Thursday, June 15, 2017

What guests say they wish they knew before they came to Belize...26 tips from past guests!

We like to revisit this topic periodically - facts change over time, and we aim to keep our guests as well informed as possible so you can fully enjoy and relax during your time with us! Here is some recent feedback, right from our past guests, about what they wish they'd known before they got to Belize/Placencia:

I wish I'd known that...

  1. I didn't need to pack so much - no need to haul things like sunscreen, SPF, etc, as these were available readily in the village. No fancy clothes/shoes/jewelry needed!!
  2. Nowhere would really take American Express - Visa and MC were ok. Also call your cc companies/bank and let them know you are traveling so your card is not declined here.
  3. More of an fyi for future guests - if you like the all inclusive resort style, this will not be for you. Exploring the village and beyond is what Belize is about.
  4. Sea grass - it comes in pretty frequently, especially in late afternoon. You want to stay somewhere that keeps it raked. There is no telling when it is coming, but it doesn't need to ruin your trip. Belize is known to have seagrass from time to time because they are close to the reef. There are always beaches around that won't have it, or stay somewhere with a pool.
  5. Belikins are strong - but they are also only about 8-10 oz. However there is no calorie, carb count online, or alcohol content - and it is very easy to overdo it. Also, you can just order a "beer" at the bar as that is the same thing as ordering Belikin. The napkin on the beer is to wipe it off because they recycle these bottles and the caps can rust a little from the metal caps with salt air.
  6. Barefoot makes STRONG drinks - they aren't kidding. One drink is the equivalent to 2-3 in a US bar.
  7. I should have worn a shirt and stronger spf while snorkeling - didn't realize how bad my butt would get burned on the water.
  8. Sand fleas - forgot that they come out after a rain and at night/when there is no breeze- if you are around mangroves make sure you wear baby oil on your legs.
  9. I didn't need to stress so much over the forecast - it says rain almost every day in Belize, but it isn't rain like in North America - it usually means a short shower or rain at night.
  10. I should have taken the snorkel excursion when the sea was calm - the sea can get wavy and crazy within a day and it is uncomfortable to be on the water when it is rough.
  11. The very best time to kayak and paddleboard is FIRST thing in the morning - the water is usually at its calmest and prettiest, and gets a little more wavy throughout the day.
  12. It is really important to stay where there is A/C at your hotel.
  13. I should have bought tickets for Belize when they were around $400 - under $500 is still a pretty good price and it includes your exit fee of about $50 (usually).
  14. I should have packed way less clothes - but more swimsuits, less dressy stuff!
  15. I should have brought a change of clothes and shoes for my excursions.
  16. I should have taken an extra second to buy a bottle of liquor for my room at the arrival duty free - very cheap there and nice to have once you are settled in.
  17. I should have taken one extra excursion - it is one of the things I remembered most about my trip. They are all so unique, even if they are expensive and a lot of work, it is worth it!
  18. I wish I would have gotten up to see the sunrise. (sun rises about 5:30 - very worth it!)
  19. I should have stayed longer - 3-5 days is not enough. 7-10 days would have been perfect.
  20. I wish I would have had the following on me - hand sanitizer and toilet paper on excursions, and a wet cloth in a baggie sometimes when walking around in the heat of the day.
  21. Lobsterfest, Sidewalk Art Festival, etc are really fun times to come, I'll check the dates next time.
  22. On Easter, Good Friday - a lot of things shut down and liquor isn't sold that day. Also, Easter Monday, the village is recovering and a lot of things are shut down. Easter weekend is really crazy and busy in the village. 
  23. Belize time means not to rush around with urgency - if you are supposed to be picked up at 8am, 8:15 is normal. 
  24. Water and power outages can happen unexpectedly - and this can happen when you are expecting to be able to get ready for your flight - it is a developing country and you have to be willing to be flexible sometimes (baby wipes!)
  25. I would want to have brought more cash - sometimes you are at a restaurant and they will tell you their credit card machine is down, and then sometimes the atm can be not working, so I would have felt more comfortable with more cash as a back up.
  26. I should have waited to book my excursions until I got there. The tour guides don't book until week of unless it is a specialty tour, and I changed my mind a lot when I was here about what I wanted to do.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Placencia Carnival, Hopkins Mango Festival, and some gorgeous pics in the village!

So Placencia had a super charming, old-fashioned (and I mean old - like the rides and games you'd see in a movie from the 50's-70's - some might even call it reminiscent of a horror movie.....anyway...) we were thrilled to have it and I wish we had this permanently. Here's some pics to take you back to old school carnival days (thanks Sue for the great pics!!).....

 This look super complicated and mystical.
 I've definitely seen this in a horror movie.

Who doesn't love old school carnival games???
 Looks totally gorgeous.....
 However - I bet we'd all be making this face, getting on a Ferris wheel from around 1950....
And more cotton candy...
Also this week was Mango Festival in Hopkins....this is pretty self explanatory. If you are headed here, you MUST get a local mango from the farmer's markets scattered all through the village, they are truly one of the greatest things I've eaten here.....

And finally, here are some gratuitous pics from around the village, too charming not to share!

FYI - If you like to follow pics from around the village/Belize - you can follow us on Instagram here!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

How to use your cell phone in Belize - 9 tips on staying connected while you are here!

A very common question I get from guests is how their cell phones will work in Belize, and what options they have when they are here, for wifi, calling/texting back home, and staying connected via their data. Here are our latest recommendations!

1.) The most obvious and easy way to stay connected is to simply connect to the wifi available at almost every hotel, restaurant, bar, the airport, and even some shuttles. If it is your first time out of the country, it seems scary to have your phone looking like its roaming, or getting messages that your data is on, and hearing stories about outrageous fees people have paid because the settings on their phone were not right. You just have to make sure that your data is turned off when you arrive.
Make sure that green is switched to gray (off) :)
2.) If you are just using wifi - and don't need a local phone number, or the ability to have local calls come in, you can use several methods for staying in contact with people at home. The most popular way is through Facebook messaging, which is free, and allows you to call, text, and send pictures. You can download this app to your phone.
Facebook Messager app icon
3.) I also recommend the Skype app - this is not just video calling. Skype allows you to call anywhere in the world, you just download the app, and I put about $25 a YEAR on it and never use it up. It is very cheap and you just open the app and call like a regular phone, you just have to be on wifi to use it. It can be annoying if your connection is not strong. This opens you up to be able to call all over the world, not just people on Facebook messenger.
Skype app icon
4.) If you have an iphone, you can call or facetime anyone in the world who has an iphone as well.
Facetime app icon
5.) Most US carriers offer service in Belize if you sign up for it. It's pricey, and this is not necessary for most people. This will enable you to call and receive calls the same as you would in the US.

6.) Some hotels will give you a local cell - check before you arrive if you think you will want to be able to call locally. This can be good piece of mind to have in an emergency.

7.) If you're staying longer than a vacation, you can get a SIM card for your phone from a local company - BTL. You'll need ID/passport, but you can get a local #. You can do this in Placencia, San Pedro, San Ignacio, Corozal, or any bigger village. In Placencia you can go to Office Supply - just hand over your phone and they'll fit the local SIM card to your device. Then you can get data (from either Smart or Digicell SIM cards). Almost everyone is pre-paid, not post paid plans like in the US. Data plans are also available on pre-paid plans. This allows you to stay connected to the internet even when you don't have wifi.

8.) If you are doing a local cell, here's what to know. 'Top-up' is Belize speak for adding credit, or adding value, adding minutes, etc. Then there's the 'double up'. About twice a month you can get 2x the value of your 'top-up'. You can download the app eCredit Belize to top up whenever you need to, or go into most grocery stores in the village and at the counter, just give them your cell number and how much you want to add, and they will do it there.
If you see this on the side of the store, they sell minutes there.
9.) A note about security - I highly recommend you put a code lock on your phone, especially on vacation. I also recommend downloading a "find my android/iphone" app, which is free, and if your phone gets lost or stolen, it will locate it for you.
Find my Android app icon

Thursday, May 11, 2017

For those heading here...or missing here...some shots from around Placencia Village today!

The weather has been beautiful this week! Although the sea has been a little rough, and is churning up some seaweed, the sunshine and bright colors in the village NEVER get old...

Saturday, May 6, 2017

10 new restaurants, activities, and fun things to do in Placencia, Belize this season!

There are some activities and excursions here in Placencia that you can count on being around, indefinitely - the wonderful tours and excursions, the local, authentic, great food, and of course the unspoiled, rustic, funky atmosphere of the heart of the village. Some new businesses come and go, and so it is always a new experience for guests! Some of the new businesses we are sad to see close for a season or for good, but then there is always something new to be excited about. In the next year, as It'zana comes to completion, along with a few other surprises on the peninsula, there will be even more to look forward to, and the Ellysian Hotel has also now opened in the village, which provides a Miami-Beach style hotel experience. Here are some of the changes this season, and some new stuff to try when you get here!!

1.) Farmhouse Deli - Ian Anderson of Cave's Branch is known throughout the country for awesome organic food, meat, and cheese....our recent guest said she bought brie from there, that was the best she has ever had. The pictures and reviews coming out about the food there, speak for themselves. There is a new store/deli/restaurant right in the heart of town - open 7am-8pm! Thanks Lee Nyhus for the delicious pic....
Check out this amazing, exotic dining area....
And come see Lisa, who is super nice and let us sample ALL the amazing cheeses!!
2.) Cha Chi's Indian food/Live music venue: Cha Chi's has awesome pizza downstairs....and now, upstairs, you can enjoy amazing Indian food and live music on the weekends! Seriously.....I had chicken curry there last week that was one of the best I have ever had. I can't recommend this highly enough! They also do takeout :) One of our recent guests took these pictures...thanks Sarah!

And here is a pic from their Facebook page....gorgeous!
3.) Aerial yoga at Naia - Naia Yoga is a beautiful place to visit, about 20 minutes north of the village. They have an amazing yoga room - the view is breathtaking, and you can arrange for your group to have an aerial yoga class with Stephanie, of Eucalipto! Here is an image from a recent class we took....if you like yoga, you will love the unique stretches that you can't do in a regular yoga class! (Also, there is a new upscale restaurant on site called 1981 that is worth the trip up!)
4.) BB Yoga Flow is now Placencia Yoga - with two great new teachers! There is a huge yoga vibe in Placencia and classes can be found all over the place.

5.) L & A Placencia Takeout - Placencia's version of "fast food"! This is getting great reviews for local food, fast....this pic is from their Facebook page so you can find it!
6.) For vegetarians and vegans....I am stealing the following description from from the Placencia- What's Happening Page! "A place with HEALTHY vegan/vegetarian food has opened in Placencia Village called Lil' Bites, on the main road between Charo's and Omar Creole Grub. Fish and chicken delights as well as yummy pastries are also on the menu. It's delicious, inexpensive and served fast. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Try will not be disappointed." Here's some pics so you can find it, right off the post:

7.) King Lewey's Island Resort Excursion: Several people have said they have had a blast on this new private island's some info from their page...
"King Lewey's Island Resort is now OPEN FOR BUSINESS. It has been under construction for over one year. Everything is made fresh at our restaurant, barbecue and bar. Even the bread is baked fresh on the island! Amazing King Lewey Burgers; made with 1/2 pound steak patties. Our island has a fun Pirate theme. We offer paddleboards, kayaks, and snorkeling. We will have two additional boats up and running within two weeks." Here is a pic from their Facebook page...
8.) The Flying Pig (TFP) - just a couple miles from the village, there is now All-you-can-eat spaghetti and movie night, every Thursday at 6! From their page...
9.) The Vineyard Restaurant and Bar - this is a new upscale restaurant in Brisa Oceana, right on Main Street, near Rumfish....looks amazing!!!!

10.) Citrus Sensations: They are right in the heart of the village, they have all kinds of great takeout food, fruit, pizza, and local food! This pic is from their Facebook page...

So what has closed/changed? Right now, Fusion is closed except for private events, but there is talk that perhaps this will reopen - no word yet. Tranquilo closed for the season and no word on whether this will reopen this season yet or not. Tiger Restaurant, which had amazing Indian food, has changed cuisine to more Mexican style? I haven't been there yet to check it out so this is word of mouth. Also, La Dolce Vita has moved from their prior location in the village, to just outside the village, at Los Porticos. All the favorite stuff in the village is still here and waiting for your next visit!!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Beautiful beach wedding for 25 at CBC!

We hope you will consider CBC for your beach wedding! We can hold up to 25 guests at the wedding, and 14 can stay at CBC - we can assist with lodging right around CBC for your extra guests. This recent wedding was remarkably beautiful, and so much fun in our intimate, tropical setting! We are the perfect spot and our past brides have been thrilled! We have a very sweet recommittment ceremony coming up this week as well...