Caribbean Destination: Top Things to Do on Belize's Ambergris Caye
Things to Do, Spots to See, Food to Eat, Places to Stay!
TO DOOn the Ambergris Caye in Belize, you can enjoy a full beach and ocean scene complete with snorkeling, diving, fishing, sailing, and tanning. There are many different groups that will organize any and all of the above. The key is finding a group that will give you the best deal and the most convenience. Belize is one of the top destinations for scuba diving, therefore you can find a dive shop (or three) on pretty much any given block. There are countless local dive locations and also famous spots such as the Blue Hole that are a boat ride out. However, if you are not a diver, no fear! Because of the protection of the barrier reef, most of the best dive spots can also be experienced in full by simply snorkeling. Most Belize dive shops organize both dive and snorkel trips and many will pick you up right on the dock of your hotel or rental. If swimming is not your thing, that’s fine too! Sailing and fishing tours don’t require you to get in the water at all (though you’ll probably want to). From a fishing boat, you can catch snappers, groupers, barracuda, and much more. Many fishing tours include a free-dive to spear lobsters and have a beach BBQ in the afternoon. Sailing is another great option for adventure. Sail a boat yourself, or go on a sailing tour. Most tours include snacks, drinks, snorkeling, and a breathtaking view of the ocean. At the end of the day, head into the town of San Pedro for delicious food and fun shopping. A classic Belize meal includes fish, chicken, rice and beans. However, you can also find really delicious Mexican food (seafood burritos, tacos, and enchiladas) and an all time favorite, fish and chips. Shop for shirts, bags, tablecloths, woodwork, and jewelry at one of the many souvenirs shops or from the vendors that always set up shop in the main plaza.
TO SEEWhen you sign up for your tour, whether snorkeling, diving, fishing or sailing, there are many different spots that you won’t want to miss. For snorkeling and diving, Hol Chan is the main marine reserve. Giant groupers, moray eels, rays, nurse sharks, turtles, and an abundance of colorful fish are just some of the sea life you are almost certain to see. Shark Ray Alley is the hot spot for the nurse sharks and sting rays. Sounds dangerous? Nope. They aren’t aggressive; you can swim with them and even touch them without any fear or getting bitten or stung. Yet, the most astonishing feature of these spots and many of the other local dives is the coral of the Belize barrier reef. Mexico rocks and the coral gardens are the places with the most colorful and unique corals, but in any given spot you will see lots of coral, canyons, and cavern swim throughs. And if you want even more beyond the local dives, the Lighthouse reef, Turneffe Atoll, and Blue Hole are more unique spots you can get to by a fairly hearty boat ride. If you are lucky, you might be able to see dolphins, manatee, or even a whale shark out on the outer reef. Sailing and fishing tours can visit most of the local spots (Hol Chan being the most common) and also make stops at the Caye Caulker, another caye with great food and shopping opportunities. If you are feeling extra adventurous and want to venture out of the caye ocean scene and onto the land, mainland Belize offers activities like cave tubing, hiking to waterfalls, and seeing the Mayan ruins. These tours can be organized by a bunch of different tour groups right from Ambergris Caye, but like other activities, you have to shop around to see where you can find the best deal package to suit your needs.
TO EATSan Pedro has a wealth of food. Summertime is lobster season so if you are there for the hot months, expect to get the best in lobster right off the boat, or spear as the case may be. The classic Belize dish is chicken or fish with rice and beans, but most places also offer tacos, burritos, fajitas, enchiladas, fish and chips, and gourmet fish platters. Restaurants range from fancy sit-downs on the beach to fish shacks on the dock. Anywhere and everywhere you will find fresh fish. These spots are right downtown in San Pedro and right down on the beach: Lily’s Treasure Chest, Blue Water Grill, Fido’s Restaurant and Bar, and the Holiday Hotel Restaurant. Just a short, and I mean 2 minute, walk from the water you can find other really great places like Caramba, Ramon’s Village Restaurant, and Waramanga’s. During the day, stop for some ice cream at Manelly’s Homemade Ice Cream or DandE’s frozen custard. These are just a few of the restaurants downtown, but if you walk just one block, you can find many more.
Above: The Lobster Festival happens every year in the San Pedro Plaza at the end of June.
TO STAYOn this Caribbean paradise, you can book a Belize vacation rental from one of the many options on the island with any price range. The side of the island facing the reef is the most developed, so that is probably where you will want to book your rental. The northern part of the island has many spectacular properties and luxury rentals available so if you are looking for your honeymoon spot, or just want to treat yourself, look there. South towards the town of San Pedro - and below San Pedro - are even more places, whether you are looking for a condo in Belize, an apartment in Belize, or just a room. Many rentals on the beach have a dock and even a little section of the beach just for you - ideal for tour pickups, casual swimming, and sunset watching. Make sure your place has air conditioning, as it can get pretty toasty during the day and even at night. No matter where you stay, you will have countless Belize activities open to you and the ocean to be your go to spot. Find your dream Belize rental on Tripping.
- Mosquitos: Be sure to bring bug spray! Especially during the rainy season, mosquitos are everywhere. Mosquito spray is a must and burning mosquito coils on your patio isn’t a bad idea either!
- Money: 2 Belize $ is 1 American $ and most of the prices you will come across will be listed in Belize dollars. So don’t walk away if you see a restaurant with $20 fish and chips or a $30 shrimp salad.
- Transportation: Everyone in Belize gets around via Golf Cart. Taxis are just about the only cars on the road, so unless you want to pay every time you go into town, you should rent a cart so you can get around conveniently and affordably. Also, the street going through San Pedro is paved, but many of the streets are not and can get pretty bumpy.
- Water: It’s best to drink bottled water, just to be safe. The water is not terrible and probably won’t get you sick if you use it to brush your teeth, but you don’t want to take any chances.
- Ocean: The Caribbean is WARM. No wetsuit required for swimming, snorkeling, or even diving.
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