"The Review of San Pedro I Wish I Had Before Going" San Pedro by DeepOnTheReef
San Pedro Travel Guide: 74 reviews and 190 photos
I traveled to Belize in October 2011 with a buddy on a dive trip and would like to offer a straight forward, no BS travel guide for your review and knowledge. Currency. The American Greenback is accepted everywhere, but they will give you change in local currency. At the time of this review the exchange rate is 2 for 1 so if something is $20 Belize, it is $10 US. It has been recommended before you leave, find some American tourists who have more time on the island and exchange as much Belizean currency for Greenback as you can before you leaving the country. When tipping a $5 US bill is a HUGE deal since the average person here makes $5 an hour (Belize) so bring a band of $5?s and you will be all set for any tipping that you do.
Travel? When you read other travel reviews from people that say ?get out of Belize City as fast as you can and get to San Pedro?? PAY ATTENTION they know what they are talking about. My dive buddy and I didn?t heed that warning because we wanted to ?see it all?. Belize City has rampant unemployment, horrible slums, boarded up buildings, massive crime and is in general a very dirty, unsavory place. When your international flight lands? clear customs and get on a Tropic Air plane and get to San Pedro as fast as you can. The difference between this island and the mainland is day and night? San Pedro is bustling with and warm and friendly faces and activity that goes on well into the morning hours.
?of course just like any of the islands I have visited, some of those warm friendly faces have ulterior motives as they have learned from years of experience how to ?milk the tourist?. Everyone wants to ?show you how to get there? or has something to sell? local food, carved sea creatures, fish, lobster and a variety of adult recreational activities. Everyone claims to be able to ?give you the best deal? and ?best in San Pedro? but please BUYER BEWARE? set the price and see what you are getting BEFORE you give them money. Some new friends we have met here near the end of their week have been ?had? a few times and gave us the wisdom before we had to learn it the hard way, like they did. If you ask for a ?sample? of whatever you are trying to buy they will give you a sample out of one source and sell you something completely different, make sure your ?sample? is from the same package you are buying because here ?bait and switch? is the norm. When you hear someone calling out for you with ?hey buddy? the best thing to do is to pretend you didn?t hear them because if you stop you are going to be delayed and propositioned for one thing or another. Since you are on vacation isn?t this the last thing you want to put up with? If you are going to buy something from a street vendor, ask them their price and then simply tell them up front what you are willing to pay for the item.
Transportation? when here the main mode of transportation is golf cart? yes, golf cart. Recommend Monchos Golf Cart right next to the air strip so very easy to get to once you have landed. If you are staying outside of town any regular golf cart will do but would pay extra to get a newer one that has not been beat up yet. The paved roads have large speed humps to keep the few cars that drive here (mostly taxi?s) at manageable speeds but a byproduct is that some vacationers will hit those humps at high speed when not paying attention in their golf cart (guilty as charged). Over time it takes its toll on the golf carts thus getting the newest one you can get will turn out to be beneficial. Another VERY important note is to bring tie straps for securing your luggage in the golf cart. We have heard several stories how tourists will drop a suitcase off the back of the golf cart on their way to the villa or hotel and not know it is gone until they get to their destination. Of course when they go back it is gone and will never see it again, this could be a very expensive mistake that can be avoided with an inexpensive bungee cord.
Navigation? There are three main roads in San Pedro, Beach Street, Middle Road and Lagoon Road. This is very complicated and hard to figure out for people new to the island. The secret is? the Beach Street is closest to the beach on the east, Middle Road runs down the middle and yep, you guessed it? Lagoon Road runs along the west side of the island along the lagoon.
Lodging? My dive buddy and I took the deep plunge and stayed in a high cost, extremely nice Casa 2.5 miles south of town that was advertised as 1.5 miles from town. That extra mile is the hardest part of the trip and with any Real Estate it is location, location Advantages privacy, space, dock, and the ability to have guests overnight if you were so lucky to be able to do so. The dock is hugely important as the dive shop has picked us up at the end of our dock for every dive that we have done. The further you go out of town (north or south) the more privacy you get, but the longer it takes to get into town for anything. If I ever come back would lean more towards staying in town where walking to anything you would like to do is easily done. Another downside of being outside of town are the mosquitoes that come out of the Mangroves. They are nasty and had 6 of them on my leg at one time after bring outside near the Mangroves for less than 30 seconds. This is not a problem in town as there are no Mangroves and mosquitos do not travel very far from their origination. Another rethinking moment as to where to stay came after getting caught in one of Belize?s rain storms while driving the golf cart with no sides on it. When the rain is blowing horizontal and from the side with no protection, you are dryer after jumping into the pool. On the down side of staying in town, our new best friend and dive buddy Canadian Dave is not allowed to have overnight guests in his hotel/suite so if you might have the opportunity to have an overnight companion while here, check the rules of the hotel before you book.
Internet? Many of the hotels, suites and villas here advertise ?free high speed internet?? hopefully you don?t have any large files to download. The best speeds I have encountered here are .58 download and .25 upload so the term ?high speed? is subject to one?s own interpretation.
Food and water? I went to one of the local markets and purchased some food to make in the villa. One of the basics I purchased was a box of pancake mix. As I was pouring it into the bowl to start mixing it this morning I noticed a black speck in the mix? and then it starting moving. On closer inspection he was not the only one, a few hundred of his friends were in the box as well. We were also told not to ?go to the markets with automatic doors as the prices are twice as much than the other markets?. Not sure how much more cooking I am going to attempt while here but will update this as the week progresses. The tap water is good and safe so no reason to fear as if you were going on a trip to Mexico. First and foremost?when in Rome, do as the Romans do. There are no McDonalds, Burger King or any other chain restaurants here but the island does offer a large variety of ?fast food?. Residents will have stands where they will sell food such as tacos, burritos or red beans and rice. Every place we have stopped at has had awesome food at local prices. Being from the states sanitation was an initial concern of mine but have had no issues after eating at several of them. While I am on the food topic there are several restaurants that stand out as having very good food, they would be (not in any specific order) Hurricanes, Lilly?s, Elvi?s, Sunny?s Fast Food (Chinese) Banana Bay Resort Restaurant and The Road Kill Bar/Cafe. Another must stop are the local fruit vendors on the side of the street, I have been stopping at the very last stand on the extreme south end of town. The locally grown pineapple is the absolute sweetest I have ever had in my life and is reasonable at $2.50 Belize each?and she cuts it for you while you wait.
Dive operators? We have used Amigos del Mar all week, they pick us up at the end of our dock and drop us back off after the dives. Another bonus is they rinse and store our equipment for us so we don?t have 20 minutes of additional work when we get back to the dock. Every dive here is a boat dive, a local 2 tank dive is $75 and the Blue Hole excursion runs $250 (total of 3 dives) because it is so far off the coast (42 miles if memory serves correctly). Every Dive we have done has been professional and extremely well planned. I highly recommend using their services, please tell them Jim sent you from Virtual Tourist.
Blue Hole? If you are going to San Pedro for diving the Blue Hole is a MUST do dive, and deserves its own section in this review. There are several important things you need to know before embarking on the journey. The Blue Hole is approximately 42 miles off the coast so the boat ride is in excess of 2 hours each way and includes a total of 3 dives at different locations. We did our trip with Amigos Del Mar since we had such good experiences with them all week and they did not disappoint. It?s starts very early as you have to be there by 6am, the cost is $250 US and you return about 5:30PM. They provide a continental breakfast on the boat which was perfect just before a deep dive. The dive is done extremely well, even for beginners who by basic open water certification should not go deeper than 60?. Each small group has 2 Divemasters so every diver is watched carefully and we felt very safe even though neither of us had ever been at that depth before. Total dive time with safety stops is about 30 minutes with actual bottom time being only about 10 minutes. The next dive on the trip is called Half Moon Cay since it is just off the coast of a bird sanctuary island also called Half Moon Cay which describes the shape of the island. They then feed you a very tasty hot lunch on the boat as you make your way to dock at the island. If so inclined you can take in the beauty of the island for an hour or so. BRING CASH because the ?park fee? is $40 due on the boat. Half Moon Cay t-shirts are also sold on the island and are very unique. The last dive of the trip is called Aquarium because of the abundant sea life just as you would see in an aquarium. Bring dry clothes for the trip home, sunscreen and a camera.
Beaches? you will see a copious amount of trash washing up on the beaches of San Pedro. My first thought was ?don?t the locals have any more pride in their island than this?? As it turns out all of that trash comes from Honduras where the locals there throw their trash in the rivers which wash out into the ocean and currents carry it to San Pedro. A must do event on Thursday evening, the ?Chicken Drop? where they have a grid on the beach with numbers which match the tickets for sale. If the chicken poops on your number, you win $100 Belize. In such a poor country this is their version of the lottery and is very popular with the locals. We were told to ?buy your tickets early because they sell out quickly?. Because of the second largest barrier reef in the world off shore, no waves make it to the beach. All of the beaches are public even with a house on the beach so walk to your heart?s content there aren?t any ?no trespassing? signs.
Night Life? there is something to do here every night of the week but from what we have been told the main ?party nights? are Thursday, Friday and Saturday. From what I hear the place to be on Tuesday and Thursday nights is The Tackle Box, a bar on a pier that is owned by an American named Joe from Illinois. On Wednesday nights start off at the Road Kill Café & Bar owned by Matt (a Brit) and Robbie (a Scotsman), awesome guys and an incredible atmosphere. At 11pm get in your golf cart and amble up north to Wet Willies, another bar on a pier. Friday & Saturday nights it has been said that the places to be are Big Daddy?s and Jaguars (in sight of each other near the town park). Every night of the week, the big tourist hang out is called Fidos (pronounced Fee-Doo?s).
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