Top 10 Guide to Ambergris Caye

4 August 21


We love immersing guests in vibrant experiences tailored to their individual tastes and preferences and sharing our insider secrets.

There are myriad reasons Ambergris Caye is Belize’s most popular and populated island, so our next installment in our 10th-anniversary celebrations is our Top 10 Guide to Ambergris Caye, done “AB style!”

The 25-mile long island touches Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and lies only a quarter of a mile away from the largest living barrier reef in the world. It’s one of the leading locations for scuba diving, snorkeling, and sports fishing. Ambergris also has the broadest range of tourist amenities in Belize, ranging from bohemian beach retreats and executive waterfront villas to elegant luxe resorts, offering some of the country’s finest dining options and amenities.

Here’s our guide to “What would AB do?”


Mayans and Manatees

Venture out to the lagoon side of Ambergris Caye, where you’ll witness wild landscapes, turquoise waters, and exotic birdlife, including the roseate spoonbill and several species of heron. Travel north to the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve, where a Maya trading post has a small exhibition of artifacts. Who knew how many Maya sites dotted the area laying under the blanket of foliage?

Keep a watchful eye for the elusive manatee as you weave through the mangrove channels bordering Mexico, then out to sea for some fun in the sun! Sightings are not guaranteed, but we’ve never not seen one there.

Snorkel along the reef off the beach while your guides find the perfect picnic spot. After snorkeling, enjoy an authentic sea-to-table beach BBQ, including a fresh raw conch and lobster ceviche – the ultimate Belizean appetizer served with homemade chips – and fish grilled whole over coconut husks and driftwood beach fires.

Go for a stroll along the beach, relax on a gently swaying hammock (nap optional), or snorkel some more before calling it a day well spent.


On the Fly

Belize is an angler’s paradise. A mecca for all things fishing, anglers flock to the country’s atolls (Belize boasts three of the four major atolls in the Caribbean), cayes, estuaries, flats, inlets, lagoons, and of course, the world’s second-largest coral reef! The abundance of game fish combined with unrivaled access to remote locations makes for excellent sport and infinite itinerary scope.

From limestone mudflats to turtle grass flats and white sand flats, the clear waters of Ambergris Caye are home to some of the most common yet highly sought-after flats species, including the mighty tarpon, the invisible bonefish, and the ever-elusive permit, along with many other species.

Here at AB, we partner with in-the-know guides who whisk you away to insider places where anglers rarely compete for the prime channels and flats. So cast your hook, line, and sinker and try to land the Grand Slam!


Tastebuds Safari

Some establishments in the now-bustling town of San Pedro have been open since the 1950s when the very first hotel opened its doors to intrepid travelers. Immerse yourself in the island’s culinary diversity and history, told by a native “San Pedrano.”

Sample unique dishes from legendary restaurants and venture into the back streets to hole-in-the-wall spots you’ll only hear about from a local. Savor heavenly Maya foods, mouthwatering seafood appetizers, and rich Garifuna and Mestizo recipes.

Sip on artfully crafted Belizean cocktails as you explore the true pulse of the town, but be sure to leave room for a sampling of Saul’s homemade rum cream at his handmade cigar shop – he’s quite a legend!


Cook your Catch

The residents of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, are known as “San Pedranos.” Before tourism emerged and blossomed, “catch and cook” was an integral part of daily life and continues to this day as a Belizean “Funday” experience. By default, many tour guides and captains are amphibious, having grown up spearfishing large cubera and mutton snapper, grouper, lobster (currently in season), and, of course, the delicious stone crab at great depths.

One of our favorite day trips takes you cruising up the reef with a few trolling lines out to see what you catch. Your captain disappears below at a cut in the reef to spear fish and lobster before journeying to Mexico Rocks for a snorkeling expedition.

Located 6 miles north of San Pedro, Mexico Rocks is now a part of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and a protected area (so no fishing!). This popular snorkeling spot boasts crystal clear, shallow waters and teems with corals and fish, including star, staghorn, elkhorn, and brain coral, creating ideal barracuda, eel, grouper, and spiny lobster habitats. It also features a sinkhole that measures approximately 8 feet deep and 150 feet long.

After snorkeling, head to a remote beach to enjoy an authentic sea-to-table BBQ, including a fresh conch ceviche – the ultimate Belizean appetizer served with homemade chips – and seafood steamed in foil over coconut husks and driftwood beach fires. It doesn’t get fresher than that!

Go for a stroll along the beach, relax on a gently swaying hammock (nap optional), or snorkel some more before heading back.



It’s no wonder that a colossal, perfectly round underwater sinkhole off the azure coast of Belize would be one of its most popular attractions. The Great Blue Hole is truly a sight to behold! And what better way to see it than from the air?

Made famous by the legendary marine biologist and underwater explorer Jacques Costeau, it ranks among the top 10 diving places worldwide. Experienced divers are rewarded with brilliantly colored corals, extraordinary stalactites and stalagmites, fascinating limestone formations, and myriad hues of marine life. On the other hand, a light aircraft flyover allows you to witness its sheer magnitude, its near-perfect circular shape, and the stark contrast of its deep blue interior with the shallow turquoise waters surrounding it.

This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

(Private charters and scheduled flights available.)


Pamper and Indulge Yourself

Elegantly bohemian, Matachica Resort & Spa is a magical retreat. We love to whisk guests up the coast for some special pampering time if you are not already staying there. Located 5 miles north of San Pedro Town, Matachica’s ambiance alone – sumptuous couches, mellow world music, and inspiring artworks – is enough to make you feel revived.

After a scenic speedboat ride up the reef, indulge yourself in a signature spa treatment (or two!). Next, tantalize your tastebuds at Mambo Restaurant with their award-winning global cuisine. Their Bistro menu is served all day long; our favorite light snack is the refreshing Asian summer rolls which pairs perfectly with their coconut mojito… and did we say lobster ravioli?

Docks are public until 6 p.m., so if you want to jump in, the water under the pier is pure turquoise and teems with fish!


Dive In

Ideally located near the world’s largest living barrier reef, Ambergris Caye is a diver’s perfect basecamp. It’s also the closest base to the highly sought-after Great Blue Hole (except if you’re staying on the atoll itself!), and let’s be honest, your scuba diving bucket list would be incomplete without diving this natural wonder.

The island boasts access to some of the most pristine marine ecosystems in the Caribbean, including Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve, Esmeralda Canyons, Half Moon Caye, Hol Chan Marine Reserve (Hol Chan Cut), Long Caye Aquarium, Mexico Rocks, and of course, The Great Blue Hole.

Featuring shallow waters with plenty to see, it’s an excellent place for an “intro to scuba” for non-divers. Who knows, you might get hooked!



Go Slow

Sailing in Belize is a truly magical experience, especially since the trade winds typically blow from the east, and you generally journey north to south. Since visiting the Hol Chan Marine Reserve is a must if you’re in Belize, there’s no better way to travel there than by sailboat.

Plunge into the water and be engulfed in the “underwater Disney” of marine life and spectacular corals, including elkhorn coral, finger coral, grooved brain coral, sheet coral, and many more, along with colorful yellow, red, and purple sponges.

Hiding and swimming among these corals are a vibrant array of playfully curious fish and other sea creatures such as blue stripe grunts, crabs, damselfish, flounders, hogfish, nurse sharks, octopus, parrotfish, starfish, stingrays, yellowtail snappers, and so much more.

Next, head over to Shark Ray Alley, where you will encounter – as the name suggests – sharks and rays in their natural habitat.

Rinse off onboard and sail to the country’s quintessential “go slow” island: Caye Caulker. “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem” is the island’s motto, and it embodies the vibe. The white sandy beaches, cool ocean breezes, azure waters, a fantastic barrier reef on its doorstep, and fresh seafood make it a perfect place to relax and unwind before a late afternoon leisurely sail back to Ambergris.


Pedal Away

An active and fun way to explore the island is to rent beach cruiser bikes and pedal north. For a proper workout, pedal along the beach path and meander around the swaying palm trees, or take to the road for a more efficient journey.

If you start early enough, Ak’bol has 9 a.m. over-the-water yoga classes under a giant palapa. Look out toward the largest living barrier reef in the world as you say Namaste. Travel as far north as Portofino Resort and reward yourself with a dip in the ocean followed by a classic brunch (did we mention that they have over-the-water hammocks?). Stop in for the legendary coconut mojito at Matachica, or play volleyball beside the ocean at Coco Cabana. Coco Beach also has multiple pools to enjoy a refreshing dip, including a fun slide and a swim-up pool bar.

Don’t miss a visit to Truck Stop, a shipping container food truck park with oversized wooden beach games, themed afternoons and evenings, and an overall convivial vibe. There’s something for every appetite with options including Latin fusion, Southeast Asian, wood-fired oven pizzas, gelato, and of course, craft cocktails!

(Protip: Beach cruisers have no brakes, so you need to pedal backward to avoid any incident.)


Hammock Hop

Oscar Wilde once said, “To do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world, the most difficult and the most intellectual.”

When was the last time you did nothing? You’ll probably have to stop and think about it if you’re like us because we don’t “do nothing” very often.

When you lounge in a hammock on Ambergris Caye, you can hear the waves crashing on the reef, the breeze from the trade winds, and perhaps even a passing osprey. It is a truly meditative and restorative experience and an essential part of a stay on Ambergris Caye (and they make for a great souvenir to take home!).


At Absolute Belize, we enjoy curating immersive guest experiences and sharing our insider secrets and tips for a truly life-altering vacation.

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