Updated: January, 2018. Ambergris Caye, Belize is an eventful gem full of friendly locals with no shortage of things to do for everyone from beach bums to nature enthusiasts to adrenaline junkies.
My first stop, in what would be several weeks in Belize and 4.5 months in Central America, was Ambergris Caye. It is the largest island in Belize, and a popular tourist spot known for crystal blue waters, scuba diving, snorkeling, beautiful beaches, the coral barrier reef (second only to Australia's Great Barrier Reef), and English speaking locals.
San Pedro is the only town on Ambergris Caye, with lots of restaurants, shops, bars, tour companies, and hotels. But this large island offers a lot more than this town.
After spending a week on the island, I am recommending a few places and activities on the island.
1. Scuba Dive or Snorkel the Barrier Reef
For those certified scuba divers, Belize offers magnificent options for diving the Barrier Reef. Snorkeling is an excellent alternative! Be sure to look into Hol Chan, Shark Ray Alley, South Channel, and Coral Gardens.
2. Secret Beach
Ironically named Secret Beach is touted by the locals. It is a can't miss beach for it's away from the main row of hotels, restaurants and bars in and around San Pedro. A bit quieter and has ocean volleyball, a trampoline, kayaks and much more.
TIP: Rent a golf cart for a least a full day to be able to explore the island in it's entirety!
3. Rum + Bean Coffee
For the coffee lovers like us, Rum + Bean coffee shop is quaint, eclectic and offers authentic options for coffee like iced coffee with coconut water - delicious! Also serves up alcoholic beverages, has wifi, air conditioning, adorable decor, and a few small bites like rum cake and ham and cheese scones (which were fresh out of the oven when we arrived, yum!).
4. Truck Stop
The Truck Stop Belize is a shipping container food park serving up local fare, tacos, margaritas, beer, ice cream, and so much more.
TIP: Wednesday night is movie night, Thursday night is trivia night, Friday night is family movie night, Saturday night is DJ night!
5. Bingo at The Lion's Den
This open yellow building is primed with Belize locals and ex-pats. There are about a dozen rounds, and you pay per board per round. Rounds differ in what type of BINGO you're going for, i.e. regular BINGO, BINGO only using the B column, blackout board, etc. Winnings vary based on the number of boards purchased each round and the number of winners.
6. Waterslide Into the Ocean
This water slide is located in front of the Caribbean Villas, and cost a couple Belizean Dollars per ride, or can pay for all day access.
There are daily yoga classes at Ab'kol Resort north of the bridge, Monday through Saturday at 9am, and Sunday at 10am. Yoga classes take place in a stunning palapa over the water. There's a restaurant, bar and pool on site as well. They also offer classes on the yoga sutras and more!
8. Chicken Drop
Every Thursday night at the Spindrift Hotel, you can bet on which square a chicken will "drop" on. "Drop" is a classy term for which square the chicken will poop on.
9. Coconut Bowling at Island Time
Island Time is a bar/restaurant on the water, and has a coconut bowling alley set up on the beach. It was extremely windy when I was there, which unfortunately meant the pins could not stand long enough for me to bowl. But if you go on a calm day, this is a fun activity!
10. Mayan Ruins
While the most impressive Mayan ruins in Belize are located on the mainland, Ambergris Caye is home to one designated Mayan site: Marco Gonzalez. Since the island was once home to more than 20,000 Mayan traders at the height of their civilization, there are ruins left on the island.
This site is new and relatively un-excavated. Here you'll find small mounds or ceremonial caves rather than large structures like you will find at Xunantunich, Cahal Pech, Lamanai and Tikal in Guatemala. However, it does make for a fascinating half day trip to the south side of the island and a good introduction to this ancient civilization.
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