Welcome to Ambergris Caye
Ambergris Caye remains for many visitors the archetypal tropical paradise where sun-drenched days are filled with fruity drinks and water sports. There are plenty of simple pleasures to be had here from riding a bike along a windswept beach path under the shade of coconut trees to snorkeling in crystal clear waters.
Sure it gets busy – especially in the high season when an endless procession of golf carts takes over its narrow streets – but it's still the kind of place where it's acceptable to stop in the middle of the street and hold up traffic while you catch up with an old acquaintance.
The island is long and thin, measuring 25 miles long and 5 miles across at its widest point, though much of it is less than half a mile across. Although resorts are being erected up and down the coast, its outer reaches are still practically uninhabited. The remote northern extremity abuts Mexican territory, and the Hispanic influence is evident in language, customs, food and fiestas.
Though the entire island is often called San Pedro, technically that is the name of the town that dominates the southern half. Once a laid-back little village dotted with colorful Caribbean houses, San Pedro is starting to resemble a typical tourist town, lined with souvenir shops and beach bars. The sandy streets have been replaced with concrete, rapidly increasing the number of cars and golf carts on the roads (not to mention the speeds at which they drive). The beach is built up, but while there are plenty of unsightly condos around, there are no massive towers.
Despite complaints about over-development, San Pedro has protected its most valuable asset, the barrier reef, which is only a half-mile offshore. If you are passionate about water sports, San Pedro will seduce you: dive operators lead tours to more than 35 sites, both local and beyond. And if you don't want to look at the fish, surely you'll want to eat them, as San Pedro is home to the country's most imaginative and appetizing dining scene.