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Americas Belize Destinations Guide

Ambergris Caye | A Guide to the Isla Bonita of Belize

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Those looking for tropical fish, beautiful corals, and soft white sands need not look further than Ambergris Caye. Situated just off Belize Barrier Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world, the Belizean island is the perfect Caribbean getaway for rest and relaxation, with just a dash of adventure thrown in.

What To Know

Thanks to English being the national language, Belize is one of the easiest Central American countries to navigate. Once you’ve made your way to Belize City, home of the closest international airports, you have the option of jumping on an additional hour-long airline flight to the caye, or taking a local ferry across the Caribbean waters. The later is recommended, provided you don’t get seasick. Make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen and beach clothes, but be aware that rain gear may also come in handy.

Once on the island there is plenty to do, though if you leave San Pedro town to explore other sites you will likely have to drive a golf cart – the local form of transportation. The ride may be bumpy, but it’s always fun! Drive carefully. Depending on how secluded you want your trip to be, you can either stay in San Pedro or at a rental property along the coast. The latter option is definitely worth the extra expense for the ultimate beach vacation.

What To Do

Whatever you may be looking for in a tropical vacation destination, Ambergris Caye probably has it. One of the most popular activities is snorkeling and scuba diving along the barrier reef, and both group and private tours can be arranged by the docks in town. The marine life here is diverse and plentiful, including tropical fish, sea turtles, and even an octopus or two! The coral itself is also beautiful, and well worth visiting. The reef is sure to be a highlight of your trip.

Outside the reef, Ambergris boasts beautiful beaches, including the secluded Secret Beach. Free of resort build up, the beach still features bars and restaurants, as well as water perfect for swimming and cenote formations to explore. Though it’s anything but secret, the beach is well regarded and a great place to watch the sunset. Sea kayaks can be rented throughout the island, and San Pedro offers accommodation, restaurants, bars, and a great local marketplace that’s perfect for finding souvenirs. Shark Ray Alley, appropriately featuring nurse sharks and stingrays, is also easily accessible from town.

Finally, those looking to explore the jungle should head to Bacalar Chico National Park on the north end of the island. Much of the Belizean wildlife can be found here both on land and in the water, and you may even spot a manatee among the mangroves. There’s also a small museum and some Mayan ruins to be visited, should you want for a change of pace.

In The Area

While Ambergris has much of it’s area preserved as a nature sanctuary, those willing to make the day trip to the inland Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center will be met not only with guaranteed animal interactions, but beautiful natural jungles and habitats as well. The zoo is unique in that it features only animals local to Belize, including tapirs, jaguars, monkeys, and crocodiles. With its education focus and friendly staff, this is a great alternative for those looking for more controlled animal encounters.

Header photo by amon1500 from Pixabay 

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