|Map of Belize, Guatemala and Honduras
|These are the small plane, boat and bus routes of the Western Caribbean
This is for the explorer of Central America and the countries of Yucatan, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. This
site is to let you know the low budget ways of traveling along the Caribbean coast of Central America mostly.
WESTERN CARIBBEAN GULF OF HONDURAS COASTAL BACKPACKER TRAVEL GUIDE
2007 - 2008
From Southern Belize you can connect to both coastal Guatemala and Honduras by using small airplanes, water taxis, coastal
road buses, ferries and pangas run by outboard motors.
For USA Backpackers - SPIRIT AIRLINES out of Ft. Lauderdale in Florida is now flying into San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
Which is a major industrial city with a cheap bus ride to the North coast of Honduras. The airplanes are NEW Airbus 319s.
Fare was quoted in 2007 Fall months at $60 USA one way. Taxes and fees, mostly in the USA, run that up to US $90 for a one
way ticket. Spirit was flying at this writing, three times a week, Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. The flight was usually a
night trip, just before midnight. You would have to overnight in San Pedro Sula. I once made some good money, buying Honduran
Opals in a local gift shop here and selling them in Iowa, to a jeweler. There are Spirit connections to Atlanta, Boston,
Detroit and Chicago out of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
You can get to Belize, via local Maya Airways out of San Pedro Sula, from Big Creek, across the lagoon from the tourist
coastal village of Placentia in Belize. This is a 9 passenger plane flying Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the afternoon,
at 3:15 p.m. It is a 45 minute flight across the Gulf of Honduras waters. They hit you hard on the fare at US $125 one-way.
There is also a local Honduran Airline, called Atlantic Air, which flies into Belize City up in the middle of the country,
from San Pedro Sula in Honduras, for US $145.
Water Taxi connections to Honduras are from Placentia, in Belize, at US $50 to Puerto Cortez. This is 45 miles of open
ocean. A local bus between Puerto Cortez and San Pedro Sula costs about $2 and takes 45 minutes doing local stops. You can
connect there for a bus to La Ceiba.
Water Taxi connections between Punta Gorda, the southernmost remote town in Belize across the Gulf of Honduras to Puerto
Barrios in Guatemala are US $18. It is 30 miles of Gulf open water to Puerto Barrios in Guatemala. Takes a little over an
hour. The water taxis leave at 9:30 a.m. daily in the off season ( November at this time ) There is also some sort of panga
service to Livingston, in Guatemala on the Rio Dulce, where you can hook into the local bus traffic. Livingston is a yachtie
favorite, as they anchor and leave their sailboats up the Rio Dulce Fiord under caretakers, while going back to the USA to
work and earn more money, to keep sailing around the Belize Barrier Reef 200 islands and three offshore Atolls.
OLD 2007 TOURIST SEASON PLACENTIA TO PUERTO CORTEZ RATES
From Placentia, Big Creek and Dangriga to Puerto Cortez in Honduras the following: D-Express leaves Placentia at the
Shell Station at 9:30 a.m. Fridays. Arrives 2 p.m. in Puerto Cortez. This is an open ocean crossing. Leaves Big Creek at
11 a.m. and arrives Placentia 11:10 a.m. and same arrival time in Cortez. Returning, you leave Puerto Cortez at 10 a.m. on
a Monday and it is a 2 hour trip to Big Creek, or wait awhile and they will drop you in Placentia about 2 p.m.
Neydy Water Taxi leaves Placentia on Thursdays at 10:30 a.m., and comes from Dangriga up the coast of Belize leaving there
at Dangriga at 9 a.m. For return from Puerto Cortez it returns Tuesday at 11 a.m. to Placentia. $50 usa one way.
The HONDURAS to GUATEMALA coastal road is now open to bus traffic. You can connect using local buses, from San Pedro
Sula, to Omoa, a suburb on the Honduran mainland of Puerto Cortez and from OMOA, go coastal road buses to Puerto Barrios in
Guatemala. They dug a tunnel through the mountain range that divides Honduras and Guatemala a few years ago and put in a
highway. Belize is supposed to finish the asphalt paved Southern Highway joining this Guatamalan road system from Jalacte,
Belize, to below Poptun in Guatemala, but currently lacks the money. The Belize road goes to Big Falls and San Antonio
and also branches down to the Belize coastal little town of Punta Gorda. About 5000 people here in Punta Gorda town serving
the 3 interior Mayan Indian villages. There are roughly 36 such jungle villages scattered through the foothill country at
around 400 feet elevation.
This Western Central American coastal road traveling is scenic and an adventure. The local chicken buses from San Pedro
Sula to Omoa, about US $2 and then change to the Omoa chicken bus, to Guatemala border immigration was US $3. Lovely views
from the mountainous coastal road. The border crossing is smooth. You walk across the border and catch a mini-van type bus
into Puerto Barrios. The water taxi ferry runs at 10 a.m. over to Punta Gorda. The Guatemalan passport control and water
taxi are the same place and the mini-van will drop you right there. There is an EXIT fee out of Guatemala of US $12. The
water taxi to Punta Gorda carries a typical load of five Guatemalans going shopping in Punta Gorda, maybe ten Belizeans who
have been shopping in Guatemala returning to Punta Gorda, and maybe six backpacker type foreign tourists. Dutch, UK, and
such, are the usual mix of Europeans exploring the Western Caribbean coast and looking to save money at the same time. Southern
Belizeans from Placentia to Punta Gorda, either shop in Puerto Cortez in Honduras, or Puerto Barrios in Guatemala. They use
the water taxi to cross the Gulf of Honduras. Roughly speaking you will blow around US $150 connecting from Ft. Lauderdale
through San Pedro Sula in Honduras to Belize, counting in low budget hotels for overnighting. That is a one way fare from
Ft. Lauderdale through Honduras to Belize about US $240 one person said and takes two days thereabouts. Miami to Belize costs
about US $350 to $800 one way by American Airlines, depending on season. There are flights into Belize direct from California,
Atlanta, Houston and Miami.
In Belize, there are local buses from Punta Gorda to the capital in Belmopan, where you can connect to other parts of
Belize. They run about every two hours. Belmopan is about 7,000 people. Punta Gorda has about 4000 people as a coastal
SPIRIT AIRLINES from Ft. Lauderdale in Florida also flies into Cancun. There are beautiful buses with toilets and movies
in Mexico from Playa del Carmen to Chetumal on the border with Belize. The Mexican taxes on airlines though, make the San
Pedro Sula connection through Honduras slightly cheaper than going to Belize through Cancun. The Mexican connection is faster
though and you would lose about two days travel time out of your planned vacation in Belize on a round trip. A day each
EUROPEAN BACKPACKERS are mostly flying into Guatemala City and San Pedro Sula, Honduras and coming to Belize exploring
as they go. You can come via Cancun and Cozumel, the bus ride to Chetumal the Belize border takes about six hours. There
are various border fees, which I do not understand and just pay though.
GUATEMALA has three must see tourist sights. These are the colonial city of ANTIGUA which was built a hundred years before
the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in the USA. Antigua is famous for volcanoes and colorful Mayan Indian weaving. There
are 22 Mayan different Mayan tribes in Guatemala, each with their own distinct language and weaving styles. Antigua has the
best patterns and colors. Tough nowadays, the Indian loom weaver is almost an extinct species and bolt rolls of indian looking
stuff comes from a factory someplace and the cut it up and Indians just sell it. Lake Atitlan and the tourist town of Panachjel
is a photogenic must see place. A high mountain lake surrounded by Volcanoes. They have a couple of villages of lost Olmecs
of ancient history. US $15 by express mini-van to Panachjel from Guatemala City. Takes about 3 hours, traffic is horrendous.
Backpacker Hospedajes and Pensions are cheap. About US $8 a night, back from the Lake, against the hill. Usually nice rooms
my wife and I found for US $8. We recommend Hospedaje, Buena Samaritino at the end of the ally across from the bus discharge
stop. We paid $10 usa to go to Antigua from Lake Atitlan and $5 usa to go back the other way in October, 2007. The local Mayan
Indians do not have as picturesque colors in their weaving though, as over in Antigua. Nowadays the artisan markets in Antigua,
Lake Atitlan and Guatemala City on 9 avenue are all selling the same machine factory made cloth stuff. The third site is TIKAL
a big city in the jungles of Peten. Most BACKPACKERS fly into Santa Elena -Flores and see the island on the lake, where Cortez
passed through and left a horse which was stuffed and worshipped by the Indians. Then take a mini-bus into TIKAL for a day
at the ruins from the big bus terminal on the main shore and then mini-bus to the border with Belize. An express mini-van
ride costing about $15 and three hours from Flores to the Belize border. You pass mostly ranches as the Guatemalans have cut
down the Peten jungles. From Melchor de Menchos on the Guatemalan border, you can get a taxi ride on the Belize side after
walking out of Customs, about 12 miles to Falconview Tourist Backpackers Adventure Hostel, in Santa Elena Town, Hillview,
Western Belize, for $30 bz ) ($15 usa, carry as many people in there as you can ) for the vehicle. Share the ride and it
gets very cheap. The Belizeans now have a TAXI UNION to fix rates and raise them up on the Belize side.
In HONDURAS, the major tourist sites, are the ruins of Copan. It is a worthwhile trip out of San Pedro Sula. You can
also connect into Guatemala here over the mountains by backroads and chicken buses and join the main road in Guatemala. There
is a direct mini-bus tour between Antigua and Copan in Honduras daily. It by-passes the traffic of Guatemala City. The three
BAY ISLANDS off the Northern coast of Honduras are favorites for scuba divers. The reef is close to the island shore. The
islands are Utila, Roatan and Guanaja. Roatan is the one you want to go to. My daughter Tina has a BACKPACKER HOSTEL in
West End in Roatan. She also has another beachfront Tinas Backpackers Hostel on Caye Caulker in Belize and flies back and
forth. You can get to Roatan island via Galaxy Wave FERRY out of La Ceiba on the coast, twice daily and just take the bus
from San Pedro Sula down to the coast town of La Ceiba. Alternatively you can fly direct from San Pedro Sula to the Bay islands
by local airline. I do not remember the fares and prices, by plane; but when I get them updated, will post them here.
In BELIZE, people mostly are interested in the Barrier Reef islands of Caye Caulker and San Pedro. Inland traveling BACKPACKERS
usually stay at my FALCONVIEW ADVENTURE HOSTEL, for a few nights while taking outside excursions each day. Tour operators
pick you up and deliver you back to the front desk. We were rated VERY EXCELLENT for 2008, in the European Backpackers Guidebooks.
Falconview Adventure Hostel is most famous for seeing CARACOL ruins, an all day trip and a Mayan city larger they say, than
TIKAL. Though much of it is yet unexcavated and still ongoing. CARACOL once ruled the Mayan Empire. The local day trip
ruins of XUNUNTANICH and CAHEL PECH are a great day trip, ( $22 US ) as also the ACTUN TUNICHIL MUCKNAL, ( $80 US ) or ATM
cave trip. This is a Mayan underground ceremonial cave system, where sacrifices were made and still has skeletons and pottery
a mile back underground, as the entrance to XIBALBA, the Mayan spiritual underworld of nine planes of lower existence. There
are many other local attractions for tourists if you are going to stay awhile. We just sell beds, free bathrooms and showers
and a kitchen for you to cook, with a hammock and television room. What we do is expedite your Western Adventure tours using
local Tour Operators, for you, which is a FREE SERVICE. We get a lot of girls traveling and come here for safety and to leave
their backpacks while exploring around. We keep our finger on the pulse of who is reputable and has working equipment. There
are a lot of street hustler tourist guides, taxi drivers giving out bad expensive information and such. We don't charge you
for it. Most tours require a night before booking. The Tourist business is seasonal here. We get six weeks over the Christmas,
to end of January break, another three weeks at Easter and six weeks during the July- August summer break. The rest of the
year is sort of sporadic casual drop ins, by Central American explorers traveling on longer time frames. The short packed
intermittent tourist seasons play havoc with local Tour Guide Operations and most of them cant keep an operation going and
are constantly changing. The usual male tour guide, usually has a wife working for the government, to keep paying the family
bills from a steady salary. We try to hook guests up with trips that work and the hostel here does not charge for it. We
just want you to have a good adventurous time in our neck of the world, as we realize both your money and time are valuable
to you. To us, you are family and guests of our home and hostel. We cant live off the Hostel earnings. Fortunately, my wife
and I are retired and financially independent and just like having new young visitors drop in periodically. Kinda second
hand excitement, hearing young people chatting about their days adventures. Reminds me of my youthful days. My four daughters
over on Caye Caulker are also in the tourist business. As a family, we have been doing this since 1964. Opening up the Western
Coast of Central America to travelers. Believe me, there have been turbulent times over fifty years, with civil wars, pirates
and all kinds of wild things happening.
BACKPACKER TRAVEL INFORMATION is provided care of our FALCONVIEW TOURIST BACKPACKERS ADVENTURE HOSTEL in Western Belize.
CLICK HERE to connect to Falconview Backpackers Adventure Hostel for more links to interesting things for travelers on our
CLICK HERE TO GO TO FALCONVIEW HOSTEL WEB PAGE
For details on the underground site of the Mayan XIBALBA, click here.
For information and photos on the Belize hilltop Mayan temples of XUNUNTANICH and CAHEL PECH, plus Clarissa Falls. CLICK HERE!
There are SEVEN ADVENTURE HOSTELS scattered around Belize. For listings CLICK HERE!
TIKAL RUINS TRIP out of Falconview Backpackers Adventure Hostel is done two ways. Most take a regular tour, which can run
between $62 usa and $75 usa depending on the season and operators who have a load to make it worthwhile. We just had two
UK girls do it by busing and taxi to the border crossing. They had to pay $18 usa departure tax from Belize and then they
got a mini-bus going from Melchor on the Guatemala side to Flores-Santa Elena in the Peten. They left the bus at the side
road to TIKAL T junction and it cost them $7 usa that far. Flagged a bus coming from the West to Tikal and for another $7
usa arrived before noon. Did their thing, climbed two biggest pyramids. Paid Quetzal 50 to get in, which is about $7 usa,
though a sign said the fee was Q 150 which might be a local scam. They just handed over Q50 note and got a ticket with no
problema. Did not need a tour guide. Left Tikal on a Flores bound mini bus and left it at the T junction with the main highway
and 20 minutes later flagged a bus going from the West to Melchor and the border immigration point. They crossed just at nightfall
6:30 p.m. On the Belize side it cost them from the new TAXI UNION $30 Belize, which is $15 usa for the car for the two of
them to get delivered back to our Falconview Backpackers Hostel. Though the fare is the same to anywhere in the twin towns
area. They figured they saved a $100 usa.
La Ceiba to Roatan Ferry schedule
The Galaxy Wave Ferry leaves Roatan island for La Ceiba on the coast at 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. Returns from La Ceiba to Roatan
at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. The fare is US 25 each way. Or in Lempiras.
ROUND TRIP AIR FARE BY ATLANTIC AIRLINES, A HONDURAN AIRLINE IS $510 Belize currency from Belize to Roatan Island in the Bay
islands of Honduras as of Fall, 2007.
From Belize, via Tikal and Flores to Palenque, Mexico the back way.
This trip can be made either way. From Santa Elena Town and Falconview Hostel here, you go through the Western border
to Melchor de Menchos on the Guatemala side and catch a regular mini-bus every half hour or so to Flores. If you are early
in the day, you can get off half way at the road junction to TIKAL and go straight into the ruins down the side road, by flagging
a mini-bus. Late in the day you would be better to continue to Flores and bus back the next day after overnighting.
FLORES AND THE TWIN TOWN OF SANTA ELENA, PETEN, GUATEMALA
Most tourists make the mistake of going to Flores, instead of the mainland town of Santa Elena in the PETEN. The prices
are a two thirds cheaper in Santa Elena, the mainland side. FLORES is the island, a very small island that has been inhabitated
for centuries and whose claim to fame is Lake Flores, in that CORTEZ the conquistador stopped there when the Mayan road system
was still functioning on his travels and left a horse for the local chief. They stuffed it and prayed to it for a century
or so. FLORES is a RIP-OFF small TOURIST island today, with some gift shops and hotels, all overpriced. The low budget tourist
can do it far cheaper just over the causeway in SANTA ELENA, PETEN. There are tuk tuk taxies ( Asian three wheelers ) that
cost about .75 cents USA, and run you anywhere in FLORES AND SANTA ELENA, the adjacent town on the mainland shore. You will
sleep cheaper in SANTA ELENA and eat a whole lot better and cheaper. There is an excellent buffet type restaurant across the
street from the main bus station in Santa Elena, Peten. BEWARE of the TOUR OPERATORS in FLORES. They tell lies and charge
very high prices. They have all the tourist bus routes covered. Do know, if you travel on a local mini-bus, you can do it
for a quarter of the price. The only difference, the bit larger TOUR VAN will pick you up directly from your hotel. It is
cheaper to stay on the mainland side and take a tuk tuk to wander the tourist gift shops on the small island of FLORES. There
are only 3 or 4 shops. The lake has boats that will take you to two indian villages on the other shore, if you are so inclined.
I did it one time and was not impressed.
After visiting TIKAL and Lake Flores, you can get a local mini-bus, or a much more expensive tourist van to the frontier
to Mexico on the river at Uscumacinta River. The village is called BETHEL on the Guatemalan side. There are competing services.
Local buses and TOURIST VANS. Remember the local mini-buses will charge you about 80 Q while the TOURIST VANS will charge
you around 350 Q for the same ride. ( This was Jan. 2008 ) At the frontier after checkout from Guatemalan Immigration,
you take a canoe for 45 minutes, across the river and up a bit, to Frontera Corozal on the Mexican side of the river. The
local mini-vans here will take you all the way to PALENQUE. You are in Mexico now. I have seen millions of birds flying
up the Uscumacinta River in a thick band for hours along the river banks in the FALL.
I would guess PALENQUE at about 15,000 people, though it is very small. They have hotels and stuff and out of town
by the PALENQUE ruins, they have campgrounds and many funky cabins, for rent. Some in trees with wide verandahs, that let
you look over the jungle tree tops.
To come the other way to Belize just reverse. Do beware that the TOUR OPERATOR vans get commissions from the hotels
on the small island in the lake called FLORES, which is on all the maps and literature. You can travel much cheaper by local
transport out of SANTA ELENA and visit FLORES with a tuk tuk three wheeler taxi for 75 cents. There are TOUR VANS that go
through Belize to CHETUMAL in MEXICO from the supersalesmen TOUR OPERATORS on this island of FLORES and the GUATEMALAN Tour
Operators will tell you all kinds of lies and bad stories about Belize to sell you their ride. Some of these vans will deliver
you to the WATER TAXI TERMINAL in the port of Belize City, to go to the offshore Barrier Reef islands, like Caye Caulker and
San Pedro. ALL of them miss the Western part of the BELIZE ALPS foothills and the exciting number one adventure, that is
a three night, two day ADVENTURE, that is unique and number one in four countries for Mayan buffs. That is the Xununtanich
and Cahel Pech ruins one day, followed by the ACTUN TUNICHIL MUKNAL cave trip the next day, that takes you to XIBALBA, the
entrance of mythology a mile underground and sacrificial site, with skeletons and pottery. You can also get a local trip
from SANTA ELENA in Cayo District of BELIZE here, to CARACOL, which conquered TIKAL and is bigger, though not so well excavated.
Local buses will take you into the coast and connect you far cheaper to the offshore islands.
HOSTELS ON THE TINY TOURIST ISLAND OF FLORES, PETEN
There are two hostels on the tiny island of Flores. One is called Los Amigos, about $8 usa per bunk and the other is
run by Dona somebody or other. It has dormitory and hotel rooms. Lost my notes on that.
Some distance outside of TIKAL road is another one called Hostel Hermano Pedro, near the TIKAL entrance, but is expensive
at $24 usa per night. You also need a van ride to TIKAL in the morning.
Our cell phone is: 663 5580 in Belize. The name is Ray Auxillou. We run FALCONVIEW TOURIST BACKPACKERS ADVENTURE HOSTEL.
We are located on the slope of Green Parrot Valley, a suburb of Santa Elena Town in Western Belize. A very typical agriculture
frontier dusty town of Central America. We enjoy 3 months of summer, April, May and June and the rest of the year is ETERNAL
Information supplied by Falconview Tourist Backpackers Adventure Hostel and current in the Fall of 2007.