Your First Time Visit – Ambergris Caye Check-list: 11 Must-Do’s When You Visit Belize

I originally wrote this post in 2015 – but things change.  Places change.  It’s time for an update.  And time to take it from 10 to 11.

Ambergris Caye has SO much to offer and can keep you busy from morning until night.  The food, the festivals, the people, the shopping, the aqua blue waters, the gorgeous barrier reef and wildlife – most people are quickly hooked.

My one BIGGEST tip is to chat it up – with locals, with tourists…it’s a great way to find out what’s going on in town and the newest, hippest spots.


But it’s your first visit…and with only a few days or a week, where to start?  Here is a check list – a mix of fun, adventure and…chocolate – that will make the most of your time on the island.  And give you a real feel for what living on Belize’s largest island is like.

1.  Wake up early and enjoy the sunrise over the reef


2.  Eat breakfast at everyone’s favorite spot, Estel’s Dine by the Sea.  Open at 6am for fishermen and divers, they serve the best breakfast in town.  Banana pancakes, your feet in the sand and…this view.

No matter what you have…you MUST eat the fry jacks.  Critical.IMG_0720

3.  Snorkel Hol Chan Marine Reserve & Shark Ray Alley

The first stop is a beautiful cut along the barrier reef with coral, turtles and countless colorful fish.  Stop 2 is…well…a bit more exciting.


4.  Float in the inner tubes at Palapa Bar & Enjoy a Belikin Beer…or Three

At the north end of town is the new location for the iconic Palapa Bar.  Paddle in one of the inner tubes in one of the clearest swimming holes in town.


5.  Eat Belizean Chocolate made right here in San Pedro

The Belize Chocolate Company makes gorgeous world-class chocolate right here on the island – all from Belizean cacao.  Pop into their shop & cafe, cool off with a milk shake, taste their chocolates (may I suggest the salted chocolate covered caramels?) or sit and enjoy a dessert and some chocolate tea.


6.  Rent a Golf Cart and explore the island

San Pedro town is just a small part of 26 mile long Ambergris Caye.  Rent a cart for the day and explore.  Stop at places – for a beautiful bar and lounging/swimming dock try Ak’bol…


7.  Go Sailing

Whether on an old school Belizean style fishing boat or a larger catamaran, it’s a great way to get LOTS of sun, snorkel at Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley, lunch on Caye Caulker (our uber-cute neighboring island) and do it all in one day.

rum punch 2

8.  Eat classic Belizean ceviche

Shrimp, lobster, conch – pick your favorite – this simple dish is an island favorite.  Seafood can not get any fresher.

Just a few words of warning.  That pretty orange stuff in the onion cup?  That’s habanero – one of the hottest peppers in the world.  Proceed with caution.


Really tasty classic ceviche can be found at Lily’s Treasure Chest or Hurricane’s Ceviche Bar.

9.  Explore the west side of Ambergris Caye 

Belize is known for having the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world – and it’s absolutely gorgeous.  But the west side/the leeward side of Ambergris Caye is equally beautiful.  With clear shallow water, white sand beaches and tiny cayes, an afternoon spent on one of the sandbars here is…just spectacular.


SO spectacular that Leonard Di Caprio is about to build just across the way.

10.  Attend one of the country’s nuttiest events – the Chicken Drop

Each Thursday night, much of the town descends on Wahoo’s Bar for the Chicken Drop.  Bet one Belize dollar, get a number and wait for the chicken to…make a deposit.  Winner gets $100 and a napkin to clean up the mess.

chicken drop

11.  Movie Night, Pig Roast/Cornhole Tournament or Just Sunset at The Truck Stop

One of the coolest spots on the island, the new-ish beer garden, ice cream shop, restaurants, funky bar and SPOT to take your photo by the beautiful Papo mural is just fantastic.  Make sure to grab something to eat and wander back to the lagoon for the sunset.  And try one of their fruit-infused drinks.

Wednesday movie night under the stars is totally awesome…free popcorn, waitress service and just beautiful.  I promise.  You’ll love this spot.

You also want to check out their monthly farmers’ market for everything from fresh bread to cheese to swiss chard and desserts to pastrami.

truck stop

If it’s your first time, I think this list will help you get started on your trip to San Pedro.  There is more…much more…sushi Tuesday or Thursday dinner at Blue Water Grill…live music…a drink at Lola’s on Friday night…BINGO at the Lions Den…the walking eating tour with Belize Food Tours, you’ll find your own favorites pretty quickly.

Whatever you do, where ever you go, be sure to talk to the locals and the expats who call this island their home.   What’s your favorite bar?  Your favorite spot to eat?  Where do you go on the weekends?

Everyone’s got an opinion – and most are pretty good.



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  • David G

    I’ve got 7 out of 11 so far, and still two days left…Chicken drop tonight!

  • Jeanne

    Thank you for this! We are excited to do ALL! 🙂

  • Kim R

    Just in time to plan our trip in December! Thanks to you and Southwest we are Belize bound!!

  • SPmQQse

    the truck stop…. another business that ,shouldn’t be in a residential neighbourhood.

    • Really? You never mentioned that before!

      • msyteryboy

        BWHAHAHAHAHAHHAA. Give it up Canuck, you aint gonna win this one.

      • SPmQQse

        i am absolutely sure, it wont be the last time.

  • FJL

    I’ll go ahead and mention the alcohol… Belikins at every beach bar you can from north of the bridge to as far south as your flip flops can take you, or at least to Sunday Fun Day at Canucks. And of course the local rum… The ice is filtered, limes are fresh.