Ambergris Caye is a great place to stay. There are enough amenities to make it delightful. At the same time, the island is not so modern that you have to wade through crowds of tourists in flip-flops. The mangrove swamp is the “eye” of this island with its snow-white beaches, the largest in Belize. Golf carts are used to navigate these sandy roads. Reef divers will love Belize Barrier Reef. You can also plunge into the Big Blue Hole – a circle formed by calcareous rocks, 122 meters deep.
The water around the reefs are considered one of the most exciting places in the world for swimming, snorkeling and sea fishing, and the transparency of the water is so great (up to 60 m) that even without diving you can see all the diversity of local underwater life. The best place for scuba diving is rightly considered the coastal waters of Ambergris Island, where the reef wall is as close as possible to the surface. Outside the reef are three large atolls (a coral ring-shaped island), one of which is a true masterpiece of the universe.
The coral reefs of the Caribbean have their own characteristics. They do not differ in such a variety of living organisms as the reefs of the Indian and Pacific oceans, but the size of individual corals and sponges are striking. The latter in the waters of Belize are particularly spectacular: some barrel-shaped sponges grow over 100 years old and reach 2 m in diameter. Coastal reefs are characterized by small coral colonies, near which up to 500 species of fish inhabit, including five species of butterfly fish.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN AMBERGRIS CAYE
• Archaeological sites
• Bacalar Chico Marin and Wildlife Sanctuary
• A visit to the Barrier Reef will provide an unforgettable experience of fishing. Diving enthusiasts will find themselves in the world of coral canyons, see the unique Blue Hole. Tropical fish, colorful corals, sea turtles will not leave anyone indifferent. San Pedro is the largest lagoon on the island. It is connected to the Caribbean Sea by a small river. Here you can watch crocodiles, huge flocks of bright tropical birds.
• Boca del Rio Park
• Laguna San Pedro
• Little Iguana and Rosario Kaye
• Lalas Bird Sanctuary
• Marine Reserve Hall Chan
• Shark Ray Alley is a reef break. The greatest depth does not exceed 10 meters. Thanks to its excellent visibility, it allows you to watch sharks, stingrays, lobsters. Sea dwellers swim very close, allowing to stroke themselves.
• Secret Beach
TYPICAL COSTS WHEN TRAVELLING
Accommodation – You can stay in hotels of category 3-5 star or rent bungalows. The cost of the cheapest hotels starts from 100 euro. You can also find hostels as cheap as $30 per night.
Food – Try corn tortillas with chicken or beef (burrito), meat or fish pies, fried bananas, rice with beans and most importantly, the fry jacks.Despite the small size of the island, there are first-class restaurants and cafes. Worth a try: dishes made of lizard or iguana, baked shark, traditional salmon garnish (corn stew) and definitely the conch, but make sure they beat the conch or it’s just too tough.
The cost of lunch is higher than on the mainland (almost all meat products and vegetables are imported). Dinner for two in a middle class restaurant is $15-20, in an expensive restaurant it is $20-30.
Transportation – To get to this amazing place, you first need to be in the central part of Belize, where the international airport is located. Direct flights to Belize are available only from America, and from the countries of the Old World will have to make one or more transit transfers in the United States. You can also get to the country by car if you are traveling from Mexico or Guatemala.
You can get to the island itself by plane – there is an airport in San Pedro that serves domestic flights in Belize. The flight from the mainland will take no more than twenty minutes. Another method is water travel. The boat will have to sail for much longer – about an hour and a half – however, this method will give you an unforgettable impression of the landscapes and the feeling that you really came to the ends of the earth.
Suggested daily budget is200 USD per day considering the necessityof active rest here.For those who love snorkeling there are day trips to some lagoons. Boat rental is $38 per person (they will provide flippers, masks, instruction). You should not be afraid: during the voyage this business is checked by the maritime police (license availability). Walk time is 3 hours.
MONEY SAVING TIPS
1 Let’s bargain on the city market! There is a city market. Popular purchases: copies of Mayan jewelry, precious stones (sapphire), equipment for divers, wooden figures of stingrays and sharks, T-shirts ($18), plates ($5). Need to bargain!
2 Don’t forget about lodge hotels: In order to feel the unique atmosphere, you should stay in one of the lodge hotels in the jungle.
3 Find hotels which provide excursions. As the excursions are quite expensive there, it is possible to find out hotels which provide the tourists with excursions, for instance, numerous eco-friendly hotels give such an option, i.e. observe the birds and watch the wonderful views on the river.
4 Look at the map. Most travelers prefer the quieter parts of the island for rest. My personal favorite is Placencia.
ON THE SCENE?
The only city of the island is San Pedro. As in any city, you can find a lot of entertainment (including at night): Palace Palace casino (open 6 days a week except Wednesday from 19:00 until midnight), restaurants, bars, discos. While you’re there, make sure you participate in the chicken drop at Wahoo’s Lounge on Thursday night. It’s an unforgettable experience.