The reflection of the sun’s rays glistened as the waves rolled. The hues of blue like a painting, vibrant and breathtaking. The dock was old, but sturdy. At the end sat a red sailboat with off white sails and a Jolly Rogers flag wrestling with the wind. Painted on the side in a charming yellow was the name Rum Punch II.
Crouched at the stern was an older man with wisdom in his eyes, a smile on his lips, and wit in his barrelling laugh–Captain George. Alike Rafiki from the Lion King, he had the most captivating, crazy monkey of a persona, a laugh as equally disarming, and an accent thick with personality.Though deep lines etched around his mouth from years of laughter, his skin tired from the endless kiss of the sun, and his bones more fragile than once before, his eyes shone and told stories of youthful escapades, daring adventures, and a life well lived. Aged like the rum that filled his punch concoction, he was filled with the promise of stories that came pouring out of him like the rum into our glasses.
Belize is one of the most captivating and diverse countries. With shorelines that boasts the largest Barrier Reef in the Northern Hemisphere, and jungles that hide the ancient Mayan ruins, Belize is a treasure trove of adventures.
But more than that, the Belizean people, like Captain George, are what make Belize an incredible, must-experience destination. With mixed cultural influences from around the globe, Belizean culture is vibrant, exciting, and most of all, respectful.
From a young age, Belizeans are taught by their parents to respect their elders, to acknowledge people as they walk by, and ultimately, to be kind. Greeted with smiles and pleasantries in the markets, at the roadside stalls, and in the restaurants, a traveller’s experience is made all the more enjoyable by the local colour.
THE ISLAND LIFE: SAN PEDRO, AMBERGRIS CAYE
San Pedro is the heart of Ambergris Caye, the largest Belizean island.
With the Belize Barrier Reef just offshore, San Pedro is a diver’s paradise. Largest in the Northern Hemisphere and second largest in the world to Australia’s, the reef system spans 185 miles, comprises 7 marine reserve zones, over 400 cayes, 3 atolls, and is a haven for plant and animal marine life
Onshore, the town is a bustling haven for tourism with popular restaurants, bars, hostels, hotels, and tour companies.
WHAT TO DO:
Snorkelling & DivingWith the second largest Barrier Reef in the world, the snorkelling and scuba diving adventures are a must.
The Blue Hole is perhaps Belize’s most popular diving spot. The giant marine sinkhole is circular in shape and reaches depths of over 400 feet deep.Mayan for ‘little channel’, Hol Chan Marine Reserve is another popular scuba diving and snorkelling location in Belize, comprising of 4 different zones. In order to maintain the reef, certain zones permit commercial and sport fishing, while others do not. From manatees to dolphins, stingrays to nurse sharks, moray eels to barracudas, sea turtles to lobsters, the biodiversity of the Barrier Reef is tremendous.Shark Ray Alley, which is traditionally where fishermen cleaned their catch, welcomes nurse sharks and rays and is the most popular snorkelling spot in Belize, allowing snorkelers to swim alongside the incredible creatures.
Rum Punch IIFor those looking for a balance of relaxation and adventure, a sailing adventure with Rum Punch II is the perfect choice. This is where you’ll find Captain George, which in and of itself is one of the best selling features. His company, which his daughter helps run, allows you to customize your adventure and choose which snorkelling and swimming spots you’d like to enjoy. He’s also quite the chef!
Tuff-e-Nuff ToursFor a more action packed adventure, choose one of the Tuff-e-Nuff Tours. Their experienced guides will get you in the water exploring a number of different spots. If you’re travelling with someone who wants to dive and someone who wants to snorkel, this company allows for both on their tours.
Secret BeachBack on the island, make sure to explore the not-so-secret Secret Beach. Fill your day with sunshine, boozy beverages, and delicious food from the Secret Paradise Beach Bar.
Food, Drinks & Night Life SceneHead to restaurants with local chefs like Hooked on Lina Point and El Fogon for a taste of the traditional cuisine. Hooked on Lina Point is a small open concept kitchen run by Chef Lucky. From the mainland, Lucky brings his favourite Belizean dishes to Lina Point. His jerk chicken, coleslaw, and coconut rice and beans were by far the best I’ve ever tried.
Dive Bar is great for breakfast before a long day out on the water–or a refreshing pint afterwards!For live music and a little more of a nightlife scene, check out the on-the-water restaurants Palapa and Losers.
If you’re interested in grabbing a nightcap and having a fun night out, Crazy Canucks offers themed nights of Karaoke, Trivia and Hermit Crab Racing.
WHERE TO STAY
On The Cheap:
If you’re looking to do San Pedro on a budget, Sandbar is the perfect choice for your stay. This beachfront hostel is equipped with a casual open-air restaurant and bar, friendly staff, and a clean living area. With a hammock garden, plunge pool, and over-the-water deck with lounge chairs and water tubes, the fun atmosphere is the perfect paradise on a budget!
For a little more high end stay, Las Terrazas Resort offers a luxury complex on a private beach with an infinity pool, a spa, and a poolside restaurant. Here you can rent kayaks, paddle boards, bikes and even learn to scuba dive at their on-site PADI Dive Shop.
Romantic/ Relaxed:The over-the-water bungalows at Lina Point are perfect for honeymooners or couples looking for a more quiet stay. Here you’ll be slightly more removed from the main hub of San Pedro but there are still restaurants like Dive Bar that are walking distance.
The on-site restaurant, Hooked on Lina Point, is small but fantastic, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner–all day, everyday. If you head there, say hi to Chef Lucky for me!
Check out the Ambergris Caye adventure video below:
View this post on Instagram
San Pedro is the heart of Ambergris Caye, the largest Belizean island. With the Belize Barrier Reef just offshore, San Pedro is a diver’s paradise. Largest in the Northern Hemisphere and second largest in the world to Australia’s, the reef system spans 185 miles, comprises 7 marine reserve zones, over 400 cayes, 3 atolls, and is a haven for plant and animal marine life.
For more adventures and what to do in Belize, visit Belizing.com.