Getting There and Departing
You've got two options for getting to and from Ambergris Caye: sea or air. The trip is usually beautiful by either means. When the weather's rough, it's bumpy both ways, although it's certainly quicker by air, and you're more likely to get wet in the boat.
By Plane -- There are frequent daily flights between Belize City and San Pedro Airport (airport code SPR) on Ambergris Caye. Flights leave from both Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport and Municipal Airport several times an hour between 6:40am-9:10pm. If you’re coming in on an international flight and heading straight for San Pedro, you should book a flight from the international airport. If you’re already in Belize City or in transit around the country, it’s cheaper to fly from the Municipal Airport, which is also closer to downtown, and quicker and cheaper to reach by taxi. During the high season, and whenever possible, it’s best to have a reservation. However, you can usually just show up at the airport and get a seat on a flight within an hour. Warning: Baggage is addressed quite casually, so if the plane is too full, your luggage may be hitching a ride on the next flight.
Maya Island Air (www.mayaislandair.com; tel. 223-1140 or 223-1146) has 11 flights daily between Goldson International Airport and San Pedro Airport, with two extra evening flights running between March and October. The flights depart every hour beginning at 7:40am, with the last flight at 5:40pm. Flight time is around 15 minutes; the fare is BZ$140 each way. These flights actually originate at the Belize City Municipal Airport 10 minutes earlier. From the Municipal Airport, the fare is just BZ$72 each way. When you’re ready to leave, flights from San Pedro to Belize City run from 7:30am to 5:30pm on Tropic Air and 7am-5pm on Maya Air. Both airlines offer discounts for children.
Tropic Air has five daily flights between Corozal Town and San Pedro, leaving Corozal Town at 7:30 and 10:30am, and 1:30, 3:30, and 5:30pm. Flights from San Pedro to Corozal Town leave at 7 and 10am, and 1, 3, and 5pm. The fare is BZ$150 each way.
There is an airstrip at Caye Caulker, however as of early 2018 all flights have been suspended due to a faulty runway. The project has been unable to secure funding to fix it so there is no timeline for when flights will resume.
Maya Island Air has daily flights between Corozal and San Pedro, leaving San Pedro at 7 and 9am (11am seasonally), and 3 and 4:30pm, and returning at 7:30, 9:40am, and 3:25 and 5pm, with an 11:30am seasonally. Flight duration is 20 minutes. The fare is BZ$85 each way.
Connections to and from all the other major destinations in Belize can be made via the Municipal and international airports in Belize City. There are also charter helicopter options, some of which can be arranged directly with the hotels that have helipads.
Tip: Because a taxi into Belize City from the international airport costs BZ$50, and the boat to Ambergris Caye costs about BZ$34-BZ$56 one way, it is only a bit more expensive to fly if you are heading directly to the cayes after arriving on an international flight. Plus, the aerial view during the trip can’t be beat.
By Boat -- Ocean Ferry Belize (www.oceanferrybelize.com; tel. 223-0033) and San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi (www.belizewatertaxi.com; tel. 223-2225) are the two water taxi companies that will get you to Ambergris Caye from Belize City. Both depart near the Swing Bridge: Ocean Ferry from the Marine Terminal, and the San Pedro Belize Express from Brown Sugar Terminal, both on North Front Street. Both provide covered speedboats powered by huge, loud engines, with space for 50-100 passengers. No matter the weather, water almost always enters the cabin somehow, but on sunny days it’s worth it to open the window because the cramped interior gets steamy with body heat in a matter of minutes. The ride takes about an hour and a half, always including a stop at Caye Caulker. The fare is BZ$34-BZ$56 one way, or BZ$64-BZ$76 round trip, Ocean Ferry being the cheaper of the two options. Ocean Ferry offers 5 trips a day, compared with the San Pedro Belize Express’ 9, but does offer wi-fi on board which is a nice perk.
Tickets can be purchased in advance online or by visiting their terminals in person, though this is generally unnecessary. Stowing luggage is free, and bags will taken and tagged by porters prior to boarding, so hold on tight to the claim ticket you’re given. Pets are also welcome, but they need to be contained in kennels or bags. All boats arrive at their respective destinations in the center of town.
Tip: It’s worth it to arrive no later than a half hour early to queue up and get first pick of the seats. The front is a bumpier ride, and wetter if the weather’s bad, but the back is louder and smells more like the gasoline that fuels the engines. Those prone to motion sickness will either want to sit next to a window for the fresh air, or on one of the center seats that face forward.
Getting AroundThe downtown section of San Pedro is easily navigated by foot. Some of the hotels located on the northern or southern ends of the island can be quite isolated, however.
Most hotels arrange pickup and drop-off for guests, whether they are arriving or departing by air or sea. Taxis are waiting for all flights that arrive at the airport, and are available for most trips around the island. If your hotel can’t call you one, try Amber Isle Taxi (tel. 226-4060), Felix Taxi (tel. 226-2041), or Island Taxi (tel. 226-3125). Fares run between BZ$10 and BZ$20 for rides nearby the downtown area, but BZ$25-BZ$50 when going north over the BZ$10 toll bridge.
Golf carts, which are the most common vehicle type on the caye, are available for rent from several outlets on the island. This is by far the best choice if you’re staying several miles from the downtown area and want to be able to get around. However, it’s expensive to ship carts here and the prices reflect that. Rates run around BZ$130 to BZ$180 per day for a four-seat cart, and BZ$160 to BZ$280 for a six-seat cart. Hourly rates are between BZ$50 and BZ$100. One of the largest and most dependable outfits is Moncho’s Cart Rental (www.monchosbze.com; tel. 226-4490) near the airstrip. Other dependable options include Cholo’s Golf Cart Rental (tel. 226-2406) and Carts Belize (www.cartsbelize.com; [tel] 226-4090). Some hotels also offer their guests on-site cart rental services, something to consider when picking a place to stay. The roads on the north side are in pretty bad condition, so be prepared for a bumpy ride.
Bicycles are another good option. Most hotels have their own bikes, available for free or for a small rental fee. If your hotel doesn’t have a bike, call or head to Joe’s Bike Rental on the south end of Pescador Drive ([tel] 226-4371) between Caribena and Pelican Streets. Rates run BZ$40 per day.
Depending on where your hotel is located, a water taxi may just be your best means for commuting between your accommodations and shops of San Pedro or the restaurants of other resorts. Coastal Xpress (www.coastalxpress.com; tel. 226-2007) runs regularly scheduled launches that cover the length of the island, cruising just offshore between Amigos Del Mar in town and Blue Reef Island Resort up north. The launches are in radio contact with all the hotels and restaurants, and they stop to pick up and discharge passengers as needed.
San Pedro (the only town on the island of Ambergris Caye) is just three streets wide. The streets, from seaside to lagoonside, are Barrier Reef Drive (Front St.), Pescador Drive (Middle St.), and Angel Coral Street (Back St.). The airport is at the south end of the busy little downtown. The island stretches both north and south of San Pedro. Less than a mile north of San Pedro there is a small channel, or cut, dividing the island in two. The northern section of the island is much less developed, and is where you will find more of the higher-end isolated resorts.
A bridge connects the north and southern sections of Ambergris Caye. Pedestrians and bicycles can cross the bridge for free, but golf carts and other vehicles must pay a toll of BZ$5 each way.
Fast Facts -- For the local police, dial tel. 911, or 226-2022; for the fire department, dial tel. 226-2372. In the case of a medical emergency, call the San Pedro PolyClinic ([tel] 226-2536), which is the closest thing the island has to a hospital.
Atlantic Bank (tel. 226-3527) and Belize Bank (tel. 226-2482) are both located on Barrier Reef Drive in downtown San Pedro. The post office (tel. 226-2250) is located on Barrier Reef Drive; it's open Monday through Friday from 8am to noon and from 1 to 5pm. Atlantic Bank has a second branch on the corner of Pescador Dr. and Black Coral St. that is open during the hours listed above and on Saturday mornings.
Wi-Fi is available at hotels, restaurants and cafes around the island.
Most hotels also provide laundry service, but pricing varies widely, so ask first. Nellie's Laundromat (tel. 226-2454) is located on Pescador Drive toward the south end of town. They charge around BZ$2.25 per pound, and they even offer pickup and delivery service.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.