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Belize Trip Report

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Since 07 Oct 2008
334 Posts

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PostWed Jan 31, 18 8:05 pm    Belize Trip Report Reply with quote

Belize Kiting Anthony trip report.

You use this information at your own risk. Pics to be added soon.

Belize has a population of 312,000. The lowest density country in Central America.

The dry season is from January to June. The best wind season is March to the end of May according MartinJohn of Passion Kite Belize. I was there during a rainy January.

I contacted both shops in the area.

From what I see access is an issue on the islands, these areas were developed for fishing and scuba diving. I would suggest that you contact each shop to get instructions on where to kite.

In San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, the person to see is MartinJohn (this is spelled correctly) at Passion Kite Belize, he is a local and knows the area well. His operation is mobile, so you will need to call him. 608-4514 local or +501-608-4514 (text). In San Pedro, the windward (east side) of island is riddled with docks extending way out into the water making launching and landing tricky. The wind direction is not the most conducive with getting out between the docks. The good thing is that the water is not deep, and you can walk out away from the docks. It is flat water with the reef about a half mile out. There is a lot of boat traffic on the windward side with water taxis and scuba boats, keep on the lookout.

Up north there are probably better launches. There are also better launches south of the airport. Expect a lot of sea weed build up on shore, in areas not cleaned up after storms. I tried the sandbar trip that Passion Kite Belize offered on the bay side of island. Great place to learn with hip deep water. Warm water!! See one of my pics.

On Caye Caulker is Kite Explorer. The shop is on the north end of the island, near so-so launch. Saw the Kite Explorer instructor land his kite in a very small area on top of the six-foot wall, it is not the most favorable place. It will be team effort to launch on the water. If you are one of the better kiter’s, you know how to work it out. Also on Caye Caulker, there was a place that rents boards - The rental prices seem high to me. I did notice that there was a place prohibiting kite and windsurf launching. Also, there are no Air Flights to Caye Caulker, the runway is in disrepair.

The resort kiting is on Long Caye The negative is that is it all inclusive and not cheap. It is a 3-hour boat ride to it.

Kites and wind: You need to bring your bigger kites. I weigh 210 pounds. I brought my 11M and 15M revs. I should have brought my 13M, 15M and maybe a 17M turbine. Maybe the windier season will be better. Bring your own repair parts, the odds of the being available are low.

There is WIFI available at most restaurants and places to stay. Phone and (message and data): I have ATT for service and I am using their international plan for $60 for a month of coverage. Worth every cent! Check your carrier’s policy. Local calls only need the 7-digit number, with texting add +501 to the number. If they ask you to call back, do call back, texting is not replacement for calling. I missed a good day of kiting, because I did not follow the instructions!

There is one thing that really irritated me. I keep getting those scam phone calls, instead of the local Oregon number, they started using Belizean Phone Numbers. Somehow the scammers are tracking my phone. Not Good!!!

Getting there:
The logistics has been a challenge is an understatement for me to learn. Timing is everything!

Get to Belize from (PDX) USA. Luggage wise is Ouch $$$$. You really must love Alaska Air for luggage policy!

I am taking the Southwest Flight Portland (PDX) into Belize City Airport (BZE), it has the best times / cost and with no overnight layovers. Without the Kiteboard on this trip there were no fees! The $150 saving can get you at least 3 days of Kiteboard rental. I really need a good split Kiteboard for trips like this.

Luggage Cost per Airline:

There first two bags are free! Sports Equipment - Special Items The items listed below will be accepted as Checked Baggage for a $75 each way charge. Surfboard/kiteboard, keels and fins must be removed and placed in carryon or checked baggage. That would have been $150.

You’ll be charged $150. If the following items are less than 62 inches and 50lbs., you’ll be charged the applicable checked bag fee based on the number of bags you check: Kiteboard. If you pack more than 1 surfboard in a bag that weighs under 70 lbs., you’ll only be charged for 1 surfboard. 70 lbs. and 126 inches based on airplane size and load factors. That would have been $300. If you are using them max out the poundage.

Kiteboards - $150 for travel to all regions (excluding Europe and North Africa) Boards over 115 linear inches will not be accepted. Kiteboards will not be accepted as part of the passenger's baggage allowance. All kiteboard equipment is accepted up to 70 pounds at a flat rate  Kiteboards are allowed up to two (2) boards per bag. That would have been $300. Max out the poundage.

Just forget this airline! Baggage policy from hell!

Tropic Air
Traveling with a Kiteboard would be a challenge, I think it would be best to call and make arrangements for the longer items. I talked to the representatives of Tropic Air. They stated they could carry Kiteboard bags. It just will be on another flight or the next first flight the next day (Cargo flight). On the Tropic Air website, they state only luggage 62 linear inches or less. My luggage was 66+ inches, not questioned and not a problem. It is all about what will fit through the cargo hatches. See pic. Bring the bigger suit case for kites! They never weighed them, or at least not in front of me.

Maya Air
I do not know, I did not use them. They never answered my emails.
Other airline ideas: You could fly into Cancun, then bus to Belize. The flight from Cancun to Belize is expense.

Local transport
Local transport is via golf carts. Cost is a little over $300 per week. I went with functional over good looking. There are at least 6 companies renting them. It was suggested, I get a cart with a locking back seat storage. That would have cost several hundred dollars more for the week. Most of the golf carts saw did not have a locking back seat. They give you a locking system for steering wheel, use it. The speed bumps on the road are jarring.

I did get a golf cart parking ticket $25 Belize or 12.5 USD. Do not park in taxi areas and curbs with red paint. The paint is really faded. I checked both places I parked that day and do not see why I should have received a ticked. I talked to locals at each location I was parked at all stating I should not have gotten a ticket. I just payed it.

Welcome to the third world, I only saw two doctors on the island. I did see there was a 24-hour clinic on the island. If you really need medical, go to the hospital in Belize City, check with the US Embassy website check list information. You want the better hospitals. Do not get injured or sick of any kind! You are in the warmer climates, dress and eat accordingly to avoid health issues.

Other Things
Other things to do, scuba, snorkeling, paddle board, good food and drink. If you want cheap liquor prices, buy liquor it at the duty-free shops at the airport (BZE). Restaurants are reasonably priced; grocery stores are a little on the expensive side. Lots of good restaurants and grocery stores.

In Belize having a car you are considered rich, rental or not.

Do not compare Belize to Mexico or Guatemala. It is an insult to them.

There is 12.5% sales tax. Tipping is 15% for good service and 20% for excellent service
All my credit cards statements did not included taxes, that is added after you sign.

Read the fine print on your bills and contracts.

For the first timer to make is worth the trip, one week on the island and week on the mainland. The mainland has a lot of ruins to visit and jungle adventures.

In January expect only two good days of wind a week. On this trip wind was between squalls.

We ate out quite a bit, they are reasonably priced. Lot of great restaurants. Be sure to try Elvi’s Kitchen in San Pedro. The best curry I have ever had.

Bring DEET, the mosquitos are hungry. There is Zika here, the mainland has all the wonderful mosquito diseases. Those bites itch like hell.

The people are very friendly and want to help you. Unlike other places I had nobody trying to rip me off. Walking back from kiteboarding excursion, my kite bag opened, it was not apparent until my kite fell out. A local kid on a bike picked my clothing and booties, then brought them back to me. He would not except a reward! The integrity of these people is great.

Do not expect people to know English. Most Belizeans are bilingual in English and Spanish and most everyone speaks and understands Creole which is an English derived dialect.

The currency is traded at 2 Belize dollars to 1 US dollar. Nice! You pay in US dollars and get change in Belize dollars. All US bills need to be in good condition, no rips!

If you travel a lot get a credit card that has no foreign transaction fees.

I know I said this before, if you travel to foreign countries get Global Entry. It can save you time entering the USA. Best $99 I ever spent, besides noise canceling headphones. It did not save use that much time on this time. Denver Airport was not setup to use all the advantages of Global Entry.

Scuba drivers do not like wind because it makes the water cloudy. If it is not scuba diving season, then it is most likely the windy season.

If you get your clothes washed at a pay laundry, be sure they do not mix colors.

Do not drink the water, we drank bottle water the time we were there. Most places have big 5-gallon jugs cheaper than store bought water.

If you want liquor buy it at the duty-free stores in the airport before going to were you are staying. It is massively cheaper. Example, Bottle of Jack Daniels is $15 USD, in Oregon $30 USD at local stores on island $70 USD.

Accommodations are all over the place, you just need to choose your style and cost. Having a windward side place offers a nice cooling sea breeze.

Try to avoid flying in or out of BZE on Saturday. It is way busy on that day. You might have vacant middle seat if you avoid Saturday and cheaper flight.

The ferry rides can be jarring with sea chop. Seating to the back of the boat is better. I am sold on the air plane ride.

Do not bring drones! The airport customs are on the lookout for them. Belize has a temporary ban on all non-residents bringing drones into their country. I never saw a drone while, I was there.

Putting transportation together: Airline arrival, local airline times (the puddle jumper), ferry.
Plan A: My flight arrives at 4:10, the last ferry is 5:30, Custom and Immigration is going to be 30-45 minutes and then you will have to take a taxi to the water taxi terminal which is another 20-25 minutes. The last boat leaving for San Pedro is at 5:30 and you don't know if the water taxi/ ferry is going to have enough space by the time you get there. And if the plane is late getting in. You can see where I am going.
Plan B: My flight arrives at 4:10. We take the 5:40 Tropic Air Flight to San Pedro. There are later flights if the plane arrives late. The max luggage is 62 linear inches, that is what, I was referred too. No more kiteboard, I will pack the kites.
Plan C: This is what I could have done. My flight arrives at 4:10. Stay at a hotel in downtown Belize City. Catch the ferry the next day.

I am on Plan B, it was the right choice, we would not have made it to the ferry on time.

Ferry Services; Least Cost!

Local Airlines

Air service is quick and at times cheaper than some of the Ferry Services. I talked with the Tropic Air rep at the airport and asked about kiteboards, he stated they can carry them, but they would most likely arrive the next day on the early morning run. Talk with their reps be sure that kiteboard bags are where they need to be, and you get them to the airport at a time they specified. Hint: right after customs, I had a porter take my luggage for $2 per bag. It was a 50-foot trip through a door and awaiting Tropic Air Rep. He moved me to the front of the line and I got on an earlier flight with Tropic Air. Greasing the hand was worth $20! My baggage was sent on an earlier flight, sweet! Keep hold of those Bag Tickets, they check every bag before giving you it. I really do need a split board if I am going to fly the smaller planes.

When all the passengers are there they will take off early!
The boats to the island can be a very rough ride!! If you have the significant other and you want to keep them. Take the plane!

My log:
It rained on and off every day of the trip.

Day one left PDX at 6:00 am arrived in BZE at 4:10 CST. Through immigration and customs with luggage pick up in 40 minutes. Flew out of BZE to San Pedro at 5:20. At The apartment rental 6:00, by 7:00 at the bar and listening to music.

Day two, get the golf cart, tour the island and arrange scuba. There is a toll bridge at the northern end of town. I would only pay for that day unless you are going over it daily or are north of the city.

Day three scuba with wife. There were at least 4 scuba shops within 5-minute walk of our apartment rental. The reef is only a half mile out.

Day four scuba with wife.

Day five go on all day ruins tour. Most places you are staying at can get you a discount on the tours. The tours are great! It rained on and off most of the day. There was a group kiting south of the airport at 5:00. There is less docks at that part of the island. See pic. It was very choppy water coming back to the island.

Day six kite in afternoon. Nope I blew it, I did not call like requested.

Day seven kite in morning, it was a great day. Started on 11m then switched up to the 15 m. Took a boat ride 4 mile + to the sandbar. Bay side. Rented a board and ride out there for $80 USD. Awesome place no more than waist deep for at least a quarter mile around. Wind was up and down, but it was also rainy. Warm rain!

Day eight rest and pack, turn in golf car and explore Caye Caulker. You can walk the main part of Caye Caulker in 20 minutes. It rained on and off all day.

Day nine fly home. Took the 10:30 Tropic Air Flight ($178 USD for two people) to BZE. Got on the plane early and arrived at BZE at 10:36. The Southwest Flight is at 2:10. Picked up luggage, checked through immigration and customs, and Southwest in less than 30 minutes. Do not lose those bag tags, Tropic Air Employees check to be sure you get the correct bag! This is not the luggage pickup at a US Airport. Next time instead using 3 hours for a connection time, I am going make it 2.5 hours for connection time before the flight back to US.

Tropic Air and Maya Air are both good Belize Airlines.

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Since 15 Aug 2016
17 Posts
Hood river

PostThu Feb 01, 18 10:09 am     Reply with quote

Wow, thank you so much for all of the detail! Heading here at the end of March (Caye Caulker) and am feeling even more excited. Thanks so much for taking the time to write this out.

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