View from our waterfront Villa at a Resort in San Pedro, Belize on the island of Ambergris Caye

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Have I found La Isla Bonita?

I think I have.

Belize it or not, the island of Ambergris Caye and the town of San Pedro, Belize is one of my favorite destinations in the world.

The docks and shoreline in downtown San Pedro Belize. One of the best things to do in Belize is visit downtown San Pedro and check out all the cute shops and eateries.
The shoreline in Downtown San Pedro; lots of cute boutiques & eateries to check out

Belize is a Caribbean country located on the coast of Central America. Bordered by Guatemala, Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, it is often regarded as every diver’s heaven. A diver’s underwater paradise.

Oceanographer Jacques Cousteau proclaimed it was, “One of the four must-dive locations on this blue planet.”

Jacques Cousteau

Belize is an English speaking country, although many locals speak Spanish as well. They also drive on the right side of the road, like most of South America. The country’s currency is the Belize dollar, but we found that most everywhere we went things were priced in USD.

Belize’s laid back atmosphere, mixed with its tropical flair is enough to make anyone forget their worries, slow down and enjoy life. I also arrived in San Pedro never having Scuba dived in my life. I left the island a certified PADI Open Water Scuba Diver via No Worries Tours and with a new hobby I am feverishly passionate about.

Arriving via Water Taxi to San Pedro. It takes about 90 minutes from Belize City to San Pedro. Visiting San Pedro is one of the BEST things to do while in Belize
Arriving in San Pedro from the Water Taxi

So How Do You Get to San Pedro, Belize?

After we landed at the BZE International Airport, we took about a 20 minute cab ride to the water taxi dock. This cab ride is a pretty standard fare of $25 and I would recommend confirming the fare before riding. Upon arrival at the water taxi dock, an attendant will offer you hand sanitizer and also take any luggage you have to the boat for you.

Water Taxi to Ambergris Caye

Belize City to San Pedro is a 90 minute boat ride.

We went to the water taxi office at the end of the pier to buy our tickets. Here is what I must emphasize: Double check that your tickets are for the correct island you are going to.

I’m not sure exactly what transpired, but we bought our water taxi tickets for San Pedro, but ended up with ones for Caye Caulker. We ended up getting off at Caye Caulker and repurchasing tickets for San Pedro and chalked it up to a loss.

After we purchased our tickets, we decided to have lunch on the pier, as we were starving. We really wanted Belizean food, so we ate at The Last Drop Cafe & Bar. This is really the nicest place to eat, while waiting for the ferry, from our observation.

The staff is welcoming and polite, and the food was really tasty. They also have complimentary wifi and air conditioning (hooray)! Prices were fair considering the location. For two entrees, two drinks, a coffee and dessert, we spent about $31USD.

Looking for food at the pier in Belize City while waiting for your Water Taxi? Try The Last Drop Cafe & Bar. One of the Best things to Do in Belize.
Belizean Food at The Last Drop Cafe & Bar

When it was time to board the ferry, we gave them our tickets and sat on the lower level. There is bench seating bordering the entire perimeter of the interior of the boat and there is also auditorium-like seating in the center of the boat. We sat on the benched perimeter and found it to be decently comfortable for our 90 minute voyage.

The cool part was we never had to handle our luggage from the point of arrival in Belize City, to our arrival to the dock in San Pedro. Upon exiting the water taxi, there was a modest swarm of people on the dock, that began to fuse with the lines of passengers filing off the boat. We bee-lined it over to the gentleman holding up a sign that had our resort’s name on it.

San Pedro, a Town filled with more Golf Carts than Cars

When you first arrive via Water Taxi, you may find men approaching you with their business cards to rent a golf cart from them. We ended up hanging on to the business card we received and renting a cart, as their rates were significantly cheaper than our resort.

With a few introductions and small talk exchanged, we were whisked away on a golf cart. This is where we became fully engulfed in Captain Ron vibes. We sped down the light beige, winding dirt roads, lined with mangroves on both sides. Every so often, there was a gap in the mangrove and an area of water, charming retreat or eatery peaked through.

We stayed at the Portofino Beach Resort, which was about 30 minutes from downtown San Pedro via golf cart. Be aware that there are a lot of muddy, large potholes you will need to be conscious of, driving down these roads.

Staring out into the Caribbean Sea from the dock at our ocean front beach resort.
Having a Zen moment on the dock at our resort, overlooking the Caribbean Sea

Belize is “Let’s Wing This” Friendly

Belize is one of the only trips we have ever gone on where we planned no excursions in advance. Our resort urged us to decide what activities we wanted to do upon arrival, since almost all of them are weather contingent. Despite arriving without a thing planned, we had one jam packed trip filled with adventure. So here are some suggestions, in no particular order:

Rent a Golf Cart

When you arrive in Ambergris Caye, you will see flurries of golf carts whizzing back and forth on the main roads. It’s simply the most efficient way to get around the island as a local or a visitor. Ambergris Caye is only about a mile wide and about 36 miles long. Our resort was a bit far from the bridge and from town, so we definitely needed the golf cart.

For us, this was truly an enjoyable aspect of our trip. It felt so nice to hop in the golf cart, sun on our shoulders, warm breeze on our cheek, tropical drink in the cup holder, and explore the island. Also, others driving by on golf carts are very friendly; so don’t hesitate to spread those good vibes and wave at golf carts driving by. Remember when I said accepting that business card by the water taxi ended up being a great thing? We rented a golf cart for a little less than $35USD/day. While the going rate on the island is about $35 -$75 USD a day. Booking it through our hotel resort was going to cost quite a bit more. They also dropped off and picked up the golf cart from our resort.

Note: most rentals you’ll need to return with a full tank, and there is only one gas station in downtown San Pedro.

Beautiful Sunset views while exploring Belize by Golf Cart. Renting a Golf Cart to explore the Island is one of the best things to do while in Belize.
Taken while exploring the Island via Golf Cart. A gorgeous Island in San Pedro.

Dive, Snorkel & Visit the Blue Hole

If you have ever been curious about diving or snorkeling, this is definitely the place to indulge that inquisitiveness. The water is a clear, sparkling turquoise, warm & inviting. Home to the second largest barrier reef in the world, it is filled with thriving marine life. Prior to visiting Belize, I had only ever snorkeled. My most notable experience was snorkeling The Great Barrier Reef. But after visiting Ambergris Caye, I can say I have pet a wild shark in open water. Who would’ve thought?

The crystal clear, bright turquoise waters of the Belizean Caribbean Sea.  Petting a Nurse Shark at Shark Ray Alley. One of the best things to Do while in Belize.
Swimming with Nurse Sharks in Shark Ray Alley

Some must visit sites:

Mexico Rocks

Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Shark Ray Alley

The Blue Hole

Map of Snorkel & Dive Sites in Ambergris Caye. Map courtesy of
Map of Snorkel & Dive Points of Interest. Photo courtesy of

The great Blue Hole of Belize is on my long term diving bucket list. This incredible natural wonder is located about 43 miles off the mainland of Belize City. It’s over 400 feet deep and over 1,043 feet wide. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is known for its biodiversity and is home to Reef, Nurse, Hammerhead and Bull Sharks. The Blue Hole is open to all on its surface, but diving and navigating its cave system is only open to advanced and experienced divers.

Visit Shark Ray Alley

Interested in an animal encounter of an up close kind?

If you’re of a more adventurous nature, this is something you’d likely enjoy. Shark Ray Alley is located just one mile south of the must see Hol Chan Marine Reserve. I suggest joining a guided experience that goes to both destinations on the same excursion. We went via private charter. Due to its shallow depths, you can only snorkel in Shark Ray Alley: no scuba diving.

The area is filled with nurse sharks. Nurse sharks are carnivorous and will bite you if you step on them, harass them or bother them excessively. Of the 52 recorded Nurse Shark bites, there have been no fatalities. In general, these bottom dwelling creatures are harmless and I, personally, felt very safe swimming with them.

If an open water shark encounter doesn’t sound appealing to you, but you’re still interested in seeing them at a safe distance, there are also tours that go to Shark Ray Alley sans snorkeling and you can remain in the boat.

Kayaking at Secret Beach

Breathtaking Sunset while kayaking Secret Beach in San Pedro, Belize on the island of Ambergris Caye. One of the best things to do in Belize.
Watching a breathtaking Sunset while Kayaking “Secret Beach”

A locals’ favorite and recommendation. We sped off in our golf cart down to Secret Beach (it is fairly easy to find if you follow the signs). When we arrived, the shore was lined with various restaurants and bars. We drove all the way to the end of the road, as we intended on kayaking before dinner, to catch the sunset. We rented a tandem kayak, two paddles and life jackets for an hour and it was just under $15USD. Boy, was this one of the best things we did. I mean, just look at that sunset!

While you are given relative autonomy to kayak, however far out you’d like during your rental period; we decided to follow the coast and stay relatively close to shore. Due to the neighboring resort having not reopened, the entire shore was desolate. The whole entire scene was channeling major Gilligan’s Island sentiments, in a good way. We decided to beach our kayak for a bit and go for a swim in the water. It was great…and so warm!

Kayaking at Secret Beach – we floated by a Resort that still remained closed due to Covid

While at Secret Beach, Dine at Blue Bayou, the Restaurant IN the Water

The Blue Bayou is a family owned and operated business that the locals frequent to enjoy themselves. This was a good sign, for us. Our personal style of travel; wherever we go, we want to be where the locals are. But there are plenty of travelers here too, along with ex-pats who live in Belize at least part time.

Blue Bayou looks like it might have the propensity to be a spring-break-esq, competitive drinking, party type atmosphere during the day, or especially in peak season. We moseyed over after kayaking, right as the sun was setting. It just so happened, that the throngs of very friendly day drinkers were all drying off and settling their tabs right as we walked in. We had the whole place to ourselves. Perfection.

Due to Covid, there weren’t really crowds anywhere, and the island had just relaxed the curfew to 10:00pm. All of that to say, it made for a remarkable time to experience several sites sans flocks of tourists. It also made for incredible photo opportunities. If you want to be in a happening environment, come during the day. If you prefer a quieter vibe, come around sunset. But I recommend you checking this out!

View of the tables at “Blue Bayou” – the Secret Beach Restaurant IN the water

Take a Day Trip to Xunantunich

If you like history or learning about culture, or both, you will definitely want to take a day trip to this archeological site about 70 miles west of Belize City. Just a little over a half mile from the Guatemalan border, near San Ignacio, you’ll find the Xunantunich ruins from the classical Mayan era. You can climb these towering structures and it provides a breathtaking panorama of what was once a prosperous city state, home to over 200,000 people. It’s likely that you’ll also spot lots of animals on your visit, from tropical birds to Spider and Howler monkeys, to sizable Iguanas. You can definitely visit this site on your own and explore with autonomy, but to get the most out of your visit, we recommend touring with a guide.

You can only enter Xunantunich by driving over a bridge, a hand cranked ferry!

Go Cave Tubing in Xunantunich’s Ancient Caves

If you’re adventurous and love water, tubing, caves, history, or any combination of the above, you will love this activity. Most tours offer a combination of this, in addition to visiting the Mayan Ruins. Journey through the jungle by foot, before you’re led by a guided tour through the ancient caves that the Mayans once regarded as: A journey into the “underworld.”

This was actually one of the most memorable things I’ve ever done, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. We ventured down the river and into the caves on tubes, wearing lifejackets and helmets complete with a headlight. I must mention that the caves are pitch black throughout a lot of the tour, and the water can get deep at certain points (although you should not be getting in the water), and parts of the passage can be on the narrower side. We thought it was really fun, but if any of those things might bother you, this might not be the excursion for you.

Entrance to the Ancient Cave System. We went Cave tubing through here and it was epic!

Eat a Belizean Fry Jack

A local had recommended we try their traditional staple in Belizean cuisine – the Fry Jack. I don’t know if I’m happy about the recommendation or if I regret hearing about it, because they are just so darn tasty. A popular breakfast item, Fry Jacks are essentially deep fried dough pieces (triangular or circular), served with beans, eggs, cheese, and sometimes bacon or ham. Our resort offered Fry Jacks as a breakfast option (pictured below).

Delicious place to grab some Fry Jacks in Downtown San Pedro – you can watch the cooks making them by hand, fresh

The Fry Jack House in downtown San Pedro in Ambergris Caye, has a broad menu where you can explore a wide variety of Fry Jack’s that veer from the breakfast variety. We sampled Fry Jacks all over town during our time in Belize. Although they were all delicious, perhaps the most delectable of them all was from a tiny little shop in downtown San Pedro that I cannot find anywhere on the internet. When we were up at dawn to leave for Xunantunich, our guide took us to stop for Fry Jacks, fresh orange juice and hot coffee, before we got on the water taxi. We arrived right at 6:00am to this tiny, family owned business with a pink exterior. If you come across it, make sure you stop in for a Fry Jack. Drizzle some Belizean Heat hot sauce on and enjoy!

A Place you can find REALLY good FryJacks in San Pedro -a Locals Spot

Dine at some Delicious Locally Owned Restaurants

Sol Cafe – a relaxing spot to grab a coffee & rum cake

Located right off the main road, 3.5 miles north of the bridge are two locally owned restaurants that we really enjoyed. There are spots to park your golf cart along the road. There are a total of three businesses on this lot, including Sol Café (a great place to get a coffee and rum cake).

Ceviche at Tipsy Lobster Seafood Grill – they have AMAZING service here

If you’re fixing for some seafood, Tipsy Lobster offers an assortment of options from seafood tacos, kebabs, fritters, ceviche or a variety of fried or grilled fare. We went for dinner and the service was truly polished and excellent, the atmosphere relaxing, and the food was great. Tipsy Lobster offers some flavorful blended fruit smoothies that I also suggest trying. Ironically, Lobster was out of season when we visited in late March, but don’t worry, they have lots of other tasty dishes on the menu.

In the mood for a mouth watering burger? Run, no… sprint to Enell’s. The burgers and house made sauces here are out of this world; fries are nice and crispy, and the owner is incredibly warm, welcoming and friendly. We enjoyed Enell’s so much, that we went there 3 times during our time in San Pedro. Both the owner and the staff make you feel at home and are just lovely. Also, after your meal… they have a friend that lives in the river behind the restaurant!

The resident Crocodile that comes to visit Enell’s patrons from time to time

Check out Coral Day Spa

On one of our golf cart adventures driving around the island, I saw a sign peak through the trees surrounding bright, eye-catching flowers. It read three glorious letters: SPA. If you find yourself in need of a massage or body treatment, I highly recommend visiting this day spa on the island, owned by a local Belizean woman. The first time we passed by it, we doubled back so I could go in and check it out.

Everyone was extremely friendly, and it appears to be a popular place for locals as well. On a whim, I decided to make an appointment for the end of the day. We had a packed day that day, so I requested their latest appointment. They were so gracious and actually booked me an appointment after their regular hours. It’s very clean, the massage therapists were very caring and professional. Only recently, did I find out this was rated the #2 Spa in San Pedro on Trip Advisor.

Lovely Day Spa owned by a really nice Local Belizean Woman

Shopping & Site Seeing in Downtown San Pedro

If you are a chocolate lover, there is a chocolate shop in downtown San Pedro called Belize Chocolate Company. They are a bean to bar chocolate company all made locally in Ambergris Caye and their chocolate is exquisite. I put together a box to bring my Mom and she loved it. They also offer a chocolate making experience, which we did not do. But we did enjoy some yummy chocolate drinks while enjoying a view of the beach. The staff was very helpful, and I also got the most luscious chocolate body scrub from here which I am obsessed with and will reorder.

View from the Porch at the Belize Chocolate Company

Also in downtown, located in the heart of San Pedro’s shopping district, is a wonderful soap shop named Belizean Breezes Soap Co. They sell the most fun, quirky, fresh and clever soaps, lotions and skincare, made locally from all natural ingredients. Run by locals, this shop is owned by expats from Michigan, living in Belize. We took home an assortment of scented soaps and face masks, to give as gifts.

Know Before You Go

Belize is a rather pricey destination.

In fact, San Pedro, Belize is regarded as one of the most expensive places to visit in Central America. From your lodging, to your excursions, and from your food to your latte; few things on the island are cheap. Despite the conversion of USD to the Belizean dollar, you will find that most everything is priced in USD. We found that most things (like the price of a massage) are priced similarly to a mid-range to high-end spa in the US, and a nice latte will likely cost you more than you’d pay at home. This is just something to be prepared for when you visit, to manage your expectations: You’ll be paying top dollar for everything.

It is my understanding that Caye Caulker, which is a much quieter, slower paced, less populated Belizean island, about an hour water taxi ride from San Pedro, is much more moderately priced. We will definitely be back to Belize and will be checking out Caye Caulker next time as well.

Do I think San Pedro is worth it? You better Belize it.

Save for your Belize planning!

Travel Tips & Resources to Help You Plan an Epic Trip!

Going – I’ve subscribed to Going (formerly, beloved, Scott’s Cheap Flights) for awhile now and it’s an amazing resource for finding… did you guess cheap flights? Yes, you can set your preferences from airports to flight class and get destination deals right to your inbox. It’s fab! I use the Premium paid version, but they have a FREE version too. So what are you waiting for?! Let’s get Going! – the majority, if not almost all of my stays are booked on It’s a reliable site to book and manage your reservations. It’s a great way to find boutique stays and unique accommodations at the best rates! You can also easily communicate with your accommodation through the app.

Expedia – If I am looking for a flight to a specific destination for specific dates, I find myself booking many flights on Expedia. It’s user friendly and straight forward. I often find the most cost effective rates, while earning points for every flight I book (in tandem with the points I receive from the credit cards I pay with).

Viator – most of the activities, tours and excursions I book for my trips are booked through Viator. Whether you’re seeking a guide for the day, a group tour, a cooking class, Viator has you covered!

Get Your Guide – this is another great marketplace to find tours, excursions and activities to book for your upcoming trip.

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