As the beautiful and infamous Ambergris Caye, the larger of the two neighboring islands off the coast of Belize, gets busier and busier with tourists from all over the world, so do it’s restaurants and activities, changing the way the island works as a whole. Though the nature stays more or less the same sparkling beauty that it is, it’s little town called San Pedro is quite different now than the San Pedro we knew years ago, and I’m here to help you find some of the best and most up-to-date food recommendations, activities, and party scenes possible, so you can maximize your vacation for the least amount of work possible.
After spending more than a month on the island visiting the places below and more, I have selected and organized some of the best things to do and nicest places to see in and around the island, suggested by locals who live there. Read on to discover what the island town has to offer.
How to Get to San Pedro from Belize City:
The recommended boat service from Belize City to San Pedro is San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi. After arriving at the Belize City Airport, it’s highly suggested by both locals and tourists to travel to the water taxi dock by taxi, as Belize City is known for its crime.
That being said, you should be just fine getting a taxi out of the airport as long as you’re making sure your driver is dressed accordingly and takes you in a decent-looking vehicle. When in doubt, look for a friendly, genuine smile and avoid the grimaces looking to rip you off.
Some taxis will take you to the other water taxi dock, but my recommendation is to use the San Pedro Express Taxi for its ease of use, organization, and popularity. You can make sure you’re at the right place by looking for the circle drive in front of the gate to the docks. When you enter, you’ll find plenty of small stores, cafes, and restaurants to take advantage of while you wait. Uniformed men near the dock gates will take your luggage and hand you a ticket in exchange.
Below is the water taxi schedule for this specific water taxi service. At the time of writing this, tickets are $36BZD ($18USD) one way for adults and $56BZD ($28USD) round trip. For children, tickets are $24BZD ($12USD) one way and $48BZD ($24USD) round trip.
That being said, you may see locals getting a lower price for their tickets to the islands. This is because the water taxi is essentially public transportation, even though it is a privately owned company. The difference in income between Belize and many other developed countries make this a fair trade-off, one I’m happy to support as a traveler from the USA. Of course there is a balance, along with plenty of people willing to rip you off both in Belize and around the world, but in this case I believe it is helping more than hurting.
After buying your ticket at the counter (or online) and taking a seat on the water taxi, you’ll arrive on the island in about an hour and a half, and the views make the ride. Your water taxi may make a stop at the neighboring caye, Caye Caulker, before arriving on San Pedro, Ambergris Caye’s island town, so make sure you’re getting off at the the correct spot. Once you’re on the island, grab your luggage from the men at the end of the dock using the luggage ticket they handed you and take in the sights.
San Pedro is usually filled with tourists and locals busy enjoying the island life, but it doesn’t detract from the beauty of the island. Scuba dive shops, cozy cafes, and flip flop friendly restaurants dot the white sand shore, so almost everything in town is super accessible by foot. Keep reading for some of my best recommendations on the island.
Places to eat:
Neri’s – If you’re looking for some more affordable street-type food than the typical on the island, Neri’s is super inexpensive and has some great food for almost anyone to enjoy, along with some delicious fruit juices.
Elvi’s Kitchen – If you ask the locals, this is one of the main places they will point tourists to. The prices are higher, due to the location being in the main central area of San Pedro, and the ambience is constantly being improved. The food is of a higher quality than San Pedro’s typical local-style joints.
The Baker is a great place to go for breakfast bagels, smoothies, flavored bread, and other comfort foods on the way into the main town center. The Baker is owned by a woman from Ireland who’s lived on the island for years now.
Pupuseria Salvadoreño – This colorfully painted family-run restaurant is owned by a woman from El Salvador who stands outside the entrance hand-crafting pupusas: a tradition from El Salvador made from thick corn tortillas stuffed with a filling of your choosing. The food is great and you’ll often hear both tourists and locals raving about how delicious their meal was when they leave. It’s also reasonably priced, and they have plans to expand within the coming years.
Flight Cafe – Highlights include comfortable ambience and great food.
The Junction – Small and cozy coffee joint with nice art and delicious coffee.
Coffee Bar – Great service, comfortable seating, and lots of great choices for both food and coffee.
Rum & Bean – Quiet and comfortable atmosphere with great coffee and a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic pastries and drinks.
To go out:
The party scene on Ambergris Caye has plenty of options, and the music caters to those who enjoy almost every type of party music including reggae, hispanic, hip hop, and dance/house. San Pedro is generally safe to go out and have fun at late/early hours, but like any other town, it’s advisable and preferable to go with a group.
Crazy Canuck’s – Good drinks and fun events going on every night (listed below).
Intro – Multiple rooms with different styles of music. If you like to dance with a pole, this party spot is for you 😉
Jaguar’s – Spacious, with two floors and usually popular amongst both locals and tourists.
Daddy Rock’s – A simple club with good vibes, courtesy of both locals and tourists.
The Sunset Lounge – Newly opened in 2019, this laid-back, yet higher end lounging spot is great for a relaxed mood to get your party night started, or to keep your night lower key.
Sandbar Hostel – located right on the beach, full of both party people and vacationers relaxing the day away.
The Drift Inn – Attached to the Sandbar and it’s partner restaurant and bar, The Drift Inn is a bit quieter and away from the partying vibes coming from the Sandbar Hostel.
Bet on a crab in the crab races at Crazy Canuck’s. Watch the crabs race; the crab that reaches the outermost rope wins the money pot. Your chosen crab may also qualify for various prizes like discounted dinner or free ice cream if it touches the corresponding object in the ring.
Bet on a chicken at the chicken drop. Arguably one of the most famous (and popular) activities to do on the island, every Thursday night at 7:00pm a bar called Wahoo’s Lounge offers prizes to the winner of the Chicken Drop, a big game board full of numbers and a single chicken ready to poop on any one of them. If your number is the lucky landing spot, you get $100BZD, and sometimes even more. Get there early to make your bet and enjoy some drinks before the crowd stumbles in.
Visit the Truck Stop on the way into Secret Beach. Though I wasn’t able to make the time to visit, I heard a lot of great reviews by word-of-mouth about this shipping container food park and beer garden. Events like Cornhole tournaments, movie nights, and live music are held every week and they feature a farmer’s market every month supporting local ingredients from the island.
Sing karaoke at Crazy Canuck’s (following trivia on Friday nights) or Roadkill Bar (on Wednesday nights). Ask around for other bars that might be doing karaoke nights I haven’t yet heard about.
Spend the day at Secret Beach – Though its been years since this beach was a secret, this stretch of white sandy land has artisan crafts vendors, trendy bars, restaurants, places to rent snorkel equipment, motor surfboards, and other fun activities while spending the day being lazy by one of the cleanest stretches of land and water on the island.
Visit South Beach – I would call this beach more secret than Secret Beach; a small stretch of beach with lounge chairs and umbrellas, a restaurant and bar, and a mood that is much more relaxed and less touristy than the ever-popular Secret Beach. The main differences are the size and the amount of seaweed; South Beach has quite a bit more.
Scuba dive or snorkel the longest barrier reef in the world (now beating the race against the Australian Great Barrier Reef for it’s thriving flora and fauna).
Coral Gardens – A beautiful snorkel spot a bit closer to Caye Caulker island, complete with colorful and exotic types of corals, nurse sharks, stingrays, more fish than you can count, and if you’re lucky… manatees.
Shark Ray Alley – Snorkel or scuba dive with sharks–mostly nurse sharks and other reef sharks–as they’re fed right from your boat.
Go fishing – I recommend checking out the Blue Bonefish for your fishing needs. It has comfortable amenities if you’re looking to stay longer than just the day, home-cooked family-style meals, and great customer service.
Marco Gonzalez Mayan Ruin – though it’s no Chichen Itzá, this Mayan ruin has ancient pottery littered about the grounds, piles of old conch shells used for housing insulation, and other nearly-untouched reminders of the Mayan history of Belize. I recommend this as more of a hiking adventure without expectation of towering, impeccable ruins. Hermit crabs are the main occupants of this area now. That, and mosquitoes, so if this is on your agenda, then make sure bug spray is too.
Yoga – Some great studios I recommend include Mahogany Bay’s, Zen Belize, and Victoria House.
Rent a bike and explore the island.
Rent a golf cart and explore the island – a full day’s rental will cost around $200BZD ($100USD).
And that concludes this guide to Ambergris Caye! I wish you a fantastic trip on La Isla Bonita, as the infamous Madonna fondly called it.