Ambergris Caye is the largest island in Belize and one of the most popular destinations in the country for island-seekers, divers, snorkelers, fishermen and others. It is approximately 15 minutes by flight and 1 hour by water taxi from Belize City. It features the most resorts in the country including a number of dedicated dive resorts and the finest array of restaurants, shops and bars. You will enjoy its tropical charm, island life and the daily adventures available.
Along the entire length of Ambergris Caye, the reef which is only 1/2 offshore comprised of spectacular three dimensional coral formations which include canyons, grottoes and tunnels. The more common reef fishes do not appear here in great numbers compared to elsewhere. However, there are a greater number of pelagic fish such as sharks and rays. There’s also a considerable number of porpoise and turtle to be seen.
One of the most popular water attractions is Shark Ray Alley, a protected area where snorkelers can interact with the sharks and stingrays in about eight feet of water this is an excellent place to see sharks and stingrays up close and personal. Shark-Ray Alley was rated as one of the top spots in the Caribbean for “great animal dives.”
Another favorite spot is Hol Chan Marine Reserve, a five-square-mile underwater park at the southern end of the caye. The park is located about four miles southeast of San Pedro Town and is a haven for marine life. The coral is thick and full of color. It’s graced with a never ending parade of fish darting in and out. The shallow waters make this a popular spot for divers and snorkelers alike.
From Ambergris Caye you can also make side trips to the outer atolls of Lighthouse Reef and Turneffe. Dive trips are available to the celebrated Blue Hole and The Elbow. Although these sites are quite a distance from Ambergris Caye, they’re worth the trip.
Most activities are centered around the island’s only town, the seaside village of San Pedro. Situated on the southern end of the island, it’s named for Saint Peter, the patron saint of fishermen. Founded in the mid-1800s, it was a refuge for Mestizos (people of mixed Spanish and Indian bloodlines) fleeing the Yucatan’s War of Caste. San Pedro is the hub. It’s where everything begins and end’s on the island, including air and water taxi arrivals and departures.
The town is a delightful blend of the Caribbean, seasoned nicely with a touch of the Yucatan and a dash of old Key West served with the island’s warm, Belizean hospitality. Tiki bars, seaside restaurants and night clubs dot the waterfront and Main Street. This is the perfect place for visitors who would like to mix in a little night life with lots of fun in the sun. The sandy streets are lined with small hotels, guesthouses, boutiques, dive stores and a full menu of places to eat and drink. The lifestyle is laid-back and easy going.
Golf carts are the most convenient way to get around and the primary means of transportation on the island. Cars and trucks are limited, but there are plenty of taxis. Some of the luxury resorts located outside the town are within walking distance and those that aren’t have bicycles, golf carts and water taxis readily available.