A Travellerspoint blog

August 2020

Discovering San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize

Beaches, bars, and the world’s best pancakes

We fly into San Pedro after spending several blissful days in the jungles of Belize. It’s a 12 minute scenic flight on Tropic Air., and unlike any flight experience we’ve had. We show up at the airport about an hour before the flight, they check us in and give us laminated boarding passes, and we sit down to wait. A few minutes later, the gate attendant comes over and says “hey, are you ready?” We tell her that we are on the 10:30 AM flight and it’s only 9:40 AM. She says “That’s OK! Let’s go!“ We walk out of the airport in to the waiting sunshine and step onto a beautiful new plane with *zero* other passengers. The pilot says hello, gives us a quick safety briefing and we are off. After a few minutes, the pilot says “Hey I have to drop off some fishing equipment to Caye Caulker” so we end up making an added stop, dropping off the stuff and heading back to San Pedro. Never had that happen on a commercial flight! I already love it here.

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We land in San Pedro, grab our bags and head across the street to rent a golf cart. Golf carts are the premier mode of transportation on this little island which suits us just fine!

After checking into our hotel we head across the the Island on a bumpy, dusty road to the place they call “Secret Beach”. We should make it there by sunset. We find that Secret Beach is a series of beach bars that Spread out along a stretch of sandy shore with impossibly blue water. There are hammocks, beach swings, and tables in the water. Grills are ready for the catch of the day, bars are stocked with every imaginable libation, and blenders are waiting to fire up. We walk around but wonder why it’s so quiet here. This is supposed to be the place to hang out! Where is everyone? We finally ask someone and find out that everything closes at sunset. This is the place to be during the day but everyone has back to San Pedro at night. We enjoy a sunset cocktail and are already making plans to come back in the morning.

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After 2 days on the beach, we move to a beautiful B & B in San Pedro called Daydreamin’. There are 5 cabanas around a little courtyard with a perfect little pool. Every morning, the owners, Rob and Mar, bring us incredible breakfasts. I’m not much of a breakfast eater but this food made me gain 5 pounds was so delicious! Mar’s specialty was light, fluffy, lemon ricotta pancakes with fresh blueberry sauce. Worth every calorie.

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Every morning, volunteers from the local Humane Society walk all of the dogs. If you like, you can borrow a dog and take it for a walk as well!

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San Pedro is a happy little place!

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This is the Palapa Bar. We float in the tubes, bobbing up and down in the clear, warm water and servers bring buckets of drinks out to us on an overhead pulley. I could get used to this!

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We see tall, pink birds wading in the mangroves and think they are flamingos. We ask around and find out they are roseate spoonbills. The second photo is from Wikipedia but I wanted you to see one up close because they’re gorgeous!

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Like I said, Secret Beach quickly became our favorite place to spend sunny days. It’s a bumpy golf cart ride across the mangroves (watch for crocodiles!) but the crystal clear water, music, great food and drinks and great vibes are worth the trip. All of the beach bars lining the stretch of sand are inviting, but we really loved Blue Bayou. Newly opened in late 2019, they take hospitality seriously. The colorful fish bite your ankles swim around you as you bask in the sun, and it feels like having lunch in an aquarium. Who wouldn’t want to spend their day half submerged at a thatched roof picnic table in the clear Caribbean Sea while nice people wade in to bring you drinks?

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When it rains in San Pedro, you find another beach bar to hang out at and drink more have a lot of options to pass the time. We stumbled into a little place called Crazy Canucks, owned by a friendly couple from-you guessed it-Canada. On Wednesday afternoons, they host a sip and paint class, where you can create your own painting while drinking wicked cocktails. Did we sign up? Of course we did!

By the way, which painting do you think is better? I know, it’s mine. Thank you.

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Each evening, we walk to the Truck Stop.. Originally created to feature a few local food trucks based out of shipping containers, it’s become the place to hang out in San Pedro. The food is outstanding, the drinks are great, the bartenders are friendly and it’s a beautiful place to watch the sunset. There’s a pool with a swim up bar and different activities every night. They set up a big screen out back for movies and football, host family game night and have live music and game shows on stage. We love it here!

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For years I had heard about a little island off of the coast of Belize called Caye Caulker. It’s truly a sleepy little place, with less than 2,000 residents. The streets are sand and the official motto is “Go slow.” It sounds perfect to me. It’s only an hour ferry ride from San Pedro so we hop on one morning to check it out. As usual on this island, nothing is really tied to a schedule so even though we show up 20 minutes before the printed departure time, we are the last ones on the ferry and we are off.

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We fly across the smooth blue water, crossing near the worlds second largest barrier reef. We see the waves crashing over the reef as it protects the beautiful turquoise lagoon. We pass tour boats at Shark Ray Alley, where swimmers bob around with dozens of nurse sharks and stingrays. “Wow, the boat really quiets down when she gets going!” I say after a few minutes. “Uh, that’s because the engines stopped” PK tells me. We slow down and start bobbing up and down like a loose cork. The crew scrambles and tries to figure out what’s wrong, radioing back to the dock. Pay no attention to the dark clouds and razor sharp reef, I tell myself hopefully. This happens all the time, right?

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As I sit nervously watching us bob closer and closer to the reef, PK does what he always does during distress on a plane boat or train. He falls sound asleep.

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The crew finally gives up and sends for another ferry. Imagine two giant steel boats trying to line up so you can walk from one to another. I am convinced I am going to end up in the drink. We scramble and lurch and finally board. A half hour later we are finally at Caye Caulker. The sleepy little town is waking up and the smell of barbecue greets us. I need a cocktail, so we head to the Lazy Lizard. The sandy streets are peaceful and everyone is friendly, just like everywhere in Belize.

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One of my favorite island singers is Jim Morris. He loved Belize, and wrote a song that talked about Caye Caulker. “Then he took us to Caye Caulker, to the place they call The Split. If I ever saw a picture of cool man this place was it.” I knew I wanted to go there. He was right!

The Split is a channel that cuts the island of Caye Caulker in half. Some people say it happened during a hurricane in 1961. Some say it is man-made. Nobody knows for sure, but it is indeed a cool place. The clear turquoise water flows rapidly from the sea to the lagoon, and we laugh watching people try to kayak against the current. We watch local kids spear fishing and someone buys them a bucket of Belikin.

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Belize is very environmentally conscious and has banned reusable Styrofoam and plastic, which is great! At beach bars like the Lazy Lizard on Caye Caulker, we buy reusable cups and metal straws. Tip: don’t drink a roadie from the metal straw on a golf cart if you value your teeth!

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just like everywhere else in Belize, the local stray dogs are well cared for. We visited the humane society everywhere we go but I am not successful in getting PK to take one of the dogs home. Another time!

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I have no idea who this guy is!

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We head back to Ambergris Caye and the ferry works all the way there! Life is good. We wander up the beach road and hear music at the Dive Bar. We wander in and find the weigh in for the Wahoo Festival. There is music from a local student group playing steel drums, families are laughing, and there are a lot of beautiful fish competing for first place. Just when I think it can’t get any more fun, we find - get this - beachfront wine tasting. It’s a great way to end a great day.

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We head back to the airport and encounter one more particularly Belizean surprise. Jet Holland is 80-something years old. He has been operating Jet’s Airport Bar in the same tiny space for 56 years. Say hello and you’re guaranteed to have a fascinating and strange chat. Celebrities seek him out and he has photos all over the walls with people from all over the world. What a character! Talking with him leaves us with a smile on our faces as we head out to the sunny tarmac to travel back to the snow. Little did we know we’d be headed back to Belize in a few short weeks...

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Posted by traciekochanny 07:20 Archived in Belize Tagged islands beach belize san_pedro secret_beach ambergris_caye golf_cart blue_bayou truck_stop_san_pedro belize_cayes Comments (0)

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