Find out the best hostels in Ambergris Caye and what you need to know for backpacking San Pedro, the main town on the island. I will share with you my top tips for exploring on a budget including where to eat, how to get there, how much it costs, and more!
Welcome to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye! This is a fantastic destination, though if I am being completely honest this isn’t the typical backpacker hangout you will find elsewhere in Central America.
Instead, you will need to search out the best hostels in Ambergris Caye and check out backpacking San Pedro tips to allow you to experience this slice of paradise on a budget while in Belize.
Now, as I said, it isn’t too common for backpackers to end up in Ambergris Caye, instead most seem to stick to Caye Caulker, the island known for being a budget traveler’s heaven. Though for those who are looking to explore different parts of the country during your Belize itinerary adding San Pedro is a great option.
I personally have visited San Pedro in Ambergris Caye twice. The first time I stayed at one of the only hostels in Ambergris Caye, managed to make one meal last all day in order to save money, and splashed on one tour.
My second visit was a little bit less frugal, I stayed in a local guesthouse, dived a couple times a day, and tried to eat two meals a day this time. It is certainly possible to go backpacking San Pedro on a budget, though it’s not for the faint-hearted.
Nevertheless, in this backpacking San Pedro and Ambergris Caye travel guide, I will let you in on all the top things to do, where to sleep, eat, and more!
Honestly, Ambergris Caye is more of a romantic island with a lot of couples and families. You can still find backpackers and solo travelers, but there is for sure less of a social atmosphere here than in the rest of the country.
I guess it isn’t too common to find budget travelers here, and the hostels also don’t really encourage people to mix by throwing events or activities. Instead, if you want to make friends you will need to get out of your comfort zone.
So let’s get into everything you need to know about backpacking San Pedro and the best hostels in Ambergris Caye so you can have the best trip. This includes finding out budgets, where to stay, top spots to eat, staying safe, things to do, and more!
Backpacking San Pedro, Belize: Top Travel Tips & Best Hostels In Ambergris Caye
- How Many Days To Spend Backpacking San Pedro, Ambergris Caye
- Cost Per Day To Travel San Pedro, Ambergris Caye
- Best Hostels In Ambergris Caye
- Getting Around Ambergris Caye
- Things To Do While Backpacking San Pedro, Belize
- Where To Eat In San Pedro
- Safety While Backpacking San Pedro, Belize
- Where To After Backpacking San Pedro, Belize
🚗 How I Book Cheap Transport In Belize: GuateGo
How Many Days To Spend Backpacking San Pedro, Ambergris Caye
Now let’s figure out how many days to spend backpacking San Pedro in Belize. Though in all honesty, this does depend on your personal preferences and what you hope to do there.
Personally, I recommend a minimum of two full days here to get the most out of your trip here. This will allow you to relax in the island lifestyle, spend some time on the beach, and do a bit of snorkeling.
Though depending on how much time you do have to spare I do actually recommend splitting your time equally between San Pedro and Caye Caulker.
This may mean 2 nights on your first island, and another 2 nights on your second. Even though they are quite close together they do have quite a different atmosphere which is great to experience as a traveler.
Personally, I spent 2 nights here on my first trip, and 4 nights here on my second trip. Though the later trip was just focused on diving rather than exploring above the water. If you are a keen diver or interested to learn there are some great dive sites around San Pedro!
By spending 2 days on Ambergris Caye, you can get a taste of everything that the island has to offer, without feeling rushed or bored. Of course, you can always extend your stay if you want to explore more of the island or simply enjoy its beauty.
However, the is a relatively short boat ride from the mainland so traveling earlier on your day of arrival can mean you make the most out of your backpacking Ambergris Caye trip.
Cost Per Day To Travel San Pedro, Ambergris Caye
If your Belize itinerary contains the main stops of San Pedro, Caye Caulker, and San Ignacio I will say that this will be the most expensive place.
Unfortunately, there aren’t budget food spots, accommodation can be a bit more on the pricey side, and so can activities, though the latter one is basically the whole country.
By staying in hostels this will allow you to keep your budget low. Personally, I stayed at Sandbar Beachfront Hostel which is one of only a couple of room options on the island.
Luckily the price was pretty cheap at only $13.00 per night for an air-conditioned dorm room. Though I did miss the social atmosphere which was lacking here.
On my first trip, I didn’t have anyone to split costs with so I did find my food budget creeping up to the higher side. While in San Pedro I would buy a pizza from the restaurant in the hostel and eat half for dinner, and save the other half for breakfast/lunch the following day.
I know this wasn’t the healthiest option, but I am being honest here, and when you don’t have a decent communal kitchen it can be hard to find affordable food choices. In total, I spent $50.00 on food over the 2 nights I stayed there.
All in all, my total budget for backpacking San Pedro in Belize worked out to $60.00 per day. I decent skimp on activities at all, but I was also trying to be as frugal as possible.
Overall I recommend budgeting between $60.00 to $90.00 per day when backpacking San Pedro depending on your travel style. This will allow you a decent place to sleep in a good location and some delicious meals.
🚗 How I Book Cheap Transport In Belize: GuateGo
Best Hostels In Ambergris Caye
Now one thing you should know when it comes to the best hostels in Ambergris Caye is that there aren’t a whole lot of options at all. Instead, you will find plenty of luxury accommodation, though, in all honesty, it doesn’t really fit into my budget, and as you are reading a budget guide, likely your budget either.
Luckily there is a handful, of affordable stays that are worth your money. Just know that the hostels in Ambergris Caye are more on the basic side than what you would find in neighboring Mexico or Guatemala.
Communal kitchens can be hard to come by, as well as a place that has a social atmosphere where you can easily meet other travelers, instead most people keep to themselves.
Personally, I stayed at Sandbar Beachfront Hostel and believe it is your best choice when it comes to hostels in Ambergris Caye. They have a comfortable air-conditioned dorm room, a decent-sized pool to relax in, a good restaurant downstairs, awesome location.
In a place with limited options, this was the best choice for me, though one thing to be aware of there isn’t much of a social aspect here. There aren’t any organized activities, and the only common area is the pool which limits your interactions with other people.
A quaint little hostel on the island. They have air-conditioned dorms that start from $25.00 per night.BOOK NOW
An excellent choice if you are wanting a bit more privacy. Rooms here start from $60.00 per night.BOOK NOW
A comfortable and modern hostel that has a pool. Air-conditioned dorms start from $20.00 per night.BOOK NOW
An affordable choice with a pool to relax in. Rooms here start from $50.00 per night.BOOK NOW
Getting Around Ambergris Caye
Honestly, depending on what you plan to do will affect how much you need to travel around Ambergris Caye. You will find most of the activities and affordable accommodation options in the main town of San Pedro.
How To Get To San Pedro In Ambergris Caye
San Pedro is the capital of Ambergris Caye and can be reached by air or by sea.
If you want to fly to San Pedro, you have two options: you can take a domestic flight from Belize City or from other destinations in Belize, or you can take an international flight from nearby countries like Mexico, Guatemala, or Honduras.
The domestic flights are operated by two local airlines: Tropic Air and Maya Island Air. They offer frequent flights from Belize City’s Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport (BZE) or from the municipal airport (TZA). The flight time from Belize City to San Pedro is about 15 minutes, costing around $80 USD round trip.
The international flights are operated by regional airlines like Aeromexico, Avianca, Copa Airlines, and TAG Airlines. They offer direct flights from Cancun, Mexico City, Guatemala City, San Salvador, and Roatan to San Pedro’s John Greif II Airport (SPR).
The flight time varies depending on the origin, but it is usually less than an hour. The cost ranges from $100 to $300 USD round trip. I actually flew from Roatan to Belize and it was such an incredible flight with the most amazing views.
If you prefer to travel by sea, you can take a water taxi or a private boat from Belize City or from other coastal towns in Belize. The water taxis are operated by two companies: San Pedro Belize Express and Ocean Ferry Belize.
They depart from the Marine Terminal in Belize City and arrive at the San Pedro Water Taxi Terminal in downtown San Pedro. The journey takes about 90 minutes and costs $28 USD round trip. The water taxis run several times a day, from 6:00 am to 5:30 pm.
Traveling Within Ambergris Caye
To get around Ambergris Caye, you can use golf carts, bicycles, or simply walk. Though if you are simply just planning on relaxing at the beach perhaps you won’t need to worry too much about this.
I highly recommend downloading the offline map of San Pedro on the Maps.Me app or Google Maps for your cell phone. It’ll be super helpful in navigating your way around if you do not have data. This is one thing I always make sure I do before arriving at a new destination.
Golf carts are a convenient and fun way to explore the island of Ambergris Caye. These are the main mode of transportation on the island, as there are no cars or buses.
You can rent a golf cart from various companies in San Pedro, such as Avis Golf Cart Rentals, V.I.P Golf Cart Rental, or C & S Golf Cart Rental. The rental rates vary depending on the duration, model, and season of your rental. You can choose from gas or electric golf carts and from two-seater or four-seater models.
Some golf carts also have extra features, such as radios, coolers, or lights.
Golf carts are easy to drive and can accommodate up to four people. You can use them to travel around San Pedro town and visit different attractions, or to explore the north and south parts of the island, where you can find more secluded beaches, resorts, and natural wonders.
However, you should be aware that some roads on the island are unpaved, bumpy, or flooded, especially during the rainy season. You should also follow the traffic rules and regulations on the island, such as wearing seat belts, observing speed limits, and parking in designated areas.
Hiring a bicycle is a great way for budget travelers backpacking San Pedro in Belize to explore the island and enjoy its natural beauty. There are several options for renting a bike in San Pedro.
Breez Ebike Rentals: If you want to experience the thrill of riding an electric bike, Breez Ebike Rentals is the place to go. They offer the finest and largest selection of electric bikes on the island, with different models for adults and youths.
You can rent an ebike for half a day or a full day, and they will deliver it to your location for free if you rent two or more bikes. They also provide a bike lock, bottled water, cooler backpack, storage locker, and helmet included in the rental price.
Drift Inn Bike Rentals: If you prefer a traditional bike, Drift Inn Bike Rentals has you covered. They offer well-maintained and comfortable beach cruisers that are perfect for cruising around San Pedro and the surrounding areas.
You can rent a bike for $10 US per day, and they also provide other gear for rent, such as a cooler, snorkel, beach towel, dry bag, and speaker.
Walking around San Pedro is generally safe, as long as you use common sense and follow some basic precautions. San Pedro is a popular tourist destination and has a lot of police presence and security cameras.
However, it is still advisable to avoid walking alone at night, especially in dark or isolated areas. You should also keep your valuables close to you and be aware of your surroundings.
Honestly, I didn’t use any transport whatsoever while backpacking San Pedro Belize and instead choose to stay in the center and simply walk everywhere. It is a flat island, and because everyone drives golf carts there are no speeding cars you need to be aware of.
🚗 How I Book Cheap Transport In Belize: GuateGo
Things To Do While Backpacking San Pedro, Belize
Whether you are looking for adventure, culture, relaxation, or wildlife, you will find something to enjoy in this Caribbean paradise.
Snorkel Or Dive At The Hol Chan Marine Reserve And Shark Ray Alley
This is one of the most popular attractions in Ambergris Caye, and for a good reason. The Hol Chan Marine Reserve is a protected area that boasts a rich diversity of marine life, including colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, sea turtles, and more.
Shark Ray Alley is a shallow sandbar where you can swim with friendly nurse sharks and stingrays. You can book a guided tour from one of the many operators on the island, or charter your own catamaran for a private and customizable experience.
Explore the Mayan Ruins
Belize is home to many ancient Mayan sites, some of which are accessible from San Pedro. You can take a day trip to visit some of the most impressive ruins, such as Lamanai, Xunantunich, or Altun Ha.
You can learn about the history and culture of the Maya civilization, admire the architecture and art of the temples and pyramids, and see some wildlife along the way. Some tours also include activities like cave tubing or zip lining for an extra dose of adventure.
Dive in the Great Blue Hole
The Great Blue Hole is a world-famous diving site that lies about 43 miles from San Pedro. It is a circular sinkhole that measures about 1,000 feet across and 400 feet deep and is surrounded by coral reefs and marine life.
Diving in the Great Blue Hole is an unforgettable experience, as you can see stalactites, stalagmites, and various species of sharks, such as bull sharks, reef sharks, and hammerheads.
Taking a scenic flight from San Pedro is one of the best ways to experience the beauty and wonder of Belize. You will be able to see the stunning views of the Caribbean Sea, the Belize Barrier Reef, and the Great Blue Hole from the air.
You will also learn more about the history and culture of Belize and its people from your pilot and guide.
There are different options for taking a scenic flight from San Pedro, depending on your budget, preference, and availability. You can choose from a scheduled tour, a private charter, or a helicopter ride.
You can also choose from different operators, such as Tropic Air, Maya Island Air, or Astrum Helicopters. Each operator has its own advantages and disadvantages, such as price, duration, departure time, aircraft type, and customer service.
A scheduled tour is the most affordable and convenient option for taking a scenic flight from San Pedro. You will join other passengers on a small plane that departs from San Pedro at a fixed time.
The tour lasts for about an hour, and you will fly over the Belize Barrier Reef, the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, the Shark Ray Alley, and the Great Blue Hole.
You will also see other islands and attractions along the way, such as Caye Caulker, Turneffe Atoll, and Lighthouse Reef. The pilot will provide commentary and information about the sights you see. You will also have a chance to take photos and videos from your window seat.
Visit Caye Caulker
This is a small island near San Pedro, where you can enjoy a laid-back atmosphere, sandy beaches, and turquoise waters. You can also go snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, or fishing.
Visit The Secret Beach
The Secret Beach is a secluded spot on the west coast of Ambergris Caye, where you can enjoy the calm and clear waters of the Caribbean Sea. The beach is not so secret anymore, as it has become a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, but it still retains its charm and beauty.
You can relax on the white sand, swim in the shallow water, or rent a paddleboard or kayak to explore the area. There are also some bars and restaurants nearby, where you can grab a drink or a bite.
Relax On The Beach Or By The Pool
Ambergris Caye has some of the most beautiful beaches in Belize, with soft white sand and clear turquoise water. You can lounge on a sunbed, sip on a refreshing drink, or take a dip in the warm sea.
If you prefer a poolside setting, you can head to one of the many resorts or hotels that offer swimming pools and swim-up bars.
Perhaps you are staying in the main town of San Pedro and the sargassum is washing up on the beach. Then head to the pier opposite Paradise Villas. This is a great swimming spot where you can even do a little bit of snorkeling.
Grab a cold drink from a nearby bar and enjoy it while you can for a dip. I have swam here with fellow tourists and locals alike, and have even spotted multiple eagle rays playing along this section of beach.
The Iguana Eco Sanctuary
The Iguana Eco Sanctuary is a unique and fascinating place to visit in San Pedro, Belize. It is a sanctuary for the endangered green iguanas, which are native to Belize and other parts of Central America.
The sanctuary was founded by Calvin Young, who has been caring for the iguanas for over 20 years. He is also known as the Iguana Whisperer because he has a special bond with the reptiles and can communicate with them.
At the Iguana Eco Sanctuary, you can learn about the iguanas, their habitat, their diet, and their threats. You can also feed them with fruits and vegetables that you can buy from nearby fruit stands. The sanctuary is open from 9 am to 5 pm every day, and the entrance fee is $10 USD per person.
Diving in San Pedro is a wonderful way to experience the underwater beauty of Belize. It is also close to some of the best diving spots in the country.
The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest coral reef system in the world, after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
It stretches for over 300 kilometers along the coast of Belize, and hosts a rich diversity of marine life, including over 500 species of fish, 100 species of coral, and several endangered species, such as the green turtle, the hawksbill turtle, and the West Indian manatee.
You can dive along the reef and see amazing formations, such as spur-and-groove reefs, patch reefs, and atolls. Some of the best dive sites along the reef are Tres Cocos, Mexico Rocks, and Tackle Box.
If you are looking for a diving adventure in San Pedro, you can choose from a variety of operators that offer different packages and services. Some of the best operators are Scuba School And Family Dive Center, Belize Pro Dive Center, and Elite Adventures Belize.
They can provide you with equipment rental, transportation, guides, certification courses, and more. You can also customize your own itinerary and explore the underwater world at your own pace.
🚗 How I Book Cheap Transport In Belize: GuateGo
Where To Eat In San Pedro
When it comes to food, you will not be disappointed by the variety and quality of the restaurants in San Pedro Belize.
Cheap Eats While Backpacking San Pedro Belize
If you are on a budget or just want to sample some of the authentic and delicious street food in San Pedro, you have plenty of options to choose from. Here are some of the best cheap eats in San Pedro Belize:
Little China Fast Food: This is my top pick for cheap and cheerful food on Ambergris Caye. Unfortunately, I only discovered it on my second trip there, though this is no doubt some of the cheapest food you will find on the island, and portions are a good size.
It is a little hard to spot as there isn’t great signage but just pop into the shop next to Caramba’s.
Waruguma: This is a small and cozy restaurant that serves some of the best lobster burritos, pupusas, and ceviche in town. The portions are generous, the prices are reasonable, and the service is friendly. You can also try their coconut curry chicken, fish tacos, or shrimp soup.
Waruguma is located on Angel Coral Street, near the airport.
Neri’s Tacos: This is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, who flock to Neri’s for their fresh and tasty tacos. You can choose from chicken, beef, pork, or fish tacos, and add your own toppings from the salsa bar. The tacos are only $1 BZD each, so you can eat as many as you want without breaking the bank.
Neri’s Tacos is open from 6 am to 10 pm, and is located on Pescador Drive.
Robin’s Kitchen: If you are craving some barbecue, head to Robin’s Kitchen for some mouthwatering jerk chicken, ribs, or fish. The meat is tender and flavorful, and comes with rice and beans, coleslaw, and plantains. You can also order fresh juices or smoothies to wash it down.
Robin’s Kitchen is a small shack on Coconut Drive, near Ramon’s Village Resort.
The Truck Stop: This is a unique and fun place to eat in San Pedro Belize, as it is made up of several food trucks that offer different cuisines. You can find pizza, ice cream, Asian fusion, Latin American, and more. The Truck Stop also has a bar, a pool, a fire pit, and live music.
It is a great place to hang out with friends and enjoy the lively atmosphere. The Truck Stop is located on North Ambergris Caye, and you are best off having a golf cart to get there.
Local Food To Try While Backpacking San Pedro
San Pedro, Belize is a paradise for food lovers who want to taste the authentic flavors of the Caribbean. Whether you are looking for a hearty breakfast, a satisfying lunch, or a delicious dinner, you will find plenty of local dishes worth trying while in San Pedro.
BBQ Rice and Beans: This is a classic Belizean lunch dish that consists of grilled chicken, pork, or spicy Italian sausage served with rice and beans cooked in coconut milk. You can also get coleslaw and potato salad as sides. The meat is marinated in a special sauce that gives it a smoky and savory taste.
Pupusas: Pupusas are a Salvadoran specialty that has become very popular in San Pedro. They are small round corn cakes stuffed with various fillings such as pork, cheese, beans, chicken, shrimp, pumpkin, spinach, or lobster. They are cooked on a griddle and served with tomato sauce and cabbage salad.
Ceviche: Ceviche is a refreshing seafood dish that is perfect for a hot day in San Pedro. It is made with fresh fish, shrimp, conch, or lobster marinated in lime juice and mixed with onion, cilantro, tomato, and pepper. It is served cold with tortilla chips or crackers.
Lobster: Lobster is a delicacy that you can enjoy in San Pedro during the lobster season from June to February. You can get lobster cooked in various ways such as grilled, baked, fried, or in a curry sauce. You can also get lobster dishes such as lobster thermidor, lobster pizza, lobster burrito, or lobster mac and cheese.
Some of the best places to get lobster in San Pedro are Elvi’s Kitchen on Pescador Drive, Aji Tapa Bar & Restaurant on North Beach, and Frenchy’s on Barrier Reef Drive.
Safety While Backpacking San Pedro, Belize
San Pedro is a charming town on the island of Ambergris Caye, known for its beautiful beaches, coral reefs, and laid-back vibe. But like any other place in the world, it has its own risks and dangers that you should be aware of before you visit. Here are some tips on how to stay safe and enjoy your time in San Pedro:
Avoid walking alone at night. San Pedro is generally safe during the day, but at night, it can be a different story. There have been reports of robberies, assaults, and even murders on the island, especially in less developed areas.
If you need to go out at night, take a registered taxi or go with a group of friends. Don’t wander into dark alleys or isolated beaches, and always be aware of your surroundings.
Don’t take any drugs. Drugs are highly illegal in Belize and penalties are severe. You may be tempted by some locals or other tourists who offer you drugs, but don’t fall for it. You could end up in jail, or worse, in a trap set by scammers who will extort money from you or harm you.
It’s not worth the risk, so just say no to drugs.
Be respectful of the local culture. Belize is a diverse country with many different ethnic groups and religions. San Pedro is home to a large Mestizo population, as well as Garifuna, Creole, Maya, and expatriates from other countries.
Respect their customs and beliefs, and don’t make any offensive or insensitive comments. Also, dress appropriately when visiting religious sites or local communities. Avoid wearing revealing clothing or showing too much skin, as this may be considered disrespectful or provocative.
Protect yourself from the sun and mosquitoes. San Pedro has a tropical climate with hot and humid weather all year round. The sun can be very strong, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., so make sure you wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat when you go outside.
Also, mosquitoes can be a nuisance, especially during the rainy season from June to November. To prevent mosquito bites, wear long sleeves and pants, use insect repellent, and sleep under a mosquito net or in an air-conditioned room.
Enjoy the water activities responsibly. San Pedro is a paradise for water lovers, with many options for snorkeling, diving, fishing, kayaking, sailing, and more. However, you should always follow the safety rules and guidelines when engaging in these activities.
Don’t swim or dive alone, always wear a life jacket or flotation device, check the weather and sea conditions before you go out, and don’t touch or feed any marine animals. If you’re not experienced or confident in the water, take a lesson or join a tour with a reputable company.
Where To After Backpacking San Pedro, Belize
When you have finished up your travels backpacking San Pedro in Believe it is super easy to continue your adventures. Or perhaps even pass into one of the neighboring countries.
Domestic: You can take a ferry back to the mainland to continue your travels in Belize or stop in at Caye Caulker first. On the mainland, popular places on the Belize itinerary include San Ignacio and Palencia.
International: The international airport is a short ferry ride from San Pedro. From here you can get to countries such as the United States, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Panama.
From San Pedro, you can even take a direct water taxi to Corozal in the North of the country and cross over the border to Mexico. Alternatively from Belize City, you can find direct shuttles into Guatemala as well.
Any Questions? Let me know in the comments!
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