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Ambergris Caye - Trip Planning Info?

Discussion in 'Belize' started by Jim-SAR, Aug 28, 2013.

  1. Jim-SAR

    Jim-SAR Public Safety Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Kenosha, WI
    I will be traveling to Abergris Caye next year in June, and I'm trying to gain as much info as I can about the island and what to do there. Diving is obviously an activity that will be done. Hell, I'd be happy with just diving and then relaxing with a few drinks for the whole week, but it's a large family group, so they'll need other activities. There will be 6-8 adults, 4-6 teenagers, and my 7 year old grandson (11-15 people total). Our current plan is to rent a house for a week, staying at either, the Blue Dolphin, or at Casa Blanca further North. My vote is for the Blue Dolphin, since it has a fresh water pool for the kids, and they'll be easier to keep track of in the evenings.

    From reading other threads in the Belize forum, I've learned that Island Divers and Amigos Del Mar are some good dive shops to use, but I'm open to other suggestions. Since we'll be further north of San Pedro along the coast, does this affect our options for dive operators? Will the shops provide a shuttle service to/from the dive shop, or are we on our own for that? What about gear storage during the week? If it's available, is it safe/secure? Is shore diving an option?

    Can the water be trusted, or do we need to purchase the bottled water as I've read about in other threads?

    Any "must see" dive sites other than the Great Blue Hole? I'm the only diver in our group that's beyond OW, so I'm not sure that the GBH is good choice for us. I really don't have any desire to dive the GBH either, since I'm not Tec/Cave certified to enjoy the cave. I read that Hol Chan is a good snorkeling site (for my Grandson), but not sure if you can dive there.

    Are there any SB members on here that are locals/operators in Ambergris Caye?

    Thanks in advance :cool2:
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 30, 2013
  2. Rescue Diver68

    Rescue Diver68 PADI Pro

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: NJ
    Dive sites- The Elbow. Also a night dive at Hol Chan is very very worth it. We used Amigos del Mar and stayed at a hotel I would not recommend, not on your list.
    Try to book a three tank safari to the Blue Hole which goes to Lighthouse Caye for two dives. Those dives are incredible.
  3. Jim-SAR

    Jim-SAR Public Safety Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Kenosha, WI
    Thanks for the info :cheers:
  4. DeputyDan

    DeputyDan Great White

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: North Carolina
    We stayed at the Blue Tang Inn in May and dove with Chuck & Robbie's.
    The Inn provided drinking water in big bottles with the advice not to drink the tap water.

    Chuck & Robbie's picked up diver's on several occasions at piers both north and south of their locale - I would assume that other operators would do the same. You would just need to make the appropriate arrangements.

    You will probably need to rent a golf cart.
  5. driftwood

    driftwood Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Central Texas
    We stayed at Paradise Villas and were very happy with it. Nice condos at the north end of town and within walking distance of most places. The property is managed by two (2) different companies so be sure to check with both of them. If you stay on the north end of the island, you will need 3-4 golf cars to get everyone around. Ask the property management company if they can work a bulk rate for the charge to cross the bridge from San Pedro to the north end of AC.

    Yeah, go with bottled water. We "rented" a 20L jug and broke it down as needed. 4 of us went through 40L in a week. It will save you tons of money over buying individual bottles.

    Definitely take one of the snorkel tours to Hol Chan. If you want to make a person a diver, I haven't seen a better place to do it. Some of the tours also include a trip to Caulker's Caye. More rustic than San Pedro and worth the ride.

    For snacks and stuff, we liked the Lebanese run grocery stores over the locally owned ones. Cleaner, better selection and service.

    I assume that you will be flying to AC from BC. Keep close tabs on your luggage tickets. Yes they really do check at both ends.
  6. tphelps

    tphelps Course Director

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: San Francisco, CA
    I just came back from Ambergris Caye 3 weeks ago. I did all of the logistics getting to and from San Pedro, let me know if you have any questions! We went to Mexico for a few days to do some cave diving and whale sharking first before making it across the border.

    If you are in San Pedro, definitely check out Belize Pro Dive Center! Belize Pro Dive Center | Belize Scuba Diving & Snorkeling | PADI Courses
    I have been diving all over the world man, these guys are one in a million. It is impossible not to have fun with these guys! All the staff and instructors are super knowledgeable and friendly. If you don't believe me, check them out on Trip Advisor. They have great reviews too.

    Your best bet is to get a place that is near your dive center. Like I said we went to BPDC and stayed at Belize Hutz. It is decent accommodations at an awesome price. I share a room with 3 other friends, we ended up paying $20 US a night for a quad! Dive shops will most likely NOT do a shuttle service. You can rent golf cards for like $75 US a day or get a taxi for $5 US each time. I was able to store my gear at BPDC, other operators should let you do that too.

    Ambergris Caye is a barrier reef so all the diving is from boats, there isn't any shore diving. Do not drink the tap water, definitely get bottled water!
    The Blue Hole itself is one of those sites that you do just to say you have done. I was with some other instructors/trimix divers so we did a decompression dive to 160fsw at the Blue Hole. Other OW divers can get by with 130 feet or so towards the top of the stalagmites (there is no cave). We saw 1 bull shark and 2 black tip reef sharks at the Hole, very cool! Like I said the Blue Hole is one of those site but the TRIP is a 100% a must do! On our trip we did the Blue Hole then took a ride over to Half Moon Caye, gorgeous white sand beaches, pristine water. We had our lunch there after checking out the red footed booby bird sanctuary. Our next dive was at Half Moon Caye Wall, it is a gorgeous dive site with some reef sharks and turtles! Captain said he saw a manta swim past the boat while we were out. Our last dive on the trip was at Aquarium, there were SO many fish! Another awesome dive! It is an expensive trip, because fuel is so expensive down there but well worth it! You gotta do it man!

    Hol Chan (aka the reserve) is also worth it. The day before we got there, our friends saw some manatees on their dive at Hol Chan. Those guys are a little rarer. You can dive outside of the reserve, lots of eagle rays. Or you can snorkel inside the reserve, lots of nurse sharks and turtles. That is one the whole family will enjoy!

    This one is from a shark chum dive called Esmeralda, it was awesome! G0442327.jpg
    These are all from the Blue Hole Trip DSC_0397.jpg G0091109.jpg G0451356.jpg G0521372.jpg
    Lots of spurr and groves in Belize too G0381886.jpg

    And I agree with RescueDiver68, we did a night dive at Hol Chan and it was awesome!

    Definitely check out Belize Pro Dive Center. Let me know if you have any questions! You're going to love Belize! :)
  7. jlevine

    jlevine Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southern California
    Ecologic Divers and Chuck & Robbie's are both great. I can't speak for Chuck & Robbie's, but Ecologic lets you store your gear. I took my mask, booties, and dive computer with me each night. Everything else I left there. I can't see gear storage being a problem. Just ask the dive shop beforehand.

    In terms of lodging, I stayed at Paradise Villas. It's a nice resort and very quiet and convenient at the north end of "downtown." You could get two, three or four units. But, yes, I see why a house would be good. I do have one observation about your lodging. From what I can see from your lodging web sites, both locations are about four miles north. Please double check to make sure you have a way to get to the dive shop of your choice. There is at least one shop (whose name escapes me right now) that is north of the bridge and a little closer to where you are. I know some of the shops will pick up outside of town but I don't know how far they will go. It sounds like you have it worked out but I would double check before booking. Again, make sure you want to be that far north.

    In terms of water, yes, go with bottled. As far as food supplies, there are many markets in town but again, think about your location and logistics. In terms of Lebanese vs. Local, I'm not clear on which ones were visited but Richie's (at the roundabout by near the Blue Tang) and Superbuy (on Back Street or whatever it's called now) have great selections. The Lebanese markets are very good as well. Keep in mind that many members of the Lebanese community have Belizean nationality now. Just semantics.

    Have a great trip!
  8. Ironmike515

    Ironmike515 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Edmonton
    I'm headed there in November. I've been recommended to use Chuck & Robbie's. Any good feed back from anyone thats used them ?
  9. Shiva dog

    Shiva dog Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Colorado
    +1 on Chuck and Robbie's. I dove with them for a week last winter, and really had a good experience.
    They have a smaller operation, no cattle boat, so you get much more contact with the dive guides. They teach if you want to learn, rather than just bringing you along for the money.
    Equipment was solid. Good site selection, never crowded with other groups.
    Really, nothing but good things to say about every aspect of their operation.
    Dont miss Caroline's for lunch when in San Pedro. As good as the diving.
  10. Ironmike515

    Ironmike515 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Edmonton
    Thanks for the feed back. Looking forward to the trip and I will give Caroline's a shot too. :wink:

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