The island of Ambergris Caye lies off the Caribbean coast of Mexico, but is actually part of Belize. Its only town, San Pedro, sits close to the southern tip of the island, and with its own airport, serves as home base for abundant day trips accessible to the area. There are more than 50 lodging choices on Ambergris Caye, ranging from minimalist hostels to luxurious condominiums. Whether you’re seeking a relaxing get-away to catch up on your reading or a destination full of action-packed adventure, Ambergris Caye has something for everyone.
Mayan Ruins of Lamanai
This is an excellent trip that is offered by a few different tour companies. One itinerary includes abundant river wildlife viewing, a visit to a small village, and a trek through the jungle to the ruins of Lamanai. You’ll travel by boat down and around the southern tip of Ambergris Caye and then up the Northern River to the village of Bomba. Bomba is a primitive village where several of the residents sell hand-made wood carvings in the street. From here you’ll travel by bus to Tower Hill, where you’ll board another boat and begin your journey down the New River to Lamanai. Of the three temples currently excavated at Lamanai, one is climbable. Although a bit strenuous, the view from the top makes the climb worthwhile.
Snorkeling at Shark-Ray Alley
Listed in Skin Diver Magazine as one of the seven best animal dives in the Caribbean, this is an amazing experience. Located within the Hol Chan Marine Reserve (just a short boat ride from ambergris Caye), this trip allows you to swim in shallow water with six-foot long nurse sharks and Southern stingrays with wing spans of four feet. The rays and sharks are everywhere. You don’t wear your fins in the water because it stirs up the bottom too much, so bring water shoes if you have them – and don’t forget your underwater camera.
Mayan Ruins of Tikal, Guatemala
For this trip you’ll catch an early flight back to the mainland from the San Pedro airport to Belize City. From there you’ll board a small plane and fly to Flores, Guatemala. On the way to Tikal you’ll pass small villages where the local women carry water in pots on their heads and wash their clothes with stones on wooden platforms built into the lake. Once at Tikal you’ll hike through some small stands of jungle and have an opportunity to observe the local flora and fauna. The ruins at Tikal include numerous excavated structures and are among the largest in the Americas.
Crystal Cave Tubing at Jaguar Paw
Jaguar Paw is a secluded 200-acre property in western Belize on the Cave’s Branch River, so this trip also requires a flight back to Belize City. Once there you’ll don an inner tube and let the current guide you through one of the largest caves in Belize. Along the way you’ll see centuries-old stalactites and stalagmites, rim stone dams and Mayan artifacts. On the way back to the airport, your tour might include a stop at the Belize Zoo, which is home to 45 species of animals, all native to Belize.
Additional Tips for ambergris caye day trips:
- Be sure to take a good supply of insect repellent, as well as something to treat the bites you get anyway.
- On day trips which include both wet and dry adventures, don’t forget to bring an extra set of dry clothing.
- Study up on local birds and other wildlife before the trip.
- Bring a flashlight in case you decide to walk around at night. Scorpions are prevalent.