How to get from Chetumal, Mexico to San Pedro and Caye Caulker, Belize by Water Taxi
Most people arrive to the island either by plane or water taxi from Belize City.. flying into Belize city was much more expensive than Cancun- and then the onward flight to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye was even more expensive. Therefore you can fly into Cancun, spending some time in Quintana Roo, slowly makingyour way to Chetumal via the ADO bus service. Chetumal is a city in the very south of Quintana Roo, just adjacent to Belize. Some people you meet aboard the bus were continuing on to Belize via the bus system. This would likely be a cheaper option but takes more time.
When you arrive at the Chetumal bus station, you’ll find yourself in a different area of the city than the water taxi departure. You’ll need to get in cab to get to the waterfront. It’s approximately a 10 minute drive and there are plenty of taxis available to get you there.
First off, be sure to give yourself lots of time before your scheduled departure. Getting checked in and immigration take a while and you won’t want to be rushed.
We’d highly recommend booking your ticket in advance. There are two water taxi companies, however, they go on different days so be sure to book your ticket with the right company for the day you’re travelling! It’s slightly cheaper to book a return ticket, but because we were returning on a day that the opposite company runs, we could only do a one way ticket (we booked our return ticket on Amberbris Caye a few days before our planned departure).
It appeared that the immigration kiosk was just across from the check in, however, it looked to be closed. In total confusion we rushed downstairs to find that immigration is actually just around the corner from where you check in and had likely been open that entire time. One thing that you need make in advance is that if you have a flight already booked out of Mexico, you’ve likely already paid the departure tax fee confirmation to prove it. However, when you reached the kiosk, you are informed by the immigration officer that this wasn’t good enough and they needed to have a paper copy as proof. Thankfully one of the water taxi companies provides printing services (for a fee). We were certainly not the only ones with this issue and we waited in line to get this printed. They give their their email address, you pay them and then they do the printing for you, it takes about five minutes.
With customs and immigration completed are allowed to board the boat. It’s a bit of a rush as everyone tries to be in the first in line to get aboard and have their pick of seats. The water taxi is essentially a large speed boat where everyone is seated indoors. Seating on this boat was quite uncomfortable with only bench seats with zero padding. It takes about 1.5 hours to cross. There was a bathroom aboard the boat but we got the impression it’s for emergencies only.
It was a relatively smooth day and we had no issues, other than boredom! Everyone appeared to be fine and we didn’t see any evidence of sea sickness.
Onboard they do offer money exchange if you’re in need of some Belizean dollars.
Even if you’re heading to Caye Caulker, you’ll still have to exit in Ambergris Caye for immigration into Belize. Once everyone was off they had you collect all your luggage. They then told you to line up according to the number they’d placed on our passport. We have to assume they do this for organization purposes but it actually ends up creating more confusion and frustration! Other than that, immigration into Belize went smoothly and relatively quickly once you get through the line. If you’re staying in Ambergris Caye you’re than free to go, but if you’re heading to Caye Caulker you have to wait until everyone is through before your next boat departs.
Returning to Mexico:
As you are departing Belize from Caye Caulker, you tKE a very early water taxi to Ambergris Caye where you had to go through customs before leaving the country. The lineup process was again a bit confusing but went quickly once it got going. They also do currency exchange here, making it a good time to get rid of any left over Belizean money. Once through customs you just need to make sure you have your ticket ready and wait until they announce boarding. As we mentioned before, we had to travel with a different company on the way home. We actually found this boat a bit more comfortable with individual cushioned seats.
Again, you’ll need go through immigration before entering Mexico. Similar to when you departed, they had you put your bags in a straight line while officers and a dog walk up and down and the rest of you stand around and watch. Afterwards they had you get in line for the immigration kiosk.