Founded in 1848, San Pedro is the colorful capital of Belize’s biggest island, Ambergris Caye. Way back in 1986, the world-famous singer Madonna visited San Pedro, which inspired her to write the hit song “La Isla Bonita,” which currently has over 85 million views on YouTube. The video for that song was filmed in San Pedro and many locals appear in the background behind the singer.
Officially, the population of San Pedro is only around 20,000 people, but Ambergris Caye is the most popular tourist destination in the country, bringing in hundreds of thousands of people every year. Locals are known as San Pedranos, most of whose ancestors came from Mexico. Today, most people in San Pedro speak English as a first language but are conversant in basic Spanish.
San Pedro is a lovely town, and because it’s on an island, the most popular form of transportation is by bicycle or electric golf cart. San Pedro has everything a visitor might want, including resorts, hotels, high-speed internet, banks, shops, swimming pools, and even a gourmet farmer’s market. San Pedro has its own airstrip with regular connections to the mainland as well as a water taxi dock with connections to Belize City and nearby islands such as Caye Caulker.
And because San Pedro is a popular gateway to the nearby Belize Barrier Reef, it is home to fantastic seafood restaurants serving lobster, conch, fish, and other delights fresh-caught daily and prepared to order. San Pedro is also where you’ll find dive centers that rent equipment and offer PADI certification as well as dive/snorkel tour operators for trips to the reef, including the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley.
Popular activities in San Pedro include windsurfing, kiteboarding, sea kayaking, bird watching, fishing, sailing, snorkeling and scuba diving. San Pedro sits at the southern tip of the island, but most of the central and northern end is undeveloped, making it an ideal location for spotting birds and indigenous wildlife.
San Pedro is home to several exuberant festivals throughout the year, including a raucous Carnival, a Lobsterfest in June, and the International Costa Maya Festival in August, a week-long combination beauty pageant, street fair, and live music concert.
Because San Pedro is on an island, living expenses are much higher than anywhere else in Belize. Property prices for a beachfront condominium can exceed $500,000, and a one-bedroom apartment rental can exceed $1,000 a month. Electricity and gasoline are also more expensive in San Pedro.