My mother in law is from Belize City and my husband has been traveling to Belize since he was a little boy. A few years ago, he took a tour with David's Adventure Tours out of San Ignacio and had a good experience, so we went with David again on our trip last March. It was horrible!
1. He charged us $40BZ to drive us to Xuntantunich and drop us off. This was a 10 minute drive and it was only when we took a taxi back for $5BZ that we realized we had been ripped off.
2. I wish we had never used him for our trip to Tikal. We paid up front and agreed to meet our guide, "Pastor," at 6am the next day. When we showed up, he was beyond drunk and kept pestering us for more money. When we got to the Guatemalan border, the customs agent yelled at him for being so drunk and taking advantage of tourists. He opted to get a cheaper, Spanish-speaking guide at Tikal and translate for us so he could keep more of the money we paid. He was too drunk to translate, though, so we ended up communicating with the guide ourselves with the little Spanish we knew. The entire trip was horrible and he kept yelling at us to give him more money. I posted a photo of David's on flickr.com and noted it was horrible and got an email from a woman who had a similar experience in April of 2009. She said David was just as drunk as Pastor when she used him for a tour. AVOID AT ALL COSTS!!!
Fun Alternatives: We had much better experiences with guides we met through the Casa Blanca guest house in San Ignacio. John Chuc was a great guide who took us to Barton's Creek.
Don't go there! If you enjoy the cruiseship-resorty tourists, then Ambergris Caye might be for you, but for those of you who prefer to emerse yourself into the true culture of a country and you want an island - opt for Caye Caulker.
Fun Alternatives: Caye Caulker is amazing, simply put. 5 feet off the water-taxi, I was able to grab several skewers of fresh-grilled shrimp for next to nothing. The people here are incredible - laid back and in no hurry. Matter of fact, cars aren't even allowed on the island.
DO NOT shop at the large markets. Buy you snacks at the tiny individual marketplaces. The large shop in town that most taxis take you directly to does not have any prices on the merchandise and they charge what they want. Usually twice the price of the smaller street shops.
Fun Alternatives: Use the small street shops. Same products with local fruits at lower prices. The Cayes can be expensive if you let it.
Not worth spending more than 1 day the capital. We found it, a bit characterless and prefered the smaller villiages and towns.
Unique Suggestions: Spend a few hours at Belize Zoo, a bit expensive, but look at it as contributing towards the animals upkeep. I think a ticket was B$15 for an adult. Kids will love it as there are lots of little educational tips and notes around the zoo.
...but not the drinking one: I bought denaturalized alcohol for the primer of my MSR stove (so it works cleaner,you know) twice, at a hardware store and at a drugstore in Belize City, and BOTH resulted mixed with water or, all in all, non flammable, hence useless for the intended purpose.
Unique Suggestions: Try to find methyl alcohol at hardware stores (hard to find by 1997), or bring flammable methyl or denaturalized alcohol from Mexico or Guatemala.
Fun Alternatives: The alternative? Priming the MSR's generator tube with gasoline. MSR users want to avoid excessive soling, so cleaning the cup daily is the only alternative (Mexican fuel was always pretty dirty and full of residues). Bear in mind that white gas is unavailable in Belize and Guatemala, and very hard to find in Mexico (there, I bought it from a jeweller's store in 1997, and from a pharmacy in 2000, and at a price 10X more expensive than in Chile)
When you get package deals, make sure you know exactly who is providing what service. Also confirm you are dealing with the company you think is providing your prepaid service. There were several instances where local hotel staff would direct people to an alternative service and lead you to believe it was whom your prepaid stuff was through. By the time some people realized what happened it was too late to take advantage of their prepaid service.
Watch out for the people who have a sob story for you-it is probably not true. When taking a taxi from the airport know what the taxi fare is (i believe it to be about 30)they like to rip you off. Won't really have to much trouble with this.
Taxi drivers can be really bad for your health. Living here for six months taught me that not everybody is genuinely friendly. Some have been known to take you round the corner for their friends to join you and remove the contents of your pocket.
Ask around before taking a Goff Caye snorkeling trip. There are cruise ships stopping at Goff Caye now and if you go on a day that a cruise ship is there it'll be you and 200 cruisers on a 100 yard long island.
Don't even think about staying in Belize City unless you ablsoluetly have to. It's a dump and there appears to be nothing to see. There is a place opposite the city from the airport that is near the Jaguar Park that is much nicer,but I can't seem to remember the name. Run by americans seemed real nice even though we only stopped to eat.
Belize City is the only major airport, so you have to fly into Belize City. I would not reccomend staying there any longer than necessary. The city has a high crime rate & there is really no reason to stay there.
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Negroman Road, San Ignacio, Belize
Good for: Business
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