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Tips for Belize? (Mayan Ruins)

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by knick1959, Aug 10, 2017.

  1. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member


    I've got a trip planned in Jan. Flights are booked. First part takes us to Florida for a 1 day hobby event (and because SW doesn't easily get us back to Cleveland, we will stop overnight on the way back in FLL). Then off to Belize for the better part of a week.

    We're looking to see as many Mayan ruins as we can (including Tikal in Guatemala). Preliminary research shows many "day trips" available right from Belize City. But is this the best approach? We wouldn't mind a short jungle experience, too.

    Anyone have a tip or 2 on what might make an additional base camp for exploring deeper into Belize? 6 night in Belize City or a couple there and where else?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. projectx

    projectx Level 2 Member

    I haven't been to Belize, but did research it a fair amount before we decided on Tulum (Mexico), Which I highly recommend.

    Is there a reason you want to stay in Belize City? From what I understand it's an absolute dumpster fire. You'd be much better off staying on one of the cayes or smaller towns such as Placencia or Hopkins to the south. Also flights from CLE on Southwest are pretty limited, but depending on where you live a quick drive over to Pittsburgh may be worth your while. Tons of flights from there.
  3. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    Thanks for the reply. Belize City was my default, only because we fly in and out of there and the day trips I have found seem to be based out of there. Of course, I didn't search based on any other town. Now I have 2 more to research.

    While my wife would probably love being on the beach most of the time, I have my limits. So hanging out at the beach is a short term want (and why I thought BC might be the place). After that I need to see ruins and jungle and anything else of interest. Thanks again.
  4. projectx

    projectx Level 2 Member

    Heh, sounds like you are similar to me and my wife.We enjoy a day or two on the beach, but we have to get out and explore. I have friends that will go to Hilton Head, DR, whatever and just sit on the beach all day for a week and read a book. Blows my mind.

    Check out the Cays to the north as well, though they may not satisfy your wife's need for a good beach, and it will be more time consuming to get to the mainland to explore. One this is for sure, you will not find a nice beach in Belize City.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
  5. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    Ok, so now I'm a bit deeper into this. Looks like the town of San Ignacio is a good western base. Lots of suggestion as to how to get there (TA and Frommer's) ... renting a car (or Jeep) sounds appealing. I think. Did you do any driving in Belize? Recommended?
  6. projectx

    projectx Level 2 Member

    To clarify I have not been to Belize... it was on our short list and I did a bunch of research before we decided on Tulum. So... sorry, I don't know enough about renting a car in Belize.
  7. CWAL

    CWAL Level 2 Member

    I went to Belize about two years ago, only for a couple days though. We stayed in Belize City but didn't spend a ton of time there.

    We rented a car and driving was fine, just watch out for road conditions and sudden speed bumps. We drove to the closer Mayan ruins as well as to the zoo, and a bit further even - we got to the Guatemalan border but did not cross. Belize is relatively small and everything is within a fairly reasonable day trip distance.
  8. chrisflyer

    chrisflyer Level 2 Member

    I was in Belize last year. I would recommend splitting your time between one of the Cayes (Caye Caulker or Ambergris Caye) and San Ignacio. San Ignacio would make a good base for exploring the pyramids and such. I got there by bus from Belize city (although I think renting a Jeep is a good idea. The bus was not good.) I would definitely not stay in Belize city, not even for one night.
  9. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    Tulum is definitely on the see-soon list.

    I didn't think too hard on the PIT idea. Until I realized just today that there could be some advantage to saving the Belize trip for Feb and doing the FL trip penciled in for Feb in Jan around our existing need to be there for 1 day. The additional FL trip depends on being awarded a week in a company house down there; done this many times before and am due again this year. Anyway ...

    Checking for flights from PIT to BZE, there seems to be a decent, short, 1 stop option every weekday. You apparently can only get back to PIT on Sundays and it's a little longer (and more miles-expensive), but workable. This could give up an easy ~9 days in Belize as opposed to the current 6-ish.

    So, thanks for that. Apparently PIT has special SW status, as I couldn't do the same thing via DTW or CVG and Cleveland options are pitiful.

    Rambling on, I mapped it out and BZE to San Ignacio is claimed to be a 1:40 drive. I think I might try it. My wife still insists on a beach day or 2, but I think we'll end there. She might just go for the switch to Feb! Not canceling my existing plans yet!
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2017
  10. projectx

    projectx Level 2 Member

    Interesting... I wonder if they cut back flights during that time of the year. When I was traveling in July, flights based out of PIT were plentiful both directions. And yes, the CLE options are pathetic. If you haven't already you may want to check CMH too. And if you need an airport hotel, I highly recommend the Embassy Suites Columbus Airport.
  11. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    Pffft. Didn't even think of that one. It doesn't seem natural, but I'm now sure options are better than CLE. PIT, BTW maps to be 2 hours from my home. Columbus would be in that same ballpark. Not exactly attractive, driving 2 hours to an airport, but when options are so much better and you "can't get there from here!" ... it makes sense.

    Thanks again for the pointers. I'll check on CMH later today.

    Update: CMH has an occasional flight (once a week? Didn't pay too close of attention) to BZE in the 6 hours range but it is another pretty early one. PIT remains the better option.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2017
  12. RRD

    RRD Level 2 Member

    Xunantunich ruins near San Ignacio were pretty incredible. Also, recommend the snorkelling/diving trips at Ambergris Cayes.

    We took a fair bit of public transportation which was quite exciting because of the interaction with locals, and was convenient because English was spoken everywhere.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2017
  13. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    Thanks. My plan is to hit every Mayan site I can. My wife will also enjoy this, but still wants some beach. Have a couple of books and online maps of the various sites in the area. For the ones in Guatemala I'll probably do a paid-for tour, but any others we'll do ourselves if possible.

    Swimming is not something I'm very good at. Call me a rock. I've tried snorkeling with limited (little) success. May try again; we'll see.
  14. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    It's kind of funny. My mind has a background thread going about how (after being depressed with SW options from CLE in-general) PIT has opened up a New World here. And it has. I live 10-15 minutes from CLE, and it's a very easy almost no freeway drive (Rt 237 does get up to 50 mph for 1-2 miles). PIT is 2 hours away, but on a day like today, that seems like nothing.

    What's funny is how this born-and-raised in Cleveland guy so easily forgets, when the weather is picture-perfect like now, how nasty Cleveland winters can be. A drive to Pittsburgh in Jan or Feb? Well, there's a good chance it would be easy and uneventful. There's also a decent chance it will be an adventure! The lake can provide some impressive snow accumulations given any storm. So, while making potential plans for PIT during the winter, I have to have a Plan B. I'm not worried about delays coming home, only outgoing.

    Pittsburgh probably gets way less snow that us, but I don't know that for a fact. I'd still have to transit the NE Ohio area.
  15. vinyalwhl

    vinyalwhl Level 7 Panda Tamer

    I second San Ignacio. Also check out the black hole drop, lot of fun. Watch out for the botflies.
  16. RRD

    RRD Level 2 Member

    Believe me when I say Belizean snorkelling guides are the best I have seen. The literally hand-hold you if you need it and take you to amazing places. I am not much of a swimmer myself and compared to the snorkelling experience at the Great Barrier Reef, Belize hands down came on top.
  17. projectx

    projectx Level 2 Member

    I feel ya. I grew up in CLE but have lived in CVG land since shortly after college. Although believe me... I'll take the options from CLE over CVG any day. It's gotten much better but until recently Delta had a stranglehold on the airport and was often ranked the most expensive airport in the nation. Not so much any more.

    For me, I often drive up to CMH or IND to get direct Southwest flights. Occasionally SDF. They have begun operations out of CVG, but very limited routes right now. Yeah, it's further to drive but having extra options for my points is well worth a small increase in travel time to the airport.

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