Andy & Natalie Borgmann’s Honeymoon to Matachica Resort in Belize

An adventurer’s paradise, Belize is your peaceful, English-speaking neighbor only two hours away from 3 major U.S. Gateways. With a diversity of adventure opportunities unmatched by another country, the Belize people have protected 40% of the country as natural reserves and parks.

Generally speaking, Belize is a simple country in which to travel independently, and you rarely save much on package deals. It is generally cheaper to fly to Cancun, either on a discounted routine air fare or on a charter (I am sure there are numerous charter flights from Toronto to Cancun.) Although you can fly to Chetumal, Mexico, which is at the northern Belize boundary there now isn’t any air service from everywhere in Mexico to Belize.

A. Since Ambergris Caye is in northern Belize, just down from the Yucatan and divided only by a narrow channel, most of your sail excursion will likely be in Mexican waters. Mexico is actually not my area of expertise. I’d suggest though you do not already have it, you get Cruising Guide to Belize and Mexico’s Caribbean Coast, by Freya Rauscher (Wescott Cove Publishing) – it is the finest cruising guide to the area and contains general graphs.

Q. Greetings! We have a couple of questions and will be in Belize this month. We are chartering a sailboat from Placencia. We’ve some divers among us. Could recommend 3 dives for us? How safe are the waters for sailing? We have an overnight you propose we do? I appreciate your insight, we are eagerly anticipating our visit. I consider the only boats that currently spend any time in Belize are those of the American Canadian Caribbean Line, which has small ships (around 100 passengers) stopping in Belize during some months of the year.

A: I believe you would be asking for trouble to sleep in your own car. A parked car is an invitation for burglary, and you can be a target, too, in the event you’re in the car. I parked my car in a location where you’d believe there were not any people at all, in the jungle along the Macal river a couple of weeks ago, and finished night someone tried to break into it. They did break the door handle, although they were not successful.

As to going to Tikal car or bus would be fine. Bus is a lot more affordable, but then you would be paying for it anyway, if you already possess the car. You may have trouble getting Guatemala insurance for the car, and your Belize insurance won’t cover the vehicle in Guatemala, so you may have to take the entire risk yourself. If you are careful and speak some Spanish it ought to be ok, although there have been several recent incidents in the Peten, including assaults on tourists near Tikal. The street to Tikal should be good unless there are heavy rains.

A. At one time there was a duty-free shop in the arrival area. However, the last few times I was through the international airport, most recently a couple weeks past, there clearly was no duty-free in the arrival place. The sole duty-free shops now are in the departure lounge spaces. You might want to purchase duty-free at your departure airport in the U.S. or wherever you’re leaving from.

A. The rental car companies in Belize City are NOT closed in July. They are open year round at the international airport. Some of the dozen or so rental areas at the airport do close on Sundays, but in many cases their Belize City offices are open that day and they could organize to truly have a driver meet you at the airport and bring you to their in-town office to do the paperwork. In case you would like to take a bus to Corozal, you can walk, hitch or maybe get a taxi (drivers prefer the larger fares into Belize City) the 2 miles or so out to the Northern Highway and catch a bus there going north to Corozal/Chetumal.

You have to pay import duty if you intend to stay in Belize and keep your vehicle there. It runs about 45% to 88% of value, although the rate varies by amount of cylinders and form of vehicle. You shouldn’t have to pay the import tax if you’re just visiting, so you cannot sell it in Belize, but the automobile is entered on your passport. There are customs brokers at the border to assist you with your paperwork. They?re worth the modest fee ? Maybe US$20 to $40 ? they generally charge.

Barrier Reef Drive, hH + Celi’s Restaurant, San Pedro Holiday Hotel, tel. 501-226-2014. Celi ‘s is one of the better choices for seafood of San Pedro. The catch of the day is around US$10, broiled, fried or stuffed, and comes with a side order like fries, beans and rice or cole slaw. Most other entrees are around US$8 to $12. Kids will like the fish or chicken fingers, hamburgers and fresh juice drinks (watermelon, lime, orange, pineapple). It’s possible for you to dine inside or in an area that is screened by the shore. Open for dinner and lunch. Moderate/Expensive. Celi’s Deli (H +, Inexpensive), for fast snacks, sandwiches, and meat pies, is nearby.

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