Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker: Which is best for you?

Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker are the most visited islands in Belize with 68% of overnight visitors
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Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker are the most popular islands in Belize, drawing almost 70% of all visitors. Ambergris Caye is known for luxury beach resorts, excellent restaurants, and a bustling nightlife scene. Caye Caulker is smaller and more rustic, attracting younger travelers seeking a relaxed Caribbean vibe.

Related: Things to Do in San Pedro & Things to Do in Caye Caulker

Only 15 miles separate the sister islands, yet they are remarkably different–in character and flavour. So if you’re wondering whether Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker will best suit your travel style, let me try to help with this.

On this page
Island Atmosphere
Beach Life
Things to Do
Food Scene
Getting Here and Around

Island Atmosphere

The Truck Stop in San Pedro, Belize

As mentioned earlier, both islands are top tourist destinations and are near each other, yet they are very different. Ambergris Caye is the destination of choice if you’re looking for a more sophisticated place to relax and indulge, while Caye Caulker offers a more rugged laid-back atmosphere.

Ambergris Caye

At 26 miles long, Ambergris Caye is the larger, more bustling island. There are tons of amazing restaurants and cool shops across the island. You’ll find a lot of luxury beach resorts and most people aren’t on budget vacations, although a few affordable hotels can be found. If you seek a party atmosphere, stay near downtown San Pedro where there are many popular bars and nightclubs. However, for a more relaxed and quiet experience, seek out exclusive resorts in South or North Ambergris Caye.

Caye Caulker

As the younger sister, Caye Caulker has her own appeal. At just 5 miles long, the small island is laid back and chill, with a “Go Slow” Caribbean vibe. Accommodations are primarily guesthouses and small hotels, great for tourists that don’t want to break the bank. The island has many restaurants and some lively bars but there’s no nightclub atmosphere. It’s also the go-to place for a picnic/ beach day trip from Ambergris Caye, just charter a boat, and pack a cooler full of drinks.

The Beach Life

Caye Caulker's The Split

Both islands are surrounded by stunning azure waters. Pack your swimsuits, lots of sunblock, and your best sunshades as you get ready to enjoy the sun, sand, and sea.

Ambergris Caye

Ambergris Caye’s larger size means a variety of places to take a dip. Boca Del Rio, which is the northern tip of the main town, offers the best spots to walk into the water from the beach, but there are many amazing dock bars from which you can walk or jump into the clear blue water. For those wanting to just swim and enjoy, the booming Secret Beach area in North Ambergris Caye is a fantastic spot. Go early to avoid the crowds, and enjoy a lazy swim on the leeward side of the island. Secret Beach’s waters are the primary draw for crowds, and there are a number of beach bars on this side of the island, so you’ll never go thirsty or hungry!

Caye Caulker

In Caye Caulker, the go-to spot is The Split. Its open sandy area will often find sunbathers lazing under the bright sun, tanning to oblivion. Every so often, take a dip in the gorgeous waters, then belly up to the bar on the property for a cold beverage. Across the Split, there are a few nice resorts and bars that offer lounge chairs, bar service and if you so wish, a pool, if the salt water gets to be too much. If you seek solace and a little peace and quiet, take advantage of the various little sandy patches all along the way, and wade right into the water for a nice solo swim.

Things To Do

The Great Blue Hole is part of Belize's Barrier Reef

There are many reasons both islands are the top destinations in the country, the number one being that the Belize Barrier Reef is directly in front of them to the east!

Ambergris Caye

Ambergris Caye is closest to the reef, where an abundance of coral hosts hundreds of colorful fish and other marine life. The close proximity to various snorkel spots makes it a go-to destination for reef adventures. Flats along the leeward side of the island also bring in tons of fly fishermen seeking that grand slam, and many sports fishermen have found their favorite fishing buddies on the island and return regularly.

Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker might be a little further away from the reef, but to make up for it the excursions are cheaper. This often makes it a preferred base for diving adventures. It also has the added attraction of manatee spots off its shores. If you stay on land, you can just hang out and explore the island, perhaps enjoy the sight of seahorses in all stages of life at the seahorse sanctuary or hand-feed tarpon ‘on the back’ side of Caye Caulker.

The Food Scene

Estel's Dine By the Sea is San Pedro's most popular breakfast restaurant

Belize island cuisine is varied and can satisfy the most discerning of taste buds. We often rap about our main dish, the Rice and Beans with a choice of protein, which you can find anywhere from street-side carts to dine-in restaurants. But if you want variety, you can have it.

Ambergris Caye

Ambergris Caye’s size and popularity mean it has lots of eateries, many with local and international dishes. Besides classic burgers, wings, and chicken and waffles, you can find yourself enjoying innovative fusion dishes, authentic Japanese Sushi, and even Mexican cuisine. There’s also lots of island-fresh Belizean food, such as streetside stalls selling seafood pupusas, panades, BBQ (very popular with locals) and so much more.

Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker has fantastic cafes and restaurants that can deliver tasty breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Enjoy fresh-caught fish with tasty local sides, cooked your way, or lobster/conch dishes. Freshly baked muffins, coffee cakes, or local delicacies like fry jacks, johnny cakes, panades, and conch fritters are tasty options at any number of restaurants and delis around the island. Dinnertime can include top-notch international cuisine, including Italian, vegetarian, and local with a twist!

Getting there and around

Aerial photo of Ambergris Caye

Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker are both east of Belize City and easily accessible. Transportation on the islands is also easy since both places are small.

Ambergris Caye

Ambergris Caye can be easily reached by boat and by air. The water taxi option is the longer route, taking you from Belize City to San Pedro Town in about 1.5 hours. If you opt for a domestic flight, it’s a quick 20 to 25 minutes from the International Airport.

Transportation in Ambergris Caye is a mix of golf carts and cars. You can rent a cart or take taxis (but it will add up) during your stay. Bicycles can be fun to ride around the island, but if you plan on visiting places across town, including heading up north across the bridge to Secret Beach, be sure to grab a cab or have a golf cart handy, as the drive is about an hour. Walking downtown is recommended, as you can pop in and out of the various fun shops along the roads.

Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker can also be easily reached by boat and by air. The water taxi from Belize City to Caye Caulker is around 45 minutes to an hour. It’s the same boat that takes people to San Pedro, which is 30 minutes further north. And if you opt for a domestic flight, it’s 15 to 20 minutes from the International Airport.

As for getting around Caye Caulker, what stands out is the island’s fight to resist importing large vehicles. This means there are hardly any cars, but since the island is only 5 miles long, you can easily get around on foot. Or on a bike. Golf carts do exist, and there are some rentals if you get weary. Your taxi will more often be a golf cart – once we even caught a tricycle, with the driver pedaling with our luggage as we walked alongside! It’s one of the best traits of this small village.

But what about the weather?

Average High and Low Temperature in Belize by Month

Both islands are blessed with similar weather, which often equates to sunny days with a cool sea breeze. Even the rain is warm and only lasts for a little while – except during the rainy season, when it can, unfortunately, pour for an entire weekend.

Year-round, the temperatures average in the mid-to-high 80s, and at its peak, even 100 degrees feels less hot with the cool Caribbean breeze. Under a palm or almond tree, the temperature is even less! But we do recommend you pack sunscreen, as those sneaky rays find their way to your skin!

Whichever island you choose to spend your holidays in, you’re bound to enjoy the Caribbean experience. And if you just can’t decide, know that you are only 30 minutes away, and can easily pop by the other to pay a visit and get a feel for yourself. Double-dipping on the islands is way more fun anyway!



Reader Interactions


  1. Alex Harmouch says

    You can book your fancy golf cart with Island Cruiser and have it delivered to wherever you would like in San Pedro Ambergris Caye.

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