Ambergris Caye Belize – Things to Do, Where to Stay, Best Places to Eat, Things to Know
Planning to visit Ambergris Caye, Belize? My husband and I, and our two tiny travelers, visited Belize this past November and oh boy, did we fall in love! Let this be your ultimate planning guide! I’m sharing tips on What to Do (with or without kids), Important Things to Know, Where to Stay and Best Places to Eat and Drink! Paradise awaits!
Belize, particularly the Northern Cayes (Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker), is well known for some of the best beaches in the world and has the 2nd largest barrier reef after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The reef is right off the shore of Northern Ambergris Caye, which brings with it, super shallow, clear turquoise blue water, pristine white sand, and tons of sea life. We spent 5 days exploring the island via golf cart, which is the island’s main source of transportation. Ambergris Caye has quickly become one of my most favorite islands in the Caribbean.
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Where to Stay in Ambergris Caye: Solaria Villas
If you are traveling with a group, 2-3 families, or 4-5 couples on joint holiday, man, have I found the place for you! Sunrise Property Management hosted us during our 5 days in Ambergris Caye, and they placed us in Solaria Villas II. These beachfront luxury villas are unBELIZEable! The property has an onsite staff that provide housekeeping and maintain the grounds daily. So you receive the benefits of a large resort hotel, but the ambiance of your own private, quiet & serene house.
The 3 villas share one pool and it’s own quiet beachfront. One of our favorite things to do on Ambergris Caye was to explore the island on the golf cart, and Solaria Villas was the perfect base, location wise. It is far enough away from the lively town of San Pedro that you feel secluded, but not too far for a quick golf cart ride back for nap time (ahhh, the joys of traveling with kids).
The staff were so warm and welcoming and their service was impeccable. The unit also comes with a complimentary local basic cell phone with a $10bz credit for making restaurant reservations, etc. You can also use it to call the onsite manager. She took care of arranging our golf cart rental, our arrival and departure to and from the airport, and offered to book any tours we were interested in. I can’t say enough wonderful things about this place! I highly recommend you check out www.sunrisebelizevacationrentals.com for your stay in Belize!
Things to do in Ambergris Caye:
Swim off the docks
One of the cool things about this island is that ALL beaches and docks are public. So while you may not be able to use a resort’s chairs and pool, you can certainly throw a towel down or walk along any beach you want. All docks are public from 6am to 6pm. Sometimes the turtle grass flourishes along the beach, so docks make for a clear opening to crystal clear blue waters that are still shallow enough for swimming. And the best part is coming out of the water and laying on a warm dock, FREE OF SAND!
Visit Secret Beach
The word “secret” is hardly the best description of this beach, but who cares when it offers unique beach bars & restaurants, soft white sandy beaches, sand bars, rocky coves, and crystal clear waters. It can actually get quite crowded on the weekends, so try for a week day or early morning. Many of the bars also have kayaks and paddle-boards for rent. One of the coolest things about Secret Beach are the shaded tables in the water. Bartenders walk out in the water and bring your drinks right to your table.
Boca del Rio Drive
Boca del Rio, or “mouth of the river” in downtown San Pedro is quite possibly the most uniquely beautiful street in the world. The strip also happens to be a beach. You’ll find beach bars and souvenir shops and locals wading in the shallow waters. There are volleyball courts and playgrounds up and down the beach. Try Sandy Toes beach bar for a unique experience. There is also a platform with two slides that go into the ocean that the kids will love. It’s near the bridge.
There are many tours to choose from, but we had two little ones with us that are under 3 years old, so we had to forgo the full day tours. Check with your resort/hotel because they will set you up with reputable and licensed tour operators. Ambergris Caye is known for its amazing diving and snorkeling areas, so I highly recommend you try one of the boat tours that take you out to the reef. There are also tours to see Mayan Ruins, and air & helicopter tours that take you over the Great Blue Hole and Barrier Reef for the bird’s eye view.
The Glass Bottom Boat to Shark Ray Alley is the most popular half day tour. It’s a good option for little ones too, because you can still see the sharks and stingrays without having to get in the water. They do provide snorkel gear for those who want to get in the water to swim with the stingrays and sharks! I will definitely be doing this next time!
Where to Eat in Ambergris Caye:
One of the most pleasant surprises we found during our trip to Belize, was the amazing food. Everywhere. You. Go. Do NOT miss out on: fresh watermelon juice, conch ceviche, fry jacks and stew chicken, coconut rice and beans or breakfast tacos, and Belizean chocolate!
Here are a few of our favorite restaurants on Ambergris Caye:
Blue Water Grill
Perfect for winos like me. They had an extensive wine list for every budget. The food was fantastic and the view was unBelizable.
Probably the most popular restaurant on the island. It’s the only shipping container food park and beer garden in Belize. Super cool concept with great food and ice cream. Also has the famous ‘welcome to Belize” sign #forthegram. (Closed on Mondays)
Maruba Beach Klub (Secret Beach)
The food was great, but the service was what stood out here the most. We visited 3 out of the 6 bars/restaurants on Secret Beach and these guys went above and beyond to make sure we were enjoying ourselves. They set us up with lounge chairs, gave us free beach toys and floaties for the kids, brought out a table for us to sit at when lunch arrived and then took the table away to avoid blocking our view afterwards. Try the fresh lobster burger. Delicious!
A wonderful over-the-water bar and restaurant. A fun hangout with floating inter-tubes.
Great place to let the kids roam on a large beach with sand piles. The food was delicious! We had the fresh catch of the day. Jimmie had a blast running up and down the sand piles. Very quiet and remote feeling.
Crocs Sunset Bar (& Sports Bar)
Probably the best place on the island to view a sunset. The sunset will be over the Lagoon side. But more importantly, this is the place to go if you need to watch “the game.”
Important Things to Know:
How to get to the island
There are 2 main ways to get to Ambergris Caye from Belize City International Airport:
Water Taxi – This is your budget friendly option. You will take a taxi cab from the airport to Belize City Water Taxi. This will cost around $25US. There are 2 water taxi companies to choose from upon arrival. You will not need to book water taxi tickets in advance. But you will want to know the schedules because they don’t run after a certain hour at night. Here’s a link to San Pedro Belize Express for times and prices.
Fly – Hourly flights from the Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE) are offered to Ambergris Caye via Tropic Air or Maya Island Air. We took Tropic Air and the extra money was well worth the quick, 15 minute beautiful flight to and from the island. When traveling with 2 toddlers, you just want to get there as quick as possible.
Getting Around – Rent a Golf Cart
This is a MUST. If you intend to go anywhere offsite from your resort (which I highly recommend you do), I suggest you go by golf cart. This was one of our most favorite activities: just riding around exploring the island on the golf cart. Most rentals cost around $50-$70 per day. And most hotels or resorts will help you arrange one before your trip and have it onsite for you when you arrive.
There are plenty of grocery stores on the island. The one we most often used was Mata Grande Grocery, right down the road from our condo. We stocked up on wine, milk, eggs and bacon and snacks to have at the condo. We mostly ate out at restaurants though because the food is AMAZING!
Sometimes they are here, sometimes not, and it will depend on the time of year and weather conditions. During our stay in November, they were pretty bad, particularly in areas with lots of brush and foliage. Wear repellent, especially at dawn and dusk! Also bring some bite relief for itch. The best time of year with little to no mosquitoes is August and September.
Trash in Ambergris Caye
One thing that gave off a bad first impression upon our arrival to the island, was the trash. Most hotels and resorts keep the coast lines and beaches manicured and clear of trash. But along the main inter-coastal road, there are some areas that look like junk yards. Turns out, only about 8-10 years ago, this main road up the middle north part of the island was not paved and therefore rarely used by tourists. So the main way tourists would arrive to their resort was by boat. The entrance was from the sea. Therefore many hotels would just throw their trash ‘back in the bush’ or backyard where no one saw it. But now, with the newly paved road, this has become the front entrance to most hotels.
It seems the locals are aware of the problem, and there are some efforts being made to clean up. But just know, your first impression will most likely not be a good one. However, you will see, once you get out and explore more on your golf cart, this island truly is stunningly beautiful and super unique compared to other Caribbean islands.
Weather in Ambergris Caye, Belize
Similar to many places in the Caribbean, the weather report before your trip to Belize, will likely say 50-100% chance of rain every single day. Before our trip, I checked Weather.com and it said 80% chance of rain on all 5 days of our trip. Fortunately, I was not alarmed because I’ve already experienced that unnecessary panic before other Caribbean trips. Yes, we got rain each day. But they were pop-up showers that lasted no longer than 20-30 minutes and then the clouds moved on. The rain was heaviest at night or wee early hours of the morning when we were always in the condo anyway. The Point: Don’t cancel your trip because it says 100% chance rain everyday.
We truly had a wonderful time during our visit to Ambergris Caye. We love this island, and can’t wait to go back! Feel free to comment below if you have any questions about planning your Belize vacation!