Relaxing on fine white sandy beaches beside crystal clear waters may be enough of an enticement for visiting the island, but guests also find an abundance of interesting activities on Ambergris Caye.
Visitors looking for historical sites on Ambergris Caye travel south of San Pedro for a guided tour of the Marco Gonzalez Mayan site. Archeologists and geologists believe the Mayans established the community sometime around 150 B.C. The community grew and prospered until around 1400 A.D. when the inhabitants mysteriously abandoned the area once home to over 20,000 residents. Located in a white mangrove jungle, the site covers over seven acres of land and contains almost 50 separate structures comprised of limestone and conch shells.
The Butterfly Jungle outside of San Pedro is the latest attraction and is one of the more fascinating locations on Ambergris Caye . Venture through the jungle at sunrise and witness a new butterfly emerging from a cocoon. Relax on a bench beside a cascading waterfall or stroll through the greenhouse and learn about which plants naturally attract butterflies and hummingbirds. The facility also features and educational area where visitors learn the importance butterflies play in the ecosystem of the island. Stop in at the gift shop, which offers numerous gifts evolving around the prized insects. Visitors also have the opportunity of purchasing live plants and butterfly pupae.
Popular activities on Ambergris Caye also include trying a variety of native dishes. Visitors easily find a variety of cuisine and meals comprised of fresh seafood. When in season, conch and lobster meals abound at very inexpensive prices. Try an authentic Belizean dish of spicy stewed chicken. The traditional meal comes with a combination of beans and rice cooked in coconut milk. Chinese, Italian and Mexican restaurants are also available along with fast food eateries that serve pizza and other delights. Street vendors sell burritos and tacos accompanied by beans and rice. Enjoy traditional American steak or BBQ chicken dinners at the Lions Club on the weekend.
Guests cannot spend time on the island without indulging in water activities on Ambergris Caye. Journey south of San Pedro and discover the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, an underwater park encompassing five square miles. Swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving at depths of 10 to 35 feet brings visitors face to face with an amazing natural aquarium. The many species of fish creating this rainbow colored environment include barracudas, beautiful parrotfish and groupers along with royal fairy basslets and snappers. Guides take guests past fragile sea fans and a spectacular array of corals and sponges.
Underwater tours also usually include Shark Ray Alley, where snorkelers and scuba divers swim among nurse sharks and rays in depths of six to eight feet. Among the numerous colorful tropical fish making these waters home include blue tangs and trigger fishes. Over four dozen dive sites in the area offer spectacular views of marine life plus the second largest barrier reef in the world. The underwater landscapes also feature canyons, grottos and mountains comprised of coral life. Experienced divers often journey to the famous and vast Great Blue Hole. Before glaciers melted and filled the hole, the expanse existed as a massive cave. Stalagmites and stalactites remain within the cavity, which reaches a depth of 130 feet.
Canoeing, kayaking and jet skis are some of the other popular pastimes on Ambergris Caye. Head off to watch the gentle giants known as manatees or go out on reef or deep sea fishing excursions. Game fish in the area provide the opportunity for catching everything from groupers and snappers to blue marlin and wahoo. Embark on a sunset or moonlight cruise.
No matter what you choose to do, you’ll find so much more to do on Ambergris Caye than lying on the beach.