Our trans-Pacific journey from Fiji to the Yucatan Peninsula marked our six month travel anniversary, and what an incredible six months it has been – two continents, 11 countries, many new friends, too many hangovers, and memories to last a lifetime. After 48 hours of sleepless travel to Cancun, we were ready to find ourselves a home away from home for several weeks to relax and regroup before the second half of our journey in Central and South America.
Insert Ambergris Caye, Belize.
Ambergris (and San Pedro, the town near the southern end of the island) is just ¼ mile from the second largest barrier reef in the world (behind the Great Barrier Reef in Australia). The reef system, crystal clear turquoise waters, and abundance of marine life make the world go round here. Fishing, diving, snorkeling, boating, paddle boating and kayaking are ever-present activities. This made for a great place to try out the new waterproof GoPro camera we acquired during our layover in LA.
What made our visit in Ambergris even more relaxing and rewarding was a visit from some good friends who came all the way from Charlotte to meet us. We couldn’t have been happier to see them and share this part of trip together, even if they gave me a hard time about a need for a wardrobe update. To their defense, I did show up at the condo with more holes in my t-shirt than fabric. Much to Alison’s relief, the shirt has officially been retired.
Perhaps the activity highlight of our time in Ambergris was our full day boating, fishing, and snorkel trip where we fished for snapper and lobster and snorkeled with nurse sharks and stingrays at Mexico Rocks, where it felt like we were swimming in an aquarium. Alison said the snorkeling was even scarier to her than bungy jumping in New Zealand – talk about an adrenaline rush! Snorkeling at a “safe” distance was not an option. These inquisitive sharks and stingrays were swarming all around us and they came at us from every angle. At one point, we were involved in a seemingly harmless game of chase as one of the sharks followed us for a good 20 seconds before turning away abruptly, as if to say “TAG, you’re it!”
Saltwater Fly Fishing for Bonefish, Tarpon, and Permit
Belize is famous for its saltwater fly fishing for bonefish, tarpon, and permit. Anyone who knows me understands that fly fishing is a newfound passion of mine, which led to many 4am outings to the flats north and south of San Pedro hunting for bonefish. Although difficult, it is a tremendously rewarding sport, and one everyone ought to try on a trip to Ambergris.
And the food? Well it’s almost all from those turquoise waters, too, and served fresh everywhere you go. Lobster, conch, snapper, and shrimp seem to be available on every menu. In fact, while scuba diving our divemaster, Scuba Steve, speared two lobsters using little to no effort right before our eyes. When we were back in the boat, he explained that his wife had put in a dinner request for lobster earlier that morning. Must be nice to have fresh lobster (for free) every night!
When you make it to Ambergris, you really can’t go wrong with restaurant selections – we never had a bad meal. But some of our favorite restaurants were Reef, Waruguma, Secret Deli, and Elvi’s.
In a place where the people are super friendly, the water a different shade of turquoise every day, activities abound, the food is always fresh, prices are reasonable, and everyone speaks English, Ambergris Caye offers something for any kind of traveler. So whether on a honeymoon or a backpacking trip around the world, we’d encourage you to give Ambergris a shot!