I’ve been meaning to post details of our trip to Belize over the weekend of Jan 20-23. A few months ago Chadsey happened to find round trip off-peak Saver AAward seats on American Airlines for only 30,000 points. Considering that January is peak season in Belize (not sure why AA considers it off-peak), we jumped on this deal. Our only issue was that we would have to overnight in Miami on Thursday night and fly into Belize City (BZE) on Friday morning.
Since we wouldn’t get into Miami until 10:00 pm we decided to redeemed 4,000 SPG points for a night at the Sheraton Miami Airport. Considering that the lowest rate on that night was $188, I though this was a pretty favorable redemption at 4.7 cents/point. The hotel was adequate, and although we didn’t get an upgrade (at least they claim we did to a golf course view room), we did get access to the club lounge, which featured a respectable continental breakfast with fresh fruit, pastries, and cereal. It was also nice that they had a espresso machine as well.
Having been to Belize 2.5 years ago we had already been to both Caye Caulker and Placencia, so we elected to go to Ambergris Caye. The main (and only) city in Ambergris Caye is San Pedro, which is located toward the south of the 25-mile long Caye at one of the more narrow parts of the island. In fact, Ambergris Caye lies at the southern tip of the Yucatan peninsula, and would technically be connected to Mexico had the Maya not cut a large canal there (although historians believe that the canal may not have actually been cut by the Maya due to the imprecise dimensions of the canal).
We took Maya Air from BZE to the San Pedro, which is a beautiful 25 min flight in a 12-passenger C208 Cessna Caravan. The pilot looked like he was about 20 years old, and maybe had 40 hours of flight time to his name, but the flight was smooth and we enjoyed some beautiful sights of turquoise water and reefs of Belize. We arrived in San Pedro at noon and our hotel Tio Pil’s sent a van to pick us up. Hotels can be very expensive on Ambergris Caye and Til Pil’s is one of the few affordable options. At $75/night for a basic ocean view room we thought it was steal. Overall, we had a good stay and we were thankful that there were no bed bugs, as one of the passengers on my dive trip said he got bed bugs at one of the fancier resorts on the island!
On this trip I did two dives on the local reef. After doing Blue Hole on my last trip, I elected not to spend $300 going to the same dive sites as my last trip. The first dive was at the Abyss, which featured a fun swim through at 90 feet and some beautiful canyons. We saw some cool nurse sharks, turtles, and a huge grouper. They also gave the divers spears so that we could spear lion fish, which are taking over the reef and killing off many of the indigenous reef fish because they have no predators.
Our second dive was at a site called the Garden and also featured a tiny, but long swim through. The swim through was so long and dark that you couldn’t even see the opening on the other side when you entered! On the dive a couple of divers speared some lion fish and our dive master cut it up and fed the dead lion fish to a nurse shark, which was kind of fun to see. On the dive we also saw a huge turtle, lobster, and some barracuda.
Overall the dive with Reef Adventures went well, and at $75 for two dives it was pretty inexpensive, but I wouldn’t recommend such dives for a beginner because some of those swim throughs could be a bit difficult and scary for a beginning diver.
We spent the rest of our trip doing a fun snorkel trip to Mexico Rocks, where we saw some really cool southern rays, spotted eagle rays, and a spider crab. Our guide Chucky, was very friendly and let us snorkel for as long as we wanted at both Tres Cocos and Mexico Rocks. He even stopped at Palapa Bar so that we could snap a picture in front of our favorite bar!
If you are heading to Ambergris Caye, I highly recommend going to Palapa Bar, it’s a very fun bar sitting over the water on the northern part of the island. It features some fantastic mixed drinks made with real fruit juices and has some fabulous views. The bar also has some inner tubes where you can sit out on the water and enjoy a tasty cocktail or Belikin!