Diving into Central American culture
Written by: DAVE KELLY
Ramon's Village Resort facilitates snorkel, SCUBA, and fishing trips from its private on site dock.
Shark Ray Alley is mere minutes off the San Pedro coastline and barley a mile offshore from Ramon's Village Resort.
noted that this area is the perfect combination
of peaceful fishing village, active reef accessibility
and mouthwatering local cuisine, so we booked
our entire experience through Sated Ventures and
headed off to check it out.
Getting there could not have been easier. In less
time than it takes to drive from Orlando to the
Keys, we took a flight into Belize City, quickly
caught a local hop with Maya Island Air to the
San Pedro airport and whisked off by golf cart to
Ramon’s — all organized by Sated Ventures.
The wonderful staff at Ramon’s gave us a quick
tour of the grounds, then led us to our rooms,
which were tucked gently into the abundant
emerald jungle yet steps from the sandy beach,
pool, in-house restaurant and docks.
Ramon’s Village Resort is an amazing
combination of lush vegetation, magnificent
food, unique accommodations and excellent
service, all in an atmosphere infused with Mayan
and Tahitian flavor. Accessibility to all areas of
the resort is through sandy trails rather than
concrete sidewalks, each bordered by hibiscus,
bougainvillea and leafy palms. Mayan sculptures
dot the landscape, lending a true Central
American feel to this tropical paradise.
The resort is named after Ramon Nunez, a San
Pedro native who was the property’s first general
manager, opening it as Ramon’s Reef Resort in the
early 1980s and remaining on as manager for years.
Ramon was the first certified scuba diver in
Belize, and he was even asked to guide the
legendary underwater explorer Jacque Cousteau
when he visited the Belize Barrier Reef’s worldfamous
Blue Hole. In 1987, adventurer and risktaker
Richard Headrick purchased the property
and renamed it Ramon’s Village Resort, constantly
reimagining and upgrading it, and ran it until his
passing in 2020.
As Delaney and I checked into our Jungle Deluxe
Each room, decorated in a tropical style, featured cold air conditioning, huge beds, a mini fridge and
plenty of room to stretch out. Our glass-paned room doors opened out onto private and spacious wooden decks.
rooms, we were astounded at the amenities that were a part
of our plan. Each room, decorated in a tropical style, featured
cold air conditioning, huge beds, a mini fridge and plenty of
room to stretch out. Our glass-paned room doors opened out
onto private and spacious wooden decks that were shaded by
the flowers and greenery everywhere on the property.
Yet as private as they feel, each resort room is mere steps
from Tropic Al’s, a poolside café that features tropical fruit
smoothies and fresh-ground local coffee. The winding pool
sits in the shade of majestic palms and Mayan statues.
The combination of luxury, character and convenience
In addition to Tropic Al’s, Ramon’s Village Resort features a
world-class restaurant, Pineapples on the Beach. Open from
early morning until late, this open-air jewel is right on the
beach, offering up stunning views of the Caribbean while
your every culinary need is attended to by attentive staff.
We ate at Pineapples multiple times during our stay, always
amazed at the menu staples and daily specials that spoke to
Belizean culture and taste. Whether it was fresh local seafood
caught that day or the “Steak on a Stone” that is a regular favorite,
Pineapples satisfied with the best we could imagine, and we
ate our fill as we planned the next day’s diving adventure.
IMMERSED IN AN OCEAN
Our diving trip was to leave at 8 a.m. But there was no
need to get up extra early — Ramon’s has its own fleet of
fishing and diving boats right at the dock on their private
beach. We had plenty of time for a leisurely breakfast before
meeting our crew and heading out to the open seas and
Shark Ray Alley — to swim with the sharks.
We pushed off with Captain Carlos and crew and headed to
the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, a narrow and shallow cut in
the Belize Barrier Reef that attracts incredible marine life
and is the go-to destination for divers and snorkelers.
Our tour boat had only a dozen guests, so the four crew
members each took the responsibility of guiding small
groups of three to four divers. For our team, Carlos led four
of us into the crystal blue waters surrounding the coral in
search of the sights the reef is famous for. It did not take
long for us to become immersed in an ocean of manta rays,
turtles, moray eels and colorful fish.
Unlike many diving trips, ours was a combination of snorkel
and scuba divers, giving our boat’s group a diverse feel for
the waters we were in. Carlos dived deep, often pointing out
marine life that we could check out if we dared.
It was a thrill to be surrounded by such an abundance of activity.
Left photo: Carlos and crew of our off-shore snorkel trip. Middle photo: David and Delaney Kelly (dad and daughter) on a tropical trip of a lifetime.
Ramon’s Village Resort features a world-class restaurant, Pineapples on the Beach. Open from early morning until
late, this open-air jewel is right on the beach, offering up stunning views of the Caribbean. After our day with
Ramon's crew, we had an abundance of fish and decided to share our day’s good fortune with staff and friends.
After an hour of diving and exploring, we loaded back up
on the boat and headed to Shark Ray Alley. A part of Hol
Chan Marine Reserve, Shark Ray Alley is an area where
rays and nurse sharks congregate to feed. Over the years, it
has transformed from a place where fishermen would clean
their catches to an area rife with sharks, rays and turtles.
Ramon’s crew dropped food over the side of the boat. In a
matter of moments, we were in the middle of the feeding
frenzy. The sea animals largely leave humans alone, but it’s
an amazing feeling to be in the middle of it all. It was a
photo opportunity for the ages.
TASTIEST FISH OF ALL
During that evening’s fantastic dinner at Pineapples on
the Beach, we planned the next day’s fishing trip. Ramon’s
guides recommended a trip out to the reef for the tastiest fish
of all — snapper. We headed out in the morning again, this
time with our target being the reef edge, no more than a mile
offshore from the docks. Within minutes of anchoring at our
destination, co-captains Jairo and Wilmer had hooks in the water
with us and we soon were reeling in the bounty of the sea.
And while we hooked bonefish and ladyfish and enjoyed
the fight, the vast majority of our haul was delicious red
snapper. After a few hours of this success, we headed back
to shore with our plentiful catch, where Jairo deftly filleted
it and sent it off to Pineapples so they could prepare our
lunch. The local seabirds were happy to catch our scraps
from the dock as we finished our trip.
Our abundance of fish was simply too much for Delaney
and me to enjoy ourselves, so we let the Pineapples folks
know that we were willing to share our day’s good fortune
with staff and friends. Sure enough, after cooking up and
serving us our fair portion of fillets, our new friends were
able to enjoy the remaining bounty of fried, baked and
blackened fish with us.
Over that meal, we decided that for our next trip we are headed
out just beyond the reef to tackle the tuna, mahi and wahoo
that populate these waters, hopefully with the same success.
Ramon’s Village Resort is on the southern edge of the town
of San Pedro, home to numerous restaurants, boutiques,
quality food stores and more. Every evening that we did
not eat at Pineapples, we simply walked the short distance
to “downtown” and explored. Belizean-flavored dishes were
everywhere, from spicy chicken salbute tortillas to slowroasted
pork cochinita pibil to puffy fry jacks.
Sated Venture’s suggestion that Belizean food would satisfy
the soul could not have been more spot-on.
Our trip to experience Belizean food, culture and sport was
amazing. We cannot wait to get back, with deep-sea fishing
and cave diving next on our list.
As the locals say, our experience was “Un-Belize-able”! FCM
As Sated Ventures’ owner, founder and destination specialist, Karolina Guilcapi has proven to be the best of the best. She has been offering custom private tourssince 2006, where her company curates private itineraries with the traveler in mind, generally specializing in trips for those folks who are lovers of travel and food.
Best choice in concierge travel
Our Belize trip was coordinated by Karolina Guilcapi, the owner and founder of Sated Ventures Tours and Travel in Palm Coast, Florida. Over the years, I have found that traveling with a partner that is virtually by your side during the entire journey is invaluable when it comes to the comfort and enjoyment that you can experience from an international trip.
As Sated Ventures’ founder and destination specialist, Karolina has proven to be the best of the best. She has been offering custom private tours since 2006, where her company curates private itineraries with the traveler in mind, generally specializing in trips for those folks who are lovers of travel and food.
With over 40 partner offices around the world, she offers an abundance of destinations to choose from, including the Belize trip that we just completed. She customizes them to each individual traveler, then adds flavor to every trip through tasting sessions, cooking classes and other hands-on experiences that would enhance any vacation. “I am a culinary anthropologist. I believe that food connects us all,” says Karolina. “As I travel the world, I often do not understand the language, and sometimes find the culture confusing. But when I sit around a table and break bread with the local communities, I feel connected, at home, and satisfied. Chasing that feeling is the reason I founded Sated Ventures — a boutique travel company that specializes in private trips with a focus on food.”
Karolina takes an active approach and tirelessly promotes with her clients. With a background from Johnson & Wales University, a school dedicated to food and travel, she has been deeply involved in the growth of the tourism industry.
Latin American trips continue to be her expertise, as she travels there multiple times a year to grow relationships with
her guides, drivers, local chefs and the experts who in turn spoil her guests.
Her clients go to her with an idea of where and when they want to visit, and Sated Ventures curates each itinerary from scratch based on their needs, interests and budget.
Additionally, the company often adds culinary touches such as tastings, cooking classes, reservations at top restaurants and more.
If there is a destination you have always wanted to not only visit but experience, then Karolina and her Sated Ventures team will get you there.
Sated Ventures is the perfect fit for Florida Country Magazine readers ready to explore at the next level.
Did you know that Argentina features dude-ranch vacations that rival those of the American west?
Or that Iceland has more horses per capita than any other country in the world?
Or that you can have brunch on a train after hiking the Inca Trail in Peru?
Sated Ventures will deliver not just a tour for clients to book, but an experience that they will never forget.
Sated Ventures, 386-569-7625, satedventures.com
Ramon’s Village Resort
San Pedro, Belize
Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, whc.unesco.org