Your Ambergris Cay, Belize Travel Guide
Formerly known as “British Honduras,” Belize is an independent Commonwealth of just under 400,000 people. Sharing a small northern border with Mexico and Guatemala to its west and south, Belize has a proud Mayan heritage dating back as far as 2500 BC. Although they weren’t the first there, the Spanish claimed Belize as part of Central America until the British won it in a battle off St. George’s Caye in 1798.
These days, Belize is a multi-cultural – and multi-lingual – society. Spanish speaking Mestizos from neighboring countries make up about half the population, but there are also Mayans, Creoles, English, and Africans, along with Mennonites who came from Canada after WWII.
Although Belize City is the urban center and cruise ship destination, the most popular tourist destination in Belize is Ambergris Caye.
The main town on Ambergris Caye is San Pedro. A short 15 min hop on Tropic Air from the International Airport in Belize City and you’ll be in a different world. The Belizean people on the island make this a very special place.
Travel Tip: Traveling around Belize you’ll see places calling themselves “Cool Spots.” Sounds like a place where hip people hang out – or maybe a location with extra air conditioning – but it’s actually local slang for a bar serving Belize’s Belikin beer and rum drinks.
Weather: November to March average temps are in the 80’s, with nighttime just a few degrees cooler. Although June to October are considered the slightly cooler, rainy months, when hurricanes are most possible, many divers consider this the best time to visit because they say there is less wind (unless a storm is brewing). As the “off season” it’s also the least expensive. Humidity is always 70% or more.
Travel Tip: The official currency of Belize is the Belize dollar, but U.S. dollars are widely accepted. So you’ll want to pay attention to whether the price you’re being quoted is in U.S. or Belizean dollars.
Travelers checks and most major credit cards are also accepted, at least at the larger hotels and upscale stores, but you may find a service charge being added. Tips of 10-15% are customary at restaurants where a service charge has not already been added but taxi drivers are not usually tipped.
Ambergris Caye, Belize – Things To Do
Snorkeling: With its emerald water and the reef just a mile from the beach Hol Chan National Reserve is a must for snorkeling! Shark Ray Alley nearby lets you swim with nurse sharks. By the way, these are huge nurse sharks that are used to being well fed by tour guides on the daily trips. You may have swam with nurse sharks on other islands, but these are way bigger. Take an underwater camera!
Parasailing: Go parasailing with Belize Parasail Plus and get a whole new perspective of Ambergris Caye.You can find them at the dock in front of Fido’s Restaurant. They offer plenty of other tours too such as deep sea fishing and a private beach outing with snorkeling.
Scuba diving: Diving the many reefs are also popular past times for tourists visiting Ambergris Cay. If you’re looking for more adventure, about 60 miles off the coast of Belize City sits the Great Blue Hole, a 410 foot deep sink hole and one of the top 10 diving destinations in the world.
Ambergris Caye, Belize – Where To Drink
Fidos Courtyard is a great venue for listening to live music and having drinks. The food is average, but the atmosphere is fun and lively on the busier nights.
Sandy Toes Beach Bar and Grill has a fun bar atmosphere and the food is quite good too. A more affordable option and fully embraces the island vibe right on the beach.
Just up the beach a bit is The Dive Bar – another great live music venue and yes – it’s also a scuba dive operation. Perfect views over the beach and just the right place for a happy hour drink.
Where To Eat
Hidden Treasure Restaurant is the most romantic of restaurants. The atmosphere is created with soft lights and candles in an open air pavilion. Excellent service and the food is top quality. Try the Caribbean Jerk Shrimp, Lobster or Stuffed Grouper. All were excellent. It’s a high end restaurant and the prices reflect it. It really is “hidden” so make sure you get good directions.
Wild Mangos is the best beach front dining establishment in Belize. Casual atmosphere and higher quality food than found at most places along the shoreline. Not a typical beach bar / restaurant offering a ton of friend foods. The ceviche is excellent, shrimp pasta was delectable and huge portions. The drinks are the best on the island. Try the Dirty Banana, if you love dessert cocktails – you won’t be disappointed!
The Black Orchid fine dining where owners Tom & Judy Ann ‘retired’ .. hah! We didn’t call ahead for reservations, but when our larger party arrived, they welcomed us warmly and ushered us to the bar where we could relax with a drink while they moved tables about. Very attentive staff. We asked for multiple little things, like more ice and sauces and they quickly complied. Our large group ordered a variety of dishes and everyone was satisfied.
Belize Where To Stay
Grand Caribe Belize Resort & Condos: If you’re looking for luxury in Ambergris Caye, Grand Caribe has everything you need for a pampered vacation. Full kitchens, large balconies, rooftop restaurant, four pools, beach bar, onsite convenient store, tour desk, golf cart rental, shuttle and laundry service. Just north of town so it is quiet but close enough that a 10 minute golf cart ride can get you to the downtown establishments.
White Sands Cove: A small Ambergris Caye resort located less than a quarter mile swim or kayak to Belize’s Barrier reef, the largest in the Western hemisphere. Waterside tapas bar, with many items featuring ingredients that are locally sourced or grown right on the property. Approximately 2.5 miles north of town, still not too far away for easy trips to the local scene. Full kitchen but also offers reasonably priced food onsite.
Ramon’s Village Resort: Ramon’s is located in the heart of town making it easy to walk just about anywhere. A jungle vibe with thatch roofs, hammock huts, lush plants and a lagoon like pool. Generous balconies and a variety of room options. If you want to be close to the action and feel as though you are experiencing the local flavors, Ramon’s is a great option.