We’re not here to talk about real treasure. No, we’re here to talk about the kind of treasure that draws adventure seekers near and far. The kind of treasure that can only be experienced first-hand and absorbed with one’s own eyes. Today, the treasure that we’re alluding to is the beautiful Ambergris Caye in Belize.
Read on to get a taste of Belizean history, learn more about the Ambergris Caye, and unlock the top-3 stops you have to make if you find your next adventure leading you to the Ambergris Caye.
Before we get into all the things that make Ambergris Caye so special, let’s talk about the equally breathtaking country that the infamous island calls home, Belize. Belize is a tropical nation in Central America, carefully sandwiched between stunning tropical rainforests and the beautiful Caribbean Sea.
Belize is best known for:
- Belize’s Barrier Reef. This is the second largest coral reef system in the world, inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. This 290 km long reef is home to thousands of species of marine life, including over 500 species of fish.
- Mayan ruins. Belize is home to some of the most beautiful Mayan ruins in the world, including Caana, the tallest point in Belize, which can be found at the Caracol Mayan site. This structure alone stands 141-feet tall and was estimated to have been built around 1,200 BCE.
- The Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave. This legendary cave is an amazing archaeological find that includes skeletons, ceramics, and stoneware. Accessing this cave can only be done with an experienced guide, but it is well worth the investment.
- It’s official language. Until September 21, 1981, Belize was actually a British colony known as British Honduras. Though many languages are spoken in the country, the official language remains English, making it the only English-speaking country in Latin America.
Caye: a small, low-elevation, sandy island on the surface of a coral reef. Cayes occur in tropical environments throughout the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans (Source: Wikipedia). Ambergris Caye is one of the many caye’s that call Belize home, however, it is by-far the largest and most recognized. In fact, Ambergris Caye was recently named the fourth best island in Central America. Here’s a map of Ambergris Caye.
Ambergris Caye is best known for:
- Snorkeling and diving. With Belize’s Barrier Reef nearly kissing the Eastern shoreline of Ambergris Caye, there is abundant opportunity to explore rare ocean-life and unbelievable reef systems.
- Cuisine. The restaurant scene on the island city of San Pedro is highly esteemed for it’s fresh and diverse seafood dishes as well as a number of authentic Hispanic dishes. If you’re visiting, booking a food tour is a must.
- World-class beaches. As an island in the Caribbean, it’s pretty safe to assume that the beaches are going to be nothing short of spectacular. Most beaches of the Ambergris Caye boast silk-like sandy shores, crystalline waters, and an assortment of local restaurants and bars within walking distance.
Feeling pretty sold on the idea of visiting Ambergris Caye? Read on to find our top-stops to make during your visit.
Top 3 Stops to Make on Ambergris Caye
If you are planning a trip to the Ambergris Caye, then there are a number of must-see stops, a couple of must-stay destinations, and a couple of must-eat restaurants. Below we have outlined the best-of-the-best for eager travelers.
1. San Pedro
The town of San Pedro sits near the Southern tip of the Ambergris Caye and is the most populous town on the island. San Pedro is often described by its vibrant local culture, beautiful beaches, fishing culture, incredible seafood cuisine, sandy streets, and golf carts occupying the lanes that cars normally would.
Why do you need to spend some time in San Pedro?
- Experience golf cart culture. The main mode of transportation on the Ambergris Caye is via golf cart. Rent your own or be taxi’d around town by some of the most unique golf carts this side of anywhere.
- Check out the Truck Stop. The Truck Stop is undoubtedly the best entertainment in San Pedro. Owned by local expats, this restaurant, bar, and entertainment hub is home to everything from a 5.4-meter movie screen, to swimming pools, to a large outdoor stage for live music, to a shipping container park. If you’re in San Pedro, the Truck Stop is a must-stop.
- The Belize Chocolate Company. The ancient Mayans were actually pretty big fans of chocolate beverages, so it stands to reason that some of the best chocolate in the world comes from right in Belize. Check out the Belize Chocolate Company in San Pedro to get a tour, or even take a chocolate making class to learn more about the bean-to-bar process.
2. Bella Vista Resort
The Bella Vista Resort (BVR) is one of the premier resort destinations on the Ambergris Caye. The Bella Vista Resort, Belize is located just 2.5 miles north of San Pedro. The resort is one of the most beautiful on the Ambergris Caye and comes chalk-full with amenities.
Why consider staying at the Bella Vista Resort?
- Amenities. The BVR, Belize, is located right on the Eastern shore of the Ambergris Caye, with the Belize Barrier Reef sitting just half a mile from the shoreline. Some of the specific amenities include:
- A beachside swimming pool. Let’s face it, temperatures tend to get a little high in Belize. Fortunately, at the BVR, you’re never far from a cool salt water pool.
- Free WiFi. Interested in mixing a little work with your trip to Belize? The Bella Vista Resort has you covered with unlimited free WiFi,available across the entire resort.
- Airport shuttle. Have airfare arranged to San Pedro, but worried about how you’ll get to the resort? No need to worry. The BVR has a complimentary shuttle that will be ready and waiting for you in San Pedro.
- Suite selection. The Bella Vista Resort has a suite to meet every need. With six different suites to choose from, you can be sure to find your fit at the BVR. Whether you’re a family of four looking to do some serious snorkeling, or a young couple looking for a romantic getaway, the BVR has you covered.
- Reef, Ruins & Rivers. The Bella Vista Resort is partnered with a local excursion company called Reef, River & Ruins. Some of the excursions they offer include:
- Snorkeling at Belize’s Barrier Reef.
- Diving at a number of esteemed locations, including the famous Great Blue Hole.
- Reef and deep sea fishing trips.
- Yoga and spa treatments.
- Wildlife tours through the mangrove habitat of the Ambergris Caye.
- Jungle adventures including hikes and ziplining.
- River trips and cave explorations.
- Tours of Mayan ruins, such as the Caracol ruins site.
- A number of zoo, museum, and sanctuary tours.
- Aji Tapa. Aji Tapa is one of the most renowned restaurants on the Ambergris Caye, and it is situated just a few feet away from the main pool at the Bella Vista Resort. Enjoy the many flavors of Belize without having to step foot off the resort. Find out more below.
3. Aji Tapa
Aji Tapa is a premium tapas bar, complete with pool-front and beach-front dining. As one of the highest-rated restaurants and bars on Ambergris Caye, this is a must stop on your visit to Belize.
Why visit Aji Tapa?
- Fresh seafood. Aji Tapa gives new meaning to “catch of the day” with seafood that is often caught within range of sight from your table. Enjoy some of the most exotic seafood available anywhere.
- Seaside seating. Want to feel the sand between your toes while you’re enjoying a a cold beverage and soaking up the warm sea breeze. At Aji Tapa, that’s all possible.
- Local menu inspirations. Though you can expect to find a variety of more traditional Latin American and North American cuisine, Aji Tapa also boasts a number of Belizean-inspired dishes. For example, try the Belizean breakfast, complete with refried beans and fry jacks!
- Bella Vista Resort. Aji Tapa is located right on the BVR Belize resort property. Get access to Aji Tapa every day by booking at least part of your stay at the Bella Vista Resort.
- Special events. Looking to book a wedding or other major event? Make Aji Tapa’s restaurant space and adjacent beach all yours.
So you probably get it by now: if a trip to Belize and the stunning Ambergris Caye wasn’t seated near the top of your “places to see” list, then it surely should be. And if you’re visiting the beautiful Ambergris Caye, then remember the three stops that you HAVE to make:
- San Pedro
- Bella Vista Resort
- Aji Tapa