Looking for the best things to do in Ambergris Caye in Belize? Ambergris Caye offers a lot of great things to do especially with the Secret Beach and the offshore coral reefs. On the other hand, the main town of Ambergris, San Pedro, is less beautiful. It stinks of exhaust fumes, everywhere you hear the rattle of golf carts and everything feels even more expensive than in the rest of Belize.
Nevertheless, we find the island very worth seeing and do not regret to have been there. How to get to Caye Ambergris, what to do there and why we think that the most beautiful beach of Belize is here on Caye Ambergris you can read in this travelogue.
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We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
How to get to Ambergris Caye Belize
The arrival to Caye Ambergris is usually from Belize City. From here you can take the boat via Caye Caulker to Caye Ambergris. However, we recommend you to make a stopover on Caye Caulker. Here it is much more relaxed than in Ambergris Caye, but Ambergris also has a few sights and highlights to offer, which are not available on Caye Caulker.
For example the Secret Beach, in our opinion the most beautiful beach on Belize. But more about that later. The boat trip from Belize City costs US$ 27 per person. If you get a coupon beforehand at your hotel or near the port (we got ours at the border ), you only pay US$17 per person. The trip takes about 1 hour to Caye Caulker and after a short stopover another 40 minutes to Ambergris. The Belize Express boats are quite large and comfortable, so it’s easy to get through the ride.
If you are already on Caye Caulker, just be at the boat terminal 30 minutes before departure to buy your ticket and check in your luggage. The boats from Belize City and also from Caye Caulker leave several times a day. You can find the schedules online on the website of Belizewatertaxi.
Ambergris Caye – San Pedro
San Pedro is the bustling center of Caye Ambergris. In fact, it is a small town where many cars and especially golf carts drive through the area. Accordingly, the main streets in the town are crowded, noisy and stuffy. If you want to stay in a central but quiet location in San Pedro, we recommend you to stay on the side of the lagoon.
From here you are in a few minutes in the middle of the action between stores, supermarkets and restaurants and at the same time it is quiet and relaxed on the lagoon side. We had read before that Ambergris Caye is much louder and busier than Caye Caulker and that there should be more parties than on the sister island. We can’t really confirm that. Also on Caye Caulker we have seen many party-seeking young people and found it not much less bustling.
Sure, on Caye Ambergris there are real streets and many cars. You don’t have that on Caye Caulker. But if you live on the right side of the island (see the next section for that) or are outside the city core, we found it almost as relaxing and laid back here as Caye Caulker.
Where to stay on Caye Ambergris?
The same is true in Caye Ambergris as on the neighboring island of Caye Caulker. One side of the island is rather noisy and the other much quieter. On both islands the noise level is much higher on the eastern side than on the western side.
So also on Caye Ambergris you should take a hotel on the western side of the island, on the opposite side of the ferry terminal. So you are a bit away from the hustle and bustle and have at least in the hotel a relaxed athmosphere. We would not recommend you to take a hotel outside of San Pedro, unless you want to stay in a resort. Otherwise you won’t be able to go to the restaurant or the supermarket.
Hotel Recommendation on Ambergris Caye
We stayed at the beautiful, small hotel Ambergris Sunset. The small, family-run hotel is located directly on the lagoon. During the day, the small pool provides a cooling and in the evening you can watch the sunset over the lagoon and the mangroves from the roof terrace. We were also provided with free bicycles. This was very convenient on Caye Ambergris.
Check out our hotel* here that we stayed at in Caye Ambergris. There is a rooftop terrace overlooking the sunset, a small pool and it is on the quiet side of Ambergris. In addition, there are free bikes and for an average of 50 euros/night in double rooms.
To Hotel Ambergris Sunset at Booking.com*
The Best Things to do on Ambergris Caye
Caye Ambergris is a lot bigger than Caye Caulker and you don’t go there to spend the classic, laid-back beach vacation. The typical Caribbean relaxation is not really to be found here, except for one place. Most people come here for diving and snorkeling excursions. For this, the island and the Caribbean Sea is really best suited.
Diving on Caye Ambergris
Directly in front of the coast of Caye Ambergris there are numerous diving spots, which can be reached very easily and quickly by boat. Since Andreas got his diving license in Panama just a few weeks ago, it was clear to us that we had to go diving in Belize as well. We chose the provider Ecologic Divers, which was very well rated on Tripadvisor. We also had a great experience with them. Since most of the dive sites are near the coast, you go back to the dive shop between dives.
There you take your break and can have some snacks. We decided to do 2 dives and paid 112 US$ per person including equipment. Ask your provider if the rent for the equipment and the VAT is included. These costs are usually not included in the offer prices. On our first dive at Mermaids Lair, we dove through underground canyons and saw an incredible number of sharks, below, above and beside us. Really intense.
Unfortunately our GoPro broke a few weeks ago, so we don’t have any pictures of these encounters with the Nurse, Bull, and Reef sharks. But even without photos, this was really the dive of our lives. On the second dive we dived in the dive site Esmeralda and unfortunately we didn’t see so many sharks, but still the many fish (among others puffer fish) and the great corals were very impressive.
Boat Trip / Snorkel Tour
Since we already did a snorkeling trip on Caye Caulker, we did no other trip here. But also because many tour providers go to the Shark Ray Alley, which we had just seen on our tour from Caye Caulker.
Shark Ray Alley
Shark Ray Alley is an area in the sea between Caye Caulker and Caye Ambergris where there are always a lot of sharks (Nurse Sharks) and stingrays. And this only because they are fed by the guides and are used to the noise of the motor boats. That’s why they come swimming directly when they hear one.
Of course, you shouldn’t feed free-living fish, but that’s just one of the dichotomies you have to face when traveling. It did lead us to a terrific experience, after all. The rays and sharks literally piled up next to the boat and we were even allowed into the chest-high water and were able to view and photograph the whole thing up close. The sharks and rays swam directly in front of us and partly directly towards us.
And even if nurse sharks are supposed to be harmless for humans, we felt quite queasy because of the stingrays.
Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Another big highlight near Caye Ambergris is the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. This is a marine reserve where many sharks, rays, turtles and also seahorses can be seen. We have not visited this reserve, but we have heard about unique snorkeling adventures there. So you should plan a tour there.
Cheap Dining in San Pedro
In general, Belize is a very expensive country, especially when it comes to eating out. On our first night, due to lack of research time, we went to the first pizzeria in town and paid Bz$30 for a normal sized pizza. Just under 15 Euro, that’s pretty expensive. But it was also quite tasty. But there is at least one not expensive and still delicious way to eat cheap in San Pedro.
At Neri’s Tacos you get a Fried Jack for just under 7 Bz$ (3.50 €) and a Taco for 1 BZ$. So you can eat your fill there for little money. In addition, there are delicious homemade juices. You can find Neri’s Tacos here on Google Maps.
Golf Cart Rentals
This seems to be the favorite activity of all tourists here. Everywhere you go you see these motorized and all around open vehicles whizzing around. It can be quite annoying if you are a pedestrian or bicyclist yourself.
But it can also be practical if you want to travel farther away or with several people. Golf carts are available everywhere and cost just under 40-50 Euro for 24 hours. However, you should check the ratings of the providers on Google Maps beforehand. Some rental companies have bad ratings or poorly maintained carts.
Check the Providers
For example, we would not recommend our provider XRT Golfcart Rentals. The cart was not in such good condition and when we asked how much we would have to fill up to get to Secret Beach, we were advised to fill up for 20 US$. As it turned out this was way too much and we didn’t even manage to drive the tank half empty.
During our stay we were twice at Secret Beach, in our opinion the most beautiful beach of Belize, and would have gotten along easily with a tank filling of 10 US$. All in all, driving the golf cart was a lot of fun and also practical, for example when you go shopping or to the far away Secret Beach. Golf carts are totally easy to drive and you just have to show your driver’s license to get one. Be careful, by the way, because insurance was not included or available at all in all of the quotes we obtained. So if you have an accident, it can be expensive.
Flying over the Blue Hole by Plane or Diving in it
Of course we would have loved to do that. The Blue Hole is one of the highlights of Belize. The Blue Hole is a round, undersea sinkhole that is 125 meters deep and up to 300 meters wide. From the air this looks spectacular. But to get the real view you have to fly over it by plane, and that costs about US$250 per person with the provider Tropic Air. Of course, that was much too expensive for us.
But also diving is not much cheaper, because you have to pay a national park fee and the diving providers also pay this trip very well. You have to pay about 300 US$ for a dive at the Blue Hole (about 200 US$ for snorkeling). In addition, you have to have the Advanced Open Water Diver’s License, because you dive there in more than 18 meters depth… and we didn’t have it. So a visit to the Blue Hole was not an option for us for several reasons. But anyway, you can always lie on the beautiful Belize beach.
The Secret Beach
Our biggest highlight of Caye Ambergris was a very special beach, the Secret Beach. For us it was the most beautiful Belize beach. From what we heard in advance, we were not that impressed by the Secret Beach. Quite far away from San Pedro and also quite crowded it should be. But when we went there the first time we were totally flashed! It was really the most beautiful beach we had seen in Belize so far.
Hot to get to the Secret Beach in Ambergris Caye
The beautiful Belize beach is located about 13 km north of San Pedro in a pretty deserted area. After leaving the city center of San Pedro you have to cross a small toll bridge that costs you Bz$10 for the way there and back. It is really only a very short bridge, barely 50 meters long. But the construction costs must have been immense, because since many years this quite high fee is charged for the crossing.
Bicycles or pedestrians don’t have to pay anything, by the way. After a few kilometers there are also no more hotels or buildings and one drives only over sandy Gravel road, without shade or possibilities to take a break on the way. With the bicycle this is therefore very exhausting.
After we had been to Secret Beach twice by golf cart, we went there early in the morning by bike the third time. We left around 08:30 and at this time it was already warm outside and actually too hot to go such a long distance by bike. So you should start even earlier if possible. Otherwise you will sweat a lot.
Why is the Secret Beach the most beautiful Beach in Belize
The Secret Beach is not really long or wide and the sand is not that fine-grained. But the water is so turquoise blue and crystal clear that you can’t even see on photos that there really is water there. You can see right down to the bottom. We have also seen an incredible number of fish and corals there while snorkeling.
That was totally incredible. Right when you go into the water you see many small needle fish and other fish. And under the jetties leading into the water you see thousands and thousands of other fish of all sizes and colors. We never thought we would see so many cool things right on the beach.
But also the beach itself and the atmosphere was totally beautiful. Of course, it is quietest when you are there early in the morning. We were there at 9 am and had the beach almost to ourselves. Around 10 o’clock, the beach slowly fills up and also becomes quite crowded around lunchtime. But the mood still remains totally relaxed and serene.
We felt super comfortable there and didn’t want to leave. We would even say that the Secret Beach on Caye Ambergris was the most beautiful beach on our whole trip through Latin America! After all the resting and relaxing on the beach, we wanted to have some action. Secret Beach has a lot to offer for this as well.
Among other things, you can go jet skiing at Secret Beach. For 50 US$ we could race around for half an hour with up to 100 km/h to our heart’s content. We had a lot of fun and found the price to be totally okay.
The Beach Bars at Secret Beach
There are a few beach bars on the most beautiful beach in Belize that will treat you to snacks and cold beer. But the best thing about these beach bars is that you can use the sunbeds and umbrellas of the bars for free if you order something to drink or eat. On our second and third visit (we were in front of the bar Secret Paradise) we were asked several times if we wanted to order something, but we just always refused and it was no problem at all. No one forced us to order anything or to clear the sunbeds instead.
Other Beaches on Ambergris Caye
There are of course other beaches on Ambergris Caye or in San Pedro, but none of them can hold a candle to Secret Beach. There are long stretches of beach on the eastern side, but first, all the boats and ferries leave there, and second, Ambergris, like almost every beach in the Caribbean, has a huge problem with algae or seaweed (Sargassum).
This can be found on almost every beach in the region, stinks like rotten eggs and doesn’t exactly make swimming a pleasure. At Secret Beach, however, there is no seaweed problem!
Conclusion about Ambergris Caye
We felt quite comfortable on Caye Ambergris and had a great time. The many golf carts and the traffic are a bit annoying, but if you stay on the right side of the island, it’s only half as bad. Also, Secret Beach, which we think is the most beautiful beach in Belize, makes up for it. This beach is really dreamlike Caribbean and we could have gone there much more often.
What is your favorite beach in Belize? What tips can you give us for our next trip to Belize? Write us a comment!