Last Updated on March 15, 2023
Flying over the second-largest barrier reef in the world, the aquamarine sea comes into view with various islands dotted with shades of green created by mangroves. Belize is a feast for the eyes for birders hoping to catch a glimpse of the hundreds of species which call the area home along with land animals and protected sea life. You may be wondering what there is to do and how to get to Ambergris Caye Belize. You’ve come to the right place.
Activities abound making this the ultimate do everything or nothing destination. It attracts scuba divers, snorkelers, swimmers, and those who just love the warmth of the Caribbean Sea.
How to get to Ambergris Caye
Getting to Belize
All international flights from the U.S. fly into Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport (BZE). When checking airline schedules, check often because routes change and you could get lucky with a nonstop flight.
We originally had a ticket on Delta Airlines from Los Angeles (LAX) connecting through Atlanta, but it was cancelled due to an airline scheduling issue. Luckily, we were able to take advantage of a new route Alaska Airlines initiated and enjoyed a nonstop flight from LAX to Belize City.
The Belize City airport is about 10 miles north of Belize City.
Please note: There are no app-based services like Uber or Lyft. Shuttles, taxis, and car rentals however are available at the airport.
Getting to Ambergris Caye
Ambergris Cay is the largest island off Belize, roughly 10 miles from the mainland in the Caribbean Sea.
One of the transportation options from the airport to Ambergris Caye is taking a water taxi. The water taxi dock is roughly a 25-minute drive from the airport, but Belize Water Taxi offers a shared shuttle service from the airport. From there, it’s generally a 90-minute boat ride to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. The current rate is around $30 U.S. one way, per person.
Another option to Ambergris Caye is by plane. We wanted to get there quickly so we flew a jaunt via Tropic Air. This 15-minute flight didn’t seem long enough. Getting a bird’s eye of the natural beauty all around is quite the introduction to the country.
The 14-passenger planes are comfortable, and everyone gets a fabulous view. Current rates start at around $87 U.S. per person for non-refundable fares.
Cruise Ships currently anchor in the Belize Bay about 20 minutes away from the actual dock because the water is too shallow closer to shore. Passengers are tendered to shore to the cruise port, the jump off point for day trips and excursions.
Belize is currently building two new cruise docks with the intent of passengers disembarking from the ship straight into a village full of shops, restaurants, and activities. This new dock and village named Port Coral will allow access for excursions including those to Ambergris Caye, bypassing the need to go to the mainland.
Opening date for the port is yet to be determined.
On Ambergris Caye, I stayed at the fabulous Coral Bay Villas.
Things to do on Ambergris Caye Belize
- How to get to Ambergris Caye
- Things to do on Ambergris Caye Belize
- Visit Caye Caulker Island
- The Split and The Lazy Lizard
- Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley
- Belize Mayan Ruins
- Private Ocean Charter
- River Cruise
- Spa Time
- Oh, The Food!
- Where to Stay on Ambergris Caye Belize
Visit Caye Caulker Island
If you’re not already in ‘chill mode’ when you land in Belize, a visit to Caye Caulker Island will remedy that quick. The homes and buildings painted in vivid, Caribbean colors, the pale sand and turquoise water combine for a postcard perfect setting. We took our time strolling through town, checking out local shops, then engaged in the popular activity of feeding the tarpons.
These aren’t cute little fish; these guys are huge! Four-feet in length and weighing 100 pounds is not unusual size.
The Split and The Lazy Lizard
The Split is a lively part of the Island. Caye Caulker is a small island divided by a threadlike channel called The Split. The Split is the result of both a man-made channel and hurricanes, most notably Hurricane Hattie in 1961 which caused a widening of the channel. It’s now a popular destination for swimming, snorkeling, dining, and enjoying the fabulous view.
When checking out The Split, don’t pass up The Lazy Lizard Bar & Grill. This is an ideal spot to relax and take it all in. We loved sipping our tropical cocktails in the shade while enjoying the energy of people loving life and the island.
Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley
Hol Chan is the Mayan term for little channel or alley and is a reserve consisting of the reef, seagrass beds, mangrove trees, and Shark Ray Alley. This rich environment is an excellent location for divers and snorkelers alike, offering clear visibility and a chance to see some of the beloved sea life. During our visit, we encountered sea turtles, rays, lobsters, and nurse sharks. Without a doubt, this was the warmest water I’d ever snorkeled in during December. I know it’s the Caribbean, but still, what a pleasant surprise.
Belize Mayan Ruins
To get a full understanding of Belize, I highly recommend taking a tour of the ruins. With many to choose from, we visited the Lamanai Archeological Reserve.Our guides were amazing. Their knowledge, hospitality, and pride in their country made for an enjoyable and fun-filled outing. We traveled by boat through the rivers to get to the reserve, learning about the wetlands while native birds flew alongside us. We even saw a baby crocodile.
Getting to the temples requires walking through the humid jungle so comfortable shoes and a full bottle of water are highly advised. If you’re able-bodied and ready to climb, you can scale the temples (weather and safety permitting) to the top and get a bird’s eye view of the jungle.
Our guides shared the history of the temples, the Mayan culture, the current state of Belize, and the love of their country. It was a special day of discovery for us.
Private Ocean Charter
One of the best decisions our little group of four made was to hire a private charter. Our tour operator confirmed our preferences and picked us up at the pier closest to our accommodations. Here’s what we did on our charter:
We couldn’t get enough of the clear Caribbean sea so we added a day of snorkeling to our wish list. We revisited Hol Chan and enjoyed snorkeling with our guides on our time. We relished in getting a deeper insight into the barrier reef and their personal perspectives on life in Belize. Scuba diving excursions are also available.
You can go deep sea fishing or fish closer to shore for those like me who get sea sick. I’ve had little fishing experience, but since we decided to fish closer to shore, I had a blast sitting on the boat listening to music and catching my own fish.
This was a ‘step out of your comfort zone’ moment for me and our tour operators went above and beyond to make sure I felt comfortable and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Our guides treated us to a picnic lunch at a private cove with the fish we brought in along with the conch and lobsters they caught creating an amazingly delicious barbecue lunch.
A leisurely ride through the rivers and canals was a perfect way to bookend our day. Highlighting points of interest around Ambergris Caye, our hosts pointed out the Iguana Eco Corner. It took a few seconds to focus on the iguanas through the thick foliage but suddenly, there they were. Some green, some vibrant orange, hanging out in the mangrove trees. We quietly observed them in their natural environment without disturbing their sunbathing time.
Seeking out locally made art and handcrafted items is something near and dear to me. I find it especially exciting to find artists who continue traditional crafts and feature the local culture. If you like to shop and support local artists, I highly recommend a visit to Belizean Arts. Artisanal jewelry and paintings are just some of the pieces available for purchase.
Charming little San Pedro on the southern end of Ambergris Caye offers all of this.
After a few days of hiking, swimming, and exploring, my friend and I took a day to pamper ourselves and enjoy a spa treatment from The Sol Spa at The Phoenix Resort. Take it from me, a deep tissue massage followed by a cool cocktail will leave you relaxed and ready to explore more of Belize – or just choose to chill.
Oh, The Food!
This area is a seafood lover’s paradise with a bounty from its waters and I, for one, am a sucker for fresh fish. If you like ceviche, you’ll love it in Belize. Conch and lobster are the stars of the show and we’re determined to schedule our return trip during Lobster season (which starts in summer and runs through February). Not to worry if you’re not a seafood foodie. The culinary scene is extensive with plenty of dining options.
Restaurants in the Area
Blue Water Grill is a favorite to many visitors for a reason. The view, the delicious menu, and the craft cocktails are a winning combination. One of my favorite items was coconut shrimp skewers over black bean sauce.
Caliente Restaurant has been in business since 2001 serving up a combination of Mexican and Caribbean cuisine. This was a repeat restaurant for us, returning for the ceviche, burritos, and sangrias.
The Truck Stop is casual, fun, and original. It’s a combination of many things: a food truck atmosphere inside shipping containers, a beer garden, live music venue, and a movie night site. You’ll find an eclectic variety of food options including Malaysian, Latin fusion, pizza, ice cream, and of course, beer in the beer garden. You can also enjoy the swimming pool with a swim-up bar, games, and the all-around fun and casual atmosphere here north of San Pedro town.
As you can see, Belize may be a small country, but there is no shortage of things to do, especially if you love the water. Whether you want a schedule full of activities or purposely intend to follow no schedule, Belize has you covered. Belize it or not!
Where to Stay on Ambergris Caye Belize
Ambergris Caye doesn’t have a great abundance of hotels and resorts. The majority of them are located around San Pedro on the southern end. Use the map below to take a look and see if you find one to your liking. As mentioned previously, I stayed at Coral Bay Villas a mile south of San Pedro town near the San Pedro Airport and would strongly recommend you doing the same.