More about Villas At Banyan Bay
Banyan Bay is paradise in Belize
Spent Spring Break with my wife and two kids (13, 11) at Banyan Bay. For starters, we really enjoyed the flight over from Belize City on Maya Island Air (tiny plane, amazing views). Our room was perfect, with an amazing oceanfront balcony where we spent many a morning and night, looking out at the picture-perfect palm trees, full moon, stars, and gentle surf. You get a big bottle of water every day (be sure to tip the housekeepers a dollar or two each day). A full size coffee pot. And a blender for mixing up those tropical drinks. We walked about 5 minutes to Marina's convenience shop and purchased milk, butter, local rum, baked goods, eggs, etc. Made breakfast most mornings in the room (and ate on the balcony, of course). The pool is great in that there is a deep side (for adults to soak/play) and a shallow side (for kids to play or adults to wade with drinks). Lots of friendly dogs everywhere in Belize - almost as friendly as the natives. As for the beach, the seagrass varies depending on the weather. One day, I felt so sorry for the man who's job it was to rake/wheelbarrow the washed-up grass away. On other days, there was hardly any washed on the shore. There are beautiful clear sand areas that you can enjoy a ways out into the ocean. My son found a bunch of awesome pink/orange/yellow shells with his snorkel set.
Restaurants we enjoyed (via a $5 US taxi ride each way for places in town):
Rico's (at the hotel) - excellent. Try the conch seviche and the key lime pie. Elvi's Kitchen - went for the Maya buffet (but our son wasn't feeling well that day so it put a damper on things). Try the coffee - excellent. Caliente (Mexican) - my daughter had the garlic shrimp - huge shrimp on a skewer. Wish I had ordered it. Margaritas were great here. Jambal Jerk Pit - you have to try the soups; we had two and both were amazing. Key lime also good here. El Divino (walk south on the beach to adjacent hotel) - elegant service. Oregano - had a wonderful lunch on the roof. Great lunch specials - fried local fish or chicken.
YOU MUST RENT A GOLF CART (don't forget your driver's license!) for at least a day and explore the cay - we had a blast going all over (and hitting the many bumps and craters in the road). BE SURE to go to the Palapa Bar (just north of the new bridge) - a great place to stop for a cool drink.
We loved the mini golf - quite a good course for such an out of the way location.
My son and I did the snorkeling trip ($25 pp plus $10 entrance fee plus $7 for gear) to Hoi Chan and Shark/Ray Alley. He actually cradled a 5 foot nurse shark (it was gently as a baby). Saw more different fish and coral than I can remember. Be sure to at least do this excursion if you go - the reef is amazing and your trip would be incomplete without seeing it.
WARNING (and I never saw anyone else post this) - you must pay $35 US departure tax when you leave Ambergris Cay (cash only!), so make sure you plan ahead. You also pay $2.50 US pp to fund the luggage screening equipment.
Best of all are the people. Friendly and sincere. There is no crime on Ambergris Cay. If you don't have a job on the cay, you are not allowed to stay there (the locals). And the way the locals pull together is amazing. When we were there, a local boy died from diving off a pier into shallow water and hitting his head. We happened to be in town when the funeral was held, and it seemed like every soul on the cay was there. As one local told us, "We take care of each other".
Ambergris Cay in Belize is like a lost world from the past, an unspoiled destination without the formality and pretense of most other Caribbean destinations. It probably won't last forever (lots of construction) so be sure to get there before it loses its charm.
Such a great place to stay
I am so impressed by this place that I am writing a review from Banyan Bay. The two things that stick out about this place is how nice the rooms are and the staff. The rooms are huge, giving the four of us plenty of room to move around. The staff is the nicest over anywhere I have ever stayed state side or international. When you walk around and see some of the resorts that have nice pictures on-line, but once you get here are a total dump, you are relieved that you are staying in the best resort on the island. The only negative aspect of this resort is the prices at Rico's. The food is terribly over priced. We turned it into a game to find the best value in town. The three best places to eat on the island is Carumba's, Amberyis Cafe, and Monkey Bites. Great value and excellent food. If your paying more than $15 American dollars for a plate besides lobster, then you are getting ripped off and there are plenty of places that love your money. The best tour is with Seaductive on their catamaran. It's 65 dollars for eight hours of sailing, snorkeling, and drinking. Have fun!!! If you have any questions shoot me an email.
Loved Coral Reef Vilas
Managers were excellent, very friendly, helpful and professional.The staff was friendly and very helpful. The rooms were beautiful, comfortable and clean, waterfront to beach and sand, golf carts and bicycles for transportation, near to everything in San Pedro.
Banyan Bay is top notch!
We just returned from a week at Banyan Bay with our two adult children and found it to exceed our expecations. The condo was spacious and fully equipped and the grounds meticulously maintained. We found all of the staff friendly and helpful. Enjoyed having internet access in the lobby, too. The beach and pool were some of the nicest on the island based on others that we saw. Ample lounge chairs with pads were available on the beach and by the pool. Seaweed does come in on the beach most mornings but the staff is there clearing it away before breakfast.
We went to dive but couldn't the first couple of days as the seas were too big for our comfort but that gave us a chance to really kick back, relax and explore the island. We did get in some fantastic diving using "Bottom Time" through the on site Dive Shop and found them to be friendly and professional dive masters. Highly recommend Tanisha Tours with Daniel Nunez for any and all Eco trips.
Only thing missing - Banyan Bay is advertised as a "family" resort and do not have a pool or beach bar that we kind of missed but there were plenty of other places along the beach so not really a problem and it did make a great place for families with kids.
We would definetely stay again at Banyan Bay as it is certainly one of the nicest on Ambergris Cay.
Perfect for families toddlers
We just returned from Banyan Bay, and as I used Tripadvisor to book, I felt compelled to write to help others in their travels. We kept saying "this is ridiculous", it was exactly what we where searching for in a vacation with our 18 month old daughter. We stayed at a beachfront condo, that was true to it's descriptor...beachfront! Each time our daughter took a nap, which she did frequently from all the swimming, we were able to roam the beach, swim and go to the restaurant. Note, if you have little ones, I would take an upstairs unit as the porch is enclosed, bottom units are open, making it difficult to contain a toddler. We also used the childcare offer (thanks Ester!), she was fantastic and we never fretted about her. The beaches are shallow and have issues with grass and seaweed coming constantly on shore, but the staff were diligently raking to clear a clean path to swim in. Normally, I'm not into sand raking resorts, but this was necessary as the other resorts were piled high with grass, making the beaches usable.
We took the Blue Hole snorkel trip which was great. Some other highlights were:
Lunch at Victorian Inn, Palapa Bar for World Cup, Capricorn at Sunset...Too Avoid: Chicken Drop (pretty trashy), Rico's for dinner, Timeshare sales people! If you don't like big resorts and are ok with some minor building flaws and lots american travellers (mainly from Houston with direct flights), we highly recommend!
Relaxing and politely restrained
Banyan Bay is the best place to stay in San Pedro -- fully air conditioned, rather new, large, quiet, lovely pool and lobby, suites are easy on the eyes. Staff is wonderful. Can't beat the jacuzzi-for-two in the master bath. In addition, there is a tub/shower combo in the second bathroom. Only thing lacking is a fitness center, and there seems to be only one on the entire island -- a week's membership is reasonable in cost, and the workout facilities are more than adequate, so no matter where you stay you can fit in your workout. I'm not crazy about the menu in the restaurant, but I didn't come to Amergris for the food (which isn't bad, it's just not great). I met a lot of friendly tourists (and locals) and had the opportunity to spy out several rooms in San-Pedro-area resorts -- When I return to Ambergris, I'm staying in Banyan Bay. Banyan Bay is not heaven, but this is a third-world country after all.
Banyan Bay is a wonderful place to make your base during your stay in San Pedro. The condos are mostly timeshares and the one we were in was delightful. Clean, modern, everything worked. It would have been nice to have access to the owner's clothes dryer (which was locked in a storage room) as it is quite humid and things take forever to dry. The staff bent over backwards to fill our requests, yet were very discreet and efficient in their duties. The very good restaurant was right outside on the beach, dive shop right next to that. Everything was close and if you didn't want to walk into town for a meal you didn't have to. I liked that BB is not right in town. It was quiet and away from the partying places, so if that's what you're after you may not like it.
I will definitely return to Banyan Bay.
Better than expected- by faaaaar
Rarely does a hotel exceed my expectations from thier website. But, Banyans Bays photos online do not to them justice!! The garden has grown in since the photos were taken. After spending 6 days on Ambergris Caye I concluded that Banyan Bay has by far the best swimming beach, you can actually swim as opposed to the rest of the island. The restaraunt served succulent lobster dinners and yummy breakfasts. The rooms were spacious, cool, and very clean. There is a dive/snorkel shop that also books trips onsite- all the prices were comparable to in town. I was armed with bug stuff but didnt find mosquitos or sand fleas to be a problem ( more than a few bites) . I had such a wonderful experience there and it is an insanely good deal, so I decided to write this review. I was uneasy before I went and left beyond satisfied. I wouldn't call the place a Hyatt (not quite luxury), but its a lovely place. Two thumbs up!
Recommend Banyan Bay Villas
We spent a week over Christmas at the Villas at Banyon Bay in Ambergris Caye and found it to be a great place to stay with the family - our kids are 24 & 27 but there were plenty of really young children there (the majority of the families). The grounds are impeccable and the staff is very friendly and helpful. Each "villa" is different as all are individually owned - ours had been re-done and was great. It was nice having the amenities of a hotel (restaurant, etc) while having the flexability of a home. Can't rave about the restaurant but good enough for breakfast and lunch. We were there to scuba dive all week and would definitely stay there again. - it is also a convenient location south of town but possible to walk to town on the beach. We had a golf cart, which I would also suggest.
Jambel Jerk Pit... much bigger than this