Guide to Ambergris Caye

Aerial photo of Ambergris Caye

1. About Ambergris Caye

Just a few miles off the coast of Belize lies Ambergris Caye (pronounced “am-bur-gris” “key”) – it is 25 miles long and about a mile across at its widest points. The Caye, which is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea is near Belize’s Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the largest reef system in the Northern Hemisphere, extending from Belize’s border with Mexico on the north, to near the border with Guatemala on the south.

Ambergris Caye’s main town is called San Pedro, named after Saint Peter, the patron saint of fishing. The town is located in the southern part of the Caye and contains the airport and the largest concentration of shops, hotels, and restaurants.

Related: 10 Step Belize Travel Guide

While it is one of the most popular spots for tourism in Belize, don’t expect Ambergris Caye to be over-commercialized, overrun with tourists, or fronted with a skyline of massive high-rise hotels. The island maintains its very low-key, laid-back vibe, earning it a devout following of regular travelers who return again and again, and in some cases, they never leave.  Since Belize is an English-speaking country, you will find a large number of expats who made Ambergris Caye their permanent home after falling in love with the island.

2. Things to Do in San Pedro

Diving in Belize is one of the main reasons why tourist visit Ambergris Caye.

Aside from just lounging on the beach and taking in the beautiful views, there is a lot you can do on the island. Choose from water activities like kayaking, windsurfing, parasailing, or rent a Jet Ski for the afternoon. Of course, scuba diving and snorkeling are two of the biggest reasons people visit Ambergris Caye – in fact, 4 of the top 5 best diving sites in Belize are nearby. The Belize Barrier Reef is less than a mile offshore so there are countless dive sites and snorkel stops within a 15-minute boat ride.  You can spend the morning fishing on the reef and then your guide will cook your catch while you enjoy relaxing on the beach or snorkeling.

Top Snorkeling Sites

(1) Hol-Chan Marine Reserve

(2) Shark Ray Alley

Top Scuba Diving Sites

(1) Half Moon Caye Wall

(2) Long Caye Aquarium

(3) Great Blue Hole

Top Festivals and Events in San Pedro

(1) The International Costa Maya Festival

(2) San Pedro Lobsterfest

(3) The Holiday Lighted Boat Parade

3. Where to Eat in San Pedro

Belize's San Pedro Lobsterfest

If you had a month on Ambergris Caye, you still probably wouldn’t be able to try all the great restaurants and food on the island. Below I have listed my favorite restaurants – go and try them out!

Ceviche is probably the most popular dish on the island, showcasing the freshness of the local seafood, but be sure to also try the Mayan buffet at Elvi’s Kitchen and stop in at Estel’s By the Sea for one of the best breakfasts in town. Don’t leave the Caye without trying lobster and conch when they are in season!

Top Restaurants in San Pedro

(1) Elvi’s Kitchen

(2) Estel’s Dine By The Sea

(3) El Fogon

4. Where to Stay in San Pedro

Victoria House is an elegant resort in Ambergris Caye

Despite an uptrend in luxury resorts popping up on the island, Ambergris Caye still offers a variety of lodging options for every budget. From hostel-type accommodations to five-star luxury beachfront condos, you will find something that will suit your needs here.

Top Hotels in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

(1) El Secreto

(2) Victoria House

(3) Pelican Reef Villas

5. Getting there and back

Getting to Ambergris Caye and leaving is very easy. Once you arrive at Belize’s Phillip Goldson International Airport, you can choose between two options, depending on your budget and preferred mode of transportation.

The cheapest, albeit longer way, is to take a cab to the Belize water taxi center where you can hop on a boat to the island, which takes around 1½ hours to San Pedro.

The best and most direct option is to take a flight on either Tropic Air or Maya Island Air from the airport, which takes about 20 minutes and you are treated to some fantastic views of the reef and neighboring islands. When it comes to leaving, follow the same procedure.