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Expat Exchange - The Insider's Guide to Ambergris Caye 2024
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The Insider's Guide to Ambergris Caye

By Betsy Burlingame

SJB Global
SJB Global

Summary: Discover the charm of Ambergris Caye with our guide to the city's top attractions, culinary hotspots, and vibrant nightlife. From outdoor adventures to cultural experiences, we'll also help you find the best recreational activities to enjoy, and offer advice on making lasting connections with the friendly locals.

Welcome to Ambergris Caye! If you're planning to move to Ambergris Caye, congratulations on taking the first step towards a new adventure. While there are many things to think about before you leave, such as visas, housing, and transportation, it's important to remember that once you arrive, the fun really begins. In this article, we'll introduce you to some of the best sites, restaurants, and nightlife that Ambergris Caye has to offer, as well as provide tips on recreational activities and making friends in Ambergris Caye.

Ambergris Caye, is a paradise for tourists and locals alike, offering a plethora of sites of interest. The island is renowned for its stunning beaches, such as Secret Beach, a secluded spot with crystal clear waters perfect for swimming and sunbathing. The town of San Pedro, the island's only town, is a vibrant hub of activity with colorful buildings, local shops, and a friendly atmosphere. Here, you can visit the Marco Gonzalez Maya Site, an ancient Mayan ruin that offers a glimpse into the island's rich history. The Belizean Melody Art Gallery is another must-visit, showcasing local art and crafts.

For nature lovers, the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley offer unforgettable snorkeling and diving experiences. The reserve is home to a diverse range of marine life, including nurse sharks and stingrays. The Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is another fantastic spot for wildlife viewing and exploring diverse ecosystems. The island is also home to the Ambergris Museum and Cultural Center, which provides insight into the island's cultural heritage and history.

The restaurant and nightlife scene in Ambergris Caye is vibrant and diverse, offering something for everyone. Elvi's Kitchen is a popular spot, known for its delicious Belizean cuisine and unique sand floor. The Truck Stop is another favorite, offering a variety of food truck options, a beer garden, and regular events like trivia nights and movie screenings. For seafood lovers, Blue Water Grill is a must-visit, serving fresh, locally sourced seafood with a stunning beachfront view.

For drinks and nightlife, Palapa Bar and Grill is a popular spot. This over-the-water bar offers a relaxed atmosphere, great drinks, and stunning views. Fido's Courtyard and Pier is another lively spot, offering live music, a wide range of drinks, and a fun atmosphere. Secret Paradise Beach Bar, as the name suggests, is a hidden gem offering a tranquil setting, delicious cocktails, and a beautiful beachfront location.

Recreational activities in Ambergris Caye are largely centered around the island's natural beauty and marine life. Snorkeling and diving are incredibly popular, with numerous operators offering tours to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley. Belize Pro Dive Center and Amigos Del Mar Dive Shop are among the most reputable. Fishing is another popular activity, with GoFish Belize offering guided fishing tours.

For those who prefer land-based activities, kayaking and cycling are great ways to explore the island. Kayak rentals are available from many beachfront resorts, while bicycles can be rented from Joe's Bike Rental in San Pedro. For a unique experience, consider a bird-watching tour with Belize Birding Tours, or a cultural tour with Belize Food Tours. Whether you're an adventure seeker, a nature lover, or a history buff, Ambergris Caye has something to offer.

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Insider Tips from Expats in Ambergris Caye: Making the Most of Life and Connections

"It is really easy to meet people on Ambergris Caye. Here are just a few ideas of where we regularly socialize. Anything outdoor and health oriented is great on the island. My husband and I built the San Pedro Fitness Club, so I go there most days. Ladies tend to enjoy the water fitness classes, in particular, since it is both exercise and social time. But there are sailing groups, plenty of scuba and snorkeling opportunities, places that specialize in sailing or kayaking, and fishing groups and competitions. There are now also several yoga schools where you will meet health oriented people. So for those of us who like to balance healthy activities with a little indulgence, it is easy to do here... For those who enjoy live music, there are a variety of places where people hang out and listen to local bands, all for free. Beach bars include Crazy Canucks, BCs, and Fidos, all near town. On the north side, Legends often has good music. We love to dance to a live band on the beach, cooled by a sea breeze! Sunday afternoon lunch is a time when everyone goes out for beach BBQ and to socialize. Popular places include Caribbean Villas (they have plenty of water toys), Crazy Canucks, BCs, and the Palapa Bar (up north). We go to Wine de Vine on Friday nights. This is a "smoke free" environment where many expats, business owners and tourists drop in for a nice glass of wine, and a cheese platter. There are regular festivals and fund raiser events that many expats attend. It is a great way to socialize and also donate to a good cause. There are more volunteer organizations than I can mention. Many expats join both to contribute, and to meet people. The most popular are the Saga Society (which is the local Humane Society), the churches, Lion's Club, and various school organizations. Some groups get together to play cards such as bridge. And many of us get together for group dinners. Sometimes we meet a favorite restaurant. Other times we enjoy a pot luck with friends," said one expat living in Ambergris Caye.

"Expats in Ambergris Caye often join a variety of clubs and activities to meet people and integrate into the local community. These include diving and snorkeling clubs, due to the island's proximity to the world's second-largest barrier reef. There are also fishing clubs, as the area is renowned for its excellent fishing opportunities. For those interested in fitness and wellness, there are yoga and pilates classes, as well as gyms and sports clubs. Expats can also participate in local charity organizations and volunteer groups, which not only provide a chance to meet people but also to give back to the community. Cultural activities such as cooking classes, language exchange groups, and art workshops are also popular among expats. These activities provide an opportunity to learn more about the local culture and traditions, as well as meet like-minded individuals.In addition to joining clubs and activities, expats often meet people through social events and gatherings. These can range from informal beach barbecues and parties to more formal events like wine tastings or charity galas. Many expats also meet people through their children's schools or through local churches.Another popular way for expats to meet people in Ambergris Caye is by participating in local festivals and events. These can include everything from the annual Lobster Fest to the San Pedro Carnival, both of which attract locals and expats alike.Finally, simply being open and friendly can go a long way in meeting people in Ambergris Caye. The local community is known for its welcoming and friendly nature, and many expats find that simply striking up a conversation with a neighbor or local shop owner can lead to lasting friendships," wrote a member in Ambergris Caye.

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"It's a real mixed bag. The Belizeans are all working, as do many expats. Some expats live here only 3-6 months a year. We all have different priorities. You can find whatever you are looking for. But family is very important to Belizeans. So there are a lot of festivals and performances that we expats join in for. Socializing is really big here. We spend much more time with friends than we ever did in California. We still are very involved in business, but that also involves a lot of socializing. For us, our lives include all of the above," commented an expat living in Ambergris Caye.

"Life for expats and digital nomads in Ambergris Caye is often described as relaxed and laid-back, with a slow pace of life that many find appealing. The island is known for its beautiful beaches, clear waters, and abundant marine life, making it a paradise for those who enjoy outdoor activities such as snorkeling, diving, and fishing. The local community is friendly and welcoming, with a mix of locals and expats from around the world. English is widely spoken, which makes it easier for expats to communicate and integrate into the local culture. The cost of living is relatively low compared to many other popular expat destinations, although it can vary depending on lifestyle choices. Housing options range from modest apartments to luxury beachfront villas. For digital nomads, the internet connectivity is generally good, but it can sometimes be unreliable, especially during storms. There are several coworking spaces available, as well as cafes and restaurants with Wi-Fi. The island has a vibrant nightlife with a variety of bars and restaurants offering local and international cuisine. There are also plenty of opportunities to socialize and meet other expats, with regular events and gatherings.Healthcare facilities on the island are basic, but adequate for minor health issues. For more serious conditions, expats often travel to Belize City or even abroad. Despite the relaxed lifestyle, it's important to note that Ambergris Caye is a developing country and there can be challenges such as occasional power outages, limited shopping options, and the need to be vigilant about personal safety. Overall, Ambergris Caye offers a unique blend of Caribbean charm, natural beauty, and a relaxed lifestyle that many expats and digital nomads find appealing," said an expat in Ambergris Caye.

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Traveling Mailbox serves thousands of travelers, expats, digital nomads, businesses, individuals and others in over 47 Countries by scanning their postal mail so they can view it online anywhere in the world. They provide customer service 7 days a week so if you need assistance, it is just a phone call away. Traveling Mailbox works with Evernote, Bill.com and Dropbox. And, there are Traveling Mailbox apps available for iOS and Android devices.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


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