San Pedro, Belize: secret beach, scuba diving and swimming with sharks

The last leg of our Belize trip was to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye – off the coast of mainland Belize. We split our trip between the mainland and the islands off the coast of Belize.

There is such a contrast between continental life and life on the islands in Belize, but it is worth seeing both. Mainland is where all the adventure activities are and the islands is where you find picture perfect beaches and scuba diving.

Getting to Ambergris Caye

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We took a 45 minute water taxi to San Pedro, which departs from Belize City. You can get there easily from the airport via taxi or the car rental service will drop you off.

If the weather is nice, I would highly recommend enjoying the boat ride from the top deck, where you can see the beautiful views.

San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

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We exited the water taxi to beautiful white sandy beaches and island life. Cars are scarce in San Pedro in favor of travelling the island via golf cart. We wanted to be away from the partying hostels, so took a hotel south of the city.

We found the golf cart rentals a bit expensive, so spent most of our time getting from our hotel to the city by hitch-hiking on golf carts! We figured we could tuck and roll easily enough to feel safe. We walked towards the city and usually got a ride from a local or another tourist.

San Pedro has lovely restaurants and a great night life for exploring in the evening.

Scuba Diving

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Diving was one of the main reasons we came to Ambergris Caye! Belize has the second largest barrier reef in the world to Australia. My partner has his scuba license, but I do not. We figured what a perfect place to learn!

I took the course and got my license through Scuba School and Family Dive Centre. I cannot say enough good things about the instructors and how well run this facility is! They even ensured that my partner and I could scuba dive together once I got signed off.

Hol Chan Marine Park & Shark Ray Alley

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This is a huge tourist destination, but I still REALLY enjoyed visiting. Most people snorkel, but the dive is nearly a shelf dive in the marine park and SO worth taking. We saw many sea creatures in this area. I am really disappointed my GoPro broke as it was amazingly beautiful.

We also snorkeled in Shark Ray Alley, which is where reef sharks and huge stingrays are attracted by the sound of motor boats. Fisherman used to clean their bait in this location, so the sharks still check out any arriving boats. It’s really an amazing experience to snorkel with so many sharks and stingrays!

Secret Beach

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On our last day on Ambergris Caye, we decided to rent a golf cart and make the trek to secret beach on the other side of the island. We didn’t know where secret beach was other than north of the city, so off we went in that direction!

Lucky for us, once we crossed the bridge north of San Pedro there is only one road to follow. Initially it is paved, but once past the main resorts, it quickly turns to pot holes. Eventually we found an island map that encouraged us to turn left at a split in the road.

The left turn took us on a narrow sandy road above mangroves and water. There is not much out here except for some staked out areas for houses and the remoteness seems to be keeping people from buying. There were small signs saying β€œsecret beach,” which told us to turn.

The drive was worth it because we emerged to the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. It is crystal clear with white sandy beaches perfect for swimming. Nowadays you will find a few pop up beach bars, but you can continue down the beach for a private sandy spot. We tossed a Frisbee and I really enjoyed our time there.

Overall

We loved San Pedro for its laid back island life style and beautiful beaches. It is a nice contrast to our time spent on mainland Belize, and I felt like both locations went perfectly hand-in-hand.


Tips:

  • English is taught in school in Belize, so the country is easy to navigate for English speakers. The next most spoken languages are Spanish and Creole. We found that most people at least speak to languages.
  • Safety: the islands felt much safer compared to mainland Belize and we had no issues wandering around at night. There are a few areas that were suggested to not walk at night, but they are away from the tourist areas. Ask your hotel for recommendations.
  • We stayed at the Royal Caribbean Hotel. A little dated, but comfortable.
  • We really enjoyed eating at El Patio, Crocs and Tsunami Sushi.
  • I took my scuba course through Scuba School and Family Dive Centre

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