Al a Carte vs. All Inclusive - Planning a Romantic Getaway in San Pedro, Belize
Being married for years or even decades complicates vacation planning.
On one hand, you want to get away from the dreary default world full of work problems, home problems, neighborhood problems, etc.
On the other hand, you also want to get away from each other. After living together for time immemorial, your biggest source of stress might be one of your significant sources of stress.
So how do you plan a vacation that lets you get away from it all, but still provides opportunities for you to grow closer together?
One solution is pretty simple: Make together time special. There's no need to spend all day everyday in each other's pockets. But when you get together, the time should be meaningful.
First, consider what activities you really enjoy doing together. Mealtimes might be a chore, because you have different eating styles or paces, but walks on the beach might be the perfect opportunity to reconnect.
It's absolutely okay to engage in different activities all day, but spend evenings lounging on the veranda, exchanging photos and recounting the day's most interesting moments.
Next, plan a schedule that allows you to enjoy activities together, but also spend time apart doing activities that each of you loves. Half-day excursions are a great compromise that lets you make the most of your vacation. Have breakfast together, take a walk together on the beach, split up for snorkeling, diving, fishing or golf, and rendezvous for an afternoon or evening meal. There's an added benefit to half-day activities: you'll have a chance to enjoy the island's main attractions, but you won't find yourself cramming three excursions into a single exhausting day.
Six Really Cool, Mostly Free Things to Do in San Pedro is a great starting point for planning together time before or after the day's main activities. Activities like the Tarpon Feeding, Eel Feeding and Aquarium Feeding take place at or near restaurants, so they can be easily combined with breakfast, lunch or dinner. The Tarpon feeding takes place at the Sunset Grill, easily one of the best restaurants on the island, and a great place to take your catch for grilling at the end of a fishing trip.
Why San Pedro is Great for Married Couples
San Pedro is great for spouses vacationing as a couple.
- The island is small enough that no matter how disparate your activities, you can still meet up in less than 20 minutes. That means you can spend the day fishing, and ring your honey for your tour's beach-front fish barbecue without lots of pre-planning and organization.
- "Extras" like snorkeling, fishing and diving are so affordable that you can do two sets of activities instead of settling for one.
- The island has plenty of amenities for both sexes. It's famous for its sporting activities, but the island boasts dozens of spas with amazing spa treatments. They offer everything from basic beachside massages to body wraps, scrubs, pedicures, manicures... you name it, they have it.
- The island is incredibly safe. Don't worry about your spouse wandering around alone. The island has an active police force and not much crime. You can't discard basic cautions and stumble around the beaches at night, but you definitely won't be attacked while walking through the town or its environs.
Beware All-Inclusive Resorts!
All-inclusive resorts seem like a great deal. There's no hassle over prices, and you know your final tally up front.
However, on all-inclusive resorts aren't the best option for a married couple looking to spend time together - and apart.
If you really want to enjoy the San Pedro and Ambergris Caye, all-inclusive resorts have several downsides.
Downside #1 Distance from town -- Resorts like Coco Beach are only 3 miles from town. But it's not three miles as the crow flies. It's three miles in a golf cart on unpaved, rutted roads with frequent speedbumps. Alternatively, it's three miles in a taxi-van that has decent suspension, but crosses the speedbumps sideways to avoid bottoming out.
Three miles on a bike might as well be forever. I love bikes. The hub How to Live Without a Bike - and Not Hate the Experience is a testament to that. Still, 2.5 miles south is as far as you really want to be from town, no matter how much you love solitude or biking on the beach.
North of town has great vacation rentals and great prices, but if you plan to leave your rental unit at night, and you like streetlights, then South is the way to go.
Downside #2 Cost allocation. All-inclusive resorts charge a premium for providing food, drink and basic amenities. On San Pedro, almost all hotels include basic amenities like a pool, towels and cleaning service. And both basic hotels and all-inclusive resorts charge for extras like spa treatments, yoga classes and excursions.
Great food on San Pedro can be had at a fraction of the resort's mark-up. The hub Fine Food that won't Cost a Fortune highlights some of the best places that serve full-sized meals including a beverage for less than $10 US.
If you pay resort fees and buy your own dinners, you're paying double what you should. If you limit yourself to resort food, you miss out on some of the island's best experiences. Worst of all, when you decide to go exploring, you'll find yourself a long, bumpy ride from the people, culture and customs of San Pedro.
If you want a vacation that's completely taken care of, then fixed-price all-inclusive resorts are a great idea. Otherwise, a la carte is a great way to travel.