
  4. debajo agua

    debajo agua Captain

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Tampa
    It's been 6 years since my last visit to Ambergris. I too, would like to see your pictures.
  5. CarlosCabanas

    CarlosCabanas Dive Resort

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: A divers paradise... Tranquilitybayresort.com
    Great Post. I think the diving here can be amazing, but each dive you do to the same sight can give you a totally different experience. If you only found the diving of Ambergris medium to Good I would suggest the blue hole trip. The blue hole is an interesting dive but some people don't like it. The other two dives are awesome. I wrote a blog post about it The Great Blue Hole, Belize « Tranquility Bay Resort


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