The Nautical Inn, Seine Bight

This month we spent a week at the Nautical Inn in Seine Bight, on the Placencia Peninsula, in  Belize.  The Nautical Inn is a friendly little place that has its (mostly) pros and (only a few) cons.

Prior to arrival I chatted with Sarah from Michigan who answered any questions I had.  She also let me know that our room had been upgraded from the Angelfish to the Red Snapper.  I found out later that the Nautical Inn is actually divided into “villas” and once all are sold  (starting at $200,000 US) there will be 8 different owners.  It was my impression there were 3 or 4 as of present and one of them was actually there towards the end of our stay.

We arrived after over 14 hours of travel, including 2 flights (with a screaming toddler, yes we were THOSE people) and a 4 hour car ride through the Belize countryside.  Upon check-in we were offered a cold Belikin and headed to our room to store the luggage and change into swim suits.  We were warmly greeted by 3 other folks, in the pool, who we later discovered were members of the Inn  team. 
We changed the boys into their swim suits and headed out to the pool.  The staff were very good with the boys and played with them for a good hour.  Afterwards it was time to change and get dinner.  As the cook was swimming, we decided to head down to Roberts Grove for dinner.  
When we returned we were told that we were the only guests and the security guard was off that night; but to lock up tight by 9:30 and we’d be fine.  I expressed some concern as it was our first night (with 2 little ones, in a foreign country and we would be all by ourselves) and found out the next day they had arranged for someone to be there overnight. 
The pros: the room was a good size with a microwave, mini-fridge and a coffee maker. The beds were really comfortable, we saw few bugs which is great considering it is the tropics, had a great view,  decent pool that was perfect for the kids, exceptionally nice staff–especially Jovita, and they serve a great rum punch.  They have kayaks which you can use for free and a nice little beach.

Garrett, who is in charge of security is retired military and we felt very safe under his watch.  They can arrange for tours both inland and on the coast.  Also, we had an issue during our stay and contacted an owner who resolved the issue immediately, from the States.  Plus there is a friendly dog named Buddy who also watches out for resort guests.  Lastly it is very clean.  I observed them cleaning a room and it took hours; they are exceptionally thorough and it shows.

The cons: It is a drive to the village of Placencia, there is a very limited menu in the restaurant, which closes early if there are only 1 or 2 guest rooms occupied at the inn.
Other considerations: It is small; if you are looking for a hopping resort, this is not the one.  We went during the off season and during half of our stay we were the only guests.  For me it was lonely and I felt like we were putting the staff out because it was just us. But I like a lot of action.

However, if you are looking for a quiet place to relax and unwind and simply get away, this is your place.

Overall I would recommend the Nautical Inn.  They really do care about their guests and address needs immediately.  Bear in mind it is Belize and everything operates on Belizean time. 
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De Tatch Seafood Restaurant and Bar, Placencia

We decided to head to one of the local favorites, De Tatch Restaurant and bar located on the beach, accessible by the sidewalk.  Owned by one of the oldest families in town, De Tatch has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

The restaurant itself is a thatched roof hut of sorts, made of solid wood.  The tables are a bit small for 4 people, but we made it work thanks to a high chair, which they provided.

We arrived with our two kids in tow, and did not feel pressured to silence them.  Being on the beach, the kids could go play while we waited for our food to arrive.

We ordered the two specials, fish with a lemon dill sauce and shrimp teriyaki.  We also ordered conch ceviche as an appetizer and chicken tenders for the kids.  I will note that this is one of the few places we have found where chicken tenders are on the menu.

De Tatch is pretty quick with food delivery; especially by Belizean standards. We waited no more than 20 minutes from the time we ordered until it was at our table…a record so far.

The fish dish was pretty good.  The fish itself was great; light and flaky.  The sauce was a bit heavy, especially if watching ones weight.  The mashed potatoes were plentiful.

My husband really liked his shrimp teriyaki and rice.  I am not a fan of teriyaki so I can not fairly review. I will most certainly take his word for it.

The kids loved their tenders and scarfed them up.  There were 6 on the plate and a decent size.  They were all white meat.

The only dish that bombed was the ceviche, which was surprising.  It was dry and the conch just “off”.  I have heard great reviews on it, so I will assume it was just an off night. The presentation was lovely however.

Overall, I would recommend De Tatch.  It is definitely a family friendly place (at least during dinner). The service is great, the food good and price is right.

Barefoot Bar, Placencia

We stopped in to have lunch at the infamous Barefoot Bar.  It has quite the reputation as the a local hotspot at night, but we are traveling with tots so we went when it was less hoppy.

The Barefoot Bar is located on the famous Placencia sidewalk.  It is a brightly colored restaurant, with everything painted in aquas, purples, yellows and pinks.  All of the tables are high top, bistro tables, with accompanying chairs.

There is a pretty extensive menu.  You can order 20 different kinds of wraps.  There is also a lengthy burger menu, along with the daily specials and few assorted entrées.

I ordered the conch ceviche for $10 Belizean.  It was amazing; nice and light but with a kick of spice. It was served with nacho chips My husband ordered a grilled shrimp wrap, $14 Belizean.  He received a shrimp teriyaki wrap but said it was good.  We ordered grilled cheese for the kids and the cheese was fully loaded. Sides do not come with the food unless ordered.  However, a friend shared fried plantains with us and they were cooked to perfection.

There is an intense drink menu for those who have come to have fun.  We went with standard Belikins.

Overall, it is a fun place to grab a bite and look out over the water.  The prices seemed average and the breeze hit the spot!

Cheers Restaurant, Belize

It’s a popular destination for folks traveling throughout Belize.  Cheers Restaurant, located on the Western Highway, is great little place to eat after a long day of traveling.
The seating is outdoors, under a covered pavilion of sorts.  Due to it’s size it can accommodate the large tour groups that come in from the cruise ships for their land excursions. There are hundreds of t-shirts hanging from the ceiling that have been signed by tourists.
We’ve been twice and we find that it is a nice, relaxing (but hey we’re in Belize so it’s ALL relaxing) place to stop and catch our breath after a long flight in from the states. Here you can spot humming birds, lizards, and a few ponies in the pasture.  There is also a playground for little ones.  The washrooms are nice and clean.
Located about 40 minutes West of Belize City, the menu has a wide variety, from the Belizean favorite of chicken, beans, and rice to hamburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches for the less adventurous eaters. The prices are okay, a little high, but the food hits the spot for weary travelers.  

If you are traveling down the Western Highway and looking for a place with good food and a nice atmosphere, check out Cheers.

Packing Carry On Only…Challenge Accepted

We will begin our Belizean adventure soon.  Moms, you know what this means…it’s time to think about packing.  Now I am the type that has lists.  Lots of lists.  I have lists for my lists. This works pretty well when we are traveling by car.  I have an SUV that I can fill to the max, along with a luggage container to ride on top.

Not so this trip.  We are flying.  In an airplane out of Dulles.  With one connecting flight in Charlotte. And the kicker…it all has to be carry on.

Yikes!  All of it!

Double Stroller, booster seat, 3 carry on bags and 3 personal item bags. I have images, no nightmares, of how this will transpire as we are carting all of this, and 2 tots, through the airport.  The panic attacks at the thought of all of this, with the kids, through security is a very real thing.

But this is the way it will be be.  SO….

Challenge accepted.

I have left my husband on his own, he can manage.  That leaves me with the 2 boys, myself, their swim gear, entertainment for the plane, snacks, sunscreen, bug repellant.  Oh wait, this post isn’t my list.

Here are my my top tips for smooth packing:

  1. I have found the TSA website to be a great resource.  It lists the regs on liquids (3.4 oz in a 1 quart zip top bag), along with what can and can’t be brought on board. For instance, I can bring a bottle of milk for the little guy (they just test it to make sure it’s legit).  I can bring snacks.  I can bring water bottles.  
  2. The big box store with a bullseye has a fantastic section to buy travel size supplies including bug spray and sunscreen.    
  3. The trick of rolling cloths really works!  I found that by rolling the kids shirts and shorts and putting them in gallon bags and squeezing out all of the air, I can fit a lot of cloths in a really small space.  So small in fact that I could include their life jackets, swim goggles and water shoes all in one bag (yes, I’m good).
  4. Luggage: 2 suitcases and 1 duffle bag.  It is a lot easier to sling the duffle bag over a shoulder and rolling 2 suitcases, than pulling 3 suitcases through an airport. An aside: the little guy is still under 2 so we can only have luggage for 3.
  5. Personal item bags…I use a backpack instead of a diaper bag.  One that includes lots of pockets for odor blocking diaper bags, crayons, toy cars and my cell phone. The other bag is a small, Monsters U suitcase that my son can roll throughout the airport and put through the bag screening.  It is very important to him that he is a big boy and is doing what we are.  In his bag I have packed the iPads, headphones (super hero of course), books, snacks, cars, magnetic drawing board, and other assorted toys,

I am not a fan of flying…it’s a control issue.  But I have to say, caring for 2 kids on a plane is a good distraction.

Now, if only I could get them to nap the entire flight ;-).

Choosing a hotel in Placencia

Xunantunich

I am beside myself with excitement for our upcoming trip to Placencia, Belize.  I absolutely adore Belize.  There is so much to do both inland and on the coast.

On our last adventure we went cave tubing down Caves Branch River, visited Actun Tunichil Muknal, saw the Mayan ruins of Xunantunich and went for a few treks in the jungle while we stayed at Cahal Pech Village Resort in San Ignacio.  
Then we headed to the coast and spent a few days in San Pedro on Ambergris Key.  Based out of Victoria House, we ventured with snorkeling gear out to the Great Blue Hole. We also saw the chicken drop, rode a few catamarans and ate the best food you can ever dream of. 
Farmers Market, San Ignacio

This trip is more business, less adventure, and with 2 tots in tow.  But, it’s Belize, which means the trip is sure to be un-Belizeable regardless of the pace.  

Our initial thought heading into the trip was that we would stay on the beach, along the sidewalk, in the town of Placencia.  After reviewing 60 websites, and subsequent reviews, for hotels, B&Bs, inns, independent residences, condos, villas and resort hotels, we surprised ourselves by choosing a location 4 miles north, in the town of Seine Bight.  Seine Bight is a Garifuna village, a culture that is indigenous to the Caribbean Coast.  
Chicken Drop, San Pedro

What led us to this?  If it were just the two of us, accommodations wouldn’t have been very important.  But, what we found is that it’s a bit more tricky to find a place that sleeps 4 comfortably (by US standards). We found a lot of places that had a double bed and a twin bed; a tight squeeze for a family of four.

The other issue was that most of the places we could afford were right next to popular bars.  Traveling without kids that would be awesome.  With little ones who need to sleep, that could pose as an issue.

We found high end resorts with every amenity under the sun, for a mere $250 + a night (ouch).  Others we inquired with and they quoted back prices $20-$40 higher than advertised on their websites.  

While we are traveling to an amazing location, we are traveling on a budget.  We would LOVE the 5 star resorts on the one hand, but we really want authenticity on the other.  Having the little guys, I wanted to stay beachside; it’s just easier.  
The pier at Victoria House

We are renting a car, so we factored that into our decision.  With transportation, we can drive into the villages and eat the local cuisine.  Belizean food is incredible.  I simply can’t get enough of it.  And with a little Marie Sharps, it is absolutely addictive.

So where are we going?  The Nautical Inn.  From the interactions I’ve had already, I feel confident that this was a great choice.  It is right on the sea, has a pool, and there is wi-fi onsite.  It is small, but has a restaurant on site for a Belkin or rum drinks in the evening and breakfast in the morning.

I am so excited!  I can’t wait to introduce our boys to the calm waters of the Caribbean and the amazing culture of Belize.

Planning a tropical vacation!

My husband just gave me the nod!  Waaaaahooowaaaaa!!!!!! I get to plan our next amazing vacation.

Can you tell that I’m excited?  Where to this time?  Belize.  In Central America.  Yup, that Belize.  Gorgeous water, amazing food, and adventures of a lifetime.

It’s been 5 years since we visited Belize.  Our last trip was for our honeymoon; an amazing 10 day trip that combined adventures in the jungle (San Ignacio) with outstanding 5 star accommodations on the water (San Pedro).  We talked about returning.  However, I didn’t realize it would only be 5 short years later, and with two little boys in tow.

This time we are visiting an entirely different part of the country. We are heading south to the pristine beaches of Placencia.  A small little fishing village of 750, this area is becoming a popular tourist destination.

We are leaving in just a few short months.  Normally a trip like this would take about 6 months of planning.  The truth is, we had this trip planned for last October, however, the air fair was so high that we chose to delay and take our kids to Walt Disney World instead (I know, big surprise).

Now the fun begins.  Because we have little ones, I am a bit more cautious.  No zip lining, water tubing and caving this time around.  However, kayaking, playing in the water, visiting a Mayan ruin and boating are all a must.

We ordered the kids passports, set up doctor appointments to make sure we are up to date with vaccinations and I just booked our plane tickets.  Thanks to cheapair.com we got amazing rates. Now to quell the anxiety of flying, and especially the anxiety of international flights with 2 little guys. More on that later.

I know we are blessed.  I can’t wait to share the details of this amazing country and our vacation planning.