I finally saw why people like Ambergris Caye in Belize, and I probably missed the best part – the diving. The island is a relatively easy trip from Cozumel, although beginning with the 6:00am ferry is necessary to make connections with ADO and the only water taxi of the day, which leaves from Chetumal at 3:00pm. Two companies alternate days on the daily run from Chetumal to San Pedro.
You’ll travel with San Pedro Water Taxi or San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi. We got the latter on both trips. They provide customs documents and will buy pesos for a decent rate on the boat. If you have an FM2 or FM3 or are a Mexican citizen, you don’t have to pay the $25 departure tax in Chetumal. You will, however, get stuck for about $24 USD to depart Belize.
The boat was sold out, so it was good that my friend, Jack, and I took the 7:20am bus from Playa. We went directly to the waterfront in Chetumal and bought our tickets, then had a leisurely lunch at La Viagra Jarocha (I was told by the waiter the name has nothing to do with the little pill). We did speak with travelers who took the 9:20 bus, but they purchased their boat tickets the day before. They arrived in plenty of time to catch the boat. I wouldn’t show up at 2:00 without a ticket in hand.
The boat ride is 2 hours and not particularly comfortable. It was banging into the waves created by a strong east wind for the first hour of the trip. The people who sat in front took a beating. I’ll consider flying on Tropic Air from Corazol the next time. Currently, the water taxi is $45 USD one way.
The first thing that struck me upon arriving in San Pedro was the number of colorful wooden houses. They are a refreshing change from the concrete Maya Riviera.
The beaches and the water at the shore are not particularly attractive, though. There is lots of seagrass, and with a strong easterly wind, the beaches were loaded with the stuff. We were told that the water quality improves as you move offshore and that the reef system is interesting and a nice change from Cozumel diving. I would love to return and experience it. You really don’t see people hanging out on the beach, probably because the sand is coarse, packed as hard as concrete in most spots and because of all of the piers and boat traffic. However, we were only there for one full day, so we may have missed good beaches and better spots for water.
We found one really good restaurant, Wild Mango, discovered one of the best wine shops that I have seen in Latin America (Wine de Vine) and combined the two for dinner our last night there. We had a terrific beef tenderloin and arrachera with a Tignanello. Try to find that at MEGA.
Don’t miss the Tackle Box for reggae, a beer or a bit of Belizean rum. 1 Barrel isn’t bad and we both loved the Belikan beer. We were offered far more than beer and rum at the tackle box, but I would never buy from a local at a bar, even if I did partake of illicit substances. Be careful who you befriend, my friend.
Next up, the quieter, more chilled out, Caye Caulker, the Rasta place to be.
This post was written by Michael Lewis, one of the members of the elite photography team, M&J Photography. Visit soon and comment often.