Getting to Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker: Taking the Water Taxi after You Arrive at International Airport

You’ve booked a trip to Belize.  HURRAY!   So much to see and do (here’s why Belize is SO different from other places).  But first you need to get to your final destination – your hotel or rental home.  And if you are staying on Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker, well…they are islands.  And, once you arrive at the International Airport, you have a bit more traveling to do.   You have to make that final jump.

You have a few options options.  The ones that the majority of people take are the plane or the boat.  You can take a plane – fast and convenient and gorgeous but pricey or you can take the budget route – a taxi cab to the water taxi.

Spending less comes with some pluses and minuses so let me outline how it works, how much it costs and what the issues can be.

I did it for the first time yesterday (take the water taxi specifically to go to the airport) – on my way from my home, North Ambergris Caye to my family in Providence, Rhode Island.

Here we go.

Taxi from Airport to Belize City Water Taxi:   

The Belize International Airport is less than 10 miles from downtown Belize City in a town called Ladyville.  The best, fastest way – other than a pick up by a friend – is taxi.  Airport taxis are a fixed price – $25US or $50bzd.   That amount is posted by the taxi stand and should never differ.

As soon as you exit the airport, you will see (and most likely hear) the taxi drivers.  Take one to your water taxi terminal.

The trip is 20 minutes with no traffic and, in the late afternoon, can take as many as 45 minutes.  Please plan accordingly.

San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi

There are two water taxi companies that are located within minutes of each other but one has more departures than the other.  That makes it much more convenient.

The pier is located in the center of Central Park in San Pedro Belize

Check the website for San Pedro Belize Express for times and prices.  You do not have to buy tickets before hand – you can buy them right at the water taxi terminal.


LONG NOTE:  You may notice that people around you are getting different prices.  The water taxis in Belize often have “local” and “visitor”/”tourist” pricing.  Many bristle at the thought of it!  But before you balk and think you got ripped off by “gringo pricing”, let me tell you why I think this is TOTALLY fair almost all of the time.

The water taxis are how locals get from the cayes to the mainland for business, for school, for shopping and to visit family.  Though privately owned, it is basically public transportation.  (There is no public transportation in Belize in the true sense of the word – all boats, buses and flights are privately owned.)

If we look at averages, the median family income in the United States is about $51,000USD…for Belize, I’ve seen estimates from $5,000US to $10,000US.

I think it is more than fair for those visiting to help subsidize a bit. To help keep the public transportation reasonably priced.   You might be paying about $70bzd round trip vs a local’s price of $50bzd.  You are not being victimized.

Many will fight me on this one.  People will argue that it works against a free market.  Trust me – the market is not very free.  And then argue that it stops tourists from spending that money in the community.  Pffft.  I definitely agree that inflating prices egregiously is wrong but trust me when I saw that this trip is in no way cheap!  If a family of four in Belize wants to travel RT from the mainland to the cayes, it can cost about $200bzd.  For many, that can be a week’s pay.

I also asked today about the gasoline price for a trip from San Pedro to Belize City – the captain of my water taxi told me that round trip, the boat used about 115 gallons of diesel.  Or about $1,150BZD worth of fuel.  That’s about 23 local round-trip tickets…and that’s not including staff pay, taxes, BOAT MAINTENANCE, port fees…

They don’t cancel if there aren’t enough passengers.

Let me know what you think.


Make sure you get to the water taxi at least 20 minutes before departure to secure your spot – always buy the round trip tickets, you get a discount.  Get on the boat and go.

The ride is 45 minutes to Caye Caulker, where the boat stops and unloads, and then another 30 minutes to San Pedro.

Total Cost:

  • Taxi cab from Belize International Airport to Belize City & Water taxi terminal $50bzd  (20 – 45 minutes)
  • Water Taxi from Belize City Water Taxi Terminal to San Pedro  $35bzd  (1.5 hours)

Total One Way Price from Belize City to San Pedro for one person:  $85bzd or $42.50USD, for two people $120bzd or $60bzd, $30US per person and so on…

Total Time:  Around 2 hours PLUS the time you wait for your boat

 

So now that you see it is relatively simple and cheaper than other forms of transportation (and becomes even cheaper if you are traveling with one or more people), why would you go any other way?

Well…a bunch of reasons.

  • It adds QUITE a bit of time to your trip – Flying from International airport to the cayes takes about 20 minutes. I would estimate at least 3 hours for this alternative method. After a long day of traveling, I can see where the idea of 3 more salty hours just seems impossible.
  • You don’t like boats/you get sick on boats – the water taxi isn’t a particularly bumpy ride and ideally, if you are motion sickness prone, you can prepare ahead of time and pick a seat by the window.  But if the boat is extremely crowded or the weather isn’t good (and the windows need to be closed), keep in mind that it can be a stuffy ride.
  • You arrive at International Airport late in the afternoon.  The very last water taxi to the cayes is 5:30pm.  SO…if you are arriving later and need to get to the cayes, the flights can go up as the sun sets…and may be your only option.
  • You miss the crazy awesome views.

The flight over to Ambergris Caye is such a great way to get a sense of where you are, how many islands there are off the coast and to spot manatees, sharks and stingrays.  Each and every time I do it, I love it.

So that’s it.  Let me know what you usually do.

And now I need to go!  I’m in Rhode Island right now and my 3 nephews just woke me at the ungodly hour of 6am to play Monopoly.  Over and out 🙂






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  • FJL

    Just curious if anyone has had an experience with Ocean Ferry Belize⛴️ as a 3rd option?

    • I have never been on it – same route just less scheduled times. I’m sure it’s no problem – I just like options!

  • Linda Young

    After travelling for 17 hours, I just want to GET THERE!!! I see no option other than Tropic Air!!

    • katzgar

      look for maya air

  • CareMore

    Thanks Rebecca! I have to explain this decision countless times a year to my guests, and you laid it out perfectly. There is a 3rd option. Nautilus Express Water Taxi! It bypasses both Belize City and San Pedro, and takes you directly from Ladyville to your hotel/villa dock! Same price as flying, but for a group of people, it really is a lot of fun and hassle-free. (and free rum punch!) For those of us with dogs, it is the best!

    • Yes! Nautilus and Tropic Ferry – they cost just about as much as the plane but, they drop you off at your location exactly – perfect for those going way south or way north. And, like you said, those with dogs.

  • Shannon O’Brien

    My two buddies and I just returned from AC to the states. Water taxi was great! Paid a little extra for the transfer packages, which wasn’t discussed, but worth it. Saw ourselves on your video of Sat night Lobster Fest too! Thanks for the publicity! 🙂

    • Nice! What was the transfer package…I need to look into that 🙂

      • Shannon O’Brien

        One way for 1-2 people costs $69 one-way and $138 round trip a person. For 3-4 person group its $119 one way and $238 roundtrip. Includes pick-up at airport, travel to taxi dock, then pick up at destination dock and transport to hotel/home. Driver meets you with a name plate with your name on it. He was easy to find at each spot. Go to Belize Express Website and pick your destination city, then click on Airport Transfer Package. They use Paypal payment system.