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Extensive Trip Review

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Charlotte, North...
posts: 35
reviews: 4
Extensive Trip Review

First of all, I’d like to thank all of the people who have posted up on the San Pedro forum. We were very prepared and had lots of “local” knowledge before we even stepped into the city. I’ll try and give you our experience and hit on the major topics and questions that come up here on TA very often. My family consists of me, my wife, and two sons (16 and 21). Our primary focus was to SCUBA dive.

Accommodations: We stayed at the Holiday Hotel right in the center of town. The HH was very clean, quaint, and functional. Our room was right on the beach. It had 3 beds, one queen and two twins, and a pull out futon. The air conditioning was ice cold and the showers had more hot water than we could ever use. Housekeeping was super functional and did a great. The cost all said and done was $2400 US for 12 days and 11 nights. I know there are cheaper places in San Pedro. But there is a Golden Rule in travel that never gets broken: YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!!!! ALWAYS!!!!!!!

The key to the HH is the location, you are in walking distance of almost everything on the island that is touristy. We were able to get to all of the major attractions north and south in less than a 20 minute walk. I’d give this a huge plus. We dove with a family that was staying at one of the swanky places north of the bridge and they liked the resort but hated the constant travel back and forth into town.

Food: We ate at Celie’s and Ruby’s almost every morning for breakfast. These two delis are less than 50 yards from the front door of the HH. The family LOVED fry jacks($4.50BZE). We ate quite a bit of Johnny cakes also($4.00 BZE). A few mornings, we walked to the Pan Dulce bakery and got fresh pastry we fed the whole family for less than $10BZE. Pan Dulce was less than a 5 minute walk from the HH. Lunch was eaten off of the street vendors almost every day. ¼ chicken, rice and beans, cole slaw, and tortillas for $9-$10BZE. The quality is terrific and don’t be scared…we never got even a hint of stomach problems.

We ate at Waragumas several times. It was a great value and the food was terrific. Try the stew chicken for $8BZE. Also if you like civiche, get it. It looks pricey at $40BZE, but it will feed three people easily for lunch. Dinner was split up between Waragumas, The Pupusaria across the street from Waragumas, Road Kill café, and Caprice that is attached to the HH. We had a few dinners from a lady across the street from the Tropic Air terminal. She sets up a taco cart for dinner only. These tacos are addicting and the cost a whopping $1.50 BZE. My kids would eat there every night if we let them. Lots of local eat there too.

Waragumas and the Papusaria are less than a three minute walk from the HH. The street taco lady is less than 5 minutes by foot. The Road Kill is 10-15 minute walk. Every place we ate was terrific.

As far as cost: Caprice is the most expensive…equal to a nice dinner in the states. But the food quality is very high end. Waragumas ran about $20BZE per person for dinner…$15BZE for lunch. The Papusaria was $15-$20 BZE per person. Road Kill for burgers was $20BZE per person. The street taco lady was a huge meal for $10BZE per person. Bring your own beer, soda, or water and sit at the table and chat with the locals.

We budgeted $200BZE per day for eating for a family of 4 (including two large teen age boys). We beat that by a mile. We averaged less than $125BZE per day. Breakfast at Celie’s $20BZE for all 4 people. Lunch with the street vendors $32-$40BZE for 4 people. Dinner at various places averaged $60BZE for 4 people(including super cheap eats with the street taco lady).

Drinking/Partying: The key to cost effective drinking/partying is to BYOB. We always bring a big insulated mug with us whenever we go out of the country. We bought rum and punch mixes at the store and made our own rum punch every day. We would tip the bar tender at the Holiday Hotel a few dollars a day and got all the ice we needed. You can make 1.5 gallons of rum punch for about $25BZE. We brought our mugs into every restaurant and no one cares.

We also bought cases of Belikin from a store a little south of Ramones. A case of 24 beers was $52BZE. We kept them in the fridge in our room. Don’t forget to bring your own coozies. The standard price for a Belikin in almost every place we went was $5BZE. The rum drinks at a bar (we never ordered any because we always brought our home made rum punch) ran about $5BZE as well.

We hit Fido’s a few nights and watched a pretty good reggae band. We also did Wahoos on Thursday night for the Chicken Drop. That was a BLAST!!!! The people there come from all walks of life and the fun and energy of the place is off the hook.

SCUBA Diving: We dove with Island Divers Belize which is located right on the Holiday Hotel property. It took us 45 seconds to walk out our hotel door and get on the dive boat. You can’t get any easier than that. We loved Rudtiy’s operation. The gear and boats were modern and well maintained. He customized his dives to blend our family’s dive experience and fun factor. We saw the big name operations go by all day and all we could say was “MOOOOO!!!! There goes the cattle boat.”

Lots of people ask on TA which is better Roatan or San Pedro. I can answer the question. They are both great…just different. The reefs and fish in Roatan are more colorful. There is more and bigger sea life in San Pedro. The snorkeling is better in Roatan as the reef is closer to the beach and you can swim or take a kayak and tie up to a dive marker. People are not kidding when they say it is not safe to swim past the docks at San Pedro. We did snorkel the pier at Ramones…it was OK but not spectacular. We did dive Turniff and it was the best dive I have ever been on. We also snorkeled Shark Ray Alley. It was way cool don’t miss it.

Crime/Safety: We never felt threatened or scared at any time. Use your common sense. Don’t go dark places by yourself, don’t get super drunk, don’t flash cash. Get back to your hotel by midnight and you will be fine. These are the same rules I use when I am at home in Charlotte.

There are the typical vendors selling necklaces, bracelets, textiles, and you will be asked to buy dope. Just politely say, “no thanks” if you don’t want anything. They will move on.

Overall: San Pedro is a great place for a family vacation. It is a super dive destination and a great jump off point for other adventures. It isn’t a “cheap” destination if you want all of the Americanized amenities. It is a super value if you are willing to step off the tourist trail and eat and drink as the low locals do. I’d go back in a flash and I’d do a few things differently. I figured I could shave off another $300-$500 off the total trip knowing what I do now.

Santa Barbara...
posts: 167
reviews: 45
1. Re: Extensive Trip Review

What a great review! We are 6 weeks away from our vacation and really appreciate all the information you shared.

Santa Clara...
posts: 7,853
reviews: 17
2. Re: Extensive Trip Review

Thank you for the food details! We are 2 weeks away and will be staying at one of those places up north so will have to zip down to town for some of these.

Swimming past the pier - danger meaning boat traffic?

How was the weather and did it affect your dive? We only snorkel so can take light rain but obviously the heavy surf and wave would put a damper to things.

Charlotte, North...
posts: 35
reviews: 4
3. Re: Extensive Trip Review

Yes the boat traffic is a snorkel danger. It rained a little off and on but inside the reef never gets very rough so don't worry about that. Do go to Shark Ray Alley it is really cool. I'd recommend Island Divers. talk to Rudy...here is the website.

http://islanddiversbelize.com/

San Pedro, Belize
posts: 336
reviews: 34
4. Re: Extensive Trip Review

Fantastic review. Love to hear from people who really get into the local life and enjoy San Pedro for what it is.

Santa Clara...
posts: 7,853
reviews: 17
5. Re: Extensive Trip Review

Thanks for the reassurance about the surf! Looking forward to it. We were in Kauai last March and the pounding wind and waves made shore based snorkeling less than ideal. I imagine it would be better here.

Cape Coral, Florida
Destination Expert
for San Pedro
posts: 12,163
reviews: 10
6. Re: Extensive Trip Review

Thanks for taking the time to write your report.

Just got back to San Pedro today, I'm so happy to be back here and out of the cold in the US mid

Ambergris Caye
Destination Expert
for San Ignacio, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye
posts: 2,155
reviews: 7
7. Re: Extensive Trip Review

Wonderful review, thanks for sharing your experience and glad you had a great trip. Hope you had a chance to try the bacon egg johnny cakes from Ruby's they are really good, if not next time.

Welcome back Jean.

Minnesota
posts: 1,586
reviews: 6
8. Re: Extensive Trip Review

Great review. Out of curiosity, how close is the HH to the Sunbreeze Hotel?

Charlotte, North...
posts: 35
reviews: 4
9. Re: Extensive Trip Review

I think the Sunbreeze is about 1/2 mile south of the HH if my memory serves me.

We did Johnny cakes from Ruby's but I don't think I ever ate the bacon and egg one. I had the jamon y queso several times and it was hard to change from that one.

A few other items I forgot to mention. We took Tropic Air from Belize International to San Pedro. Taco Girl sent me one of her famous 10% discount coupons and it worked great (Thanks again). We were originally going to fly out of the municipal airport but change our mind once we got to Belize City. Knowing what I know now, I would not hesitate to save a few $$$ and go to the muni airport. Tropic Air is super flexible and even if you don't have a reservation they will get you on a flight to San Pedro...and they leave about every 45 minutes.

Other people we talked to took the water taxi and said it was actually quite fun. The weather was calm and the ride uneventful. They saved a ton of money too. I'd do the ferry in a heartbeat as well.

Sault Ste. Marie...
posts: 2
10. Re: Extensive Trip Review

We took the TropicAir flight on a fairly choppy day, it was quick and easy. I watched people getting off the water taxi and more than a few of them were seasick. The Sunbreeze was a perfect location for accessing San Pedro and we went on several excursions with Searious, twice to Shark-Ray Alley, and Mexico Rocks and Palancar. The snorkeling was awesome and the fish and turtles were unreal. Trip pics on Flickr flickr.com/photos/…