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Home > Destinations > Belize > Trip Reports > Trip Report

Belize - Trip Reports

Belize & the Yucatan - 2 week road trip through the Yucatan and Belize

This is a report of a memorable 2 week road trip through the Yucatan and Belize in a rental car in January 2001. Temperature was in the 80's with high humidity and occasional rain, at one time, torrential. Fairly cool evening temps in the mountain regions of Belize. I've included comments about places at which the three of us (adults) stayed and ate. Reservations for some hotels were made via the Internet, for others we just inquired off the street. Per person cost was about US$800, excluding food, airfare, and gasoline. Lodgings ranged in price from US$20 pp (per person) in a modest Playa Del Carmen, MX hotel to US$150 pp in a luxury resort in the interior of Belize.

We flew in and out of Cancun and our plan was to explore by rental car the southern Yucatan coastal region of Xcalak, MX and Mahahual, MX, the Cayo District of Belize near the Guatemalan border; and to do some scuba diving near Xcalak and on Caye Caulker, BZE. This was not my first trip to Belize having stayed near the Turneffe Atoll 5 years ago. Given the road conditions and the real possiblity of car theft, our objective was also to return our rental car intact - thus our constant lookout for safe parking - we also followed advice and never left items in the car in plain view. We took Chloroquin to prevent malaria and used 100% DEET throughout our trip.

Car rental: arranged by Juan Ojeda
None of the major car rental agencies will allow you to take rentals outside of Mexico, but Juan's contact in Cancun allow a legal waiver of this stipulation. We rented a Nissan Tsuru for about US$480 a week. Purchase Belize liability insurance at the border (US$15 for a week) and have repellent sprayed under car also at border (US$4) to enter Belize.

Downtown Cancun: Suites Alborada
US$30 pp - much cheaper than what you'll find in the Hotel Zone - we just wanted a clean, quiet hotel room to recover from our flight before we started the drive south. Ceiling fans and AC. Great, cheap food at El Café in front. Reservations made via the Internet.

Xcalak: 4 nights, Sandwood Villas
Like going home to your parents, comfortable 2-bedroom suites with ceiling fans and kitchenette, the friendly owners from Minnesota have a lot of information about the area. Supposedly great snorkeling right in front. Good times in the evenings at their Palapa Restaurant. Best to have 4WD, though we made it in our 2WD. About US$40 pp. Reservations made via the Internet.

Diving arranged through XTC (Xcalak to Chinchorro) Diving. Unfortunately northern winds at 30-40 mph made for rough seas and difficulty climbing back onto the boat from the side. New, fast dive boat due to arrive in April.

Chetumal: 2 nts, a week apart, Hotel Los Cocos
US$25 pp, gated parking area, pool, ceiling fans and AC, great food at their adjoining restaurant. We didn't make advance reservations. Chetumal is a true Mexican city with businesses that cater to its residents and Belizeans. It doesn't have the tourists of Cancun and as such you won't get pestered with street vendors and timeshare sellers. There is a very informative Mayan Museum just down the street from the hotel. In the evening the birds in the trees down by the Bay were delightful. We enjoyed a nice meal at Sergio's Pizza.

Bermudian Landing, BZE: Young's Nature Resort near the Baboon Sanctuary (tel. 0212181)
Called from Corozal, BZE and made arrangements to arrive 2 hours later. After leaving Northern Highway, road near Burrell Boom is in the process of being repaired from Hurricane Keith damage in Oct 2000 – almost thought we'd have to turn back. We woke up to the howling of monkeys in the forests near these spartan cabanas (cold water only) with ceiling fans. About $40 pp includes meals. 77 year old Alvin Young led us on a morning tour to see one of the nearby howler monkey families who came down from the trees to be fed favorite leaves. Stopped at the friendly Hill Top Farm Winery in Burrell Boom for fruit wine tasting on the road out of Bermudian Landing. Bought a bottle of cashew wine!

San Ignacio, BZE: Green Heaven Lodge
Built by a couple from Monaco (!), the lodge of cabanas is a labor of love, there is a pool and a restaurant that serves delicious French/Belize food. $30 pp. Ceiling fans. Didn't make advance reservations here either.

Mountain Pine Ridge, BZE: 2 nts, Blancaneaux
After leaving the Western Highway, it took us more than an hour over a potholed road to reach this resort next to its own airplane runway. On the way, we visited the Garcia sisters in San Antonio who create and sell interesting Mayan slate carvings at their home/studio/museum. We enjoyed talking with them and purchased a necklace with a carved diving god. Put on the DEET! A definite splurge at US$375 per 2-bdrm villa (includes breakfast), this is Francis Ford Coppola's resort in the interior Cayo district. Romantic, quiet, beautiful, great staff - you'll feel like you're at a California wine country resort. There are less expensive cabanas available, too. There are ceiling fans, though it was actually quite cool in January. Best to have 4WD especially in the rainy season (June-Nov). Especially enjoyed the horseback ride and hike down to Big Falls and the fascinating tour of the Mayan ruins at Caracol during which, as we strolled the grounds, guide Elmo Richards shared his extensive knowledge of Mayan medicine derived from native plants. Reservations made via the Internet.

Caye Caulker, BZE: 2 nts, Anchorage Resort
We flew to this Caye on Tropic Air from the Belize City municipal airport, not to be confused with the International airport, making arrangements with someone from Tropic Air to park our car within the airport fenced-in area, which has a night watchman. Again, use lots of DEET on Caulker. (You know you're in trouble when the office gives you tablets to insert in this gizmo that releases vapors to deter sand-flies from entering under the door whenever the air outside is still!) The resort has really simple US$45 rooms with ceiling fans and is close to the airport and thus requires a 10 minute stroll on sandy streets to the center of the village. Honestly don't know why people think highly of this place, unless other options on the caye are less appealing. The cabanas at Tropical Paradise looked like a better option, but it was next to the cemetery. Good breakfast at Sea Beezzz and dinner at Tropical Paradise. Reservation made with a helpful Blancaneaux' front desk clerk.

Belize Diving Services' boats picked us up at the Anchorage's pier. Excellent, friendly operation owned by 2 women from the U.S. We did a wreck dive in the A.M., had lunch at Fidos on nearby Ambergris Caye, then dove outside the reef in the P.M., stopping at Shark Alley on the way back for snorkeling among the numerous nurse sharks and manta rays. We had a tremendous rain storm on our second day which cancelled the scheduled day's dive.

Belize City: Fort Street Restaurant
Highly recommended in guidebooks and it lived up to reputation. If you dine outside at night, put on lots of DEET.

Playa Del Carmen: Maya Bric
US$42 rooms on the main drag of Ave. 5 which is closed to traffic between 6 PM - midnight, secure parking within walled compound, ceiling fans and some with AC, a block away from the ocean. Rooms can be noisy with nearby music entertainment. Didn't make reservations here either.

Thanks to Thann for this trip report ...
February 2001

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