About half a mile off shore, draped along the beach on the eastside of the island is the longest and most spectacular coral necklace in the Western Hemisphere, the Belize Barrier Reef. Known to have more sea life per square foot than any other place in the world, it reigns as the most popular spots to dive into. Because the sea between the reef and shore is generally no more than 15 feet deep, the shallow waters are the perfect temperature for hours of exploration. Filled with magnificant coral, exotic fish, and colorful plants, the reef is ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving. Plenty of dive boats wade in the waters just beyond the reef as divers explore life under the hulls. The findings are incredible as the bottom suddenly slopes in a series of steps and canyons that house an abundance of multicolored coral, unusual sea urchins, and exotic aquatic life. Local dive shops are equipped with licensed, professional dive guides and full gear rentals, offer all levels of certification, and provide daily trips to the reef and all local dive sites.
For those who do not dive, but still want to explore the magnificence of the reef, snorkeling is ideal, not to mention the most popular sport among visitors. Shark-Ray Alley is one of the most popular spots for divers and snorkelers wishing to get up close and personal with sharks and rays. It is described as one of the best animal dive sites in the Caribbean. Hol Chan Marine Reserve is another popular dive site located four miles southeast of San Pedro Town. Inside the reef, both snorkelers and divers can swim with a variety of fish including sharks, stingrays, and moray eels in the clear shallow blue. Night diving is popular to see an array of nocturnal sea creatures that are completely unlike those observed during the day.
Fishing has always been a way of life for Ambergris, and many view the island's waters as a popular destination for this activity. Whether for fun or sport, there are plenty of fishing boats to hop on and cast a line from into the blue. Hotels can arrange trips with part-time guides/fisherman who know where the best spots are to catch your dinner. Charters go out for full or half-days, and many hotels offer deep sea fishing. Tournaments are also held annually.
As the sun begins to set and blue skies give way to a backdrop of lilac and ginger, nothing quite beats a sunset on the water. For that reason, it would be a sin not to indulge in one at the end of a day's sail on the Caribbean waters. Some of the best cruising is done off of Belize. There are well-maintained and fully equipped sailboats and catamarans available for experienced sailors. Boats can also be chartered, with captain and crew on hand, if needed. Sailing trips aboard catamarans can arranged with local guides as well. They usually last all day and include a tour around Ambergris Caye as well as other nearby cayes. Lunch is provided.
Things to do and see don't have to be limited to Ambergris and the sea. Day trips to Belize's amazing interior can be easily organized. Some attractions to visit include Bacalar Chico National Park, Mountain Pine Ridge, Belize Zoo and Maya ruins. Flights to most points in Belize can also be enjoyed with a return by evening.
EATING OUT & NIGHTLIFE:
As Ambergris is the most popular of all the cayes, so is its food. The largest, and quite possibly the best, assortment of restaurants for every budget can be found all over the island, with menus to satisfy everyone's taste buds. While it is a given that fresh seafood can be found on every menu, non-fish eaters need not worry. Chinese, Italian, Thai, Mexican, French, and Belizean dishes add mouth watering alternatives.
Nighttime offers a mixture of things to do for all kinds of moods before and after dinner. For those romantics looking to unwind after a sun-drenched day, the twilight calm makes a great starry-eyed walk on the beach and laze in a hammock. Those with energy still to burn can find places to dance at all night long, live music to listen to, and enjoy exotic drinks at. The town square is a neat gathering hub for people of all ages to enjoy. On the weekends, Front Street in San Pedro is closed to all traffic, allowing strollers to browse and shop at stands set up along the road selling food, souvenirs, jewelry, local art, and more.
For those staying on Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker is only 11 miles south and easily accessible by watertaxi. Once on the island, it's even easier to lose yourself in the sand and sun of this tropical paradise. Super slow and relaxed, this tiny island (only five miles long and a half mile wide) prefers golf carts and bicycles to cars and bare feet to shoes. And more appealing is that this unhurried little island has avoided the commercialization of many other destination sites, making it a little best-kept secret. Since Caye Caulker Marine Reserve protects and conserves all marine life in the reef around the island, it makes for incredible diving and snorkeling opportunities that can be enjoyed both day and night. Caye Caulker Cut is a popular night site to watch lobsters and moray eels that enter the reef to feed. To the south is Swallow Caye, where manatees can be viewed.