Tuesday I set off for San Pedros, Ambergris Caye. My brother is building a ‘casa’ there at the Barrier Reef Resort. Other relatives and friends from my old hometown will be there too. It will be a kind of reunion.
I know of at least 2 couples who are hoping to go the San Pedros in March. So here is the routine I followed.
The ADO bus leaves almost every hour from the terminal in Tulum to go to Chetumal. The bus terminal is about the middle of Tulum. When you are heading south it is on the right across from the Civic Square and the HSBC Bank. It is easy to miss, except for the number of people milling around on the sidewalk and the number of cars stopping in the street to let people out. A one-way ticket from Tulum to Chetumal is 300 pesos (US$14.65 & Can$19.27). They take cash, debit cards and credit cards. I left at 8:30am. The ride is about 3.5 hours in a new, air-conditioned, clean bus. They were even playing the new James Bond movie Skyfall, in French.
If you like, you can also buy the water taxi/ferry to get you from Chetumal to SanPadros. You must pay cash for this ticket. It is 860 pesos (US$42 & Can$55.25)
The bus station in Chetumal is new. There is a variety store and Subway where you can get a bite to eat. You just need to show your bus ticket to get into the area. Be sure to have 5 pesos handy so that you can use the washroom.
Taxis are just outside the bus station door. The ride to the ferry dock is about 15 minutes and costs 50-60 pesos. Ask your driver before you get in how much it will be. Never pay more than 60 pesos. The ferry terminal is called Muelle Fiscac. Be sure to beat the ferry terminal at 2:00 pm, so you will have plenty of time to go through the customs process to get into Belize before boarding at 3:00 pm.
You go to the window along the right side of the terminal. There they check your passport and give you the Customs Declaration and the Welcome to Belize forms to complete. You leave any large items and suitcases here to be loaded onto the boat. Then you proceed further and turn left to a window where you pay the entry tax of US$30 (Can$55.22).
As the time gets closer to departure a Terminal Security person will call out each person’s name and ask you to stand in a line when your name is called. You are then asked to leave all of your luggage/backpacks/purses, etc. on the floor in a row and return to your seats. Security brings out sniffer dog to check all the luggage for drugs or contraband. Ten you pick up your luggage, file past the Security person to have your documentation checked and then you go back outside to board the ferry.
This is really a water taxi. We are told that the water is rough and the ride will be bumpy. They were right. It is less bumpy if sit at the back of the boat. In this case, the boat was almost full so there was not a lot of chance to get a back seat. I tried to read but quickly gave up. I just closed my eyes and let my body flow with the movement. The ride takes about 2 hours. The washrooms are accessible from outside the terminal.
On arrival at San Pedros, we collected our luggage. Again we were asked to form a line in the order our names were called. The Terminal Security checked our documentation was complete. Security let 2 groups into the terminal at a time. On entering the terminal, on the left side, the officer checked the passport, took the Mexican visa and the Declaration form. Then you went across the hall to pay the duty of US$2 (BZ$4). You must have American or Belizian dollars. Belize DOES NOT accept Mexican pesos anywhere.
Then we are finally on Belizian soil, met by many golf carts instead of taxis. On Ambergris Caye golf carts and bicycles are the modes of transportation.
It’s 30 degrees with the breeze blowing in my face. Wonderful.