10 Best Things to Do in Ambergris Caye, Belize
New York City. Chicago, Illinois. Hollywood, California. What do these high-profile cities have to do with vacationing on Ambergris Caye off the Belize coast? This remarkable slice of paradise may not be a city in the true sense of the word, but it’s an epicenter of variety, action and fun that has no match elsewhere in the nation.
Want to see this for yourself because you think this claim is nothing more than hyperbole? We suggest getting plenty of rest before you pack because all 10 of these fabulous experiences are simply the tip of iceberg and you’re not going to want to rest during your visit!
1. Hang out in San Pedro. Yes, the town sounds familiar. Madonna wrote a song about it long before the town turned into a celebrity hub where tourists get a taste of the good life, Belize style. San Pedro town has narrow streets but they’re abuzz with excitement so keep your wits about you as you will be tempted to overload your itinerary once you realize how much this area has to offer.
2. Snorkel the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Just 4 miles from town but a million miles from boredom, this enchanting, coral-filled gap in the Belize Barrier Reef System was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll need a boat to reach the reserve, but once you get there, prepare to be amazed. Hang out with sea turtles, southern rays, a tidy selection of sharks and fish, all of which coexist at depths of no more than 9 meters.
3. Swim with sharks. Nurse sharks are amenable to having human beings swim with them at Shark Ray Alley and as soon as they hear boat motors approach, they swim toward people, not away from them. Harmless and endearing once you hang out with a few, nurse sharks dine on fish, shrimp, and squid, so you won’t be viewed as lunch. That stated, if rays are among the curious, plan to swim with the sharks at another time.
4. Dive into The Great Blue Hole. What happened when planet earth was settling into its current shape? Among the anomalies created over time were sink holes of varying depths and shapes. Few hold a candle to Belize’s Great Blue Hole, a spooky chamber measuring 137 meters deep and 304 meters wide. This attraction is so filled with fascinating things to observe, even the legendary Jacques Cousteau kept returning for more.
5. Sail to Caye Caulker, where solitude and beauty attract folks who like their island time tranquil and restorative. This laid-back parcel of land may be quiet and unassuming, but visitors delight in their ability to patronize seaside eateries and boutiques when they’re not hanging out on the beach or skimming the shore on a rented catamaran.
6. Hang out at “San Pedro’s de facto entertainment hub,” The Truck Stop. This former shipping container park has been reinvented as an amusement park where visitors dine on pizza, Asian- and Latin-style treats, enjoy spending time at the 5.4-meter movie screen with stadium seating and swim in the park’s pool. If your timing is right, you could hear a live band perform or attend a themed event.
7. Visit Bacalar Chico National Park, 106 square kilometers of nature that bumps up against Mexico. Amid this park’s surprises are Chac Balam Maya ruins (with an onsite museum) and there are 11 miles of trails, each of which could reward you with an elusive jaguar, ocelot or puma sighting. If you prefer your wildlife claw-free, snorkel the reserve to delight in the colorful corals, fish, turtles, and manatees.
8. Get your fill of Belize chocolate. Chocolate beverages were invented by the Mayas for consumption by royalty and VIPs, but you don’t have to show that you are part of a royal family to eat more than your fair share during a tour of the Belize Chocolate Company. This San Pedro enterprise holds chocolate-making classes for visitors and offers enough tastings to put you into a mild state of euphoria.
9. Visit Secret Beach. Don’t be surprised to run into other people since this is one of the worst-kept secrets on Ambergris Caye. Perfect for a picnic or a day splashing in crystal waters where you won’t run into seaweed, you can get to Secret Beach by golf cart, jet ski or boat. If you want to kayak or paddle board, you’ll find rentals as well as beachfront eateries along the coastline.
10. Make the Ambergris Caye party scene. No visit to San Pedro is complete without checking out the legendary night life that is not just world-famous but the sole reason some tourists come down. In San Pedro alone, the sheer number of restaurants and bars that serve cuisine from around the world makes this a gourmand’s paradise and why wouldn’t you want to burn the candle at both ends while visiting this amazing place?
Admit it: You want to do everything on this list and more. We get it. You haven’t had a vacation in a very long time and you deserve a blow-out. Everything you desire can be found within this 25-mile-long epicenter of beauty, fun and excitement, so who needs Chicago or Hollywood when Ambergris Caye has it all? Further, even if you live high on the hog during your stay, you’re likely to spend less money for more fun than you would have you chosen either of these stress-inducing cities!