It’s almost summer and that means that it’s time to hit the beach! Consider changing things up this year. Instead of heading to California or Florida, pack up your passport and venture out of the US to find an international spot where you can relax and soak up the sun. Ambergris Caye, the largest populated island off the coast of Belize, is an up-and-coming travel destination that boasts glorious beaches and beautiful water, making it the perfect spot to kick back with a tropical cocktail and a great book.
Ambergris Caye is easily accessible – located a few hours south of the eastern tip of Mexico, it’s a direct flight for many (just two and a half hours from Dallas, for reference) and a simple connection for others. My husband and I just returned from our honeymoon in Ambergris Caye, and, let’s just say this: we’re ready to pack up our swimsuits and head back as soon as possible. Read on to learn more about this amazing beach getaway, and take our advice – start planning your trip now!
Where To Stay
Victoria House – This beautiful, lush property is located with a prime view of Ambergris Caye’s dazzling waters. Located on 10 acres, the property is beautifully manicured and maintained. You’ll want to explore the grounds for hours. There are only 42 rooms of varying shapes and sizes on the property, making it a cozy spot with a distinctly boutique feel. Consider staying in one of the Victoria House’s casitas, equipped with your own private deck and hammock. The service is unbeatable, and both restaurants on the property offer delicious food. There are two swimming pools and lots of great amenities, including the free use of water sports equipment (kayaks, stand-up paddleboards) and the opportunity to schedule lots of fun activities right from the front desk.
What To Do
Snorkel & scuba dive – Belize is home to the second largest barrier reef in the world (right after Australia), which means that snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities are plentiful and amazing in Ambergris Caye. Guided tours are readily available, and you can easily rent equipment or bring your own. You’re sure to see plenty of gorgeous fish, coral and turtles, and don’t forget to stop by Shark Ray Alley (which is part of the Hol Chan Marine Preserve), where you can swim alongside nurse sharks and sting rays. It’s an amazing experience!
Take a fishing trip – Schedule a half-day fishing trip with a local guide and set out for an exciting adventure on the water. Your guide will take you to a great spot where he’ll set you up to catch snapper, mackerel, and maybe even a barracuda or two. After your trip, most hotels will be happy to prepare your fish for you, whipping up a tasty, refreshing ceviche or grilling it and serving it with vegetables. Delicious!
Visit Mayan ruins – Belize is home to several important Mayan ruins. Though an excursion of this kind would require you to leave Ambergris Caye for a few hours, the historical and cultural impact of your experience would certainly be worth it. Make sure to visit Caracol, which is referred to as the “historically most important site” in Belize. Caracol was the epicenter of one of the largest Maya kingdoms and is home to the remains of thousands of structures, making it a breath-taking place to explore.
Ride bicycles through San Pedro – Many hotels, like the Victoria House, offer complimentary use of bicycles to their guests. Ambergris Caye is a fairly small island, so most residents travel by golf cart or bike. Really take in your surroundings by hopping on a bicycle and setting out to explore. You’ll soak up some culture by getting out of the hotel and checking out the town of San Pedro, the busiest and most inhabited part of Ambergris Caye.
Where To Eat & Drink
Admiral Nelson’s Bar – This bar, located on the Victoria House’s property, boasts incredible views of the ocean and serves up delicious cocktails and food. We recommend this spot for low-key sips and snacks – we love the Miami Vice cocktails (a perfect blend of a strawberry daiquiri and a piña colada), the local rum punch, the beef nachos, the black bean dip with chips and guacamole, and the ceviche. The bar’s breakfast, lunch and dinner service is truly excellent too.
Robin’s Kitchen – We rode past Robin’s Kitchen several times on our bikes before learning that it was actually one of Ambergris Caye’s most valued gems. This hole-in-the-wall is teeny tiny, but the owner (Robin, of course), a Jamaican transplant, serves up some of the most delicious cuisine that we had during our vacation. Stop by for the best Jamaican jerk chicken, rice and beans, and plantains of your life, or come over after your fishing trip and Robin will whip up a special fish curry just for you! All of this deliciousness can be served to you for less than $7, which is a price that can’t be beat.
Wild Mango’s – Stop by Wild Mango’s for lunch or dinner, and expect the place to be packed (make reservations if you plan to go for dinner). Wild Mango’s menu features tons of fresh seafood, both in the form of entrées served in tasty sauces and plated with delicious sides and in more creative variations, like fish tacos.
Do you have a favorite beach vacation spot? Where is it?
Images courtesy of Rachel Brown