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Ambergris Caye Check-list: 11 Must-Do’s On Your First Visit to Belize

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 iconic Palapa Bar.  Paddle in one of the inner tubes in one of the clearest swimming holes in town.

Swimming at Palapa Bar

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

YOLO, a power catamaran, is another GREAT option.  They do a killer trip to just chill in the crystal clear water at the southern end of the island.

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.


Chartering a boat to visit a sandbar is fantastic but you can also use your newly rented golf cart to pop across to Secret Beach.   It’s growing fast – the word “secret” is said with a wink – but the views are spectacular.

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

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

The chicken drop is a bit of a scene – and can be crowded, loud and a bit rowdy.  If you’ve got small kids in tow or just like a more family friendly scene, check out Crazy Canuck’s Tuesday Hermit Crab races.

Hermit Crab Races - Crazy Canucks

For a list of fun ways things to do with kids on a budget – check out this list.  It most certainly includes #11 – a kids’ paradise!

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

One of the coolest spots on the island, the  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…they also host a kids’ movie on Saturdays, game show nights, a monthly farmers’ market, holiday events…this place is awesome.

TOTALLY on the list of 11 Most Instagrammable Spots in Belize.

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…the Maya Buffett at Elvi’s Kitchen…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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19 thoughts on “Ambergris Caye Check-list: 11 Must-Do’s On Your First Visit to Belize

  1. Kim R

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

  2. 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.

  3. Dr Mel.

    Hey Rebecca, another great post!! I have friends coming to San Pedro for the first time and wanted to recommend the food tour. Do you have contact info for that?

    1. sanpedroscoop

      Hi! Felipe at Belize Food Tours dot com. I see them around touring at least once a week for lunch – always stopping in my favorite deli finishing up their paletas.

  4. Danielle @ Along for Adventure

    My first trip to Belize was in November and we managed to conquer 9/11 items on this list! We are coming back in December and can’t wait to continue exploring this gorgeous island!

  5. Ronald Lanich

    Coming to Belize in November over Thanksgiving for the first time coming to look at the old tackle box maybe to open a bar but if not just to come and relax need a vacation haven’t had one in 8 years

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