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!