I apologize in advance. My reviews are always long. We stayed here for 9 days/8 nights in late November, early December. The resort was only partially full when we were there. (< ½ full)
OVERALL IMPRESSION: Excellent, casual dive resort. We have traveled fairly extensively and this is our favorite dive resort to date. The resort itself would rate as a 3-4 star out of 5 in the US, but receives an overall rating of 4.5/5 from us for the great staff and lovely setting as well as how organized it is. They do a great job of providing a variety of entertainment (picnics, theme nights, band in bar) but if you are looking for a “spring-break” type resort or one that has a very young crowd out partying all night, this isn’t the resort for you. The clientele was nearly all divers or snorkelers. We saw only 1-2 families with small children. We will definitely return!
Specific comments/insights that may be helpful:
BAHIA TOURS: We booked our package with Bahia tours and they were very easy to work with. I would not hesitate to use them again when we return. We booked our flights separately through United.
CLIMATE/LANGUAGE/MONEY: It was very humid, even though the temperatures were only in the low 80’s. It was rainy season, so there had been several weeks of heavy rain before we arrived and it rained for at least several hours each day while we were there. It did rain hard enough to impair diving visibility several days. The island climate is very hilly and tropical vs. the flat terrain of Cozumel.
• Bug spray is a MUST, especially at dusk. The ‘no-see-ums” here are vicious. Bring DEET spray for mosquitoes; Avon Skin-so-soft or cactus juice (sold in gift shop) for “no-see-ums”. TIP: Don’t forget to put it on your torso and arms in addition to legs.
• A jacket, long pants and small umbrella are a good idea if you are a person who chills easily or it’s raining.
• Flip-flops are great for going to/from the boat to your room.
• All of the front-desk, bar, restaurant and dive school staff spoke English, along with an island specific dialect. Some of the grounds crew and housekeeping spoke mainly Spanish.
• U.S. dollars were accepted everywhere we went, as well as the local currency (lempiras).
ENTRY AIRPORT/TRANSFER INFORMATION:
Typical small island airport entry protocol. Bathrooms inside the entry door along the back wall. Once through immigration (have a pen handy to fill out forms), pick up your luggage, put it through screening and find your AKR representative inside (or might be right outside airport). They have medium blue colored shirts on with AKR logo on them. They will direct you to the shuttle. Your luggage goes in a different vehicle. We had no troubles with our luggage. We didn’t find any vendors selling beers or drinks for the ride. ~15 minute ride to the resort.
TIP: *If you had a green Anthony’s Key Resort (AKR) tag on your luggage, the AKR staff may have already pulled your luggage and put it through screening for you. If you don’t see your luggage on the carrousel, check for the AKR luggage cart right outside of the screening machine.*
CHECK IN: Fairly easy and quick. We filled out our paperwork, received a welcome drink. You’ll be given a wrist band for snorkeling or diving and go through a short resort orientation (~15 minutes). Luggage is taken directly to your cabin for you. They did not require a deposit for room keys, etc. We arrived ~2:30 and they had saved lunch so we could eat. (Deli meat and cheese; deli fixings; bread, cheese; dessert). *TIP: Save the resort map they give you. It contains a wealth of information about all of the activities and facilities. TIP: If you have time before dive shop closes, bring your dive paperwork (you get this at check-in) and certification card to the dive shop and get signed up and get your locker key. (This speeds things up in the morning.) TIP: There is an activity bulletin board in the reception area. Also, a bookshelf with books you can borrow, a large table with chairs for gatherings and several chairs for just lounging.
• Easy! On the main dock, there is a section where a small, uncovered boat (could hold ~10) continuously shuttles people to and from main resort area to Anthony’s Key and Bailey’s Key. If the boat isn’t there, just ring the bell and they’ll be there shortly. ~1-2 minute ride. Available 24/7 although most everything shuts down by 10 p.m.
RESORT/SETUP IN GENERAL:
Setting is tropical and beautiful. There are a number of stairs to go up (I counted ~ 40) to get to the restaurant/main bar and lobby, so if you have trouble with steps, a cabin on the hillside vs. key may save some steps going to and from meals. However, hillside rooms are closer to the main bar so they are likely a little louder on nights when there is entertainment in the bar; entertainment stops at 9-10 p.m.) Resort is very quiet during the day as most clientele are diving or snorkeling. Clientele was primarily American when we were there. Most were divers.
• ***The water is safe to drink. This included water in the room. All of the water is filtered. The water that comes out of the tap in your room is the same water served in the restaurant, bars, etc. at the resort. **Bring an empty water bottle(s) to fill up and keep rather than buying numerous bottles of water from the gift shop(s) (these are very bad for the environment and add to the trash problem).
• **You can charge most everything to your room! This includes anything bought at the snack shop, dive shop, photo shop, dive school, horseback riding, shark dive, canopy tour, drinks, etc. You sign for purchases and receive a printout and original copy of the receipt at check-out. Easy and convenient!!!**
• On Anthony’s Key, there are cabins, bathrooms, a small ice machine building; pool and pool bar; a covered shelter with picnic tables where the weekly key picnic is held and the fiesta night; shore diving building.
• The small snack shack by the dive shop sells a few wet suits, dry bags, skins, booties, fish ID books, toiletries, pop, ice cream treats, t-shirts (there is a larger selection in the gift shop), candy, bottle water, some minimal dive gear. Prices were typical for resorts (~$20 for a tshirt).
• The gift shop is larger and sells a variety of souvenirs and beachwear– beach bags, swimsuits, flip flops, jewelry, wooden and metal crafts, tshirts and jackets (look for the 50% off rack for better deals), stickers, etc. I thought the clothing prices were high ($30-42 for things not on sale; $59 for a zip up jacket). Clothing sizes run small and I found very few things larger than an XL. The staff in here wasn’t very interactive or helpful, but were polite.
• For women, it’s a good idea to bring 3 swimsuits if you’ll be diving. You’ll wear one for morning dives, might want to change into a dry one over lunch and then have one spare that might be drying overnight.
• We did not go in the photo shop, but the staff appeared friendly and helpful. The shop did not sell equipment (except for night lights, batteries, etc.).
• The resort is in the process of building a larger building which will eventually house the photo shop, snack shop, dive school, etc. all in one.
Rooms are cabins and there are several categories. There are some newer cabins (lighter color) and some older cabins. Sizes, setup and amenities varied somewhat between rooms. Some cabins have a shared deck. (Great for families or couples traveling together. If you want a private deck, specify this.) Superior rooms include air conditioning (which I would consider a must because of the humidity. It really helped dry things out.) and a mini fridge (LOVED this amenity). Standard rooms had louvered shutters and stand fans, no mini-fridge. Room safe: Large, electronic (using a code you choose): ~12” x 24”. Could easily fit a large laptop and many other items.
• Cabins on the backside of the key seem to be a little more secluded than those near the dock, but were a little farther walk. Cabins near the dock had a great view of the resort itself. Water on the mangrove side was gentler than that near the back of the key. (i.e. the ground under our cabin was rough coral and the ocean waves were bigger)
• There are no TVs or phones in the room. There is a message board by the front desk that alerts you if you have an email message, etc. If there is an emergency message, the staff will come to your cabin to tell you about it. There are two TVS in each of the bars.
• We requested and were able to have cabin #37 (used to be #39). Although we viewed and liked all of the cabins, we think this is one of the best cabins. It is large and has two decks – a large covered deck (with a small table, chairs, 2 hammocks) and a small uncovered deck (with two lounge chairs) which extends out over the water. Lots of storage. This cabin had a large main room with a desk and chair; king bed + a single bed; large sitting chair with a side table; built in corner dresser; bedside tables; ceiling fan; AC with remote; 2 lamps.
• The sink area is outside of the bathroom (I LOVE this). Hairdryer: Sunbeam 1200 watt; it was powerful enough to dry my hair, which is long and thick; a large closet with hangers; space to store luggage. There’s also room under the bed to store things. There were plenty of plug ins in the room. TIP: Always zip your suitcases up before storing to help avoid bringing any bugs home.
• Beds and pillows were comfortable. There are extra blankets in the closet.
• TIP: Turn off the “money saver” or “economy” mode on the AC; this keeps the loud compressor from kicking on so often in the night. My husband thought the AC was pretty loud. I thought it was fine and helped drown out his snoring.
• TIP: Turn the minifridge down to cold when you arrive.
• In the bathroom itself is the minifridge on a vanity base with more drawers and storage space; a water pitcher, ice bucket/tongs; a small cooler (not all rooms had this); 2 hanging racks and a ceiling fan (which was great for helping dry things out over night); garbage can.
• The only thing extra I would like to have had would be more than 1 garbage can for the cabin, but not a big deal.
• TIP: Most cabins have an alarm clock, but ours did not work. You’ll need one, so I recommend bringing one. Also, bring a flat rubber plug in case the drain stopper doesn’t work.
• There were plenty of towels (including wash cloths).
• Amenities included shampoo, bar soap and Kleenex. No hair conditioner.
• There is an outside light. Switch is right next to the entry door.
• No trouble with any bugs in our room.
• Housekeeping: Great. Always in and out while we were diving. We wanted to sleep in late one day and left a note at the front desk to ask housekeeping not to come until after 11 a.m. No problem! I prefer to leave a tip daily. We always had plenty of towels and anything else we needed. TIP: If you leave a tip in the room for housekeeping, be sure to leave a note so they know it is for them. They aren’t supposed to take cash from rooms (for obvious reasons).
• TIP: Put a towel down inside your entry door to keep sand from getting dragged into your room.
We are pretty easy to satisfy when it comes to food, but really thought this food was VERY good. And plentiful! We heard from a number of repeat guests that the food has improved greatly over the last 3 years.
• There is 1 restaurant. No reservations needed – just show up during serving hours and sit wherever you want. Casual attire.
• Last orders are taken ~15 minutes before the end of the serving hours. We did find that the closer to the end of the serving time, some things aren’t always piping hot and can be a little dry.
• Breakfast: Small buffet (usually set up ~6:30 a.m.) with fresh fruit; orange juice, sweet rolls, croissants, muffins, cold cereal, coffee, tea, hot chocolate. They have milk – just ask for it. Starting at 7 a.m. (until 10 a.m.) you can order off of the hot menu as well (Eggs, omelets, French toast; bacon, ham sausage and oatmeal. Also a Honduran breakfast (included beans, tortilla, egg, fresh cheese and avocado. Yummy). A number of people commented on how good the oatmeal was.
• Food service was quick when we were there. If you are in a hurry, just let your waiter know.
• Lunch (12-2 p.m.) and dinner (6-9 p.m) include soup, salad, dessert and a choice from two entrees. Usually a seafood/fish entrée and other meat (chicken, beef or pork) entrée. We liked everything we had. Entrees are served with 2 sides typically (rice, noodles, vegetables, potatoes, etc.) Tea, water or coffee served with lunch/dinner, although I’m sure you could ask for milk or juice too.
• Portions were large.
• The bread was surprisingly great. We loved the rolls and croissants. (My husband’s family owned a bakery, so we’re pretty picky about bread!) Real butter is available and the strawberry preserves at breakfast were very good.
• You can ask for a little of each entrée if you want.
• The Mexican buffet lunch included chicken, beef, tortillas, beans, taco “fixings” and dessert.
• The Island Fiesta night included ribs (yum) and a number of side dishes. We were dancing so much that we didn’t realize dinner ended at 8 that night and the staff was nice enough to box up a dinner for us to take back to our room.
• There aren’t a lot of vegetarian entrée options, but we did meet a girl who was a semi-vegetarian who said the staff was very accommodating in preparing her things she could eat. My husband craved a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch one day and they made it for him without any problems.
• Drinks: Beers: Cans and bottles – not draft. $2.50-$3 Corona Extra, Miller Lite, Salva Vida, Port Royal, Barena; Soda - cans $2 (Coke, Tropical, Sprite, diet coke); standard cocktails $6 (i.e. rum and coke, tequila sunrise); specialty cocktails $7(monkey la-la (which is a white Russian with cream- yum); daiquiri, etc.) Specialty drinks were made in a blender – not from a giant dispenser; virgin cocktails $3. Alcoholic drinks are 2-for-1 during happy hours. Drinks were stiff – not watered down. They seemed to have a decent selection of alcohol including some “moderate top shelf” (i.e. Absolute, Crown, Jack Daniels, Jim Beam).
• You can buy bottled water at the bars, gift shop and snack shop. (small - $1; 1Liter - $1.50; remember you can drink the tap water so try to limit the number of bottles you use.)
• The diving here was good, but visibility wasn’t great part of the week (due to rain). Although the wildlife wasn’t as prolific and there wasn’t as much “big” wildlife (i.e. rays) as Bonaire, it was still good diving. There were a great variety of beautiful fish and smaller wildlife. Lots of turtles this week.
• Dive outfit here is very organized and professional. This makes the trip “diving made easy”. Boats are large and well-maintained. The most organized dive shop we’ve worked with so far on our travels.
• You’re assigned a boat for the week and dive with the same dive master and divers during the week. This helps foster a sense of community and we really liked this. They do their best to group people of similar skill levels together.
• Dive boats with cruise ship passengers are separate and leave at different times than the regular resort divers. They’ve done a nice job with this!
• You can request a specific dive master when you register at the dive shop and they will do their best to accommodate you. There are 6 regular dive boats. Our boat had 12 people on it (+ 2 crew) and I think was the fullest of the boats. Still had plenty of room. Other boats had anywhere from 2-8 on them.
• Boats all had drinking water, a small cooler; shelves for dry bags, a large tub of fresh water for cameras and a bucket for masks.
• The day after you arrive, there’s a short orientation at the dive shop (~7:45 am). You then go to your assigned boat, set up your gear and do a short check-out dive with your dive master right in front of the docks.(weight check, clear your mask, etc.) before leaving for your first dive of the morning.
• You sign up for dives (and are assigned a dive boat) by locker number (NOT cabin number). Under your specific boat name, you write your locker number in by whichever dive(s) you want to do for the day.
• You can sign up to dive as much or as little as you want. Want to dive at 8:30 but not 10:30? No problem! Just erase yourself from the 10:30 slot if you’ve previously signed up for it. (It is also nice to let your divemaster, boat captain or someone else know if you decide not to go.)
• Full length lockers big enough to hang your wet suit, BCD (hangers provided) and store your gear. We preferred to take our wetsuits back to the room to let them dry overnight.
• There are two rinse tanks and a fresh water shower outside the dive shop.
Regular dives are at 8:30, 10:30 and 2:15. P.M. (There are several days when the morning dive leaves earlier – i.e. shark dive; morning dive before Maya Key picnic day). Night dives are Tues and Thurs.
• After the 8:30 dive you come back to the dock for ~20-30 minutes while the crew loads fresh air tanks and switches your gear over. TIP: In between dives, it’s nice to run up to the restaurant and grab some hot chocolate (by the coffee), tea or coffee.
• After the 10:30 dive, you come back and have enough time to eat lunch and take a nap!
• Nitrox available for $8 a tank for certified divers. Ask about it at the dive shop.
• Most dive sites are only 10-15 minutes or less away. It can be a chilly ride if it’s raining or cool, so a jacket or towel is a good idea.
• MY husband went on one night dive and said it was ok, but nothing extraordinary. We’ve heard the night diving from shore is better than the boat diving, but we were never able to do this. There are other close boat night dives that the dive shop will do if people sign up (they’ll tell you about this at the orientation). We didn’t meet anyone who went did one of these.
• Maya Key island picnic day: This is part of the regular dive week routine. On this day, you dive on your way to the island, stay at the island for ~1- 1 1/2 hours and have lunch, then dive on your way back. Bring dry clothes or cover up for the island, sandals, your land camera (there are some neat rescue animals and a Mayan ruin replica); bug spray; sunglasses; money for the gift shop (I’m not sure if you can charge items here to your room or not). The time on the island was a bit rushed – it would have been nice to have a little more time to relax. There is a pool and lounge chairs there. There’s a guided tour at 1, but you can easily walk around and look at everything yourself.
• In my opinion, it would have been nice to have 1 more boat crew member on our boat. There was the boat captain and dive master, but when everyone was trying to enter/exit the water, it could be a bit hectic and rough.
• TIP: Check your air tank psi and O ring before leaving the dock. We had several short fills and leaking O rings on our dive boat during the week. It saves a lot of time if you find this before leaving the dock.
• TIP: There are two ladders at the back of each boat. In rough waters, if someone is trying to get onto the ladder (out of the water) stand on the top rung for them to help weight the ladder down. (Tip courtesy of fellow diver Sandy) It was pretty rough a few days and those ladders really like to buck.
• If you have a special need (i.e. I take my weights out before getting out of the water) just let the crew know.
• If you stay longer than 1 week, you’ll be assigned to a different dive master and boat your second week.
• There is a map of all of the dive sites at the front desk of the dive shop.
• Shark dive: $100 each. Sign up for this at the dive shop. We loved it. Shark dive is ~40 minute boat ride away. Boats are larger and covered. They had drinking water on board. (I don’t know if there was a head or not.) You can ride on top of the boat. Bring a towel and/jacket for the ride back. They had a videographer and you could buy a video of the dive. You do down a tow line to get to the feeding area to keep everyone together. The dive is at ~70 feet. We’ve been on a shark dive before, but never one where you are standing on the bottom and actually get to swim with the sharks!! At some points, they were within arm’s reach. We never felt in danger, though. You’re back in time for the 10:30 regular dive.
• Canopy tour: Usually on Thurs and/or Friday afternoon (we were gone from ~1:30 – 5 p.m.). $55 each (included botanical garden tour). My husband loved it more than me – I was scared, but not as much as the first time I did it. (I think I was the only truly scared person I our group. Everyone else seemed to love it!) They provide you with a helmet and safety gear and orientation. You’re “hooked up” at all times for safety. They have a photographer who takes some pictures (not a lot though) and/or you can take your own pictures. Anything you bring with you (i.e. sunglasses, etc. you keep with you, so make sure you have somewhere to put things (i.e. a pocket that zips, etc.). I think there were 13 platforms. Pretty views. After the canopy zipline part, you’ll stop at the snack shop and you can choose to go back to your resort or go through the botanical gardens. You can opt to buy the DVD with your pictures on it ($10 per person for your pictures). We went on this and found it interesting. You go through a “bug” museum, replica of a cave, small gardens, and get to interact with small monkeys and large parrots. They call the monkeys and they’ll actually sit ON your head! They’ll sit the parrots right on your shoulders for pictures too. TIP: Don’t wear a hat with a button on top. The parrot picked it right off my husband’s hat, chewed it up and spit it out! For this tour: put on bug spray before you go; wear sturdy sandals/shoes, bring a few dollars for tips for the canopy guys; the monkey trainers, any beverages/snacks you want from the snack shop; a DVD (although I think you can charge this) and your tour guide. After the tour, a bus took us back to the resort. ~15-20 minute ride.
• The snorkeling off the west side of Bailey’s Key is great! (Site V on the map of the resort.) 1-2 minute ride by water taxi. Bring some beverages and snacks, snorkel gear, a towel and your water camera (sunglasses and bug spray are nice if you’re going to sit on the lounge chairs). Walk down the cement steps (on the west side of the key – a short walk to the opposite side of the key from the dock where they let you off) and go ~75 yards out (past all of the sea grass) until you find the coral heads. We saw arrow crabs (actually saw these right under the dock), eels, a wide variety of fish, lobsters, all kinds of COOL STUFF!! We also spent time watching the dolphins. There are bathrooms on the Key.
• Saturday is when most people are leaving and is very quiet on the resort. (Great day to go to Baileys Key to snorkel.) New arrivals start coming ~2-3.
• Kayak paddles are stored in the ice hut on the key.
• Go to the happy hours. 2-for-1 alcoholic drinks. They are a great time to meet people and learn tips about the resort and area. Also, buy a few extra beers at the end of happy hour for your room.
• We asked around, but could never find anyone who knew the name of the beautiful tree (with long root vines draping it) by the bathrooms near the restaurant (behind the lobby). If anyone finds out, please let me know.
• We found the fish ID class on Sunday night (~6 p.m. in the dive school) very interesting and learned a lot of good tips.
• TIPPING: Numerous options. Tip in cash daily/etc., tip in cash all-at-once at the end of your stay if (front desk has envelopes and you can leave a tip for specific staff) or you can even tip using your credit card (they have a list of all staff and you can note who/how much you want to tip them). There is a detailed sheet about this at the front desk. We prefer to tip in cash daily, and this worked fine for us, but many people preferred to tip at the end of the week. Personally, I think the staff appreciates being tipped daily or several times a week vs. at the end of the week, but they don’t expect it.
• Room keys and dive locker keys are regular keys/locks, not credit card type keys. We bring lanyards to keep the keys on vs. the wrist lanyards they provide. (The seemed rather big and bulky.)
• STAFF: This is the first time we’ve ever really experienced “the staff really made the vacation”, but it was true. Many staff members have been here 10, 15, even 20 years! Staff was helpful, but never intrusive. If you want to be left alone, they’ll leave you alone; if you want to chat, they are friendly and engaging. There were so many staff we came to know and enjoy, but a few specific shout-outs to: Raul, Edgar, Mandy, Timmy, Clinton, Calderon, Yolanda and Sandy who made our stay especially memorable.
• To help support the marine park and environmental programs of the area, you can buy a $10 tag or bracelet from the snack shop. They are in jars on the counter.
• The pool is not heated and can be chilly, but it is very nice. I would love to see them add a hot tub to warm up in after diving!
• The resort does have a few beach towels for use. Ask for a pool towel at the pool bar. There are some nice padded seating areas for gathering around the pool, as well as lounge chairs and chairs at the bar.
• Wi-fi/internet: Several people used it throughout the week and didn’t seem to have any problems (spotty during rain). There are two PCs in the lobby you can use for internet access (there is a fee).
• Phones: Calling to US via landline cheaper than typical resort costs. They’ll tell you prices at orientation. Cell service: I couldn’t use my USCellular service (‘no service”); Verizon users reported spotty coverage; AT&T users seemed to have very few problems and were able to “lock on” anywhere on the island/key.
• Unfortunately, a diver had a medical emergency on a dive this week and I had the chance to see management and crew in action on a first-hand basis. The situation was handled in a professional and efficient manner. Management was very responsive, hands-on and professional. Several key things I learned from this:
o PLEASE be sure to list your emergency contact information on registration and dive registration forms. It’s a mess if there isn’t anyone to contact who can make medical/legal decisions.
o If you are a diver, please join DAN and have DAN insurance for your trip.
• Several fellow divers utilized the on-site Drs. Office for decongestants and antibiotics and it seemed to be convenient and easy.
• We didn’t try the horseback riding, dolphin encounter or go through the museum this trip. Did notice that there was a sign-up sheet for horseback rides at the front desk and they were $10.
• There are usually several taxis sitting in the small gravel alleyway behind the dive shop.
• Leaving the airport: AKR makes this as easy as possible, although it’s still always brutal leaving a small airport. AKR confirms your flight before you leave (they ask for your departure flight information when you check-in). You’ll check out either the day before or morning you leave (front desk will specify) and turn in your room keys as you leave. You put your bags outside your room the morning you’re leaving (front desk will specify time) and the resort staff takes care of getting your bags to the airport on a different shuttle bus. Shuttle bus takes you to the airport (~3 hours before your flight; ~20 minute ride). At the airport, there are a number of steps/lines to go through including: pay exit fees (Tip: pay cash if you can – if you pay by cc or debit they charge it as a cash advance); check-in at airline counter (painfully slow this day; AKR rep will have your bags set aside in a group by the line; have a few bucks to tip him.); passport control; another check that you’ve paid your exit fee; security. Security has a baggage scanner and metal detector, but a lot of people (including me) were still patted down and carryons gone through by hand after screening.
• TIP: Invest in a luggage scale. A fellow passenger had a bag that was ~10# overweight and it was going to cost her $200 US in extra fees!.
• There are only 2 and they are immediately after security. Listen carefully for announcements because they sometimes make announcements in person vs. intercom and the two gates are separated by glass.
• The airport is very small and although air conditioned, it is hot and sticky. Bring something to entertain yourself and dress accordingly. There are 2 small souvenir shops (1 kiosk; 1 small shop) with a few tshirts and trinkets. The Island Gift shop (kiosk) had cheaper tshirts. There is 1 small bar with a few snack items. Prices were high ( $5 for s 1L bottle of water and small bag of M&M’s). NOTE: You cannot bring anything (including drinks you’ve bought after going through security) larger than 3.4 ounces on the plane.
All carry-ons are searched AGAIN before boarding the plane.
•Last step: Go home and plan your next trip!!!
Sorry this is so long. I like to have as much info as possible when I travel, so I hope you’ll find this information helpful. Feel free to contact me if you have other questions.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.