Last Updated on February 26, 2023
I first heard of Ambergris Caye from a friend I met in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Over a few beers, he told me of his amazing visit to the island. He spoke with such passion and enthusiasm that I was determined to see its beauty for myself. I had planned to go to Guatemala after Honduras but changed my route to Belize instead.
The island is a 15-minute flight northeast of Belize City. If flying isn’t your thing, you can take a 90-minute water taxi. I went with the latter.
Tickets for the taxi had two prices: one for the locals and another for tourists. It may seem unfair, but the locals use speedboats as they would a bus and with low incomes, they cannot afford high fares. By paying a little more, you’re helping to subsidize this service.
The water taxi will take you to San Pedro beach on the island. Make sure you get to the terminal at least twenty minutes before your boat leaves and buy a round ticket; that way you’ll get a discount. The one-way ticket is $42 USD (they take American dollars). The last trip is at 5:30 pm so it would be wise to plan your travel earlier in the day.
Ambergris Caye is the largest island in Belize and is a well-known tourist spot, attracting more and more people each year. San Pedro is the sole town on Ambergris Caye and provides all the kinds of facilities that a tourist should want and need. It’s a great base for exploring the whole island.
When I arrived at San Pedro, I found myself disembarking the boat and stepping straight onto the beach, lined with smooth, white sand and swaying palm trees.
I had booked into Lina Point, an over-water resort. My room was west-facing and had a private balcony to relax quietly in. In the evening, it provided a fantastic viewing point for sunset. Each room has a bedroom and living room with a balcony, and the cabanas are linked to the main island by a concrete pier. It’s a quaint, peaceful resort with truly fantastic staff. Hector, the chef, is a real character, and he tells some fantastic stories. The food was excellent; the jerk chicken is something you should not miss.
There was only one downside to the resort: the lagoon was out of bounds for bathing (unless you’re particularly fond of swimming with crocodiles). Hector explained that the neighboring restaurant had taken to feeding the creatures, making the lagoon very desirable for crocs.
Here are the ten top places I found on this amazing island:
9 Best Things to Do in Ambergris Caye, Belize
Everyone I spoke to in San Pedro, from the bar staff, waiters, and even the locals, kept talking about Secret Beach and how it was of vital importance I take a trip there. Suffice it to say that Secret Beach is the worst-kept secret ever. It’s about a 36-minute drive from San Pedro, located on the other side of the island, along a winding road that cuts through a mangrove swamp. Nowadays, Secret Beach is probably the busiest tourist spot on the island, there’s even a waterpark to enjoy.
When you reach Secret Beach, you can turn right for the larger beach bars and where all the action is, or you can turn left for a slightly quieter experience.
Assuming you turn right, you’ll find the following bars:
Pirate’s Not-So-Secret Beach Bar & Grill. I didn’t know what to make of this place. The surroundings were amazing, with tables in the water and plenty of lilos, so you can gently float on the water while sipping on your drink. The food was great and well-presented. But, having said that, it was quite expensive (for example a rum and vodka cost $18).
One of the other bars worth mentioning at Secret Beach was Maruba Beach Klub. It’s a similar setup to Pirates Bar; they provide chairs, umbrellas, and floats. The staff is kind and helpful, serving your drinks while you float in the sea. It’s a great place but, again, on the expensive side.
So, summing up Secret Beach: it’s a really beautiful location with an emerald-green sea that you can paddle and snorkel in. The staff generally seem to be excellent and do their best to make your day enjoyable. If you’ve been imagining what a Caribbean beach should look like, then this is it.
Looking for some tours around Secret Beach? Check some out below.
I had to include this in my top ten places to visit on Ambergris Caye. Every Thursday evening at 7 pm at Waho’s lounge, a long-running sporting event takes place that has grown to be something of a tradition in San Pedro.
The rules of this game are as follows: there are several rounds, each featuring one chicken being released into a sectioned area that is divided up into 1 to 100 squares. Spectators who have bought tickets for a square (around $18) gather around and cheer on the chicken. Wherever the chicken drops its first poo is the winning number.
The whole evening is a lot of fun spurred on with copious amounts of alcohol and cheering, together with loud music on the beach. I had a great evening and can highly recommend it.
Great Blue Hole
This is a huge marine sinkhole located east of Ambergris Caye, approximately 147 ft deep. The Great Blue Hole is a part of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve. You can buy a permit to dive there, and most travel agents will arrange a trip for you as part of the package. The permit will cost you about $40 USD. In the 2012 list of The Ten Most Amazing Places on Earth, the Discovery Channel voted the Great Blue Hole as the most amazing place on earth.
You can even take a helicopter ride over the sinkhole to gawk at it from above.
Rum and Bean
No trip to Ambergris Caye would be complete without a visit to Rum and Bean. Craft establishments are becoming all the rage everywhere, but Rum and Bean take this to a whole new level. The bar serves an amazing selection of unique exotic coffees, essences, and infusions that are crafted on the spot, together with a range of fresh juices.
You can enjoy a beverage with their homemade baked goods for breakfast and lunch. In the evenings, pop in for a pre-dinner cocktail or two while enjoying great conversation. A useful tip is that they have the fastest wi-fi on the island.
It’s not just the menu that has been produced with great skill; the whole ambiance and the beautiful wood finish on the walls and front of the bar add a real authenticity to the place.
Belize Chocolate Company
Deeper into Belize, in the Maya Mountains, they grow wonderful cacao, which companies like Green & Black’s purchase as a raw ingredient for their chocolate. However, it wasn’t until December 2007 that Belize-made chocolate was available to buy.
It was initially sold in the Wine de Vine store in San Pedro and, after expanding their range, Chris Beaumont and Jo Sayer opened a small chocolate boutique in San Pedro, which uses materials mostly sourced in Belize. Since then, the store has become a destination where tourists come to sample their delightful range of chocolate and cacao-based drinks.
If Belize’s chocolate piques your interest, there are plenty of tours to explore the mountains and make your own chocolate.
The Truck Stop is a unique experience you should not miss. It’s a food park made entirely out of shipping containers. You can find it about a mile north of San Pedro. The containers have all been converted into top-class eateries offering a variety of cuisines.
There is a beer garden out back, sitting on a deck over the lagoon. It’s all very relaxed. The trucks use locally sourced ingredients so you can be sure the food is fresh.
There is also a swimming pool with a swim-up bar, a stage for live music and an 18-foot movie screen. The place is buzzing with activities every night.
Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley
This is an amazing opportunity for first-timers to experience snorkeling. All snorkel equipment and professional guides are provided. Experience swimming with harmless nurse sharks and various other sea creatures. In addition to snorkeling, you will have the opportunity to gently float along the colorful coral reefs. See tropical fish, stingrays, and turtles in their natural habitat.
Meaning “little channel” in Mayan, Hol Chan Marine Reserve was central America’s first designated reserve. You will see over 160 varieties of fish in small and large schools. The trip includes a swim with stingrays that can have a wingspan of up to four feet. The excursion pick-up points are set up at local hotels, so it’s very easy to join.
El Diablo Bar & Aqua Park
Located in the Caribbean Villas Resort, El Diablo Aqua Park is the only one of its kind in Ambergris Caye. With a bar located right beside the park, you can either join in on the fun yourself or watch the youngsters play while you relax and sip on a cocktail.
Not only is there a huge slide that launches you into the water, but there is also a 300-foot zip line that stretches all the way from the ocean to the shore. There are lots of other activities, such as a climbing wall, a water trampoline and paragliding.
Jaguar’s Temple Nightclub
San Pedro is not exactly a party resort; it’s more quirky, with opportunities to meet amazing people and unique experiences. But if you’re looking for a nightclub, then you should head to Jaguar’s Temple in San Pedro.
The club features loud house, reggae, and pop music. It’s split between two levels and the entrance, in keeping with the club’s theme, is in the shape of a Jaguar’s head. The club can get a bit smoky at times and is busiest on weekends. They have an outdoor club next door, which is slightly more laid back.
If a nightclub isn’t your scene, there are lots of other bars, like The Ol’ Tackle Box Restaurant & Bar to spend the night in Ambergris Caye.
Where to Stay in Ambergris Caye
Looking for a place to stay in Ambergris Caye? Check out these hotels located in Ambergris Caye.
Is Ambergris Caye Worth a Visit?
As I mentioned at the beginning, my friend was really enthusiastic about this island and urged me to visit. Having experienced it for myself, I can safely say that it was completely worth it. I made some great friends on the island, encountered unique traditions and made once-in-a-lifetime memories. It’s unlike any other place I’ve ever visited.Ambergris Cayebeach