Going Off-The-Grid On Ambergris Caye, Belize
Ambergris Caye is much bigger than I think. Tour guides and books tell you that the island is 26ish miles long but what is hard to conceptualize, sometimes, is the Ambergris also has some serious width to it. That is not always easy to see.
Most of us live by or visit the area within a few miles of San Pedro town – and for the most part, you can see, or walk, from sea to lagoon in that area (by the plane on the map.) The island seems like a tiny slip of a thing.
But as you move farther north, the island stretch out from east to west, much of it completely unpopulated, some of it marshlands, or mangroves or even jungle as you get closer to the Bacalar Chico area in the north.
Yesterday, I went up to a friend’s house in the Grand Belizean Estates area of Ambergris Caye.
Here is a map, that looks like it was found buried for 50 years, of the area.
That shows you exactly where it is and exactly how you can get there by road (or dotted line.) I was in the area about a year ago, mostly visiting the “Secret Beach”, take a look. And didn’t notice very much development at all…
In that respect, not that much has changed. But now Ken and Mary do have a lovely house 2 bedroom house that they have been living in for almost a year.
My friend Jamie and I hopped aboard the 12:30pm Coastal Express water taxi up to Indigo Beach Homes – 4.5 miles north of the bridge. Electricity does come up here and much farther along the coast (to about 10 miles north) but it does not go west out to the “estates”. And probably won’t for maybe 5…10 years? Maybe longer. It all depends on the development of the area.
Mary and Ken had parked their golf cart near Indigo, we hopped aboard and headed west. The development has a raised-up road over what is mostly unfilled wetland.
About a mile in free standing telephone poles begin…and then end.
We passed a newly developing area called the Maya Estates. New markers had just gone up.
And then to the Grand Belizean Estates area…there is just a sign showing the demarcation.
A small house being built.
And then a left turn and the house! You can see the solar panels on the roof…despite the almost unending solar resource we have, you don’t see many in Belize.
And then across the small drainage moat to the front door. The house is set up on pillars, like many in Belize, to catch the breeze and see the views…
Nature. Birds and plants. You can see out to the sea and beach but really only the resorts that are poking over the tree line.
The breeze up here is beautiful. Not a bad place to spend much of your afternoon. SUPER peaceful. There aren’t THAT many place on Ambergris Caye that you can lay on your wrap-around porch in your undies.
I mean…if that is your sort of thing.
Inside the house is just lovely. For family reasons, Ken and Mary are headed back to the states…so many things are packed. But it really is a beautiful spot. Especially the Graniels’ hardwood ceilings.
Off-the-grid does not mean roughing it. Or, like all those crazy survivalist shows, it does not mean you are building a bunker or learning to drink your own urine…
This place is fully stocked.
With big airy rooms, lots of windows and beautiful wood work. I FORGOT my camera card and was left with my IPhone only. Ugh.
But how are they watching a flat screen TV, checking their emails and serving us brie cheese and chilled red wine from the giant refrigerator? We are OFF THE GRID!
Ken showed us the solar system. It cost about $13,000US to install, lasts for 8 to 10 years and was installed by a top of the line solar place here in Belize. Ken could not say enough good things about them.
So wait…if my electric bill is about $250bzd a month…for 10 years…that’s $3,000 a year…WAIT ONE SECOND!
We went downstairs to look at the set up. They have a cistern for waste water. They have a 5000 gallon water tank that collects rain water from the roof. In the year they’ve been here, even during dry times (like these last few months), they haven’t run out of water.
Checking the water with a string and tennis ball.
The storage units below hold the solar batteries…
We asked a million questions…do you run out? (once every few months but we have a back up generator.) Are you nervous out here…do you fear for your safety? (no…we feel safer than we did in town. It’s incredible peaceful.) Do you feel trapped? (no…with our golf cart and the boat, we come to town 3 to 5 times a week, you just learn to do a bit of planning.) The stars and the breeze and the wildlife and the peach and quiet, Mary and Ken agree, makes it all worth it.
We headed down to the local beach. For some, it’s a favorite spot on the island.
About a mile away, the “Secret Beach” with a nice dock and a few swimmers and loungers out today. The water is incredibly warm and still…
You can see right across the water to Blackadore Caye (partly owned by my dear friend Leo DiCaprio) and “Prince Caye”, another user of solar panels in Belize.
“Prince Caye” is a small island and large house that has just been built by James Prince, CEO of Houston based Rap-A-Lot Record. According to CelebrityNetWorth.com, he is worth about $45 million US. His house in Belize was also built by Graniel’s of San Pedro and is solar powered.
You can see a bit of the house in this picture I took in May when I did the around the caye, Bacalar Chico trip.
J.Prince…call me? Would love to visit!
And then it was time to head across to the 3:30pm water taxi back down to town. 15 minutes on the golfcart, back across the long straight road and we were back at the Indigo dock. BACK ON THE GRID!
Super interesting to me. You CAN live in San Pedro (or on Ambergris Caye) with access to all the amenities (and the red wine and brie cheese) and live “out in the bush”. With solitude and wildlife…