Friday, July 14, 2017

What low season? Belize breaks records, Lobsterfest, & the newest pics around the village!

No surprise to read THIS article - Belize has broken its overnight tourism records - smashed them in fact! In April the overnight percentage went up 24% compared to last year!!!!!

You can tell in the village, the energy and buzz is much higher than in past years during low season - mid July feels more like late November as far as the people. It is still NOT crowded - you can go into any restaurant and not have a wait, and you can have the beach to yourself most days, which is one of the draws of this village (paradise without overcrowding!). But, the amount of tourists in the village can be seen in far more filled up seats at the bars and restaurants.

The village recently enjoyed Lobsterfest, so lobster is back on the menus, yay! Here is a montage of village images from the last couple weeks - even if you are enjoying your own summer across North America, the exotic and rustic look of this place can make you want to come back...

Gotta get a pic with the lobster.....
Get your face in this board....
CBC's own Carlos Vasquez won the Amateur Rum Punch Contest with his "famous" racecar rum punch!!!

Lobster pizza, lobster rolls, lobster omelettes, lobster bisque, lobster fritters.....
Here are some images on Main Street from the last week....
Love the Central American-style grocery never know what you will find!
Pretty painted fences down Main Street...
 Street art can be found throughout the village
 Charming, tranquil, exotic are some of the words that come to mind, everywhere you look

 Belizean "fast food" - love her burritos!

 Bicycles are a sight you will see everywhere throughout the village, always a pretty picture:)
 A visit to Pickled Parrot is a high point of a vacation here!
 The newest restaurant in the village - The Vineyard!
 And everyone's old favorite.....Rumfish :) (never get sick of seeing this in new pictures!)
 One of my favorite souvenir shops!
 More cute storefronts
 Reclaimed nautical signs :)
 Local favorite Dawn's grill
 Secret Garden is hidden behind this rustic wood building...
 Pretty shops tucked off to the side of Main Street

 Great Asian soup and stir fry here, with great people watching!
 Never get sick of these tropical colors!

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