Travel in Belize: Island Life on Ambergris Caye

The island of Ambergris Caye is surrounded by turquoise Caribbean waters, and is nestled alongside the second largest barrier reef in the world!

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How do you get to Ambergris Caye? 

Ambergris Caye is the largest of 200 islands near nothern Belize. Caye, sometimes pronounced ‘key’, actually means small, sandy island on a coral reef. (i.e. The Florida Keys) bznewzz_1_To get there from Sarteneja, I took a Thunderbolt water taxi, or speedboat, which took 1.5 hours and cost 25 USD.
97e22029ec0af491f5c81f663a1db9c4Side note on currency: USD is accepted everywhere in Belize. The exchange rate is 2:1. (i.e. my 50 BZD water taxi cost 25 USD)

Where to stay on Ambergris Caye? 

While on Ambergris Caye, I stayed in the main town of San Pedro, at Hostal La Vista. The hostel was a bit pricey, at 18 USD/night, but they had good scores on Hostel World, and I found their facilities clean and their common areas inviting, plus they had hot showers, free WiFi,  and unlimited rum punch every night at 7. 🙂hostal lavistaSide note: If I were to score this hostel based solely on the cuteness of their pets, I’d give them a purrfect 10! ❤
cats
What it’s like in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye? 

San Pedro is a top vacation destination. To accommodate so many visitors, their main roads are full of beach bars and tropical restaurants.DSC_1824

San Pedro has a total Caribbean vibe, with colorful pastel buildings lining the waterfront, and palm trees flowing in the breeze.

#islandlife #beach #sanpedro #belize

A post shared by Megan Griep (@mmgriep) on

I found getting around San Pedro to be very easy on foot, although most people like to get around on golf carts. 😛
DSC_1808It’s also incredibly touristy, with lots of souvenir shops and holiday resorts as well.
DSC_1829DSC_1813The inhabitants of San Pedro seem to be a combination of both vacationing party hoppers and Catholic Belizean locals, which makes for an equal distribution of both bars and churches on the island.DSC_1807I found this dynamic quite interesting. The club music can be heard until the wee hours of the morning, and a public sermon can be held in the town square the next day.34211135856_c15eccce87_o (1)

What activities are there on Ambergris Caye?

Ambergris Caye is a hot spot for all water sports, especially fishing, snorkeling, sailing, and diving. While in San Pedro, I went on a snorkeling trip to the nearby Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley.

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Stingray and Nurse Shark at Shark Ray Alley

Snorkeling Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley

Hol Chan Marine Reserve is easily one of the best snorkeling trips I’ve ever been on in my life.

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Foureye Butterflyfish
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Southern Stingray
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Trumpetfish

Hol Chan’s marine-protected, shallow waters makes for an abundance of diverse marine life. Most of which, can easily be viewed from the surface.

AE743886ECCB0E29D802521AF3D11DD1The company I chose to snorkel with was Ecologic Divers, which had friendly staff and great reviews on TripAdvisor.

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Ecologic Diver’s dive shop
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The friendly staff included Shorty (our driver) and Snoop Dogg’s doppelganger. 😛

After a 15-minute boat ride to Hol Chan, their staff guided us on an hour-long snorkel trip around the reserve.

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riding out to Hol Chan

While at Hol Chan, we spotted Southern Stingrays, Spotted Eagle Rays, Trumpet Fish, Horse-Eyed Jacks, Princess Parrotfish, Nasau Grouper, Gray Snappers, Black Margates, and Foureye Butterflyfish, as well as, a variety of sea grass, sponges, and hard corals.

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From there, we made our way to Shark Ray Alley, aptly named for the hoards of nurse sharks that linger in these waters. 😮CDBF7A7EBBD42F2F41DE311A55A76DB2As soon as boat arrived, the nurse sharks went swarming around our boat, hoping for some food. G0135176_1492991083345_highFun fact: Nurse sharks are incredibly sluggish, and one of the most docile creatures in the sea.

Although some boats feed the sharks, Ecologic Divers doesn’t believe in chumming the waters, so after the sharks realized we had no food, they left. 🙂F7D33A348412CE82EAF2FD1AEE7EA551

Here’s a short video I made of my snorkel trip to Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley. Hope you enjoy. 🙂

(Note the Spotted Eagle Rays at :35)

Cost: 55 USD (3-hour boat trip, which includes gear rental, water, and fruit)

Food and Drink on Ambergris Caye

Now with only a few days on the island, I chose to hit up three spots in San Pedro for good food, good drinks, and a good time. My first stop was to Elvi’s Kitchen, which is known for their seafood. I opted for their ceviche, made with a mix of shrimp and conch, a sea snail native to Belize.

Strombus gigas Queen conch
conch

To make the ceviche, the seafood is chopped up with tomato, onion, cucumber, and cilantro, then seasoned with a bit of salt and lots of lime. elvsNext up I checked out Belize Chocolate Company. Thanks to the Mayans, Belize has some of the best chocolate in the world. This company takes cacao cultivation seriously, by producing an array of delectable chocolates and chocolaty treats. I’m not a big fan of sweets, but I was absolutely floored by their French press coffee, roasted with cacao nibs, as well as, their non-edible products, including a chocolate orange body butter. ❤chocolateNow for the ultimate feel of the island life, I headed to Palapa Bar and Grill. What a better way to spend my last day on the island of Ambergris Caye than by ordering a cold drink and floating in an inner tube on the water. ❤palapa

Side note: I didn’t see any lockers there to store my belongings, so I had to take them back to the hostel. Make sure you only go with waterproof items. 🙂

Side note on food budgeting: Prices on Ambergris Caye can be quite high, since most of their products are imported.

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Prices are 2-3X that of the U.S. 7 USD for Velveeta slices! Yikes!

If you’re budgeting, prepare to either eat local staples, like fresh fruit, beans, rice, and veggies, or bring your own goodies to the island. 🙂DSC_1825

Up next I’ll be heading to Caye Caulker, another Caribbean island off the coast of Belize. Stay tuned to hear all about it. Until then. 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Travel in Belize: Island Life on Ambergris Caye

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