I recently shared how my husband & I fell in love with the island of Ambergris Caye in Belize…first, as a daydream and then as reality. Like with any destination, our slice of paradise has locations we love, parts that could be improved and recently, a phenomenon that is really cramping the ambiance for locations in the Caribbean.
If you are reading this blog in preparation or are considering traveling to Ambergris Caye, hopefully I will paint a fair picture that captures the magic while addressing hot topics like
If you are looking for more high level details on what makes the island great, check out my previous blog, Mopeds on the Beach. However, if you are looking for specific island spots and information, keep on reading!
Being foodies, my husband and I prefer to sit at the bar where we are able to chat with bar staff and fellow patrons. And as Texans, we can talk! While the island has absolutely provided the backdrop for some of the best conversation and introductions, savoring some of the dishes often shut us up.
On our first trip, we were within walking distance to this beach side restaurant. Interestingly enough, it is actually owned by a Texas couple. This can be the only explanation for how an island restaurant managed to have one of the best steaks we have ever tasted! We also enjoyed tasty items from the menu like conch chowder. Conch shells are all over the island so we had to see what the fuss was about! We expected it to be similar to a clam chowder but the heartiness of it actually more resembled a corn chowder. Seriously delicious!
The vibe of the place was lighthearted and fun. It is a very popular location so get there early or make a reservation. If you find yourself too late for a table, check out the bar for available seating. We found it to have attentive service and had great conversation with some fellow travelers.
Losers is a country music-themed bar and restaurant located at the end of a pier, over the water and with an amazing view. We enjoyed cocktails and ceviche that was tasty and had a kick of heat!
Boats are able to tie up to the pier and come in for a drink or bite to eat. It definitely has a Nashville feel to accompany the country music piping through the speakers. It is a family friendly location (at least during the day) and often has live music. While the food was tasty, the atmosphere and views make Losers a place to visit!
Although we love the beachfront locales, the northern portion of the island is where we prefer to spend the majority of our time.
If you like food trucks, you will love the Truck Stop! It is a very cool, family friendly location. A handful of cleverly converted container carts make up Belize’s first “shipping container food park and beer garden.”
While it is family friendly, it is also a great spot for couples of all ages and groups. A pool is tucked in the back for its patrons, with a large movie screen where they host movie nights. The Truck Stop has different events almost every evening such as Family Feud, bingo, karaoke, local entertainers , etc.
Our absolute favorite location for breakfast, lunch and dinner is The Capricorn! Also found on the northern portion of the island, this location is beach side and available for events. It was recently re-opened and the new owners are continuing to update it. One trip, we saw it set up for a wedding and it looked beautiful! Our last trip, we enjoyed a rainy day borrowing one of their game boards (Connect FOUR), chatting with the incredibly friendly staff and enjoying the view.
While San Pedro, Ambergris Caye is a popular tourist location and hosts a large ex-pat community from the US, Belize is currently under a category 2 warning for US travelers. To be as informed as possible, we are enrolled in the “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, STEP” offered by the US Department of State. This program issues real – time alerts and also provides Embassy locations. Travel dates and times can also be registered for emergency purpose. Check it out here.
Mostly, the hubby and I approach traveling very much like we would when navigating parts of our own hometown, Houston. Simply, we are mindful of our location and intuition. With any uneasy feeling, we turn back and find another location. Also, we talk to the locals at places like mentioned above. They freely answer questions and were genuinely helpful and honest. Finally, the mainland has exciting excursions that we look forward to enjoying. However, we have not explored because of our own comfort level and heeding the caution.
Due to heavy storms and flight delays, we were first introduced to the beaches of Belize by moonlight. While we were unable to clearly see the beaches, we asked ourselves, “what the hell is that smell?” The next morning, we were introduced to the smell’s culprit: sargassum sea grass. In researching, it was interesting to discover this pesky nuisance was not specific to Belize.
Prior to 2011, sargassum was located in the Sargasso Sea. It is suspected that climate change and the introduction of elements such as fertilizer and wastewater into the oceans caused it to move to locales such as the beach in the Caribbean. In 2018, Barbados declared a national emergency due to the negative impact to tourism. As recently as June 2019, 13 countries (including Belize) met to brainstorm solutions. This collaboration is great to see and hopefully a remedy can be identified soon.
The conditions can change daily so it is hard to predict when the beaches may be covered in it. Workers are diligent about removing it from the beaches before peak beach time. Along with its unpleasant presence in the water, a pretty notable smell accompanies it.
However, it is still possible to have a great beach day while visiting San Pedro!
Secret Beach is located at the northern portion of the island and is on the bay side. As a result, the beaches are sargassum free and a beautiful location to spend the day. The water is clear and still as if you are on a lake so you don’t have to worry about being pounded by waves. The water is relatively shallow so you can walk out probably 50 yards and still only be chest deep (that’s only waist deep for my hubby). There are several beach-side bars and restaurants at secret beach. There are also water activities such as jet boards (like a surfboard with a motor), paddle boats and kayaks that can be rented by the hour.
As you make the drive out to what seems like nowhere, just follow the signs and they will guide you to this gem. As you get closer to the beach there will likely be people waving you down when you enter. However, they are only telling you about one of the bars. The beach is free so do not give anyone money when you enter. Just find an open parking spot and head toward the water. We gave a 13-year-old jewelry salesman a ride and were thankful for this tip!