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Travel Guide to Ambergris Caye, Belize

Map of the Area

  • 64 km² (24 sq mi)
  • average of 28°C (82°F)
  • UTC (GMT) -6 hrs
  • The Belize dollar at $2 Belize = $1 USD.
  • English is official language, Kriol
  • San Pedro Town (2013) 13,381
  • 18°0′50.21″N 87°55′51.74″W

General Information About Ambergris Caye, Belize

Of all the dozens of cayes that float in the Caribbean waters off the coast of Belize, the best known and popular is the Ambergris Caye. Spanning about 30 miles north to south alongside the Belizean Barrier reef, it is the northern most caye and closest neighbor to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. While the Ambergris Caye serves as Belize’s prime tourist destination, a unique quality about this island is that it does not exhibit a ‘touristy’ feel. There are no high-rise hotels, chain stores, or huge gaudy nightclubs. Big buses don’t congest the roads. Instead, barefooted people and golf carts share the sand-paved streets. Ambergris Caye is a small tropical paradise ideal for the sun, sand, exploration, and relaxation, as stretches of white sanded beach run parallel to the reef on the eastside and wildlife flourishes all along the western shore. Small bungalow style resorts offer private and personal atmospheres. Eclectic restaurant menus satisfy every craving and curiosity in flavorful ambiance. Evening strolls set to the music of local mariachi bands lead many to dancing at local bars, enjoying good music, and occasionally being called up for their turn at Karaoke.

Ambergris Caye Belize Main Attractions - Tropical Discovery

Main attractions in Ambergris Caye, Belize

About half a mile off shore, draped along the beach on the eastside of the island is the longest and most spectacular coral necklace in the Western Hemisphere, the Belize Barrier Reef. Known to have more sea life per square foot than any other place in the world, it reigns as the most popular spots to dive into. Because the sea between the reef and shore is generally no more than 15 feet deep, the shallow waters are the perfect temperature for hours of exploration. Filled with magnificant coral, exotic fish, and colorful plants, the reef is ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving. Plenty of dive boats wade in the waters just beyond the reef as divers explore life under the hulls. The findings are incredible as the bottom suddenly slopes in a series of steps and canyons that house an abundance of multicolored coral, unusual sea urchins, and exotic aquatic life. Local dive shops are equipped with licensed, professional dive guides and full gear rentals, offer all levels of certification, and provide daily trips to the reef and all local dive sites.

For those who do not dive, but still want to explore the magnificence of the reef, snorkeling is ideal, not to mention the most popular sport among visitors. Shark-Ray Alley is one of the most popular spots for divers and snorkelers wishing to get up close and personal with sharks and rays. It is described as one of the best animal dive sites in the Caribbean. Hol Chan Marine Reserve is another popular dive site located four miles southeast of San Pedro Town. Inside the reef, both snorkelers and divers can swim with a variety of fish including sharks, stingrays, and moray eels in the clear shallow blue. Night diving is popular to see an array of nocturnal sea creatures that are completely unlike those observed during the day.

Ambergris Caye isn’t as big on hanging out at the beach all day as it is on filling up the morning and afternoon with activities before returning at the day’s end for a tranquil evening. A variety of activities to enjoy are offered both offshore and inland. For more information, please click below.

Ambergris Caye Belize Main Attractions - Tropical Discovery

HISTORY

Evidence has led to the belief that the Mayans first inhabited the island, clearing the narrow channel that divides the Caye from the southern tip of the Yucatan. After their disappearance, whalers discovered the Caye, followed by the arrival of buccanears, explorers, and coconut plantations.

The island was purchased for $635 by James Hume Blake in the 1800’s from the British government. After a failed industry of coconut farming, fishing took over the island’s main economy.

Beginning in the 1970’s, tourism gradually started to replace fishing as Ambergris’s main source of wealth as a steady rise in visitors wishing to indulge in the island’s crystal waters, sun-laced beaches, and gracious community became apparent. However, fishing still remains closely tied to the roots of this island.

San Pedro

Most tourists who visit Belize fly directly to San Pedro, the island’s sole town. Situated near the southern tip, it is about 8 blocks by 4 blocks in square area, a place small enough to feel right at home in about an hour’s walk.

Super relaxed and lazy, San Pedro possesses a friendly, outgoing, and safe vibe. Boutiques, cafes, Tiki bars, guesthouses, shops, and restaurants fill the village. Golf carts and bicycles easy to rent kick up sand as they buz through the streets. The locales, or San Pedroans, are very hospitable and generally have time to help out with any questions when approached.

Founded in the mid 1800’s, Ambergris is now a colorful and picturesque center mixed with the Caribbean, a bit of Mexico, palm trees, soft sand, clear torquoise water, great stories, and plenty of reasons to revisit time and time again.

Many small settlements also lie to the north and south of San Pedro. As more people acquire land on Ambergris Caye, their pieces of paradise are often christianed with original names and unique features that both visitors and locals have come to love and enjoy. Such communities include: San Juan, Boca Del Rio, San Pablo, San Miguel, San Telmo, Sunset Coves, San Pedrito located along the San Pedro Lagoon, Tres Cocos , Las Palmas, and Basil Jones.

Ambergris Caye Belize Main Attractions - Tropical Discovery

Day Tours from Belize City or San Ignacio

Adventure - Nature

Belize is a rewarding, authentic destination for finding unique, intimate. Serenely situated in one of the last unspoiled places on earth, you can easily tour Belize’s rain forests or explore mystical Maya temples – all during the same adventure. Belize is renowned for both its preserved ancient treasures as well as its welcoming residents – often referred to as the country’s greatest natural resource. An enduring commitment to preservation of Belizean lands and waters inspires a genuine and intimate connection with Belize. All our half or full day tours and activities are private and specially designed to cater to the groups specific needs and wants, enabling you to enjoy Belize's beauty. Unless listed otherwise, each excursion departs daily. These are also only a sample of our most popular day tours, please contact us should you be interested in something specific.

*Recommended gear for all these tours: comfortable walking or hiking shoes, light clothing, bathing suite, sunscreen, sunglasses, drinking water.

  • Caracol, where an estimated 150,000 people once lived in a metropolis covering nearly a square mile, is the most spectacular Mayan site in Belize. Enter the sleeping and burial grounds of ancient Mayan royalty. Imagine yourself playing on the ball in a fierce and threatening competition. As you drive through the Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, you will visit the Rio Frio Cave en route to Caracol. After lunch at Caracol, your final stop is the Rio On Pools, where you can opt to hike, photograph, relax, or take a swim in one of the continuous series of natural pools formed within granite boulders, connected by small rapids or waterfalls. *Please inquire for details and pricing Tour includes: Private transportation, entrance fees, English speaking tour guide & lunch
  • Visit Tikal Maya ruins while staying in Belize. Travel into neighbouring Guatemala to visit a very important Maya site. This all-day tour leaving early in the morning and returning in the evening includes stops for buying Guatemalan textiles and weaving. Located in the Peten lowland of Guatemala, 1 ½ hrs from the Belize border, this huge Classic Period Maya site, rich in jungle flora and fauna, is considered one of the world's premier Archaeological Reserves. The park consists of 225+ square kilometers of jungle, the first reserve in Central America and a World Heritage Site.
  • Pronounced shu-nan-tu-nich, it was a major ceremonial center across the Mopan River. Xunantunich is located in the Mayan village of San Jose Succotz, about 40 minutes by car from Crystal Paradise. A hand-cranked ferry takes you across the Mopan River followed by a mile drive uphill to the archaeological site. The partially-excavated and largest pyramid, El Castillo, stands at 130 plus feet above the main plaza floor, offering an impressive view of Belize's Cayo District and nearby Guatemala. El Castillo is known for its frieze, a banded stucco decoration which at one time extended around the entire structure. An impressive museum displays a three-dimensional model of the entire site and depicts the evolution of the Maya civilization. Cahal Pech situated on the hills above San Ignacio, was once the home of a royal Mayan family. Its Late Pre-Classic temples consist of 34 structures and two separate ball courts displaying fine examples of Maya craftsmanship. The site spreads over two acres. The site was occupied as early as 1,200 B.C and was abandoned around 800 A.D. Its complex structures and winding tunnels and fine architecture makes it a very interesting visit.
  • Only Xunantunich Maya Ruins Tour: *Please inquire for details and pricing Tour includes: Private transportation, entrance fees, English speaking tour guide & lunch (only on full day tour)

  • For the less adventurous Belize explorer wanting to get a glimpse of the countryside, this expedition is less strenuous yet it presents a lovely neighborhood halfday. Barton Creek Cave and the Green Hills Butterfly Ranch. Barton Creek Cave is located about 20 minutes from our farm in the Mennonite valley of Barton Creek. The cave is geologically rich and diverse in formations. You access the site is by being gently paddled into the cavern using high powered lights while sitting in a canoe viewing large stalactites and stalagmite formations. Cultural evidence is limited and you can see the partial remains of an individual high above in an alcove. The Green Hills Butterfly Ranch is a stone's throw away from us where reserch of indigenous butterfly species takes place. It is an interesting location to learn about the life cycle of these lovely beauties of the tropics. We like to visit early in the morning when you can see the butterflies emerge to expand and dry their wings. We recommend that you do not apply insect repellant prior to visiting the Butterfly Ranch.
  • Only Barton Creek Water Cave: *Please inquire for details and pricing Tour includes: Private transportation, entrance fees & English speaking tour guide.

  • Actun Tunichil Muknal (A.T.M.), Cave of the Stone Sepulchre, is the most spectacular natural and archaeological attraction in Belize. A natural museum, located in the district of Cayo in Western Belize, the A.T.M. Cave is an hour drive from the town of San Ignacio. The Western Highway takes you past the village of Teakettle for a 7 mile drive on dirt roads to the sites parking lot. There a 45 minute walk awaits you. Pack lunches, helmets, lights, dry bags, and water are shared and carried by guests and guide. You will hike forest trails and through water across the Roaring River at waist level, to an abandoned archaeologist camp, where you enter the cave. You need to be in good physical conditions for the A.T.M. Cave, able to traverse in water, rocks, boulders, climb cave walls on a ladder and you will be wet all day long. At the end of your day at the parking lot you will change into dry clothes for the ride back.
  • *Please inquire for details and pricing Tour includes: Private transportation, entrance fees & English speaking tour guide

  • Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve is a nature reserve in the Cayo District of southern central Belize. It was established in 1944 to protect and manage the native pine forest. There are small areas of grassland and wetland. The majority of the reserve is situated on a granite massif, with some areas of limestone in the west of the reserve. Sinkholes and caves are common in the limestone areas. The underlying soils are predominantly sandy. The elevation of the reserve averages between 400 and 700 m (1,312 to 2,296 ft) with the highest point being Baldy Beacon at 1,017 m (3,336 ft), and dropping to 120 m (394 ft) at the lowest point of the Macal River. The Macal River forms the boundaries of the reserve to the west and south and is fed tributaries including Rio Frio, Rio On, Privassion Creek and Piviol Creek. To the north-east some small streams feed into Barton Creek. The reserve is home to various large mammals: the Cougar, the Jaguar, the Ocelot, the Coatimundi, and Baird's Tapir. There is a small population of Morelet's Crocodile. Native species of bird include the Rufous-capped Warbler, Crossbill, Pine Siskin, Eastern Bluebird, Stygian Owl, King Vulture, Ocellated Turkey, Acorn Woodpecker, Blue-crowned Motmot, Plumbeous Vireo, Keel-billed toucan and Red-lored Parrot. Winter visitors include the Hepatic Tanager and Chipping Sparrow. Orange-breasted Falcons are more common in the area than elsewhere in Belize. The pine forest has been seriously damaged by the Pine Bark Beetle, Dendroctomus frontalis, with 80% of the trees showing signs of attack.
  • *Please inquire for details and pricing Tour includes: Private transportation, entrance fees, English speaking tour guide & lunch

  • Cave tubing is one of the most electrifying and rejuventating adventures you can experience in Belize, while becoming one with the country's natural and cultural aspects. Enter the exciting world of rivers disappearing into the underworld as you float on inner tubes with only your headlamp to light your way. Enjoy floating past side windows that filter the jungle light through the mist as you swirl around stalagmites jutting from the river and stalactites looming from above. Float past underground waterfalls then into the crystal cathedral, a spiritual center to the ancient Maya. The most exciting part of the river tubing is battling the small rapids that you will most likely encounter during the underground journey, but the most impressive is arriving at a huge opening in the middle of the cave system. Coming out of the underground cave system and into the bright green jungle with white cliffs is an incredible sight which people have to experience firsthand. (Some underground hiking and jungle trekking is necessary).
  • Cave Tubing at Jaguar Paw & Belize Zoo Tour Please inquire for details and pricing Cave Tubing at Jaguar Paw & Canopy Tour (Zip Lining) Please inquire for details and pricing Tour includes: Private transportation, entrance fees, English speaking tour guide & lunch (only if full day tour)

  • The main entrance to the St. Hermanscave is clearly marked; it's about 180 feet wide with stone cut stairs believed to have been built by the Mayans. The trail in the cave narrows to about 60 feet and is marked for your safety. Once inside the cave you will see crystal clear water from an underground river that runs through the cave. You will see amazing rock formations and get a good feel for the Mayan Underworld. As you explore deeper into the cave, the trail gets a bit more rugged. Of course you may turn around and head back whenever you have enough. The Inland Blue Hole is located in the same (Blue Hole National Park) park as St Herman's cave. You can take a scenic walk from St Herman's cave through the rainforest to the Inland Blue Hole. The Inland Blue Hole was formed by a sunken underground river; it's about 25 feet deep and is perfect for a refreshing dip. The Blue Hole National Park is great place for a picnic, nature trail hikes, and bird watching.
  • *Please inquire for details and pricing Tour includes: Private transportation, entrance fees, English speaking tour guide & lunch (only if full day tour)

  • Take in the magic and beauty of the Mundo Maya as you journey from Belize City to Altun Ha (Rock Stone Water) on the Old Northern Highway. Here you will have the opportunity to discover the wondrous Mayan world as you explore this easily accessible ceremonial and trading site. Continue with a visit to the Belize Zoo, where you will encounter a wide variety of wild animals living in their natural habitats. From mammals to birds and reptiles, the Zoo features attractions for all ages. You can spot jaguars, eagles, Belizean snakes, spiders, and many more!
  • *Please inquire for details and pricing Tour includes: Private transportation, entrance fees, English speaking tour guide & lunch (only if full day tour)

  • Che Chem Ha Cave, located 16 miles from San Ignacio near Vaca Falls, is the 180-degree opposite of Barton Creek's peaceful caving experience. This is a full-power adrenaline rush, from the 45-minute uphill trek to witnessing the most amazing collection of Mayan pottery anyone has ever seen. Discovered by a local farmer, this cave is most notable for its unique collection of Mayan artwork and artifacts. Visitors with an interest in archaeology will appreciate the cave's entrance, which is decorated with Mayan motifs and the extensive assortment of ancient storage jars, called "ollas," that line the walls of its chambers. Inside Che Chem Ha, there are many ladders, each leading to chambers high within the cave, places where many ollas still contain maize and other staples of the ancient Maya diet. Because these antiquities are so distinctly representative of Mayan life, the cave is carefully monitored to prevent looting and visitors are only allowed to enter when escorted by an experienced resident guide.
  • Chechem Ha Cave & Xunantunich Maya Ruins Tour *Please inquire for details and pricing Tour includes: Private transportation, entrance fees, English speaking tour guide & lunch

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Azul Villas Ambergris Caye Belize

The villas of Azul are designed to marry the best of natural elements and materials with modern comforts and sophisticated conveniences.

avg/night$550.00 SELECT

Banana Beach Hotel Ambergris Caye Belize

The friendliest resort sitting on the powdery sand of Mar de Tumbo Beach just south of San Pedro Town on the Ambergris Caye of Belize.

avg/night$95.00 SELECT

Cayo Espanto, A Private Island Ambergris Caye Belize

At Cayo Espanto, Belize, paradise and luxury come together as one. This five-star, world class Belize resort is for the discriminating few who demand the best life has to offer.

avg/night$1495.00 SELECT

Coco Beach Resort Ambergris Caye Belize

Coco Beach Resort is nestled on a stretch of pristine white sandy beach, a haven of romance, barefoot luxury, relaxation and adventure.

avg/night$325.00 SELECT

El Secreto Hotel Ambergris Caye Belize

El Secreto is a unique barefoot luxury resort surrounded by tropical beauty and bathed by the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean.

avg/night$830.00 SELECT

Hotel Captain Morgan’s Retreat Ambergris Caye Belize

With a private beach, first-class accommodations, unforgettable tours and activities, and all the amenities you could ask for, Captain Morgan’s Retreat is the ideal resort for your next Caribbean vacation.

avg/night$179.00 SELECT

Hotel Ramon’s Village Ambergris Caye Belize

Ramon's Village is a sanctuary nestled in a tropical garden of Royal Palms, bougainvillea, lilies, hibiscus and tropical flora.

avg/night$150.00 SELECT

Hotel SunBreeze Suites Ambergris Caye Belize

The SunBreeze Suites Hotel is situated on the Caribbean island of Ambergris Caye, a fast growing vacation destination allowing for the perfect balance between modern amenities mixed with the charm of a small island.

avg/night$199.00 SELECT

Hotel Victoria House Ambergris Caye Belize

Victoria House is a complete and total retreat, free from the boundaries and pressures of day-to-day life and renowned as one of the best bare-foot resorts in the region.

avg/night$199.00 SELECT

Las Terrazas Hotel Ambergris Caye Belize

Located just 3.5 miles north of San Pedro, Las Terrazas Resort invites you to experience exceptional, spacious townhome-style accommodations and gracious hospitality.

avg/night$299.00 SELECT

Matachica Hotel Ambergris Caye Belize

Escape to paradise with a short water-taxi ride from the village of San Pedro and awaken your spirit to an alluring realm of white beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters and lush tropical greenery while staying at the Matachica Resort and Spa.

avg/night$265.00 SELECT

Portofino Beach Resort Ambergris Caye Belize

Portofino is located on Ambergris Caye, the largest Island (Caye) along the Belize Barrier Reef (second largest in the world).

avg/night$280.00 SELECT
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