We started our day in San Ignacio. Our goal was to make the 1:30 pm ferry from Belize City to Caye Caulker. The buses to Belize City from San Ignacio run about every 30 minutes but we were unable to find a schedule anywhere so we just waited until a bus showed up.
We caught the bus more or less as planned but when we got to Belmopan where you have to change buses we were told our bus was broken and we had to get off and wait for another one. We eventually got on another bus and were surprised when we were not charged an additional fare apparently they knew us from the first bus. I guess we don’t look local!
We arrived in Belize City and took a taxi to the ferry terminal. The area around the bus terminal has a busy market and might have been interesting if we did not have bags but the area between the bus terminal and the ferry terminal looks rough. We checked our bags at the ferry terminal and went to play our favorite game, Bank Machine Roulette. The Atlantic Bank that worked for us the first time worked again and we were once again able to upgrade to beer from rum and pineapple Tang.
We stayed at La Cubana Hostel Sleepbox on Caye Caulker. It was cheap, $35 US for two with breakfast. A sleepbox is what it sounds like. The room was all bed with a patio door opening up into the hallway and a shared bathroom. A bit like camping only we had AC. But it was clean, breakfast was good and the showers were hot.
With our new found wealth we went for a swim and even bought $6B beer at the Lazy Lizard. We watched the sunset from a random dock and went to find food. We were looking for Syd’s which was in all our guide books but it had closed. We found Reina’s which was new and is now our favorite Caye Caulker Restaurant. We were served by Elvis (honest). The food was great and it was cheap $15B for dinner including a rum drink. We even had lemon meringue pie.
When we awoke the next morning the power was out on the whole island which we were told was not that unusual but it does make sleeping in a shoebox a bit stuffy.
We went off to spend the day in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. San Pedro is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Belize. Madonna even wrote a song about it. It’s the fancy island and Caye Caulker is the laid back back packer Island so we stayed on Caye Caulker but we were up for a day trip to San Pedro. The same ferries that go to and from Belize City and Caye Caulker continue on to San Pedro so it’s an easy day trip. We took Ocean Express because it’s cheaper.
Ambergris Caye is much larger than Caye Caulker and the streets are full of cars and golf carts, along with a few bikes. Caye Caulker has two of three trucks on the whole island.
San Pedro has three main streets front, middle and back. There are maps on many of the street corners which are confusing at first because they call the streets Barrier Reef, Pescador and Angel Coral.
We started our day with a walk to Ruby’s Hotel known for it’s cinnamon buns (in case you have not read the rest of this blog I am forever on the hunt for an outstanding cinnamon bun). Unfortunately they had no cinnamon buns. Ruby’s is right on the beach and its one of the more affordable hotels in San Pedro.
The beach in San Pedro is more for walking than swimming. San Pedro also has a small airport with flights to the mainland and Mexico which is so close you could probably swim there. The planes are all very small. You can also take a boat to and from Mexico which would be a good option if you have the time as flights to Mexico are cheap. The Pedro’s Hotel is just past the airport. It’s not on the water but it looked OK too.
We wanted to rent bikes to ride around the island and both LP and Rough Guide suggested Joes. We spent a long time looking for it only to discover it had gone out of business years ago. With some local help we found Beach Cruiser Bike Rentals and Ice Cream on middle street. The owners were a Canadian and his local wife. They were very friendly and we were able to rent two cruisers for the day. At their suggestion we rode out of town along the beach not the road. Less golf carts and more fun.
Going North from San Pedro we arrived at the bridge over the San Pedro river. There is a toll but only on the way back but it did not apply to bikes. We continued North and checked out some beaches most of which were not great. The road was paved and there were condo complexes everywhere.
On the way back we stopped at the Sandy Toes Bar for an overpriced beer siting in a chair in the ocean.
Overall Ambergris Caye was fun for a day trip but we prefer Caye Caulker.
We the last boat back to Caye Caulker and arrived to find the power was still out. We ate some street tacos and returned to our sleepbox just as the power came back on. There were cheers everywhere.
We upgraded our accommodations for our last night in Belize and stayed at the Tropical Paradise Inn for $140B a night. We had a real room with two beds, AC, our own bathroom and a TV which we did not use. The hotel had a private dock for swimming.
We walked down the beach to the southern end of the Island through the jungle. Worth exploring but there are bugs.
In town we had a long chat with the “Unauthorised Tourist Information” lady. She is an expat like many of the business owners but we talked about life on the island. She told us the people cleaning the beach make less than $2 B an hour and if you live on the island for 7 years or are born on the island you can get land for free but actually building anything on it is out of reach for many families. Lesson learned buy from the local businesses.
We had our final dinner with Elvis and stopped at the I & I Reggae Bar on the way home. It has swings everywhere and it’s a happening place late at night but we were much too early.
We were flying home at noon so we took the 8:30 am boat. You can easily get at taxi from there to the airport for a set fee of $25 US.
Belize money can’t be used outside the country. We found the currency exchange at the airport and it was actually open. We exchanged the last of our money and took the first of three flights to get home. We arrived home at 2:30 am with no bags (as usual).
Bottom line great country, wonderful people and it adds a lot to a trip when you all speak the same language fluently.