Ambergris: Diving in Belize with Ease - Page 5

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Outfitters
Ambergris dive shops and most resorts have set, pre-planned trips to all the best dive sites, but they're friendly and flexible about catering to a group's needs. Local two-tank dives run around $40-50 U.S., while Blue Hole-area excursions are around $185 for a day trip (three dives) and $285 for overnight (five dives). Meals, drinks, and camping equipment are provided, and discounts are common for five or more people. Reef Adventures (011-501-206-2106 in Belize; 503-452-9257 in the U.S.; reefman@pcez.com; ambergriscaye.com/captron/index.html) offer daily coral reef dives, guided night dives, snorkeling, fishing, and full variety of excursions. PADI-certified dive master Ched Cabral and partner Ron Herring specialize in eco-sensitive exploration, and will tailor outings to a group's particular skill level and interests.

When to Go
Dry season usually stretches from November through May, rainy season from June through November. The climate is sub-tropical, with constant winds coming off the Caribbean Sea. Summer highs rarely reach above 95 degrees F, winter lows seldom drop below 60 degrees.

Getting There
Continental, American, and U.S. Air all fly direct to Belize City from Houston, Miami, and Newark. Prices range $285-$500 depending on season and taxes. Daily flights to San Pedro depart from Belize City every half hour from sunrise to sunset on Taca, TropicAir, and Maya Airlines. Airfare runs around $50 U.S. (one way) and flights take about 20 minutes. You can also reach the island via a 75-minute boat taxi from Belize City for around $13 U.S. (one way), which commonly stops off at Caye Caulker, another primo diving spot.

Lodging
In addition to an unavoidable reference to a certain spicy rum, Captain Morgan's Retreat (1-888-653-9090; belizevacation@yahoo.com; www.ambergriscaye.com/captmorgan/index.html) gained a certain degree of notoriety as the location of Fox's Temptation Island, but it was a popular choice long before the reality-TV cameras descended. It's located 3.5 miles north of San Pedro. Ramon's Village (1-800-MAGIC-15; www.ramons.com; for U.S. reservations: 601-649-1990; info@ramos.com) and Banyan Bay (011-501-226-3739; banyanbay@btl.net; www.ambergriscaye.com/pages/lodge/banyan.html) are two fine options within San Pedro, but the island has plenty of offerings, including house rentals.

Where to Eat
San Pedro's Fido's (011.501.266.2056 or 3176; ambergriscaye.com/fidos/index.html), the oldest restaurant on the island, offers a refreshing blend of local and exotic international cuisine. Elvi's Kitchen (Pescador Drive; 011-501-26-2176; www.elviskitchen.com) started out as a burger take-out joint and has since evolved into one of the island's best seafood restaurants. Cannibal's (beachfront on Barrier Reef Drive), where "We'd love to have you for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!", is perfect for those craving a bite or a full meal. Lay back, listen to tunes, and indulge in a rum punch or two. Beach BBQs every Friday night.

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Best Hotels in Ambergris Caye

$367
Average/night*
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Coco Beach Resort
$94
Average/night*
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Royal Caribbean Resort, Belize
$120
Average/night*
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Caribbean Villas Hotel
$70
Average/night*
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Corona del Mar Hotel and Apartments

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