June 25, 2021
Story submitted by traveller Emily
Why Belize? To this day, I'm still not sure what drove me, but on the strength of my instinct, I stumbled my way through arranging an island stay in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye with a friend. The second my flip-flops hit the island ground, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I have never forgotten that moment, and the feeling still calls me back again and again. San Pedro has an incredible feel to it. It's not just the slow pace of life, sand between your toes, warm breeze feeling, but a love and ease to it. The spirit of the island, the culture, and the people are what make the experience so incredible. The Belizeans that call Ambergris Caye home are humble and caring. They radiate a welcoming that is overwhelming in the best kind of way. There’s a feeling of connection in everything.
San Pedro Town, the only town on Ambergris Caye, is unique; you can wander aimlessly and still end up having the best time finding all the hidden gems and soon to be personal favorite spots. The island offers world famous activities, but you can easily make your own memories that give you the same thrill as Trip Advisors’ Top 10 List. The idea of knowing every detail of your trip before you even get there isn't for me. When I go to the Caribbean I want to stay somewhere simple, with character true to the island spirit. San Pedro is great for the planner but it is amazing for a person like myself, who is impulsive when selecting adventures. For me, booking activities through local businesses while mingling with other like-minded travelers is all part of the fun.
Ambergris Caye is full of life, love and experiences to be had. I love casually strolling around the island, seeing the boats going out and the local hustle. I love going to my favorite little hole-in-the-wall market for fresh bananas in the early mornings. I love the freedom to step in the most beautiful water at any moment and being barefoot (since I will inevitably leave my chanclas somewhere to never be found again). I love having a meal and drinks with the ocean life right below me. I love spotting a crocodile while adventuring around the island in a golf cart. I love snorkeling trips to Shark Ray Alley and Hol Chan Marine Reserve. I love sunset boat rides over the reef after a day of activities are coming to a close. This sight truly fills my soul with pure bliss along with a second wind for the nightlife of the island that awaits. I love the music and dancing into the morning hours followed by street tacos in the central park. I love midday naps in random hammocks and the beautiful colors and art everywhere. I love the seasonal festivals and “just cause” celebrations that fill the streets. I love hidden restaurants that aren’t on Front Street that have a selection of cheap beers. I love the island dogs and carrying dog food and bottled water for them in my bag. I love having deep conversations while watching sunrises on the docks and excessive amounts of Marie Sharp’s hot sauce on my Belizean breakfast. I love the island storms and how the thunder rattles the entire island. The contrast of the black skies against the turquiose of the Caribbean sea are breathtaking. I love when my local friends have the day off and we take the water taxi to Caye Caulker for a few hours or we take a road trip to the mainland where there’s cave tubing, Mayan ruins, zip lining, waterfalls, exotic animal sightings, and roadside stands with fresh fruit. I love climbing to the top of Xunantunich Mayan ruins, sitting on the edge and seeing miles and miles of pristine forests that reach past the Guatemalan border. I love driving with a car full of friends to a village deep in the Cayo jungle to have dinner with their family. The gratitude I feel being welcomed into someone’s home to experience old traditions is indescribable. I love hiking to a secret waterfall to swim before sunset. I love the excitement of heading back to the island and making it to the water taxi in Belize City. But, my most favorite activity is sitting on a bar stool and drinking a Belikin with good company living on island time.
The days offer so many possibilities. You could walk down Front Street to Celi’s Deli for meat pies or pass by Coconut Leo scaling a tree for fresh water straight from the coconut. You might head towards a specific bar where you order a Horney Monkey drink made by your favorite bartender. Maybe in your wandering you walk into a spot you have never been and order ceviche and a rum drink. Maybe it’s Sunday Funday and you head to The Truck Stop with a group of friends that make you laugh so hard you’re literally crying. You could grab the crew, and rent a golf cart for an impromptu trek to Secret Beach with a cooler of beer and a wireless speaker blaring. You may run into a local friend who wants to know if you want ramen bowls or pigtails for lunch. Maybe you wander into Palapa bar and your friend hands you a Land Shark and sharpie to freely write words of wisdom on everything. It might be a chill afternoon and you sit on the beach with a best friend laughing for hours doing absolutely nothing. In the next heartbeat you and your friend may be jet skiing across clear glass waters of the Caribbean Sea. You might hit the little shops on the way back to your room where you slip into a dress before heading to BWG for sushi night and Presidentes. Once the sun goes down you could end up at Wahoos for the famous chicken drop, but you really want to just take the chicken home. You may go out with a local girlfriend and her family to a dive bar on Back Street. You may meet two new friends sitting on the bar stools to your left and they ask you to be a part of their beach wedding the next day that their family doesn't even know about and you accept. It might be a late night and you end up at Lola’s to talk with a friend. You may run into friends on the quiet streets after their work shift & pick up Belizean burritos and they order “supremes” because hotdogs are added.
After all the years and all my travels, San Pedro has left me with new memories but also with a familiar comfort. You’re free to be your true and authentic self and that is how I have met so many locals and travelers I now call my friends and family. My travels have led me to other Caribbean islands and extended stays in various countries but for me, whether I am traveling solo or with friends, San Pedro Town feels like home.
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