Sleek New Catamaran’s Inaugural Trip to Chetumal And…I’m Not On It

Saturday morning at 10am, the San Pedro Belize Express hosted a ceremony to launch its new 3-Star catamaran vessel that will take customers from Ambergris Caye, Belize to Chetumal, Mexico quickly and smoothly. The media and others were invited to take the trip – about 2 hours each way – to Chetumal for lunch. And I gladly accepted. I haven’t taken the boat to Chetumal in ages! At least 11 or 12 years…

Channel 7 news and the new boat
Channel 7 new reporting on the new catamaran to Chetumal

But let’s back up a bit… (And fear not…I will get to prices at the bottom!)

Chetumal is the capital of Quintana Roo – the Mexican state that is home to Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Tulum. This capital of about 175,000 is located just north of Belize and is a jumping-off point for many traveling down from Cancun to Belize.

SImple map of Mexico Belize border

One way to travel from Chetumal to Belize is the water taxi. Inaugurated in 2010 by the San Pedro Belize Express, this route (about 45 miles as the crow flies) takes people through the bay of Chetumal to San Pedro and to Caye Caulker (and back again).

The boat leaves every day at 8:30am from San Pedro, Belize and returns at 3:30pm. (Note: Chetumal and San Pedro are in different time zones for part of the year…watch out!)

You can see the full SPBE schedule below.

Schedule for SPBE

This beautiful new boat can seat 104 people with 60 comfortable seats facing forward.

There are some big motors (see how much I know about boats?) and the catamaran design should keep it nice and stable when the Bay of Chetumal gets a bit rougher.

She looks and feels good! I was ready for my ride.

Motors on the new boat

But we are on an international journey, so we had to process through customs and immigration with our passports…and we didn’t get going for a while.

Party for the announcement

First, a presentation.

The Minister of Tourism, Anthony Mahler, spoke about the importance of this route and how it should increase going forward. Especially with the opening of the Tulum International Airport and the Maya Tren coming on board over the next few years.

He said that last year, we only saw 7000 overnight Mexican visitors to Belize – and it is a number we would like to increase. He also spoke about how they are planning to move this terminal/water taxi station to a new location. This current location is too shallow for water taxis.

The entrance to the terminal

Note: This huge multi-million dollar marina/terminal was completed about 10 years ago with the plan to move ALL island water taxis (local and international) to the lagoon side terminal. But that never happened. Many said the waters were too shallow before the project even started.

Additionally, Minister Mahler said that the GOB will be breaking ground on a new marina/terminal in Punta Gorda in the next few weeks to take advantage of its proximity to the Rio Dulce and all the visitors that it attracts.

Photos were taken.

THe crew

Those who were going on to Chetumal, to test the boat and to have lunch boarded. But things were taking a while…there was a bunch of paperwork to process and I started getting a bit nervous.

Maybe I hadn’t planned this correctly…and I left my dog Frannie at home. It was 11:30 am…and we hadn’t left yet. 2 hours to Chetumal…Mexican immigration…lunch…herding the Belizean media can be a bit like herding cats…and then back? I didn’t think she could hold it.

What I thought would be super fun started to turn to super-frenzy in my mind. All my fault. SO…

I decided to jump off the boat. And hopefully, take this trip in the upcoming weeks – if you happen to have an extra seat San Pedro Belize Express…please let me know! I’d love to stay overnight…and explore…and write about it.

The water taxi leaving for Chetumal without me

Now let me get to what you guys are asking: How much does it cost?

Here is the breakdown: The boat is $71USD, $142BZD each way from San Pedro to Chetumal and back. $142US roundtrip.

Exit fee for Belize: $2.50bzd if you are Belizean/Belizean resident or $40bzd if you are a visitor

Entrance fee to Mexico: There is a Mexican Entrance fee of 687 pesos (currently about $40US – per SPBE, this is payable only by credit card)

If you have any questions, let me know. I look forward to showing you what you can do in Chetumal for the day! And what a huge HUGE upgrade in services. Here is a picture of the SPBE boat to Chetumal in 2012. It was a much less comfortable ride 🙂

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  1. PMC on February 27th, 2024 at 10:41 am

    Will be interesting, convenient & efficient when the train from Cancun can deliver people to Chetumal… anyone know when this will happen?
    Obviously, flying directly to San Pedro is quickest way but not always best for those who have more time or extended travel plans…..

  2. greg urban on February 27th, 2024 at 5:16 pm

    I applaud your concern for your dog. Well done and look forward to the day trip in the future.

  3. Andyman on February 28th, 2024 at 8:03 am

    The entrance fee to mexico is a bit of a scam. You can walk across the mexican border and pay nothing to enter. For Less then $100us you can fly from san pedro to corozal take a collectivo to the border jump in a taxi and be at the mall or the ado station in chetumal in about an hour and no line ups.

  4. Lisa on February 28th, 2024 at 12:34 pm

    Am I to understand that if you are not belizan, then the round trip price for this ride into Chetumal with all fees is $202 USD?

    • San Pedro Scoop on March 1st, 2024 at 8:39 am

      Yes – both countries have fees on each side so it can add up!

  5. Bob Hawkins on March 7th, 2024 at 12:04 pm

    What a nice addition. The old “rocket” boat felt claustrophobic for sure, but efficient.

    • San Pedro Scoop on March 7th, 2024 at 4:49 pm

      It made the trip feel veeery long. More space, more bueno.