The Scoop on Ambergris Caye’s Most Popular Spot: Secret Beach
As soon as you touch down on Ambergris Caye, you are going to hear the suggestions from your bartender, the taxi driver and the front desk: You MUST go to Secret Beach. EVERYONE tells you that you HAVE to go.
How, you might wonder, can it be a secret if everyone is talking about it?
Answer: It’s NOT. In fact, it is probably the most touristy area of Ambergris Caye right now. Perhaps in all of Belize and it seems like new businesses are opening weekly in this area that just 10 years ago, had absolutely nothing there but some iguanas and bush.
BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN YOU SHOULD TAKE IT OFF YOUR TO-DO LIST. In fact, many who visit Ambergris Caye list Secret Beach as one of their favorite places on their trip. My family – visiting last February with 6 kids in tow – went almost every day. (You can check out my Fun Things To Do on Ambergris Caye with Kids that WON’T Break the Bank)
It is one of the most stunningly beautiful natural areas in all of Belize – heartachingly gorgeous. But quick development often comes with some growing pains
So let me break it down for you. Starting with a Brief history of the area, How To Get There, What To Do There: Bars/Restaurant, Activities and Places to Stay, What to Bring and The Still Hidden Spots of Secret Beach.
A Brief History of Secret Beach
Until very recently almost ALL development was on the reef side of Ambergris Caye. The coral reef – the fishing, the diving and snorkeling and the trade winds – the things that first brought residents to the island and the very first tourists 50 years ago – are primarily on the eastern side of the island.
But less than 10 years ago, a developer filled a LONG road across one of the large shallow mangrove lagoons that forms the center of the caye. About 2 or 3 miles long, the road stretched from one side of the island to the other – and allowed, for the first time, access to the west side (or the leeward side) of Ambergris Caye for the first time.
The lagoon and moon rock like landscape was cut up into hundreds..perhaps thousands…of cheap saleable lots – many of which are still for sale today.
There is no reef on the west side but there are crystal clear waters with stunning craggy limestone shores and sandy bottoms. The water is still and relatively shallow. You have to walk a good way out to get above your waist in some areas. Stunning.
Swimming and floating perfection.
So when the road was completed, locals loved to drive across on weekends – it was a BIG trek – and just soak in the water. There was a dock…and not much else. If you went out there on a Monday, you would most likely be alone.
And it was glorious. And since it is on the west side of the island, it’s even MORE stunning at sunset.
How To Get To Secret Beach, Ambergris Caye
Secret Beach is on the west side of the island – almost EVERY restaurant, bar, hotel, resorts…everything is on the east side. I’m approximating – with a orange arrow – where the Secret Beach area is located.
To get there from San Pedro town, you will mostly likely rent a golf cart – prices should be around $45US per day – more if it is just one day, less if you rent for a week – and drive north.
At approximately 4.5 miles north Ambergris Caye, you will take the big left turn – there are lots of signs at “The Junction”. For businesses at Secret Beach…
and lots of other stuff. Follow the unpaved road (as of February 2019, this road is in fairly good shape and your trip across should only take about 15 minutes with your golf cart) – check out the mangroves and lagoon and occasional crocodile to both sides – and just follow the signs until you reach a huge SECRET BEACH LETTERS.
You can ride a bicycle but it is a long dusty road in some very strong sun. There are no stops along the way on the road west. Bring water and wear lots of sunscreen!
What To Do At Secret Beach
While 5 years ago, you had to bring your own water, beers and food, there are now 5 or more bars, all serving food and even more stands and salespeople selling all sorts of things from souvenirs to services like hair braiding.
Bars and Restaurants
When you reach Secret Beach, you’ll see the big SECRET BEACH sign right in front of you. You can turn to the right for the larger beach bars – I’ll call it “The Party Section” or you can turn left for a bit more peace and quiet.
Here is what you see if you turn right.
Park your cart and head to the beach – just in front of this road. You’ll find the following bars.
This bar has the largest proper beach in the area but they all have the most beautiful water on the island. Secret Paradise has tables in the water, a volleyball net, games and an attractive bar…a real island feel.
Water and Adventure Activities
There are all sorts of little businesses popping up in the kiosks and at the dock at the entrance to Secret Beach. Here are some that I saw but I didn’t try any so let me just list them.
JetSurf Belize – a rental shop for these cool looking motorized surfboards
Little Plastic Peddle Boats – they weren’t open when I was there last week – but here is some of the information
There are guys selling coconuts, guys selling trinkets, guys selling timeshares, guys selling all sorts of things. If you are not interested, just say thanks but no. Firmly.
The Hidden Spots – the Secrets of Secret Beach
Now we were getting into my wheel house. I love the water at Secret Beach, I appreciate that others love the fun bars and music but what I really love is a spot away from the crowds – where I’m not elbow to elbow with the person in the next lounger and here is where you can find them.
Blue Bayou Bar
If you turn to the left at the main entrance, you will see signs for Blue Bayou Bar and while it is quite popular, it’s a great spot to hang out.
I went to sit in the water for sunset and it was fabulous. I was not disappointed.
And the other spot I found happened to be where I was staying for the night. YES! There is one spot where you can stay…to watch the sunset without worrying about driving back in the dark…but I will get to that soon.
Aurora’s Bar & Grill at Paradise on the Caye
Aurora and her family have been making delicious food on Ambergris Caye for as long as I can remember. And for a while, they had a food trailer at Secret Beach but now they’ve moved to a more permanent structure…one that has a secret beach at Secret Beach. A little seclusion from the madness – and from all the guys trying to sell souvenirs and rum drinks and bitters and…more in the area.
Lots of hammocks, a shades sitting deck and…the view as the sunset.
My last tip for a bit of seclusion gives you the most privacy and, I think, the most natural beauty but also the fewest creature comforts (like ice cold Belikins or a bit of shade).
Walk North or South of the “Bar Scene”
Beachfront and docks are public in Belize. Private property (like beach chairs or tables) are not but you are free to walk along the coast both north and south. It’s spectacular. To the north, you will find 3 or 4 new docks that have been built and for seclusion? They are perfect for lounging.
Just be sure to take your trash with you when you leave.
They have added an additional building that now houses Aurora’s Bar and an upstairs apartment.
I stayed in the Peach Cabana. I LOVED my front porch. I LOVED this very romantic canopy bed and the sea breezes. A big bathroom, lots of towels, a mini-fridge and my great host Todd hanging out in the main house.
My favorite favorite part was staying for sunset – and not having to worry about driving home. And grabbing a morning cup of coffee – and exploring the area before ANYONE else arrived. It’s magic.
And their dog accompanied me the whole time.
POTC serves breakfast – has a kitchen and big fridge if you want to make your own – or buy something from Aurora’s before sunset – like a tasty HUGE quesadilla and enjoy that later.
It would be a very very cool spot to stay for a few nights.
Tips for Your Trip Secret Beach
THAT is a ton of information. (SO much that I included my very first table of contents)
My #1 suggestion is that EVERYONE SHOULD VISIT SECRET BEACH. I do think there is something for everyone whether you like to be alone or you like to be at the front of the conga line.
Here are my basic tips.
- Sunscreen and bug spray: Seems obvious but don’t underestimate the sun in the Caribbean. Add in the fact that it is very easy to sit in the cool waters all day – and trick you into thinking you are NOT burning. You are. Everyone is. SPF it UP! And if you plan to explore north or south, or if you plan to stay for sunset, bring some mosquito spray. This area is way less developed than the town and there are bugs.
- Be Friendly but Firm With Hawkers: I have heard many times from visitors that “there are too many hustlers at Secret Beach” – and that can be true. But I find that everyone is friendly…and a firm thanks but no thanks works wonders if you find yourself a bit overwhelmed.
- Get There Early and Explore: The loungers tend to fill up as the day progresses so get there early. Maybe around 10am. Scope out the area…find out if you like more quiet or busier and settle in.
- Stay for Sunset: Come back a second day and stay for sunset. I say the second day because I want you to get a sense of how far the trip is from your hotel. If you are staying south of San Pedro town, it could be over an hour away. It’s easiest to figure this out during the day time. REMEMBER that we are most likely closer to the Equator than you are used to and this mean that darkness comes fairly quickly after sunset. Twilight averages 70-100 minutes in the US, in Belize right now, “civil twilight” is about 45 minutes. (Here’s a great website for sunset times and twilight information)
- STAY OVERNIGHT AT SECRET BEACH: It’s a very cool way to explore this Gorgeous GORGEOUS side of Ambergris Caye
Oh…and one more thing. Please save and share on Pinterest!