As the largest Belize island, Ambergris Caye is 25 miles long and filled with a plethora of lagoons, sandy beaches, and reefs to explore. Its major settlement is San Pedro Town, which has the highest concentration of accommodations and activities in the country.
Vacationers and retirees alike flock to the island because of its natural beauty and to experience a sophisticated lifestyle at an affordable cost. You, too, can enjoy the excitement and relaxation that Ambergris Caye offers.
A Brief History
Mayans were the first inhabitants of the southern tip of the Yucatán Peninsula. In order to preserve their home as a paradise, they dug a narrow channel to split the peninsula in two. This created Ambergris Caye off the coast of Belize in Central America.
As Ambergris Caye’s only inhabited town, San Pedro was established primarily as a fishing village. Although fishing is still a big contributor to its economy, tourism has turned into the biggest contributor. Given its beauty and serene tranquility, it’s no wonder it served as the inspiration for Madonna’s hit song, La Isla Bonita.
Ambergris Caye hasn’t fallen trap to the resort-like atmosphere of a Puerto Vallarta or Cancun. Instead, it remains a bustling, charming town with buildings no higher than three stories.
Activities to Do
Since Ambergris Caye has remained a paradise apart from mainland Belize, there are many natural activities for you to do, both on land and water.
Over time, the island has developed a private bird sanctuary at Caribbean Villas in the narrow forest region to the south of San Pedro. There’s a multilevel observation tower in the forest specifically for birdwatching. Among the shrubs and fruit trees, you can see the Yucatán Vireo, Great Kiskadee, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Gold-fronted Woodpecker, and so many more.
Off the shore, sailing presents an opportunity to investigate pristine ocean waters and the second largest barrier reef in the world. Also, there are three atolls, which are ring-shaped islands made of coral. More than 200 islands are sprinkled throughout the ocean as well. Along with chartering a sailboat to cruise the water, you can use the boat for lodging.
With such a robust ocean environment, sailing opens the door to many fishing, diving, and snorkeling opportunities. You can do any kind of fishing all year, including trolling, fly, and spin fishing. However, you don’t have to fish from a boat. There are many fishing spots on shore too. In any case, make sure that you get a fishing license.
If you go diving and snorkeling, you’ll come across similar reef environments with slight differences. Some of the underwater wildlife that you’ll see includes spotted Eagle Rays, Manta Rays, large Stingrays and Whale Sharks.
Places to Explore
Speaking of the reefs, the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System sits about half a mile off of the island. It’s the longest system in the Western Hemisphere. The inner reef water is shallow and has a blue tinge, while the outer reef water is deep and looks dark royal blue. Its inhabitants vary greatly, from Rainbow Tropical Fish and majestic coral gardens to delicate sea fans and algae.
The Hol Chan Marine Reserve is a sanctuary about 4 miles south of Ambergris Caye. Established in 1987, it stretches for about 3 square miles and is divided into four zones. Although separate from the reef, it’s a great spot for diving and snorkeling to see various fish species.
There are numerous natural wonders to survey on land as well. Beneath the surface, the Mayans created mysterious underworlds. You can adventure into some of the caves with a guide while floating on an inner tube with lights to illuminate the way. Some of the best caves are Caves Branch Cave, Actun Loch Tunich Cave, Actun Tunichil Muknal, Che Chem Ha Cave, and Barton Creek Cave.
Festivals to Enjoy
Whether you’re only visiting or retiring on Ambergris Caye, festivals are big celebrations here. The International Costa Maya Festival celebrates the Mundo Maya countries in Central America: Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico.
During the six-day event in July or August, you’ll see cultural performers, musical entertainers, and dancers from those countries throughout San Pedro Town. There’s also a Queen of the Mayan Costa Beauty Pageant, which crowns a Reina de la Costa Maya, and a range of art, clothing, and food booths.
El Gran Carnaval de San Pedro is similar to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The town is one of the last places in Belize that still celebrates Carnival. As a pagan celebration, it’s held during the week before Ash Wednesday and the Lenten Season.
During this time, the town indulges in bodily pleasures. For instance, dancers wear outlandish costumes and perform through the streets. On the final day, everyone goes into the streets to paint each other with a mixture of raw eggs and water paints. The goal is to paint as many people as possible.
In addition to these big celebrations, Ambergris Caye hosts San Pedro Day every year on June 27. It’s an observance of the first families that made the island their home. There’s also Township Day on November 27, which features music, fishing tournaments, and parades.
Living on Ambergris Caye in Belize
If you decide to move to or retire on Ambergris Caye, you can make your funds go further. Compared to other parts of Belize, the cost of living is a bit higher on the island because everything has to be transported there. Despite that, it’s still quite a bit cheaper to live in San Pedro Town than in many parts of the United States.
Best of all, living on Ambergris Caye gives you access to more activities and attractions than other parts of Belize. Also, the island has relatively low property taxes and utility costs. Since golf carts are the preferred way to get around San Pedro Town, you save on travel expenses as well. Although, taxis and bicycles are good options too.
Are you ready to enjoy the beauty and attractions that make Ambergris Caye so alluring? Whether you’re visiting or planning to make the island your home, make sure that you have your finances in order first.
Contact Caye International Bank headquartered on Ambergris Caye island to open your personal offshore account today.