The largest island off the coast of the mainland, Ambergris Caye, Belize, is 25 miles long and about a mile wide. Occupied since Mayan times, the island stands out for its beauty and the fact that it’s not overgrown with tourism. While the island’s biggest industry is the visitors who come from all over the world, the island lacks the massive hotels and giant tourist attractions that have ruined so many of the world’s most beautiful places. Considering living on Ambergris Caye? Read on for details on what it is like living on “la isla bonita”!
Living on Ambergris Caye
Belize is a democratic English-speaking nation that has a long history as part of the British Commonwealth. Today, as an independent nation, Belize opens its arms to expatriates from all over the world to a nation that is safe, free and stable. As such, you will find people from all over the world and from all walks of life living on Ambergris Caye. Life is slow and easy.
The Diversity of Ambergris Caye
Like the barrier reef that protects the island, the inhabitants of Ambergris Caye come from all over the world and every walk of life.
Combined with the Hispanic culture of the Mexicans that arrived here during the Caste War, the Mayan culture that still permeates the island, and international community that visits here every year, Ambergris Caye is one of the best kept secrets in the world.
Belizean Creole (or “Kriol” as it’s known locally), is an English-based creole language closely related to Miskito Coastal Creole, Jamaican Patois, San Andrés-Providencia Creole, Bocas del Toro Creole, Colón Creole, Rio Abajo Creole and Limón Coastal Creole, is also commonly used on Ambergris Caye. Creole combines with English, Mayan, and Spanish to create a language unique to the region, “kitchen Spanish.” With words drawn from all over, everyone on the island can communicate easily (including English-speaking expatriates from all over the world!).
Real Estate on Ambergris Caye and in San Pedro, Belize
Most surprising of all is that the real estate prices on Ambergris Caye, Belize, are still quite affordable and accessible to millions of Americans, Canadians, and Europeans – people from all over the world that are considering investing in beachfront real estate or Caribbean real estate should be looking seriously at Ambergris Caye.
San Pedro Town, the island’s largest settlement, is a wondrous mix of Mexican and English cultures. The long-term residents, from the 1800’s to the 1970’s, were the Metsizo. This subculture of Mexican descendants speaks English and Spanish, making this an accommodating and relaxing place to visit and live. The town has all the amenities that one needs, without giant resorts or too many tourists.
Getting Around on Ambergris Caye
For the majority that are living on Ambergris Caye, Golf carts and bikes are the most common form of transportation. The island is so small that there is little need for large vehicles. In fact, the whole island feels like a resort – in a good way.
There are daily flights from Belize City, but the closest mainland is Chetumal, Mexico, a large city of over 150,000 people. This means that, far from being disconnected from the world, it’s just a ferry ride to a big city. The ferry runs daily (with occasional Sundays off) to and from the island. The trip takes about 2 hours one way. Otherwise flights are available from Tropic Air and Maya Island Air daily from Belize City.
- Tropic Air: “The Airline of Belize”
- Maya Island Air: “Daily flights to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize City, Caye Caulker, Placencia, Hopkins…”
- San Pedro Belize Water Taxi
Weather on Ambergris Caye
One of the biggest draws for people considering living in Ambergris Caye is the weather. The weather in Ambergris Caye is perfect all year long. In fact, the average high in the “winter months” is still over 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). For those of you living the northern climates, the record low in the area is 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius). That’s the coldest it has ever gotten in Ambergris Caye.
Cultures on Ambergris Caye
Ambergris Caye has been an exciting place to live for thousands of years. Mayan built temples and homes. Pirates took refuge on the island and in its many caves. The major city, San Pedro, was founded as a shelter from a civil war.
Mexican settlers to the island brought a distinctly Mexican and Catholic flair with them. Catholic feast days, Lenten and other Catholic festivals are celebrated every year. Easter Procession and Novenas give the island a old-world feel and is a community event.
In 2001, UNESCO declared the Garifuna language, dance, and music, spoken in Belize and Ambergris Caye, a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.”
- Read more: Language, dance and music of the Garifuna inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (UNESCO.org)
- You might be interested in: “The Garifuna: Weaving a Future From a Tangled Past” on NationalGeographic.com
All of this history and these people from all over the world have left their imprints on the culture of the island. The food, the music, the religion, and the language all share this long history of people seeking a safe haven from the turbulence of the world.
Today, Ambergris Caye is home to expatriates from all over the world. They bring with them all of their history and culture. They leave behind the walls and barriers between peoples. In Ambergris Caye, everyone is a part of the family and each of us is here to live life to the fullest.
Top Things To Do on Ambergris Caye
Scattered around the island is evidence of the 10,000 plus Mayan who once called the island home. You can walk the same streets and into the same buildings that were once part of the one of the world’s greatest civilizations.
Belize Barrier Reef
Protected by the world’s second largest barrier reef, Ambergris Caye affords some of the most gorgeous tropical diving and recreation in the world. The reef is an international treasure, being the home to millions of animals, including some of the rarest and most beautiful sea creatures in the world.
- Check out The Belize Barrier Reef at UNESCO.org (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization)
- More information about the Belize Barrier Reef at TravelBelize.org
- The Belize Barrier Reef on National Geographic
The Blue Hole
Off the coast is a 400 foot deep limestone hole that is home to millions of fish and other creatures. It’s one of the world’s most famous diving spots and just plain fun to boat or helicopter over.
Around the caye are beautiful caves to explore. You can walk in the footsteps of the ancient Mayans and rogue pirates who landed here looking for a place to hide for the European authorities. Today, the caves are a great place to escape the sun and feel the caye from the inside, cool and quiet.
Shark Ray Alley and Hol Chan Marine Reserve
As ominous as it sounds, there is a place along the Barrier Reef that is known as Shark Ray Alley. It has been recognized as one of the world’s best places to dive with rays and sharks. To non-divers, this sounds dangerous, but the truth is that both rays and sharks are gentle creatures that are as fascinated by us as humans are by them. It’s best to go with a professional diver, but it can be an extraordinary experience to see these amazing creatures up close.
- Horace and Sara Bladon at Felicity Sailing are an excellent choice for trips to Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley
- Shark Ray Alley at TripAdvisor.com
Nature and Things To See on Ambergris Caye
There are caves, waterfalls, and stunning beaches everywhere. Ambergris Caye is an amazing place to visit… but living on Ambergris Caye is like a dream. Think you can’t afford to live in a tropical paradise? Think again!.
Please contact us to learn more about living here on Ambergris Caye, Belize. Discover what paradise looks like and let us be your tour guide to white sand beaches, palm groves, and azure seas.