Beachside in Belize

When I read the Trip Advisor reviews of my hotel in San Pedro I was dubious about reports that you really couldn’t hear any noise from the airport across the road, but when I arrived I could see why. The biggest plane in the Tropic Air fleet is a 12-seater – 13 if a passenger is asked to hop into the co-pilot seat as I was, though that only happens if you’re on the small side.

The 12 seater is known as the caravan of the fleet because its the biggest
The 12 seater is known as the caravan of the fleet because its the biggest

Everything in Belize is kind of small. Even the international airport at Belize City was tiny compared even to domestic ones I’ve travelled through in other countries.  But small is good and laid back San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, Belize’s largest island and just a 15 minute flight or an hour and a quarter water taxi ride from the city, is a nice little town for a bit of Caribbean rest and relaxation.

See and do

The main activities in San Pedro apart from sunbathing are water based with abundant scuba and snorkelling tours on offer. It was a bit too windy to tempt me out to the reef (a previous rather challenging snorkelling experience in high winds in Mexico is a memory that hasn’t receded with time) but SEAduced by Belize and SEArious Adventures were both recommended as providing good dive and snorkel trips. Lots of hotels also have dive shops including equipment for rent and tuition for the novices and every other type of water sport you could want to try is also available.

Golf carts are the main mode of transport
Golf carts are the main mode of transport

Other options for whiling away the days in San Pedro include glass bottom boat tours and renting a golf cart which is the main form of transport for getting around the island. Or you can simply amble around the shops and along the beach front and then find a nice spot to put your feet up, order a drink and admire the view.

Eat, drink, sleep

As San Pedro was the last stop of a trip around five locations in Mexico and Guatemala, most of my time was spent enjoying the fabulous food and drink it has to offer. It was definitely a culinary highlight of my three weeks away with the fish dishes particularly worth mentioning.

First though, where to stay? Well I don’t think there is much in the way of cheap accommodation in San Pedro. I did spot a couple of places that are probably popular with backpackers, but most of the hotels are on the expensive side.

As mentioned earlier I stayed right opposite the airport at the Sun Breeze Hotel which wasn’t the cheapest option but definitely not the most costly on offer either. Departures was literally directly across from the hotel entrance and when I left I checked out at 8.30am and was on the plane, ready for take-off at 8.40am – it was a 9.00am flight but Tropic Air has a flexible schedule and as everyone had arrived they decided the plane could leave!

The Sun Breeze's gorgeous pool
The Sun Breeze’s gorgeous pool

The Sun Breeze is lovely with good size rooms on two levels set around a nice swimming pool which is on a raised deck overlooking the beach. One of the best things about the hotel though is the restaurant, the Blue Water Grill. Again overlooking the beach and with some of the best fish dishes I’ve ever had. My friend was so much in raptures about one snook dish she had it two nights out of four – and she’d never even heard of a fish called snook before!

It’s also a good location for other great eating and drinking options. Wild Mango’s is practically next door in one direction and has some delicious dishes, including Tikin Xic, pan roasted grouper marinated in achiote which was served with sweet pot zucchini hash and achiote butter sauce. Achiote is extracted from the seeds of a shrub and is native to the tropical areas of the Americas including the Caribbean. My mouth is watering at the memory!

Next door the other way is a great open air bar called BCs which reminded me of a less fancy version of the bar Tom Cruise worked at in the film Cocktail. Just along from there is another bar called Hurricane’s which sits out over the water and serves up cocktails, beer and ceviche.

Can't beat the view at the beach front restaurants
Can’t beat the view at the beach front restaurants

Further afield in the town (though nowhere is very far) the best option for breakfast is definitely Mesa, a tiny fab café offering creative dishes and free tea and coffee refills. Another breakfast stop is Licks which has the advantage of being on the beach as does Estel’s Dine by the Sea which has a sandy floor and is nice for lunch or dinner.

A bit harder to find and pretty quirky is Caroline’s Cookin’ run by the colourful character it’s named after. Fish was in short supply the day I went for lunch so she substituted shrimps for fish in my tacos and they were absolutely delicious. Fortunately she was due to move premises soon after so should now be easier to find just across the road from the airport.

So although probably a busier and more touristy option that some of the other islands off Belize, Ambergris Caye is a good choice if you don’t want to travel to far from the city and are after a relaxed few day sampling some delicious, albeit not cheap, food and drink.

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