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“It's Unbelizable!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of San Pedro

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Elkhorn Wisconsin USA
Level Contributor
37 reviews
35 helpful votes
“It's Unbelizable!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 11, 2009

A great time in Belize in August, 2009! We stayed at Banyan Bay in San Pedro, on the island of Ambergris Caye in Belize. To get there from the Belize City airport, the choices were to either take a short plane ride, which was expensive, or a longer (about an hour) ride that costs abour $22 round trip. We chose San Pedro Express; the line takes 2 pieces of luggage per person and has a covered area over the seats in case it rains. Know which line you want to ride before you get in your cab at the airport.

At the dock we bought our tickets, round trip. Simply save the return ticket for when you are ready to ride from San Pedro to Belize City.

Luggage was whisked onboard, we found someplace to sit, and off we went. Food and drink are allowed on the boat. On the ride we spent time getting to know our seatmate, a local, and asked her questions about the island.

On the island, cabs are plentiful; they charge tourists about $5BZ to go anywhere on the island, one way. From Banyan Bay, you can walk downtown either along the beach or on the side of the road. It is actually faster to walk on the beach. We were advised not to walk on the beach at night because there were no lights, but it really didn't seem that dangerous; if you couldn't see you might trip on something.

People on the island were friendly and pleasant and eager to talk - as well as sell you something. Everyone took American dollars without quibbling, but be sure to ask whether the posted prices are in US or BZ. We thought food was mediocre and fairly pricey, unless you bought from a street vendor or got your big meal at lunchtime. We didn't have any problems with drinking the water or eating any of the food.

We took Extreme Adventure Tours (http://belizeextremeadventure.com/adventure-tours/) to go to Xunantunich Mayan Ruin Tour and Jungle Cave Tubing Adventure. The zip lines were inoperable, and we weren't interested in going to the zoo. We were extremely happy with our tour and with Geo, our cheerful, passionate and extremely knowledgeable guide. Geo took care of everything and all we had to do was heed his instructions and follow him around.

First we took a Tropic Air Cessna Citation to Belize City, where he picked up a van. Geo gave us a history of Belize and pointed out communities of interest, Taiwanese and Mennonite, as we rode to the ruins. The ruins were fantastic and Geo was a fount of information. We climbed up to the top where we could survey the whole area and see to Guatamala. We went down the back way and on the back side, under the trees there was a family of howler monkeys; Geo got them responding and howling. What an experience!

From there we had a tasty lunch, chosen from a variety of dishes on the menu at an outdoor restaurant. Then on to the cave tubing! It was a short walk to the launch spot and the cave experience was superb! I would go again if I had the chance!

Then back to Belize City, into the plane to ride back to San Pedro.

We went snorkeling two days, and I liked Hol Chan because of the vast variety of fish, but the Shark Ray Alley was a mite disappointing. The nurse sharks and rays were there, but after feeding them, there wasn't much else to see. I liked Mexico Rocks and Tres Locos better. There the water is shallow and clear and the reef is beautiful. Most of the snorkeling shops on the beach charge $35-$40.

We really enjoyed our stay. Banyan Bay was fabulous and I liked that we were just a few steps to the beach where we could snorkel right near the dock. Yes, there is sea grass, but it plays an important part in retaining the beach and protecting the reef.

I liked that English was the predominant language and the people were friendly and very helpful. The weather was perfect. I'd like to go back. It's unbelizeable!

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charleston, SC
3 helpful votes
“Pelican OK but CAUTION to tourists considering this destination!!!”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed June 13, 2009

Our family vacation was ruined by the islands corrupt police. We returned home last week from the worse vacation you can imagine. Midway through our vacation we were stopped by the San Pedro Police on the way to dinner for allowing my teenage son to drive a golf cart (with me in it) 100 yards down a dirt road 2.5 miles away from town where there were no pedestrians or other traffic. A warning may have been fair but the extreme this incident was taken to by local law enformcement is where this got completely out of hand and quite frankly very scary. I was arrested for what ended up being a $50 minor offense and held over a 2-day period against my will in this dumpy 3rd world police station. Everyone at the hotel were helpful through the incident and were extremely embarresed for the way the island were treating us as tourist. I am sure everyone there wants to sweep this under the rug but it absolutely would be irresponsible not to properly warn people of the potential dangers of visiting this island. As in many other mexican, central and south american countries you can be arrested at any time and held for any reason. I have trarveled all over the Caribbean and believe me when I tell you that there are far prettier, safer and traveler friendly islands in which to choose to spend your time and money.

Other than that, here is how I would rate Pelican Reef:

Affordability: 8
Accomidations: 8
Housekeeping: 6
Bar and Mngt Service: 9
Beach/Snorkeling: 5

Please be careful and do your research as I wish I would have. Lately there has been several serious crimes commited against tourists.

    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pelican_Reef, General Manager at San Pedro, responded to this review, June 16, 2009
It is unfortunate this review was left as a reflection on Pelican Reef Villas when it was actually an issue that occurred off-site with the San Pedro Police Department. As in most cases, this story has two sides. Here are the facts of the incident in question:

- We saw him leave our property more than once with his underage son driving;
- The reviewer had been drinking at our bar for several hours prior to the incident and was showing clear signs of intoxication;
- We tried to reason with the officer but he stated this was the second time the family had been stopped for allowing the child to drive;
- We sent one of our off-duty employees to sit with the reviewer at the Police Station and also sign for his release that same evening;
- We watched his other two children while the reviewer was in town and The Sandbar was nice enough to donate food for their dinner;
- Once our employee arrived back to the resort with the reviewer, we ordered and paid for pizza and had it delivered to their room; and
- The next day, when the guest was to appear in court, we sent the same employee to sit with and aid him in the process, which lasted from 9 AM to approximately 3 PM. In the end he was fined $75 US Dollars.

We have thousands of visitors every year that flock to Ambergris Caye for its simple beauty and low-key island charm. Ambergris Caye is a small island and it is not uncommon to pass the same smiling faces several times during your visit. People are friendly and will go out of their way to give a smile or a wave to visitors on the island. As you drive around in your golf cart, you will see many children running happily along the side of the streets unattended, family pets chasing after them, locals and tourists alike taking in sights by bicycle, and families with children out for a stroll on foot. As with any destination all over the world, we have motor vehicle laws that must be followed in order to make this a safe place.

Yes, it is true that most of our “vehicles” on this island are gasoline-powered golf carts, but that makes them no less dangerous to a child or family pet if put in the wrong hands. When you rent a golf cart on this island, there are two things you must have/do. First, you must possess a valid driver’s license. Second, you must sign a waiver form stating that you have read and agree to the traffic laws in place. One law (and this is a big one) is that you must have a valid driver’s license on your person at all times or you can be detained or fined. Even worse is allowing a minor to drive a vehicle (golf cart) that you are responsible for. When a guest rents a cart from us, we go over all of these rules but can only hope that everyone heeds them. If they don’t, it is out of our hands completely.

We at Pelican Reef Villas stand behind the laws of this country and strongly believe they are in place to keep us all safe from harm. Last year South Ambergris Caye Neighborhood Watch (SACNW) was formed and has a sub-station 800 feet north of our property. One San Pedro Police Officer and several SACNW employees are stationed there at all times. They are the men that patrol our area every day and night to keep us safe year round. From time to time, the San Pedro Police Officer will put a up a check-point to ensure all drivers that pass have the proper licensing required by the country of Belize to drive a vehicle. To our knowledge, this was the second ticket written to a tourist and the first time a tourist was taken to the Police Station.

This was an extremely unfortunate event for this family and we do sympathize for them greatly. It is also unfortunate this review was not placed in a San Pedro forum where it belongs and has now reflected upon Pelican Reef Villas. We did everything in our power to provide support for this family through the entire ordeal and are very sad they left our island with feelings of regret.

Lori Ruddick
Pelican Reef Villas
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Level Contributor
125 reviews
108 helpful votes
“Third World”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed June 4, 2009

We were not aware until we arrived and spent time in San Pedro and Ambergris Caye that Belize is so third world. Most restaurants, stores and supermarkets do NOT have A/C. This place is at the equator and it's hot, hot, hot and very humid. Some roads are paved, most are not and they are bumpy, dusty, dirt roads (north and south of the bridge). There are no speed limits - the golf carts and few vehicles drive very fast and all over the road. We saw a local college age girl crash her bicycle into an elderly woman tourist walking on the sidewalk hurting her badly because she had no brakes and didn't say a thing to warn her. You have to be careful if you walk around. The beaches are littered with bottles (plastic and beer), pieces of partially eaten fruit, etc. There is nothing to do here unless you participate in water sports such as diving or snorkeling.

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Lee's Summit, Missouri
Level Contributor
66 reviews
82 helpful votes
“Recycle”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 31, 2009

We loved our stay in Belize. Our wish for San Pedro, and for all of Belize, is to clean up the trash that dirties not just the cities but the beautiful beaches as well. I hope that recycling becomes and integral part of the Belizean culture.

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Medina,Ohio USA
Level Contributor
38 reviews
35 helpful votes
“Delightful Exploration of a Belize Vacation!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 29, 2009

Our family just came back from two weeks at Reef Village in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye where we spent an exciting time exploring the natural surroundings. We took several tours with Daniel Nunez of Tunisha Eco Tours to the mainland and he was so knowledgeable about the animals and plants of the region that enabled us to learn so much as we saw Manatees, Dolphins, Crocodiles, Spider Monkeys and so much more when we took our trip to Lamanai where the Mayans lived centuries ago since 1500 B.C. Then we traveled with Daniel on a Cave Tubing excursion that allowed our family to view the 30 ft tall ceilings of a limestone cave from a lying position on our inner tubes with our coal miners' lamps. If you go on a tour, book with him by calling locally and tell him the Athens Family says "Hello!" At the end of the experience, we viewed a grotto-like scene of the outside looking into our cave with the sunlight casting a stream of light into the area! It was magnificent when you realize that not many people get to see something like this! We had marvelous meals at the Palm Restaurant at our hotel but also explored other eateries like the Agi Restaurant north which we found while walking along the beach where we sat under a tree with candlelight eating the most delicious rice with veggies Spanish style! The only issue was the high cost of the food and beverages which we purchased at various stores like Ritches Market in town. Also the rental of the golf carts is extremely high when you are spending time as a family! We recommend the trip as a delightful experience but remember the sun is HOT, so wear your sunscreen!!!!

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