Ambergris Caye VS Caye Caulker: Which Island Is Best For Your Belize Paradise

Come and discover the ideal spot to find your paradise when we decide on Ambergris Caye VS Caye Caulker. These two gorgeous islands are not far apart but do vary quite a bit so read on to find out exactly how…


You’re planning your dream Belizean getaway, but you’re torn between the islands, Ambergris Caye vs Caye Caulker. Both offer stunning vistas and unique experiences, but which one aligns best with your travel plans?

Choosing the right destination can be a daunting task, especially when both options offer their own distinct charm and character. You may be grappling with questions about the atmosphere, activities, accommodation options, and overall vibe of each island.

Luckily for you, I have traveled both destinations and done it twice. Once as a solo female traveler, and the second time on a diving holiday with my partner.

This guide is designed for anyone planning a trip to Belize, whether you’re a solo adventurer, a couple seeking a romantic escape, or a family looking for a memorable vacation.

So let’s figure out the answer by comparing and contrasting Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, to help you make an informed decision and create unforgettable memories.


Tasha Amys legs seen from a dock overlooking the clear waters of Ambergris Caye with a view of the tropical shoreline.
relaxing on one of the piers in ambergris caye

🚗 How I Book Ferries & Shuttles In Belize: GuateGo


Ambergris Caye vs. Caye Caulker: Location & Size

Ambergris Caye, also known as “La Isla Bonita,” is the largest island in Belize and is located about 35 kilometers northeast of Belize City. It stretches over 40 kilometers along the Caribbean coast and is approximately 1.6 kilometers at its widest point.

In contrast, Caye Caulker is a smaller island, only about five kilometers long and 1.2 kilometers wide, located 32 kilometers south of Ambergris Caye. It is situated on the opposite side of Belize City, and it’s known as a more chilled-out version of its bigger sister island.


Infographic on Ambergris Caye vs Caye Caulker

Here is an infographic on the differences to help you decide on Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker:

An infographic comparing Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye, highlighting the pros and cons of each for potential visitors.
An infographic comparing Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye, highlighting the pros and cons of each for potential visitors.

What Is Ambergris Caye Known For?

Ambergris Caye is famous for its stunning beaches, crystal clear water, and world-class diving opportunities. It’s also known for being the birthplace of Belizean cuisine, which includes a mix of Mexican, Caribbean, and Mayan influences.

Despite being the most popular tourist destination in Belize, Ambergris Caye still retains its charm with its small-town feel, friendly locals, and laid-back atmosphere. It’s also the perfect base for exploring the nearby Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley.

A wooden pier stretching into the clear Belizean waters of Ambergris Caye, a contrast to the intimate docks of Caye Caulker.
walking out on the pier at ambergris caye

What Is Caye Caulker Known For?

Caye Caulker is known for its relaxed island vibes and slow-paced lifestyle. It’s a favorite among backpackers and budget travelers, with affordable accommodations, food, and activities. The island is also famous for its snorkeling opportunities, including swimming with friendly manatees at the nearby Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary.

In addition to its beautiful beaches and clear waters, Caye Caulker is also known for its vibrant and colorful streets, local art scene, and delicious seafood. It’s the ideal destination for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and unwind in a tranquil island setting.

Contemplating Ambergris Caye vs Caye Caulker? Envision yourself swaying in these vibrant hammocks on the laid-back Caye Caulker.
the perfect laidback vibe of caye caulker

Which Is Easiest To Get To? Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker

Both Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker are easily accessible by water taxis or domestic flights from Belize City.

However, when it comes to transportation options, Ambergris Caye takes the lead. It boasts a larger airport, offering more frequent and direct flights, making it a convenient choice for travelers seeking seamless connectivity.

You will also find international ferry boats from neighboring Mexico directly to Ambergris Caye, making it a popular destination for international tourists as well.

On the other hand, Caye Caulker, although slightly closer to Belize City, offers its own advantages. The ferry ride to Caye Caulker is shorter, allowing visitors to reach this charming island destination in no time.


🚗 How I Book Ferries & Shuttles In Belize: GuateGo


Vibe Of Ambergris Caye vs Caye Caulker

Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker may be located only 20 minutes apart by water taxi, but they offer a completely different vibe.

Ambergris Caye, located in Belize, is a larger and more developed island compared to others in the region. It has a beautiful coastline with luxurious resorts that provide unmatched comfort and relaxation.

Enjoy a variety of international cuisines at high-end restaurants. When the sun sets, the island comes alive with a vibrant nightlife scene, offering entertainment options like bars, clubs, and beachfront parties.

This lively atmosphere attracts tourists from around the world who want to experience the energetic ambiance of this tropical paradise.

Caye Caulker, on the other hand, has a more laid-back and bohemian vibe. The streets are filled with colorful street art and reggae music can be heard playing throughout the day. This island is perfect for those looking to relax and disconnect from the outside world.

Caye Caulker today is reminiscent of what Ambergris Caye was like 15 or 20 years ago, with its untouched charm, tranquil ambiance, and a sense of unspoiled beauty that takes you back in time.

Sunset view from a beachfront hostel in Caye Caulker, with silhouetted palm trees and a serene sea horizon.
Sunset view from my hostel in Caye Caulker
Welcoming sign reading 'Welcome To Caye Caulker' with a person walking underneath, illustrating the island's laid-back vibe.
arriving in caye caulker from san pedro in ambergris caye

Beach Life Of Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker?

Both Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker boast beautiful beaches, but they offer slightly different experiences.

Ambergris Caye’s beaches are more developed, with plenty of beachfront resorts, bars, and restaurants. However, there are also quieter spots on the island where visitors can find a secluded stretch of sand to relax and soak up the sun.

Caye Caulker’s beaches, on the other hand, have a more rustic and natural feel to them. The island is smaller and less developed, so visitors can easily find empty stretches of sand to enjoy. The water is crystal clear, making it perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

One thing to note is depending on the sargassum situation you may find the beaches on both islands covered in seaweed. This is a natural occurrence and does not happen all year round.

However, if you are traveling from March to October when it is more common I will say I found it easier to find a public pier to swim in Ambergris Caye, than Caye Caulker where the only option was essentially the Lazy Lizard.

The aerial view in the Ambergris Caye vs Caye Caulker debate highlights the stunning split at Caye Caulker with crystal-clear waters.
checking out the split in caye caulker from above

Foodie Spots In Ambergris Caye vs Caye Caulker

Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker both have a wide range of delicious dining options, with a focus on fresh seafood. However, the style and atmosphere of the restaurants differ between the two islands.

Ambergris Caye’s main town San Pedro is known for its bustling streets lined with restaurants, bars, and food stands. Here you can find a mix of traditional Belizean cuisine, international dishes, and even upscale dining options.

One popular spot is Elvi’s Kitchen which serves up authentic Belizean dishes such as stew chicken and rice and beans.

Caye Caulker has a more laid-back vibe and its restaurants reflect that. Many are open-air huts or shacks serving simple yet tasty meals like grilled seafood and local specials. Here you will find a thriving street food scene with vendors selling tasty snacks like fried plantains, pupusas, and fry jacks. I highly recommend checking out Errolyn’s House Of Fryjacks.

One standout is Wish Willy’s, a popular food cart known for its delicious jerk chicken and friendly owner who loves to chat with customers.

Both islands also have plenty of beachside bars where you can grab a Belikin beer or refreshing rum cocktail while enjoying the ocean views.

A street food stand under a palm tree in Caye Caulker, offering a variety of local Belizean dishes.
more relaxed style beachside eateries in caye caulker
Caye Caulker showcases its lush palm-lined beaches under a clear blue sky, inviting a comparison to the more developed Ambergris Caye
sandy roads in caye caulker

🚗 How I Book Ferries & Shuttles In Belize: GuateGo


Does Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker Have The Best Things To Do?

While both Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker offer plenty of activities and attractions, it ultimately depends on what you’re looking for in a vacation.


Best Things To Do In Ambergris Caye

  1. Explore the Great Blue Hole: This world-renowned diving and snorkeling spot is a must-visit for underwater enthusiasts.
  2. Visit Hol Chan Marine Reserve: A protected area where you can encounter an array of marine life, including colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, and even sharks.
  3. Take a Mayan Ruins Tour: Learn about the rich history and culture of Belize by visiting nearby Mayan ruins, like Lamanai or Altun Ha.
  4. Enjoy Watersports: Try out kayaking or windsurfing in the pristine Caribbean waters.
  5. Relax on Secret Beach: Spend a day lounging on this hidden paradise, away from the hustle and bustle.
  6. Go Fishing: Ambergris Caye is a fantastic destination for deep-sea or fly fishing.
  7. Bird Watching: Visit the Bacalar Chico National Park & Marine Reserve for an incredible bird-watching experience.
  8. Experience Local Cuisine: Take a Belizean cooking class or enjoy a meal at one of the local restaurants to try authentic Belizean dishes.
  9. Visit San Pedro Town: Shop for souvenirs, revel in the local nightlife or simply explore this vibrant town.
  10. Take a Sunset Cruise: End your day by watching the sunset over the Caribbean Sea from a sailboat.
  11. Swim at Shark Ray Alley: Get up close and personal with friendly nurse sharks and stingrays at this popular snorkeling spot.
Choosing between Ambergris Caye vs Caye Caulker? This image shows the serene beachside relaxation offered by Ambergris Caye, with palm trees and beach loungers.
hanging out at a beachfront resort on ambergris caye

Best Things To Do In Caye Caulker

  1. Swim with Sharks and Rays: Get up close and personal with nurse sharks and stingrays at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.
  2. Relax on The Split: This narrow channel between Caye Caulker’s two islands is a popular spot for sunbathing, swimming, and enjoying the laid-back island life.
  3. Explore by Bike or Golf Cart: With no cars allowed on the island, biking or renting a golf cart is the perfect way to explore Caye Caulker’s charming streets.
  4. Snorkel at the Coral Gardens: Snorkel among colorful coral formations and an abundance of marine life at this popular snorkeling spot.
  5. Swim with manatees: Take a boat tour to the Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary, where you can swim with these gentle sea creatures in their natural habitat.
  6. Try Belizean Rum Punch: Sip on this delicious and refreshing cocktail while taking in the island vibes at one of the local bars.
  7. Go Sailing: Take a day trip on a catamaran or sailboat and explore the beautiful waters surrounding Caye Caulker.
  8. Enjoy Fresh Seafood: Indulge in some of the freshest seafood you’ll ever taste, including lobster, conch, and fish caught locally by fishermen.
  9. Take a Yoga Class: Find inner peace and relaxation on the island with a yoga class taught by local instructors.
A breezy beachfront with towering palms on Ambergris Caye, presenting a more developed scenery versus the natural Caye Caulker.
A breezy beachfront with towering palms on Ambergris Caye, presenting a more developed scenery versus the natural Caye Caulker.
A close-up of a pelican perched on a post in Ambergris Caye, where wildlife encounters differ from those in Caye Caulker.
meeting a local pelican in ambergris caye

Accommodation Options: Ambergris Caye vs Caye Caulker

Ambergris Caye offers a broad spectrum of accommodation options to suit different preferences and budgets.

From high-end luxury resorts such as the Victoria House Resort and Spa, offering lavish suites and idyllic beachfront villas, to budget-friendly options like Pedro’s Hotel, which offers basic, clean rooms at a reasonable price.

For those seeking a more personalized experience, there are also numerous vacation rentals available, ranging from quaint beachfront cottages to fully-equipped condominiums.

Caye Caulker, in contrast to Ambergris Caye, is known for its informal, budget-conscious accommodations that echo the island’s laid-back vibe.

Characterful guesthouses like Colinda Cabanas offer colorful cabins with private porches, while budget travelers might choose Yuma’s House, a popular backpacker’s hostel with dormitory-style rooms.

For those seeking a touch of luxury, the upscale Weezie’s Ocean Front Hotel and Garden Cottages provide beautifully furnished rooms with stunning ocean views.

Surprisingly both Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker have excellent hostels, making them both great options for backpackers in Belize.

bellas backpackers

Bellas Backpackers Caye Caulker

The most popular hostel on the islands. Rooms start from $14.00 for a dorm and make sure to upgrade if you want air-con.

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blue wave guesthouse

Blue Wave Guesthouse Caye Caulker

An excellent choice if you are wanting a bit more privacy. Fan-cooled rooms here start from $30.00 per night.

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sandbar beachfront hostel

Sandbar Beachfront Hostel San Pedro

A comfortable and modern hostel that has a pool. Air-conditioned dorms start from $20.00 per night.

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ambergris sunset hotel

Ambergris Sunset Hotel San Pedro

An affordable choice with a pool to relax in. Rooms here start from $50.00 per night.

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Inside a cozy, loft-style hostel room in caye caulker
bellas backpackers in caye caulker

Is Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker Better For Scuba Diving?

Both Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker offer fantastic opportunities for scuba diving in Belize’s crystal-clear waters.

However, each island offers a slightly different experience for divers.

Ambergris Caye is the larger of the two islands, with more established dive shops and a wider variety of dive sites to choose from. I had a great experience diving here and commonly found myself surrounded by rays, nurse sharks, and Caribbean reef sharks.

Caye Caulker, on the other hand, has a more laid-back atmosphere and is known for its smaller, more intimate dive operations.

Typically the dive shops in each location will dive the sites 5 to 10 minutes away from their respective docks.

If you are interested in diving Hol Chan Marine Reserve this is best done from Ambergris Caye.

If you’re an experienced diver looking for more challenging dives or want to explore the famous Great Blue Hole, Ambergris Caye may be the better option for you.

Underwater view of Tasha Amy scuba diving with bubbles around, exploring the marine life near Ambergris Caye
enjoying the reef system around ambergris caye

🚗 How I Book Ferries & Shuttles In Belize: GuateGo


Best Nightlife: Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker?

Both Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker offer vibrant nightlife scenes, each with its own unique charm.

Ambergris Caye is a more developed island, with a wide variety of bars, restaurants, and clubs to choose from. The famous beachfront bar scene on Ambergris Caye’s popular “Front Street” offers live music and dancing every night.

Caye Caulker, on the other hand, has a more laid-back and bohemian vibe. The nightlife here is centered around local reggae bars and street food vendors, making it a great spot to relax and enjoy a cold beer after a day of diving or exploring.

Whether you prefer a lively party atmosphere or a more low-key island vibe, both Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker have something to offer for a fun night out.


Ambergris Caye vs. Caye Caulker: Which is Better To Visit in 2024?

Choosing between Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker for your 2024 vacation will ultimately depend on your personal preferences and what you’re looking for in an island getaway.

Both offer beautiful beaches, warm waters, and a laid-back Caribbean vibe, but there are some key differences to consider.


Which is better for family vacations: Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker?

Ambergris Caye may be the better option for families, as it offers more activities and amenities geared towards children. The island has several family-friendly resorts with pools, water sports, and kids’ clubs.

There are also plenty of fun attractions like the Green Iguana Eco Sanctuary, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, and Secret Beach that are perfect for a day out with the family.


Which is better for solo travelers: Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker?

Caye Caulker may be the preferred choice for solo travelers, as it offers a more budget-friendly and laid-back atmosphere. The island is smaller and easier to navigate on foot, making it perfect for solo exploration.

Solo travelers looking to meet other like-minded individuals can also find social hostels and guesthouses on Caye Caulker that offer communal activities and group tours.

Having solo traveled both Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker I definitely found it a lot more social and easier to make friends on Caye Caulker.

Tasha amy selfie with friendly manatees, a unique experience offered in the Ambergris Caye vs Caye Caulker island debate.
a cheeky selfie while swimming with manatees on a snorkeling tour from caye caulker

Which is better for a honeymoon: Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker?

This really comes down to personal preference. Ambergris Caye may be better suited for couples looking for a more luxurious and romantic vacation. The island has several high-end resorts and restaurants, perfect for a honeymoon experience.

However, Caye Caulker also offers some intimate and secluded accommodations, as well as stunning beaches and sunset views that can make for a romantic retreat.


Which Island Is Better for budget travelers?

For budget travelers, Caye Caulker may be the better option. Accommodations, food, and activities are generally more affordable on this island compared to Ambergris Caye.

Travelers can also take advantage of local street vendors selling cheap and delicious food options, or opt for cooking their own meals with fresh ingredients from the local market.

Furthermore, there are plenty of budget-friendly activities on Caye Caulker such as snorkeling, bicycling, and exploring the island’s natural beauty on foot. So, for those looking to make their money last longer while still having a great experience, Caye Caulker is the way to go.


🚗 How I Book Ferries & Shuttles In Belize: GuateGo


Are these the only two islands you can visit in Belize?

No, several other islands in Belize offer unique experiences for travelers. Some popular options include Tobacco Caye, South Water Caye, and Laughing Bird Caye. Each of these islands has its own charm and attractions, such as diving spots, cultural activities, and wildlife reserves.

Furthermore, mainland destinations like Placencia and Hopkins also offer beautiful beachfront options for travelers looking to relax and soak up the sun.

So, while Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker may be the most well-known islands in Belize, there are plenty of other amazing destinations to explore.


FAQs About Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker

Is Caye Caulker the same as Ambergris Caye?

No, Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye are two separate islands in Belize. They are both located off the coast of the country and offer similar activities such as snorkeling and diving, but they have their own distinct characteristics.

Is it easy to travel between Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker?

Yes, several water taxi services run between the two islands, making it easy to travel back and forth. The journey takes approximately 30 minutes and offers beautiful views of the Caribbean Sea.

What is the difference between Ambergris Caye and San Pedro?

San Pedro is the main town on Ambergris Caye, so they are not necessarily different but rather a part of the same island. San Pedro offers more developed amenities and accommodations compared to other areas of Ambergris Caye.


Wrap Up: Should You Visit Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker?

Ultimately, the decision of whether to visit Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker depends on your personal preferences and travel style. Both islands offer stunning beaches, delicious food, and a laid-back island vibe.

However, Ambergris Caye may be better suited for those looking for a more upscale and luxurious experience, while Caye Caulker is perfect for budget-conscious travelers who want to immerse themselves in a more local and authentic atmosphere.

Whichever island you choose, you are sure to have an unforgettable experience in beautiful Belize.

So, why not visit both? With easy transportation options between San Pedro, Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, you can easily get the best of both worlds during your trip to Belize.


Any Questions? Let Me Know In The Comments!


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Come and discover the ideal spot to find your paradise when we decide on Ambergris Caye VS Caye Caulker. These two gorgeous islands are not far apart but do vary quite a bit so read on to find out exactly how...

Photo credit: “BZ_300_Ramon’s Lodging” (CC BY 2.0) by Discover Corps . “Caye Caulker, Belize” (CC BY 2.0) by Samantha Beddoes . “The Split in Caye Caulker, Belize, a view from above” (CC BY 2.0) by dronepicr .


Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. So, if you click on it and purchase something, I get a small percentage at no extra cost to you. As always all opinions are my own and your support is much appreciated.


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