We booked Victor Bodden's private tour and had a great time. Our driver "Ronald McDonald" was really fun. His first name really is Ronald, he's added the McDonald so people will remember him.
He took us to the top of a hill near the airport with fantastic views, for a drive along the beach and then to Victor's private compound for ziplining and the Monkey farm. DH did the zipline and had a great time. From there we visited the monkeys and birds. One adventuresome monkey checked in my husband's shift pocket and then jumped on my back, grabbed my collar and crawled down inside my t-shirt! The monkeys seem to be de-clawed as I got no scratches despite the monkey's little foray!
We stopped by the cameo factory which as a little disappointing but it was Christmas day so there were only a couple folks there. Ronald then recommended Fonsies near the pier for internet access and lunch. Food was tasty, internet not so good. There were alot of crew members there with laptops using Facebook so perhaps it was just a bandwidth issue. Try the red beans and rice and the garlic shrimp - very tasty! Ronald was nice enough to take our mahogany salad bowl set back to the kiosk so we didn't have to carry it while we did some other shopping before heading back to the port area.
Went cave tubing with cavetubing.bz. We were able to make the first tender so we were on the bus heading to the tubing site by 9am. It was the day after Christmas so it was VERY crowded. We were divided into groups and ended up in a group of 7 with Israel as our guide. Given the large number of people Israel was in a hurry to get us to the river so we didn't get to stop to see some of the flora and fauna that we otherwise might have. I was lagging a bit behind so Israel helped carry my tube for the second half of the hike (it takes about 30-45 minutes to get to the caves). Cave tubing was a blast and Israel did a great job with our group.
I highly recommend Cavetubing.bz, we saw others with other companies that were not nearly so attentive as tubes crashed into each other and the tubes themselves were not as nice. After tubing we had lunch as Vitalino's facility - a delicious piece of chicken, beans and rice and rum punch. Definitely recommend Vitalino Reyes and Cavetubing.bz.
Belize City itself if not much to look at but the countryside on the way to the caves as beautiful. We didn't spend much time outside the port gates other than with our guide but it seemed safe enough. It is definitely a 3rd world country but nowhere near what I had expected after reading reviews here. If you've been to any Mexican border town, you'll know what to expect in Belize.
The Wet Lizard inside the port has cheaper Belikin beer and tasty Belize-style tacos. Different than Mexican and very tasty!
We did the ATV adventure with Orlando as our guide. It was pouring rain at the port but fortunately cleared up by the time we got to the ATV site. After a brief intro to the ATVs we set out with Orlando as our guide. After a ride through the mangroves, we headed to the beach for a fun ride. Word to the wise, take wraparound sunglasses if you have them or take their goggles to wear. I wore my prescription glasses without goggles as they would not fit over my glasses, there were a couple places where the sand kicked up and it was pretty hard to see.
After the ATV ride, we got to spend "30 minutes" at the beach but they were Mexican minutes so it was more like an hour. Snorkel equipment was available for those that wanted to use it.
When we returned to the port we went to Carlos and Charlies/Senor Frogs for a bite to eat as we did not have enough time to go into town. This was the low-point of our visit as the food was very, very expensive. For a couple beers, fajitas and some fried cheese with tip we paid $60 US. Way too much for Mexico but we were captive in port without any other options. If we go to Costa Maya again we'll go to town to get some real Mexican food.
Loved the dolphin encounter! We got to spend about 45 minutes in the water with the dolphin and had a great time! They don't allow you to take pictures and theirs are pricey but be sure to bargain with them - it is Mexico after all and you should be able to get the full set for what they tell you that you will pay for 16.
We headed out shopping after the dolphins and hit up Mr. Chilies for some guacamole and the local beer - Superior. Very good and unlike our experience the day before in Costa Maya, a reasonable price.
Cozumel is all about shopping with lots of vendors hawking their wares. If you want to shop, Cozumel is for you. Dolphinarius was my favorite excursion but Cozumel was my least favorite port. After a full day, we headed back onboard about 3pm to relax before dinner.