This past New Year’s Eve, we decided to celebrate a little ‘less’ traditionally: we planned a trip to Ambergris Caye, Belize!!
Some of you may know this trip was our second time visiting Belize; our first adventure being on our honeymoon! Throughout our first visit, we realized quickly we loved the country, the scenery, the water, and especially the people and culture so much so that we simply couldn’t get enough. We knew we wanted (and needed) to go back and, after this most recent trip, we still haven’t gotten our fill!
If you’re looking for a new spot to add to your travel bucket list, please do yourself the favor in adding this gorgeous destination to your vision board. While it’s relatively affordable and easier to get to than other exotic options, there are a few tips and pieces of advice I’m sharing here to get the smoothest experience out of your travel, and start building your list of MUST sees!!
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Southwest flies here! This makes booking travel super easy and fairly affordable to most. Even better – get yourself a Southwest credit card! I was able to hook us up with free flights using points from my everyday purchases. While I haven’t been able to find a direct flight via any airline just yet, most layovers are a mere hour or so.
- Arriving Checklist:
– You’ll fly into the mainland (BZE airport). From there, you will have needed to arrange travel in advance for getting from the mainland to the island, Mon! Options are by air or by sea.
OPTION 1: There’s a water ferry that transports guests to the island for about $40-$50/way, but PSA: it does take a little over 2 hours from point A to point B, not including the time it takes to get to the boat port from the airport.
OPTION 2: Personally, our preference is to save a few extra pennies and splurge for the puddle jumper plane to and from San Pedro. Thankfully, there are only (2) airline options, so it makes your decision easy between Tropic Air & Maya Island Air. While this option is a tad more expensive alternative, est. $170/pp/way, you’re there in only 20 minutes, and you get to see the gorgeous clearwater views on your final stretch.
– Once you’ve landed on the island, there isn’t much, if any, public transit available. You will want to pre-schedule some variation of pickup of yourself and your luggage with your resort/staying accommodations from the San Pedro airport.
FUN FACT: There are little to no cars on the island! The most common method of transportation is via gas-powered golf carts, which you’ll want to be sure you reserve in advance for getting around town/around the island. Last visit, we used Sam’s Golf Cart Rentals and couldn’t have had a better experience! They even were super flexible with us in extending our golf cart rental at the last second for a few additional days. 🙂
YOU’VE ARRIVED! …. now what?
While everyone has different vacation agendas, here’s a list of my favorite spots compiled from both visits! While there’s still a ton to see on this little gem of an island, I sure my list barely even scratches the surface in regards to unique finds 😉
I hope to be able to update and/or add a new entry the next time we make it back. The island is full of new business development, so there’s always new shops and concepts emerging as well as restaurants popping up. If you happen to stumble on a favorite or two, please comment at the bottom of this article so I can keep adding to my “MUST-see list” !!
- Estel’s Dine By the Sea
THE breakfast spot in Ambergris Caye! It’s downtown on Front Street/right on the beach front. You’ll want to arrive early, or earlier than starvation mode as this spot is always packed, but the food is 100% worth the wait!
- Crocs Sunset Sports Bar
In town during football season? This is the coolest spot to post up for any sports game watching on the island. If you’re sweet to the staff, they’ll ensure the game you’re there to watch is streamed on the nearest TV to your seat 😉 PLUS – don’t miss the stunning views of the lagoon side of the island at sunset!
- Matachica – Mambo Restaurant
Incredible dinner spot on the Matachica Resort! While it’s a little further out from town – think 20 minutes or so of golf cart riding, it’s worth the hike. You may want to head this direction before the sun sets though, as this restaurant is well past where the more formal road paving ends and there’s limited lighted streets.
You can’t go wrong with the menu! It’s MUCH larger and filled with more seafood options when you arrive in person versus what’s noted on their site. We enjoyed the authentic Italian bruschetta, tenderloin carpaccio, calamari fritti, and spicy gazpacho from the app section! I don’t see the fresh seafood entrees we went with on here, but everything we had was mouth watering.
- Secret Beach – Maruba Beach Klub
We actually missed going to this spot the first time we made it to Ambergris Caye and man was I bummed once we did made it!! It’s quite a drive (about 4 mi north of the downtown bridge, and then west another 3.5 mi), but a really unique area filled with restaurants, beach chairs, bars, massage and pedicure options – IN THE WATER! (does it get any better than that?!), colorful swings, local shops and more.
P.S. While it’s called ‘secret beach,’ it’s far from a secret anymore, as it’s likely one of the most touristy spots on the island, but totally worth the visit 😉
Maruba Beach Klub was my favorite place we saw with great service, yummy drinks, tasty food, and comfy adjustable lounge chairs for posting up in right on the water . Although we really wanted to make it back a second day to explore the other spots!!
- Rain Rooftop Restaurant
Beautiful view! We spent our New Year’s Eve dinner here, before heading down town and enjoyed the vibrant decor, live music and friendly staff. Also a really great location, as part of The Grand Caribe Resort – you don’t have to go far!
- PUR Boutique Cabanas & Taco Bar
Loved this little gem! Really great tacos! PUR Boutique Cabanas is new since we last had been to Ambergris Caye. A cozy & tranquil spot just south of The Grand Caribe resort, this boutique hotel is adorned with 6 queen & king suites – some even with their own private plunge pools!
While we didn’t stay here (maybe next time!), we enjoyed dinner al fresco adjacent the multicolor LED lit pool. They had both vegan, low-card and gluten free options available!
- Carambo Restaurant & Bar
THIS. PLACE. WAS. THE. BOMB. !!!
We had no idea what we were getting into at Carambo. We stumbled on this as a local recommendation by one of the bartenders we befriended at Crocs Sunset Bar and it absolutely was NOT one to miss.
The decor and family heritage made me feel similarly to if I had stepped into an island version of the legacy Tio Pepe Baltimore restaurant. After being greeted by our server, we were prompted escorted outside – yes, outside – to pick out our dinner!
Lining the front of the restaurant was an open, market-like spread of all the fresh caught seafood you could imagine: lobster tail, shrimp, red snapper, yellow snapper, scallops… enough to make your stomach full just by looking at the spread!! How to order you ask? By simply walking with your server down the line to hand pick exactly what you’d like prepared on your plate to perfection!
Seriously one of the coolest spots we’ve found to date on the island!!
- Palapa Bar
Into night life? Palapa bar is a fun, happening spot in the center of downtown in you’re looking for a little post-sunset fun! While most places tend to wind down earlier on the island (think 9-10PM), this is a great option for keeping the fun going. There’s typically a live DJ every night and a lively crowd. If you visit during the day, they have inner tubes tied by the dock that you can float on in the crystal clear water while you enjoy your snacks and bevvies 🙂
PPSSSTT… there’s also a buy 1, get one FREE drink coupon on their website!
I think that wraps it up!
Got questions? Reach out to me! I have even more photos over on my instagram and ove connecting with my readers!
Check me out at @brittanyleighxo
Cheers & talk soon!