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Ambergris Caye


Getting Here & Around
Money Matters & Services Provided | Things to Do | Attractions
Accommodations | Local Flavor | Find a Tour Guide

Ambergris Caye, the largest of Belize's offshore cayes, stretches some 25 miles from the Yucatan Peninsula where only a narrow channel separates it from Mexico. Sitting in turquoise waters, this tiny island is flanked its entire length to the east by the coral reef where the waters sink into a royal blue. Now Belize’s most popular tourist destination, the once tiny fishing village, has grown into Belize’s only island town, San Pedro with tiny villages clustering along its northern and southern borders.

San Pedro Town
La Isla Bonita (Madonna’s hit song meaning Beautiful Island) once held fishing and marine products in general as its primary source of income. As the San Pedranos realized that tourists were making their way to their finishing village for beautiful beaches and crystal waters, their focus shifted to tourism. San Pedro’s two main streets are now lined amongst the houses of the locals, with various shops as well as hotels and information on tours.


Getting Here & Around

Visitors can get to San Pedro either by boat (water taxi) or by plane.

By Water Taxi
An hour trip from Belize City over clear waters, which at times snakes through patches of mangrove forests, boat is a quick and economical way to reach the island paradise. These boats are large enough to give 40 passengers a smooth, comfortable ride. The boat captain or his assistant will collect your luggage to store them in a dry location, so be sure to keep on your person only what you think you will need for the boat ride keeping in mind the risk that those items may get wet. Tanning begins on the boat so wearing sun-screen a hat securely fastened and even a long sleeve shirt is well advised to avoid a sun burn.

Caye Caulker Water Taxi Association has a boat leaving for both Caye Caulker and San Pedro hourly from 8 am and 4:30. The terminal in Belize City is at the base of the Swing Bridge on the north side. Get tickets with plenty of time to spare to ensure a seat since these boats can fill up quickly depending on the time of year. Also, grabbing a round-trip ticket will save a dollar or two. A round trip ticket is $US $27.50 (as of March 2005).

Two alternate, independent water taxis also provide service to the caye less frequently, but at a lower cost. Thunderbolt located just down the street from the main water taxi terminal, across from the Holy Redeemer Church, leaves three times a day at a cost of $US 25.00 round trip. Thunderbolt also provides services from Corozal Town. Triple J is located near the Court House and the Bliss Institute for Creative Arts and also does three trips.

By Plane
Maya Island Airways and Tropic Air offer hourly trips to the caye, leaving from the Phillip Goldson International Airport, allowing you to step off of an international flight, onto an island hopper and then onto white sand in about 20 minutes. The Municipal airstrip in Belize City also offers flights to San Pedro at a slightly cheaper rate. The round trip ticket averages $US 50-75 from the Municipal Airstrip and $100 from the international airport.

Getting Around
San Pedro is a small town with two main streets to navigate. The easiest way is by foot, preferably by bare foot. You can easily get from one side of town to the other with casual stops to peruse the shop windows in an hour. Stretching beyond the city to the outlying villages however, you may need a little help.

Most major hotels rent bicycles as well as several shops in town. Bikes are rented hourly, daily or weekly for about $US 17.50 a day. In addition to biking through the town another past time is golf carting. Golf carts are the average family cars for San Pedranos and make a fun way to get around. These are rented hourly, daily or weekly for about $US 65 a day. Regular taxis are also available and a trip within town is about $US 5 while a trip outside of town is closer to $US 10. Scooters are also available for rental for about $US 40 per day.


Money Matters & Services Provided

Banks
There are 4 banks in San Pedro all having ATM’s, Alliance Bank, Atlantic Bank and Scotia Bank. Belize Bank, however, is the only one with an ATM which takes international cards. Click here for more information on banking services.

Money Exchange
There are also several Casas de Cambio or Money Exchanges. Milo’s is found on Middle Street (Pescador Drive) near Carambas. Forex is across from the post office by Atlantic Bank and Apex is at the corner across from Maneli’s on Front Street (Barrier Reef Drive).

Internet
There are several internet cafés and many are part of coffee shops. To surf the internet, the cost is about $US 6-8 an hour. There’s even a wireless internet café so you can watch the surf while you surf. Wifi Internet and Scooter Rental also sells gourmet coffee and you can sit on their patio with a view of the beach, however the cost is $US 10 an hour.

Laundry
There are 3 main Laundromats. Two located on the outskirts of town, one north and one south, are about $US 5 a load and you do it yourself. The third is in town, but they take care of your laundry for you and charge per pound. Most large hotels provide their own laundry service but it is considerably more expensive.

Stores & Shops
Front Street and Middle Street as they are known to most, whose proper names are actually Barrier Reef Drive and Pescador Drive respectively, are the heart of the town and these are lined with souvenir shops of all sorts especially in the category of beach attire. Souvenirs can also be bought from vendors strategically placed at key walking points in town.

For groceries, the island has four large supermarkets. To the north of town there is Ritchie’s supermarket near Paradise Resort. Across from Ritchie’s is one of the two Island Supermarkets, both locally called Harmouch (pronounced Har-mush). The second Harmouch is located south of town by the Bown and Bowen Distributors. Further south, and out of town, is Marina’s by Xanadu Resort.

There are several pharmacies in town but it’s preferable to the pocket to get any drugs needed on the mainland. The most popular bakery on the island appropriately named, La Popular Bakery is near the ferry to the north of town; however, there is also a distributor in the town itself. Bowen and Bowen is the local distributors for Coca Cola as well as the maker of Crystal Bottled Water and Belikin Beer. These are cheaper to purchase from the Distributors which is located down the street from the airstrip to the south of town.

Restaurants
Being the most popular destination within the country for tourists, the number of and variety of restaurants on the small island are a palate’s delight. Seafood is highly recommended since many on the island still make a living as fishermen, so the seafood is fresh and plentiful. Here’s merely a small sample of what’s in store…

For Belizean Cuisine, there are plenty of options including Caramba’s, Celi’s Deli and Restaurant with fish, seafood and pork Bar-B-Q on Wednesday nights, Papi’s Diner, Estelle’s Diner which serves breakfast all day among other things and Elvi’s Restaurant.

For International Dishes: You’ll find sushi at Fido’s as well as the Blue Water Grill at SunBreeze Hotel. Jade Garden provides Taiwanese/Chinese food. Casa Picasso serves up Italian, while Taste of Thailand serves exactly that, a taste of Thailand. El Divino’s is a 4 star hotel serving Brazilian along with Martini’s and Tequilla’s from their Martini bar and Tequilla bar. Several places will not only serve pizza but also deliver, such as Pepper Oni’s whose prices are about $US 20 for a 12 inch.

Many of the up-scale hotels have restaurants which serve a mouth-watering array of meals.




Destination Guide:  Corozal District | Orange Walk District | Belize District | Offshore Cayes | Ambergris Caye | Caye Caulker | Cayo District | Stann Creek District | Placencia | Toledo District





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