After fourteen days of constant work on our vacation home, we decided that the kids deserved a break from watching us work. They’ve done a great job of being patient and entertaining themselves while Dan and I have cleaned, painted, decorated, and polished this house into something that we can all be proud of. That being said, we felt like a little excitement and change of scenery was in order! Also (if I’m being honest) I was having some “mom guilt” because the kids have missed Fourth of July celebrations for two years in a row and I really wanted to do something memorable with them over the holiday weekend. So…we made some last minute hotel reservations, packed a backpack, and headed for the nearby island of Ambergris Caye!
Admittedly, the area that we purchased in Belize is one of peace and tranquillity rather than tourism and stimulation. While this was a conscious decision that Dan and I love about our location, the kids were ready for some action. Fortunately, more tourism is only a quick boat ride or plane flight away. Since we wanted to get there as quickly as possible, we decided to fly. The town of Corozal has a local airstrip where you can hop on a plane and head to nearby Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker as easily as you would catch a bus in the states. The flights will currently run you about $140 USD per round trip flight, and even less for children. Since our whole family loves to fly, this was a “no brainer” for us and well-worth the added expense to our trip. What’s even better is that our flight to Ambergris Caye took only 15 minutes and the views on the way are absolutely gorgeous! If you prefer to travel by boat, there’s a water taxi or ferry for that as well. While it’s not as fast, it’s a very inexpensive option that runs twice daily with stops in Ambergris Caye, the sleepy little fishing village of Sarteneja, and Caye Caulker.
If you Google Belize you will quickly discover that it is well known for having the second largest barrier reef on the planet. This, of course, means excellent snorkeling and scuba diving. In fact, Ambergris Caye is the best place to plan a dive in Belize’s famous Great Blue Hole. Our family doesn’t dive (yet😉), but we love snorkeling. The waters were nice and calm and we debated about going snorkeling for a day, but this quick little trip was all about relaxation; so we decided to skip the snorkeling and just hang out on the beach instead.
While on the Caye, we were most excited to check out the famous “Secret Beach.” The beach is located in the northern part of the island and takes about 40 minutes to get there by golf cart. While we did see a few cars on the island, the main mode of transportation is definitely golf carts. (Fair warning: the dirt road to the beach is VERY bumpy and you may need a chiropractic adjustment after!) That being said, when we got to Secret Beach, we were happy to have made the trip despite the rough terrain. There were several different restaurants and beach bars to choose from and the tables and lounge chairs are both on the sand and right in the water! It was a perfect, hot, sunny day and it felt amazing to just lazily lay in the sun and order homemade mojitos (and virgin pina coladas for the kids). Yum! Thanks to an inflatable obstacle course, the kids played hard and were entertained all day while Dan and I were able to relax on the beach in peace. In fact, just seeing some sand was a happy change of pace for the kids as well.
Since our new home is located on the Bay of Corozal, our little share of the Caribbean Sea is all enclosed by sea wall. While my kids miss the ability to build sand castles, it’s pretty nice to not have to deal with sand fleas or nasty, sargassum sea weed. If you’re following the news at all, you’ve probably heard what a huge problem sargassum is for beaches across the globe right now. While Secret Beach did a good job of keeping their sand and waters free from the sargassum, you could definitely smell that it’s a problem on the island of Ambergris as well. This was a good reminder that nothing in this world is ever truly perfect; not even a vacation in “paradise.” Thanks to the seaweed and the smell, I think we all left the Caye feeling a little happier with our sea wall along the Bay of Corozal.
Our second day on the island was spent shopping for local art for the vacation home, letting the kids choose souvenirs, and trying to eat as much ice cream as possible. To be fair, most of our trips ANYwhere are spent trying to eat as much ice cream as possible, but I digress. The art shops in San Pedro were absolutely wonderful! We had already commissioned a local artist in Corozal to paint some larger pieces for our home; still, we had a great time looking through the massive amount of paintings by Belizean artists at several different art shops throughout the Caye. We ended up purchasing two paintings and a large wooden carving that we all agreed was the perfect piece for above our dining room table.
After lots of shopping, the kids were very grateful that our hotel had a nice, clean pool for them to swim in. We stayed at a cute little boutique hotel called The Blue Tang Inn. It’s not a fancy hotel by any means, but it was very clean, quaint, offered a delicious continental breakfast, and the location couldn’t be beat: right on the beach in the heart of San Pedro. We also took full advantage of the Palapa Bar at the end of the pier just behind our hotel.
The night before we had indulged in all things lobster at a really cool place called The Truck Stop. It was basically a “food court” of sorts made out of shipping containers. While the kids absolutely loved the Truck Stop because there was so much for them to do (a swimming pool, larger than life connect four, cornhole, live music, etc), I think that I enjoyed the Palapa Bar at the end of our pier even more. This may be the rum punch talking, but The Palapa Bar and Grille might be my favorite beach bar ever!
In addition to the palapa itself, there was also a deck built further out on the pier where you could just spend the day hanging out. My favorite part of the place was a little section of the Caribbean Sea just below the deck. They had inner tubes tied to the pier so that you could literally float and sip all day if you wanted. The inside of the palapa was a lot of fun, too. It had a very family-friendly, laidback vibe that we all loved. It was decorated with license plates, flags, and signs from all over the world. The kids especially loved that the waiters gave out thick, black Sharpies and guests were encouraged to leave their mark all over the tables, chairs, walls, you name it! If there was a blank space, you were welcome to fill it. It was a memorable stop for sure and the perfect place to leisurely discuss how we were going to get the large carving and two large paintings back to Corozal.
Fortunately, the paintings and wooden carving weren’t a problem at all. Tropic Air was incredibly accommodating and they simply let us carry them on and hold them while we sat in the back of the little plane. There was no charge for the additional oversized items and everyone was incredibly kind and helpful. All in all, our little getaway was absolutely wonderful and just the motivation that Dan and I needed to finish up the house and get it ready to rent. While we all enjoyed our visit to Ambergris Caye and agreed that it was a great spot for a family getaway, we also agreed that just a few days there is enough. I’m thankful for the peace and quiet that Consejo Shores provides, but it’s also great to know that a little island full of tourist attractions is a mere 15 minutes away. Something tells me that our first trip to Ambergris Caye won’t be our last! I can’t wait to share the little island with friends and family and recommend this quick trip to our future guests.