Hop down to Ambergris Caye, a Central American island off the coast of Belize, but leave your worries at home! Do some island hopping as we take you from Ambergris Caye to mainland Belize. We'll explore the sights and sounds of the New River as we travel to Lamanai ("submerged crocodile"), the largest Mayan ceremonial center in Belize. Then it's back to the reef for some bonefishing and a whole lot more!
For bonefishing off Ambergris Caye, Robin and I used 9-foot 8-weight Horizon series rods by Thomas & Thomas. The Horizon series has a very fast action, which helps a great deal when making long casts in windy conditions. Keep in mind that anywhere you find good bonefish you will most likely find windy conditions. So make sure you're prepared with the right equipment. The reels we chose were size 8 J. Ryalls. Because bonefish tend to make long, fast runs, it's important to have a reel with a smooth drag.
For line, a Monocore Bonefish line designed by Jim Vincent's Rio Company did the trick. This line has a medium length front taper which helps turn your fly over, and a slightly longer back taper to smooth out your casting loop. Taking into account 3 major factors; windy conditions, clear, shallow water, and very spooky bonefish, it was a good choice for line to make a delicate, precise presentation.
Our leader was longer than normal, averaging 12 to 15 feet. The longer leader helped us outwit the wily bonefish but required a slight adjustment in casting technique.
Though we came armed with dozens of flies, the one that seemed to be working best was the old reliable Crazy Charlie, in a size 8.
Belize is one of those rare places where the whole year can be considered prime time. However, you can't go wrong from mid November through mid May when temperatures range from the mid 60's at night to the mid 90's during the day.
Getting to Belize is easy, with commercial flights arriving in Belize City several times a day. If your plans include a visit to Ambergris Caye, there are a couple of local airlines, such as Tropic Air, that offer flights from the mainland to San Pedro airport. It's a beautiful 25-minute flight.
Once on the island there are a number of nice hotels, motels and small resorts, offering a wide variety of amenities depending on your budget. The general atmosphere of the resorts and hotels is quiet and secluded. Dining options range from street vendors to fine restaurants. The food is a flavorful mix of fresh seafood, Mexican cuisine, and American fare, and is reasonably priced.
Here are a few things to remember when you are planning your trip to Belize. Upon arrival all international visitors need to clear immigration and customs, and a passport is a must. We found the people on Ambergris Caye to be very friendly and enjoyed the local dress code, which is described as "laid back casual." A commonly posted sign summarizes the attitude..."No shirt, no shoes, no problem!"
There are few automobiles on the island. The common mode of transportation is by golf cart or bicycle. Of course, walking will get you nearly anywhere you want to go.
No doubt these are on everyone's packing list, but don't forget sunscreen, a good pair of polarized sunglasses, a camera, and lots of film!
Ramon's Village Resort
Ramon's Village (see above)
Recommended Domestic Airline in Belize
General Information on Ambergris Caye
"Belize; Land of the Free by the Carib Sea"
Things To See And Do
Snorkeling or scuba diving: Belize is home to the second largest barrier reef in the world which draws an endless variety of aquatic life. The water clarity allows a diver to see up to 150 feet, depending on the conditions. No experience is necessary, as there are many local dive shops that offer courses. Jacques Cousteau's famous Blue Hole is a day trip available from Ambergris Caye, an experience you will not soon forget.
World-class fishing for tarpon, bonefish, and permit: There are endless miles of shallow water flats and mangroves along the coast of Belize. It's an anglers' paradise, offering fishing opportunities year 'round. The rivers of mainland Belize are another option for anglers as well.
Maya Ruins: Whether you're a history buff or not, you will enjoy taking one of the Discovery tours of the Maya sites. Watch as the excavation continues, revealing the past before your eyes. Arranging a day trip is easy. Most hotels can make the reservations for you on relatively short notice.