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Dive Review of Bottom Time/The Villas at Banyan Bay in
Belize/Ambergris Caye, San Pedro

Bottom Time/The Villas at Banyan Bay, Aug, 2004,

by M. Dal, NY, United States . Report 1985.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments We can't say enough good things about the location, the diving, the resort, the diveshop, and the outfitters they used! Everything from the incredible food, to the wonderful people of the island - sincerely the most genuinely friendliest people we have ever met in our lives - to the relaxed atmosphere on the boats, everything was just amazing.

The diving was the best I've ever done, schools of nurse sharks and tiny cleaner shrimp and tarpon somersaulting and feeding at night and huge moray eels and giant hermit crabs and stingrays and jacks and huge groupers and snappers - and this is all during just one two - three hour outing (to Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley)!

Belize has the second longest reef in the world, and everywhere we went the coral and fish life was very healthy and thriving. Fresh seafood is delivered right from the reef to the restaurants, and it's not unusual to see coolers of fish and lobsters being cleaned for such occasions. The reef has no problem sustaining this activity, believe me!

The divemasters/captains (Eddie on one boat, Ramon on another, and Albert on a specialty dive and beach barbeque) take care of all of your gear, set it up for you, and then even haul it up onto the boat while you hang in the water holding the ladder. Talk about service! And they are so very relaxed, so knowledgeable, so pleasant to be around. The diveshop was also so very accommodating, keeping a tab and letting you check out at the end, finding specialty diving for us, and we had some great times just chatting away with them while waiting for the diveboats, relaxing in one of their hammocks on the dock.

Great for snorkelers, too, and all water sports enthusiasts. There are also many amazingly incredible top-side excursions and wildlife, so it's great for non-divers as well, as my girlfriend will attest to, for she doesn't dive. Mangroves, Mayan Ruins, cave river tubing, a jungle spa, a zoo and horseback riding are all just a one-day excursion away, two trips in total to see all that. We used SeaDuced for these two trips and they were incredibly knowledgeable and friendly, ask for Sylvan.

We ate at a lot of different places, and every single meal was delicious! None, however, topped the beach seafood barbeque arranged by the dive shop and prepared by Albert. It didn't look like much, just fish and spanish sauce, but the taste was beyond description.

This island is so relaxed that shorts, t-shirts and sandals is all you need, really. We didn't need 75% of the clothes we brought! There is a small casino, one or two dance clubs and several bars. Not much of a night scene, really, but we found that to be part of the attraction, as we live in NYC and it was nice to get away from that for a while.

The summer months see some heavy mosquito activity and sporadic rain, usually not lasting for more than 15 or 20 minutes tho. A can of Off and a light rain jacket will be appreciated.

The water by the shores can be silty, due to the sea grass that is protected for the benefit of the sealife, but a three-minute boatride and you're atop crystaline blue water reefs. Storms can wash up some litter onto the shore, too.

The Villas at Banynan Bay was definitely the best place to stay on the Island, as we cruised almost all of it in the 2 weeks we were there and found it to be the most comfortable, convenient and relaxed resort, great for families and couples, and we're really happy we stayed there. They had the best beachfront of all the resorts we saw, a very nice three level pool, which was great for infants and adults, beautiful rooms, friendly staff, a great restaurant, a dive shop about a 30 second walk from most of the rooms, internet access in the lobby, and golf cart rental. That's right, you don't rent cars on Ambergris Caye, you rent golf carts! It was great fun, and the main town of San Pedro is only a 5 minute drive away.

The exchange rate is 2 Belize dollars for every 1 US dollar, and we found prices to be very reasonable, and often pretty cheap, too! English is the official language, and unlike some destinations in the carribean, we were never, ever hassled to purchase crafts by the locals. They were just simply marvelous, friendly people.

We loved this place more & more with each passing day, and you probably need a few days before it really sinks in how wonderful a destination it is. La Isla Bonita was truly a magical experience, a place where their motto is "No shoes, no shirt, no problem!"

We made a video from our different movie clips that might describe everything I've tried to put into words. You can see it at:
[ link]

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 26-50 dives
Where else diving Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Dominican Republic, NY Atlantic Wrecks, PA Quarry
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, dry Seas calm, choppy, surge, currents, noCurrents
Water Temp 75-80°F / 24-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 90-120 Ft/ 27-37 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions None, very accomodating, while also very attentive to our well-being.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities 3 stars
UW Photo Comments [None]
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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