My brother and I returned from an impromptu trip to Belize that was absolutely incredible. We stayed at Athens Gate after researching for less than 24 hours, and with less than a week’s planning time. I can honestly say that if we had taken a year to plan the trip, we would not have found a better place to stay nor had any more fun than we did. Athens Gate is a small hotel/resort/condo (whatever you call these places that only have condo units – I will call it a resort for now) that is indeed unique. After arriving at the resort in the car that the folks at Athens Gate sent to the airport, “E” took my stuff up to our room (a 2-bedroom unit) and told me to meet him at the bar to check in. Athens Gate does not have a front desk, concierge, or plethora of staff. Instead, E and James handle everything at the bar. Anything you want, they will get it for you. After a few drinks at the bar and having a wonderful chat with E, I decided to take the rented golf cart (the way to travel if you want to tool around San Pedro) and check out San Pedro while waiting on my brother’s flight to arrive.
San Pedro was a quaint little beach front town, with numerous shops and restaurants on two main streets. It had the typical tourist shops and restaurants, but it also had a number of shops for local inhabitants. I also found a very nice woman selling tostadas and other food out in front of her house, and bought one for $0.50 (it was very tasty). After my brother arrived, E set up a dive trip the following morning to Hol Chan Marine Reserve. We had another drink, and then we went to Blue Water Grill in San Pedro for supper. I had the black bean crusted snook, and my brother had the grouper stuffed with crab; both were delicious.
The next morning, the dive boat from Tuff-e-Nuff with Ariel and Victor picked us up from the Athens Gate dock and took us on a shallow dive (max of 30 feet) in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Although the current was a little strong, we saw some nice marine life, including grouper, rays, barracuda, very large hermit crabs, cucumbers, shrimp, and many other types of fish. Ariel then led us to Shark Ray Alley, where we fed and played with nurse sharks and large rays. I highly recommend swimming with the sharks, as they are very docile (just do not be stupid and put your hand in their mouths).
After the work out of diving in the stiff current, we went to Robin’s Kitchen for some jerk chicken, red beans and rice, and Caribbean slaw. Robin grills the chicken and pork out on the small grill right under his sign. I highly recommend hitting up Robin’s Kitchen for lunch or dinner. That afternoon, we hung by the pool and the bar with E and James, who set us up the next day for a trip to the Blue Hole. We also met the owner of Athens Gate, Joe, who was as warm as they come and enjoyed hanging out with his guests. That night, we ventured in to San Pedro and tried Caramba’s for some complimentary ceviche and a whole Mayan red snapper, which was absolutely delicious.
The next morning, the boat from Amigos de Mar met us on the Athens Gate dock at 5:30 a.m. to take us to the “big boat” for our trip to the Blue Hole. The approximately 3 hour boat ride was a bit tough on some of us with big swells in the open water portions of the trip; but we made it and dove the 130-150 feet down to the cavernous portion of the hole. I must also say that I was truly impressed with Amigos de Mar and how aware the dive masters were of everyone in the group. Having dived numerous places around the world, I’ve seen some good and some not-so-good outfits, and these guys were top notch in my opinion. The Blue Hole is truly unique and highly recommended for those interested in seeing something a little different than reef life.
After the Blue Hole, we dove Half Moon Caye and the Aquarium, stopping for lunch between the two on Half Moon Caye. Half Moon Caye is basically a small island with a campground and home to the Red Footed Booby (birds, that is). The two reef dives were very nice, and we saw plenty of life without the currents we experienced at Hol Chan.
We got back to Athens Gate around 6 pm and asked James to set up a snorkeling/fishing/picnic excursion for the following day. E had already left for the day, but when James needed help setting up the trip, E assisted from home and got us lined up. I have never experienced resort staff who truly wanted their guests to have the best possible experience as much as E, James, and Joe did (Jonathan, the grounds crew, also gave some helpful tips). Nobody ever “clocked out.” James stayed until at least 7 p.m., and E helped from home to line up the day trip, even after we told them that it really was not a big deal. The folks at Athens Gate are truly devoted to their resort and to their guests’ experience. James also ordered pizza for us that night (Monday) as several places were closed and we were beat from the Blue Hole trip.
The day trip on Tuesday was a wonderful experience. We latched onto some very nice families and went fishing on the Mexico Rocks with Tuff-e-Nuff, with Top as our fishing guide. We caught some snapper, speared some lobster and crab, and picked up a few conch before lunch. The crew whipped up some ceviche (or it may have just been a conch salad) and a very nice dish with the fish, lobster, and crab to go along with some potatoes, plantains, and bread. We finished the afternoon with some more snorkeling/spear fishing, and headed back to Athens Gate. That night, we dined at Hidden Treasures, which was very nice, although it was well away from the main drag of San Pedro. I had the Mojarra a la Lamanai (snapper with Mayan spices cooked in banana leaf) while my brother had the special of snapper, lobster, and shrimp. Both were very nice. We finished with deserts of tasty homemade banana ice cream and an average bread pudding.
Unfortunately, I had to leave the next day, but it was truly a memorable trip, and I hope to return. While I love to try out different locations and hotels/resorts, I would be thrilled to go back to Ambergris Caye and stay at Athens Gate. If anyone is trying to decide between Athens Gate and any other accommodations on Ambergris Caye, you simply will not be disappointed with Athens Gate.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.