(This is part 4 of a 6-part description of a trip I took to Belize with friends just after Thanksgiving 2008. I put my pictures a flickr.)
We got up early Tuesday morning and were picked up from the Xanadu pier by a speedboat from Searious Tours. There were already several other tourists on board (along with the three crewmembers), and we picked up a few more at other resorts along the coast. Then we headed out over the open waters toward the mainland.
The fellow from Searious who drove the boat (a two-engine job, about 40 feet long) and served as our tour guide as we left San Pedro was named Willie. He was very knowledgeable about the local flora and fauna, and he was fun to listen to: his speech was sort of a toned-down version of the frequently-overblown Caribbean stereotype (I'm thinking Predator 2 here). On the way to the mainland, we got to see a couple of bottle-nosed dolphins break the surface pretty close to the boat.
Once we reached the coast, we went up the Belize River a bit. We saw an iguana lounging about in one of the trees. We stopped at a dock and transferred to a van which took us to Altun Ha. The ruins there are pretty spectacular--I'll let the photos speak for themselves. We stayed for an hour or so. We got to climb to the top of one of the structures, and that was a real kick. There were no guardrails or anything to prevent a careless tourist from falling over the side--one of the many differences with tourist attractions in the litigation-happy US.
After Altun Ha we spent a couple of hours at the Maruba Spa. They apparently offer massages, mud treatments, and several other odd things. We enjoyed a nice lunch and some time by the pool. Then we rode back to the dock (with one of the tour guides acting as bartender in the back of the van: Belikin and rum punch) and took the boat back to Ambergris Caye (the ride back offered a pretty spectacular sunset). That evening we walked up the beach to the Blue Water grill for some fantastic seafood (I had some snapper), and then we headed back to Xanadu and fell into bed.