Ambergris Caye's 2017 Top Ten Experiences
Coming off of a record-breaking month for Belize tourism AND home sales at Mahogany Bay Village, we find ourselves gushing more than ever about just how wonderful it is to live in San Pedro, Belize!
As of January 1, 2017, Mahogany Bay Village has already added 28 individual homeowners to our family! With all of our new family members and residents, we are more often being asked for recommendations on the island and what’s new and hot in San Pedro. Here’s our take on the current top ten things to do, see, and eat on Ambergris Caye in 2017!
1. Lobster Dive & Beach BBQ — There is something especially gratifying about being able to catch, prepare, and savor the result of one's own labor, in order to fulfill the basic human need of nourishment. During lobster season (June 15 – Feb 15), or conch season (Oct 1 – June 30) excursions can be arranged with local Ambergris Caye expert guides to seafood-rich areas of the surrounding Caribbean Sea. Interestingly, guides oftentimes use modern GPS equipment to locate their undersea "farmlands," or seabed lots unofficially recognized amongst Belizeans and passed on through generations within the same family. These undersea farmers often construct "lobster hotels" to place on their underwater land to provide shade and create prime spots for harvesting lobster. If you love seafood, or perhaps could use a relaxing day on the water followed by the freshest lunch you've ever had, this is one of our top recommendations for a day on Ambergris Caye. We at Mahogany Bay Village have repeatedly heard from our visitors that these such excursions will go down as one of the best and most memorable experiences of their lives! We welcome our guests to embark with us on a seafood dive and trip to the tranquil Mahogany Bay Beach Club to prepare and grill the day's catch, then relish the flavors from a shady hammock or with your toes in the translucent blue water!
2. Snorkel at Hol Chan Marine Reserve — Hol Chan, or “Little Channel” in Mayan, is the first designated marine reserve in Central America and lays just minutes offshore of Mahogany Bay Village. Hop aboard a boat just across the street at Scuba School & Family Dive Center along with their knowledgeable local team for a close encounter with the underwater world and wildlife of Belize. Belize’s Barrier Reef is teeming with nurse sharks, stingrays, turtles, and numerous different species of fish and corals, especially near the Hol Chan channel where larger wildlife can move freely between the shallow and deeper waters on either side of the reef. Don't worry we've never met an unfriendly shark or stingray. Catch a glimpse of a manatee or even a few dolphins if you’re especially lucky!
3. Secret Beach — We know what you’re thinking: how can it be a secret if it made our top ten list? The truth is, “Secret Beach” has been increasing in popularity for years now, but just recently did it turn from a no-amenities locals’ Sunday hangout to a tourist must-do on Ambergris Caye. Secret Beach now has multiple beach bars serving up all the island favorites — fish tacos, pina coladas, & micheladas — OH MY! And along with the new businesses has come an influx of new activities too: kayaks, paddleboats, jetskis, volleyball, horseshoes, even an overwater trampoline! The Caribbean Sea on the island’s leeward sunset coast is especially calm and the water is a dozen shades of turquoise thanks to the shallow sandy bottom that's free of seagrass. What makes Secret Beach so special is that it's one of the very few areas on Ambergris Caye's west side that are accessible without a boat. So get ready for a bumpy, adventurous golf cart ride! A great place to play, skygaze, or float on a raft with adult beverage in hand!
4. Mahogany Bay Market Day — Well of course we’re biased but come on, a food & drink festival bringing together the island community while supporting local entrepreneurs . . . with live music too!? Mahogany Bay Market Day happens every other Saturday, and hosts 15 – 20 local vendors selling the best artisanal products in Belize. Among the goods are: freshly-prepared sushi, zero-kilometer greens and vegetables, frozen fruit paletas (Mexican fruit popsicles), tropical sangria, rum cakes & baked goods, local smoked fish, and the famous handcrafted sandwiches of Farm House Deli (soon opening in downtown Mahogany Bay Village!) If you’re in Ambergris Caye for the 2nd or 4th Saturday of the month, head south for this must-do! Stay around for upstairs yoga and massage at Science & Soul Wellness, or head over to Shaken — Mahogany Bay Village’s sunset bar & restaurant — for a full meal of inspired “New Belizean” cuisine.
5. The Dive Bar — This bar / restaurant / SCUBA dive shop not only is perhaps the most aptly named bar of them all, but is located right on the beach and has numerous elements of fun: overwater swings, snorkel gear rental, free kayak and paddleboard use, close proximity to the reef, sumptuous frozen cocktails, excellent people-watching, live music, and did we mention overwater swings!? A wonderful way to explore the reef without a guide — if you dare. But be warned: bring a buddy, beware of boat traffic, and make triple sure to tightly secure your paddle / kayak oars if you tie off to a buoy!
6. Truck Stop — A trip to Ambergris Caye wouldn’t be complete without a stop by the coolest beer garden & outdoor food park in San Pedro! This place offers a variety of international cuisine, and a rotating schedule of games, outdoor movie screenings, and fun events for everyone, even if you're just a spectator. (Think pig roasts, poker runs, trivia nights, and most recently an island version of Family Feud!) It's also a divine spot to catch the sunset at the back dock — arrive early and snag the only hammock! At night, bistro lights twinkle against the tropical canopy while one of the island's best playlists provides the soundtrack to your Ambergris Caye experience.
7. Aerial or PaddleBoard Yoga with Science & Soul Wellness — Science & Soul Wellness is the newest and most complete yoga and ayurvedic treatment center in Belize, and features the only aerial yoga and paddleboard yoga in San Pedro. Their airy & sprawling yoga loft offers yoga, massage, and soon even organic spray tans! The paddleboard classes depart by boat from the studio's back dock to the secluded white sand oasis of Mahogany Bay Beach Club just ten minutes away. In addition, if you’ve never tried aerial yoga it’s an entirely different, fun, and powerful yoga experience. Check the Science & Soul page for the most updated schedule information.
8. Sand Bars west of Ambergris Caye — Wade about the warm tropical waist-high waters almost a mile from shore. Especially fun with a Belikin in hand and in good company. Catch a glimpse of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Blackadore Caye in the near distance, a long skinny sliver of island that will soon be a multi-million dollar eco-resort. Also within view from the nearby Mahogany Bay Beach Club!
9. Dinner at Shaken — Ambergris Caye’s newest upscale dinner spot is absolutely delicious and simply gorgeous: a sunset bar and restaurant surrounded by water on three sides, including the blue violet glow of The Bay Club pool at twilight. Taste internationally-inspired New Belizean cuisine — think fresh flavors spiked with herbs and citrus, healthy dishes but with some comfort food faves. Sustainable local seafood, free-range Belizean beef burgers, and interesting bites like tuna confit, michelada ceviche, and chilled cucumber coconut soup garnished with basil and cilantro! Visit anytime Wednesday through Sunday, from 11am – 8pm, perfect for frozen cocktails and small bites as well!
10. Skydiving with Skydive San Pedro — For a thrilling view of Ambergris Caye like no other, why not jump out of a tiny plane at 12,000 feet? If you think the view from the puddle-jumper over to San Pedro is nice, wait until you experience the breathtaking scenery from this altitude, not to mention without the plane! Even those with fear of heights exclaim this to be a bucket list must-do. The Skydive San Pedro crew are a fun but professional group from Colorado who run their operation during the dry season in Belize, December through April. They each have ample experience — one of which has over 7500 jumps to date — and will ensure you have the experience of a lifetime!
Of course, the magic of Ambergris Caye cannot be fully captured by any list, especially when the island is growing so fast and awesome new businesses are popping up every month. Look for another roundup this summer when more businesses and amenities come online at Mahogany Bay Village, including the Mahogany Bay Beach Club that's taking shape in preparation for our fall 2017 grand opening!