By Erin Bender
What’s 25 miles long, one mile wide and chock full of fun things to do?
The answer is Ambergris Caye, an island off the coast of Belize with fine white sand, crystal blue water and the world’s second largest barrier reef. Here are my five favorite things to do if you visit with kids.
Drive a golf cart everywhere.
The island is walkable but the primary mode of transport is golf carts. My golf-crazed hubby and kids loved it. Towards the north end of the island, before the bridge, there is a place where you can rive your carts on the beach. It’s a beautiful drive, past some lovely restaurants.
Tip: Do it in the late afternoon and you’ll find a great spot to watch the sunset.
Plenty of tour providers leave from San Pedro for snorkeling trips to the barrier reef. We went with SEAduced for the Caye Caulker day tour and had a fine time.
The first stop was Hol Chan Marine Reserve where there is a natural cut in the barrier reef, which is as shallow as five feet in some places. The kid’s enjoyed the 45 minutes we spent snorkeling and were even able to spot some fish and corral. We brought our 2-year-old’s floating ring* and our 4-year-old wore a life vest.
The next stop was Shark Ray Alley where you do indeed get to swim with the sharks. The sharks are much more interested in their food than you. Nevertheless, my kids decided to skip this experience.
After this, the tour stops at Caye Caulker (above, pronounced Key Cawker), the quaint sister island to Ambergris Caye. Five-miles long by 1-mile wide (with some 30 tiny hotels on it!), it’s a lovely place to enjoy a lazy lunch, sample freshly made ice cream and savor a stroll along the beach. We managed to tire the kids out enough that they were happy to chill out on the bouncy deck of the catamaran for the trip back.
There are many beaches to choose from on the island. One of the favorites, Ramon’s Village, is easy with kids. It has a restaurant on the water. Our little kids were happy to play in the sand and wade in the water to spot fish. Bigger kids and grown-ups can jump of a boardwalk jutting out into the sea to swim or snorkel. We had a great day.
The restaurants that line the beach are expensive and it can be hard to find any real treasures. Our favorite, Rojo Lounge, was a 5-mile, $10 water taxi ride north of the island. Decked out with beach-front lounge chairs, hammocks, a pool and a bar as well as the restaurant, it can provide a whole day out. We spent about 5 hours there, swimming, chilling and eating the best pizza on the island.
Tip: If you miss the 3:30 boat back, make sure you ask the friendly staff to call the water taxi to retrieve you in time for the 5:30 speedboat back to San Pedro.
Every Thursday night in San Pedro a game of Chicken Drop, happens on the beach. Your child will think it’s hysterically funny.
Here’s how it works: There is a large square checker board in the sand with 100 numbers on it. One lucky person gets catch the chicken, rotate it in a circle, blow on its bottom for good luck and then release it on to the board.
Once the chicken is on the board the crowd yells and screams to encourage it to poop. Whatever number the chicken poops on, wins. But there’s a catch! The winner has to clean up the poop before claiming her prize.
Between drops the kids took to the board for some dancing or played in the sand. During the game they giggled a lot that all the adults were waiting for the chicken to poop. We hope you get to visit magical Ambergris Caye with your kids. Maybe you’ll even get to throw the chicken!
Ambergris Caye, Belize
When we were offered 2 weeks free accomodation on this beautiful island surrounded by Caribbean waters we could not resist. We had heard so much about Ambergris Caye and were super excited to be visiting.
With only a small town and minimal food supplies there is not much to do, but soak in the sun in a state of permanent relaxation. Anything there is to do we tried to do, so enjoy!