Sweet Endings

All good things must come to an end and vacations are no different. We spent our last day in Belize exploring the famous island of Ambergris Caye. Madonna sung about this place back in the 80s with her hit, “La Isla Bonita.” Her music video was not filmed on the island, as there are no buildings over three stories. Still, the song put this place on the map for those of us who grew up in the Madonna era.

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Water taxi to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

Ambergris, or San Pedro as the locals call it, referring to the primary city, is a 30 minute water taxi ride from Caye Caulker. We made the trip with our new friend Rachel. We knew that if Rachel was along, it would be a good time!

After checking out the central tourist area of San Pedro, we rented a golf cart and began our exploration in earnest. Rachel drove and Steve and I enjoyed the views and Belikins. We explored the one road south and one road north and the entire journey took us three hours. In that time we also stopped for lunch at a burger joint out in the middle of nowhere.

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Rachel and Steve

Ambergris is dotted with resorts of all levels–luxury to affordable and nightly to monthly rentals. The island offers the closest access to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and the barrier reef, so it’s a popular destination for divers and snorkelers.

After a nice afternoon on La Isla Bonita, we took the water taxi back to Caye Caulker and decided we preferred the slower pace of our island over the “hustle and bustle” of San Pedro. We finished off our final day in Belize with a group dinner and said goodbye to our traveling companions.

There are two options for getting on and off of Caye Caulker. We took the water taxi, option one, from Belize City to get to the island earlier in the week. We took the other option, a quick flight, back to Belize City for our return.

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Waiting area at the airport

The advantage of flying out of Caye Caulker is that the flight arrives directly at the airport, saving time and the hassle of negotiating a taxi and drive in the city. For about $80 a piece, we were two of twelve passengers on the 9:10am Tropic Air flight. Below you’ll see pictures of the airport in Caye Caulker, the baggage claim, and the gorgeous Caribbean views during the 10 minute flight.

It was tough to leave the peace and quiet of Caye Caulker and Belize. We experienced a wide variety of places, people, and activities, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to explore this tropical region. Hope you enjoyed following our journey!

 

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Go Slow

Happy New Year!

The motto on Caye Caulker is “go slow,” so we did. This place is so laid back that it’s hard to do anything but. After a great breakfast at Glenda’s, which is in Glenda’s house on Back Street (cinnamon roll comes with every meal!), we wandered through the neighborhood at the south end of the island.

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Glenda’s menu

The better cabanas and guest houses are in this area. We’re staying in the center of all the activity and our place is once again basic. Rooms at our hotel run $30 a night, even in the high season. If we return to Caye Caulker, we’ll splurge on something in the south end. While we’ve been satisfied with our mostly adequate accommodations throughout this trip, I told Steve the next trip will have a little more luxury.

We spent the rest of our day swimming and lounging at the Split where the music blares and the beer flows. The Split was the scene of the New Years Eve party last night, as well as the hangover recovery site for many today. Luckily, we were feeling great and enjoyed the scene. We also spent some time reading, relaxing, and enjoying the view from one of the island’s many piers.

We finished a great day with another group dinner, this time at Wish Willy’s. The restaurant is in this guy’s backyard and for one price you get all you can eat fish, pork, chicken, and lobster. Oh, and rum punch is included too. All for about $17 per person.

One more ore full day to go. We’ll make the most of it.

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New Years Eve on the Island

We ushered in the New Year with a full day of island activities. The highlight was a day long snorkeling excursion to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, which is part of the world’s second largest barrier reef.

The trip was included with our G Adventures tour and was booked through Ragamuffin Tours. Our 30 foot sailboat took us into the Caribbean for about an hour through a windy rainstorm. The good news is that the rain and the water itself is very warm. Once we arrived at our first snorkel location, Stingray and Shark Alley, we jumped in the water and swam with the big rays and nurse sharks. The tour operators feed them, so it’s a bit contrived, but it was still cool to get that close to what are said to be harmless creatures.

Our second stop was a large conch shell reef that was home to hundreds of colorful fish. Following that stop we were served lunch on the boat while the sun peeked through the clouds. The weather was not ideal, but that didn’t really matter. After lunch we moved to the Hol Chan channel which was a sea route for the ancient Mayans. It’s a break in the reef where we saw sea turtles, green moray eels, sharks, rays, and hundreds of varieties of fish. Made us want to get a saltwater aquarium.

The return trip was under sail while we enjoyed rum punch and shrimp ceviche. What a great way to finish the day! We didn’t get any underwater shots but there are a few photos of our sail back. Captain Vito was awesome!

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The captains!

After a nice nap and shower our group went out for dinner and then moved to The Split for the New Years celebration. The Split is the north end of the island, where the Lazy Lizard bar serves up music, drink, and last night, a big fireworks display. It seemed everyone on the island was there, either on the dock, in the water, on a boat, or on the dance floor. It wasn’t Copacabana big, like we experienced in Rio, but it’s the Belizean equivalent. Even CNN says so: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/TRAVEL/12/2 9/new.years.around.world/

Of course we were back in our room by 12:30, but the rest of our group partied until the wee hours. We’ve got just two days left on this adventure. More to come!

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