While I’m not an expert on San Pedro/Ambergris Caye, I had a pretty amazing three days there and found that there’s plenty you can do even if you only have 48 to 72 hours to spend in this tropical paradise. Here’s a rundown on some of the top things to do when visiting Ambergris Caye, even if you only have about three days to do it!
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1. Scuba Dive
Belize is home to the second largest barrier reef in the world, behind only the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. For that reason, I highly recommend going for a scuba dive while you’re there in Ambergis Caye. You’ll likely come across sharks, rays, sea turtles, eels, hundreds of brightly colored fish, and maybe even some dolphins if you’re lucky. My pick is to go with the Belize Pro Dive Center, as Brad and I had an unforgettable diving experience with them. They are a great company, especially if you are a rookie with no prior diving experience.
2. Snorkel at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve
Even if you do some scuba diving, I still recommend you coupling that experience with a snorkel in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. This is a hotspot for marine life and stunning coral like elk and fire coral (that you don’t want to touch). During our snorkel at the Hol Chan Cut we came across sharks, rays, sea turtles, and a multitude of other species. There are plenty of companies that will take out for snorkeling there but we went with Searious Adventures and had a pretty good experience with them.
3. Visit Shark And Ray Alley
Trips to Shark And Ray Alley are typically part of a larger diving package that also dives in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve or another hotspot in the reef like Mexico Rocks. This experience will bring you within feet, and sometimes inches, of southern stingrays and nurse sharks that are driven into a feeding frenzy over chum. While you can admire the frenzy of sharks and rays from the comfort of a boat, I recommend jumping in and getting up close to these beautiful animals.
4. Go for a night dive!
This sounds a little scary but the nightlife in Ambergris Caye extends well out into the ocean. Several operators offer guided tours where you can explore the reefs at night when a whole new community of nocturnal wildlife comes out like lobster and octopus. I didn’t get a chance to do a night dive, but I will certainly look into doing it when on our next trip.
5. Explore the Blue Hole
The Blue Hole, considered by many to be a natural wonder of the Americas, is an astonishing site that can be viewed or explored from Ambergris Caye. The hole is nearly 500 feet deep and scuba divers, with a bit of experience, can head down to depths of over 100 feet and explore the huge stalactites and come across sharks that appear from the depths. If diving down into this dark abyss isn’t really your style you can look into ariel tours of the Blue Hole via plane, although it’s going to cost you a little bit (about $200USD per person).
6. Play chicken drop
Forget the powerball, in San Pedro, Belize, you can make your money by betting on where you think a chicken is going to drop its next load. It’s a San Pedro tradition called “Chicken Drop” and you can catch the game every Thursday evening starting at 7:00pm at Wahoo’s Lounge. You’ll pay $1BZD per ticket and bet on a number 1 through 100, with the hopes that the chicken gods will be in your favor. After a few rituals, a chicken is released onto a numbered-tiled mat and everyone cheers on the chicken, trying to lure it to their square. After it’s all said and done, the winner walks away with $100BZD but not before they assume the duty of cleaning up the drops!
7. Enjoy the bars and restaurants
There are plenty of restaurants and bars all around the island and many of them serve up some pretty tempting seafood and refreshing drinks that you can enjoy as you look out over the surrounding turquoise waters. Apart from all the diving and snorkeling, those relaxing moments of kicking back and having a relaxing drink on the coast were among my favorite memories on the island.
We stayed south of downtown at the Grand Colony Villas (in a nice, spacious hotel room), where we enjoyed cinnamon buns at The Baker and eating at breakfast burritos at El Divino Caribbean Steakhouse & Martini Bar.
If you’re in the downtown area, be sure to check out the Palapa Bar and Grill for tasty burgers and a unique opportunity to get your drink on while floating the ocean in an inter tube. (Note: we chose the Palapa Bar located close to downtown not the location north of the bridge.)
8. Rent a golf cart
The most common method of transportation around the Island is definitely golf cart. You can rent golf carts for around $60-75USD per day and many of the carts can hold up to 6 people. The ride is a bit bumpy and there are some pretty aggressive taxi-vans to contend with on the roads, but riding around on a golf cart is definitely the way to go in San Pedro!
These are by no means all you pack into your stay in San Pedro but they should give you an idea of some of the most exciting and interesting things to do during your stay at Ambergris Caye!
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.