2 Weeks in Belize

Make sure to see the roundup of what I wore in Belize HERE. I was pretty dressed up compared to everyone else. It is a really laid back island.

I will have a blog post next week covering what it was like traveling internationally with a baby!

Before I start this post, let me list the places (beaches) we have been to so that you will have an idea of what we are comparing Belize to throughout this post:

We have traveled to Maui, Cayman Islands, Roatán, Jamaica, St. Thomas, Cancun, Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta, Playa Del Carmen, Dominican Republic, Isla Mujeres, the Bahamas, and now Belize. I may have missed one or two but you get the point. My parents are HUGE scuba divers, so we have been traveling with them to various beaches our entire lives. When we were in high school they bought into some timeshare, so we can actually stay free now once a year anywhere in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. We are beach people!

Every year we try to travel somewhere new, but there are more factors that play into the decision now. Last year we needed somewhere zika free (so we went to Maui and the Bahamas) and when we travel with Miller we need something close (since she is still so young). Belize seemed like the perfect choice for us!

-I think Belize is probably an amazing place to visit if you are a scuba diver! The second largest barrier reef is there and I am sure the diving is incredible.

Ambergris Caye, Belize

We decided to stay on Ambergris Caye, because that seemed like the most lively island and it looked so beautiful! I know Caye Caulker is now becoming super popular, but since we were staying for two weeks we wanted to make sure we never got bored.

I think the photos on Google make it out to be a lot prettier than it actually is. There is a thick layer of seaweed surrounding the island, so there are only a few places on the entire island that you can actually walk into the ocean and swim, and those take forever to get to. This also makes the entire shore surrounding the island brown for about 100 yards out. This is also why you never saw me taking pictures on the beach. The brown water just isn’t anything to look at.

two weeks in belize

*what the beach actually looks like

One side of the island is basically marshland. There aren’t any beaches or pretty water at all. This is where all of the mosquitoes come from. TONS AND TONS of mosquitos.

If you aren’t getting bit by a mosquito you are getting attacked by sand flies or no-see-ems. Basically, you will leave with bug bites all over your body. And they itchhhh. I would wake up in the middle of the night every night because they would itch so bad. Luckily Miller never got bit. We always kept an eye on her and sprayed her stroller and blankets with bug spray. We never actually sprayed or put any of the bug spray on her. When we told the pediatrician where we were going she said the only threat would be mosquitoes (West Nile!) Make sure to bring tons of cream to help with the bug bites or your vacation will be ruined. We picked some up at the pharmacy in town.

San Pedro

San Pedro is the city on Ambergris Caye. It is a bustling city with nightlife and tons of shops and restaurants.

Traveling without kids? You can still have a lot of fun on Ambergris Caye despite everything above. They have tons of cool restaurants and bars on the beach. If Miller wasn’t with us, Troy and I would have just bar hopped every day. Some bars even have inner-tubes for tables and the waiters bring your drinks out to your tube! It is definitely a party town, but not a great place to travel with kids.

We did feel completely safe in town and around the island and the people were sooo nice!

Where to Stay in Belize- Belizean Shores Hotel

When spontaneously looking for a place to stay, I always look at Expedia’s bundled deals. Sometimes they are amazing and sometimes they are a total rip off. Always check the hotel and flight price outside of Expedia to know what kind of deal you are getting!

That is how we found our hotel, Belizean Shores.

It was only $1500 a couple for the flight and the two week stay.

We really liked the set up. My parents stayed in a loft upstairs and we had a room to ourselves downstairs. Housekeeping came daily and they cleaned and washed our dishes and everything. We had a kitchen where we always cooked breakfast and lunch and we would go out to dinner every night.

The best part about the hotel was the pool set up. We were able to walk right out of our room to the pool and the monitor actually reached! So we could still be out there while Miller was napping! This was HUGE and I don’t know what our vacation would have been like without it.

The resort also had a pool bar, a day and night menu to order from, a tennis court and a volleyball court.

You could rent a kayak if you wanted to snorkel, but it takes about 15 minutes to get out there and you barely see anything. My mom and Troy said it really wasn’t worth the trip :/ so I never went out there. We were so bummed that the snorkeling wasn’t any good! You also couldn’t walk out into the water there. It was brown, rocky, and there was tons of seaweed. This is how it was for most hotels along the island.

Negatives about the resort: the water pressure was atrocious! I could never fully rinse the conditioner out of my hair :/. Other than that it was great!

Belizean Shores was about a 20 minute golf ride from San Pedro, but there was also tons to eat and do around the hotel.

Where to Eat in Belize

The food in the grocery stores on this island is more expensive than Maui. You pay $7 for a can of peanut butter and $7 for a can of jelly. The liquor prices are out of control. $45 for a bottle of Baileys or Jose Cuervo.

The restaurants are comparable to Maui. Around $20-30 per dish unless you are buying from a local place (street vendor or a small place all the locals go to).

There are soooo many restaurants on the island and we couldn’t even tackle half of them in two weeks. I don’t know if we are too picky or what, but we weren’t that impressed with the food. They did have really good lobster, but the season ended halfway through our trip and we were told they were no longer allowed to sell lobster from that point on! I wish we had known or we would have stocked up that first week!

Here is a list of the places we visited:

Wild Mangos- This was our absolute favorite. We went there twice. Get the ceviche sampler (definitely try the tropical one) and don’t miss out on the banana chimichanga for dessert.

Truck Yard- really cool set up, and they usually have games or a live band going on. The food is just OK.

Blue Water Grill- The worst service, but the food isn’t bad. Definitely grab the Tuna Taco appetizer and the Monkey Pod Mai Tais.

Elvie’s- This is a local joint. Pretty good food and a fun environment. Ask the waiter for meal suggestions!

Iguana Juans- We also loved this restaurant. It is in the middle of town and doesn’t have a view but the food is really good! I got a beef tamale and it was delicious!

Stellas- Stellas is a great place to go to listen to live music and watch the sunset. It is a wine bar with a different menu each night. I heard their food is amazing, but I wasn’t that impressed with their lobster grilled cheese.

Tipsy Lobster- This restaurant was across the street from the hotel and it was really good! My parents were obsessed with the grouper and lobster and Troy and I loved the shrimp kabobs.

Rain- This rooftop restaurant had a great view and really good coconut shrimp! That is about it. The wait for the food was terrible (even though we were the only ones there) and the fish and chips had massive pieces of pepper all over in it. The pepper made it really hard to eat.

where to eat in belize

*on the rooftop at Rain

Pirate’s- This is where we ate on Secret Beach. The chicken wings were FANTASTIC, just messy!

Papusas- Get a bunch of papusas in town from a local vendor! They are each about $10 so buy enough for each person in your group to have 3. Eat them there or bring them home! They are so delicious.

Rojo Beach Club- We were not impressed with Rojo. Apparently they just got bought out and have new management :/. It is a cool bar for sure if you just plan on hanging out and having drinks.

We missed out on Victoria House, and a bunch of other nicer restaurants that supposedly had amazing food. We realized quickly that it wasn’t going to work with Miller (with her witching hour), so my parents ate at 5pm and then we ate after we put Miller down. By then it was 7:30pm and everything closed at 9 so we would normally just head somewhere to eat quickly and get back home!

Currency/Language

The main language in Belize is english and they take American money everywhere. It is a straight 2-1 conversion (every $1 American is $2 Belizean). As for you change back in US dollars. They will give you the bills but not the change in USD.

How to Get to Ambergris Caye

You will take a small plane (either Maya or Tropic Air) from Belize City to Ambergris Caye. Make sure you book the flight to and from the correct airports. There is a smaller airport nearby that my dad actually booked out of and we had to make up the difference when we needed to switch it. It was another $100 a person at the time.

The flight isn’t bad at all, because you don’t fly very high from the water. You are pretty close to the water and have a great view on your way. The only scary part is the landing. It is usually pretty windy and the plane moves from side to side when it is about to land and it is soooo scary but somehow the pilot straightens and lands perfectly right on time, every time! They do the trip thousands of times every month so you have no need to worry.

*a view from the plane

You will need a golf cart to get around the island. It is much more expensive to rent the golf cart from the hotel. We saved sooo much money renting one from Avis in town and they drove it out to us! We got a weekly rental. Thank you so much to the reader who gave us this piece of advice.

Things to Do In Belize/Not to Do

Go to Secret Beach. It is quite a ride from wherever you are, but it is worth it. It is one of the only places you can get in the water from the beach and the water there is beautiful. You can also rent jet skis and motorized surf boards. They have three different restaurant/bars and if you eat or drink there you can use their chairs and umbrellas for free.

Take a trip to Caye Caulker. It is a laid back island but the ride there is stunning and you will enjoy the beautiful views on the island. I would recommend a boat that moves pretty fast. It is a 3 and a half hour ride on a catamaran. They will try to get you to eat at a super touristy place right when you get off the boat. Don’t eat there. The prices are outrageous for mediocre food. Keep walking and stop and eat at one of the barbecue places along the way. When I say bbq place, I mean there is a guy with a tent cooking up bbq. You can’t miss these local stops and the food is incredible. I have shrimp curry and Troy had the lobster.

Snorkeling at Hol Chan. The snorkeling was so good at Hol Chan, but you have to go with a guide. If you go in a big group, that means 6 of you bumping into each other and trying to hear and keep up with your guide. I would definitely recommend you spend the extra money for a private guide and make sure you have at least 2 hours to snorkel.

Skip the shark ray alley. This is a gimmick to me. Basically they just chum the water right next to the boat and you can swim around the nurse sharks (6 ft away) as soon as the 10-15 min are over and they stop chumming the sharks completely disappear within seconds. You aren’t actually swimming with them You are watching them eat.

If you have the option to snorkel at Hol Chan and then go to Caye Caulker (on a speed boat), take it! We did that and shark ray alley on a catamaran and it literally took allll day just to get there and back.

I will do a post on what it was like traveling with a 3 month old next week, but Belize was definitely not the most kid friendly. I would recommend an all-inclusive resort somewhere if you are taking kids. Or just somewhere that has more activities for them.

I feel like this review was pretty negative, but Belize just wasn’t what we expected. We were bummed the water surrounding the island was brown, that you couldn’t snorkel off the coast, that the food (for being as expensive as it was) wasn’t better. It would definitely be a fun place to go if you were with a group of adults (no kids) and could do some bar hopping or spend more days on Secret Beach. I just wouldn’t advise going if it is a place you are going to just for a relaxing vacation since the beaches aren’t very nice.

We enjoyed being there, the weather was amazing and we had a good time exploring the island. We just won’t be going back (especially not with Miller!)

If you are looking for somewhere to visit like Belize, try Roatan or Isla Mujeres!

I hope this helps! Any questions about Belize? Please leave them in a comment below.

Other beach trips we have booked this year so far:

Punta Mita in March (influencer trip, staying at Casa Koko)

Playa Del Carmen in April (going for bachelorette party)

Isla Mujeres in June (been there before, going on a family trip to dive with the whale sharks)

and Maui again Jan 2o2o.

Can’t wait to review those for you too!

xox Amanda

12 Comments

  1. Johnnie G.
    March 2, 2019 / 9:35 pm

    As a frequent visitor to Ambergris Caye I found your review to be very fair. I have gone down with friends who felt very similar to you about the island. But, I have also taken friends who are plotting out buying a vacation home there because they loved it so much. In other words, Belize and Ambergris Caye are not for everyone. For starters, had I been your guide I would have steered you toward much better dining (it pains me that you missed out on El Fogon). Ambergris Caye is now in the middle of a fairly radical transformation. For years the island was a kind of unspoiled diving destination. Meaning, the island was free of American fast food (still true) franchises or gaudy name brand American resorts. It’s a long story, but because of the banking system it is very hard to build on the island and thus Belize has struggled to build up the hotel infrastructure (especially with boutique hotels that respect the local culture while raising the service bar). Thus for the longest time Belize and Ambergris Caye was a quirky, unique destination for those who wanted to fish, scuba or snorkel, or engage the local culture (which is best done on the mainland). But, there is now a ton of investment that scares those who for years loved the “old” Ambergris Caye, while opening the island up to a new demographics of tourists. Frankly, Belize is not “there” yet. Given your tastes, you might have visited the island a few years too early. Within 5-years there will be a ton of very high end resort and supporting infrastructure options. The supporting activities and excursions that tourists can partake in will be far more organized, expanded, and, yes, probably more expensive. But, with the annual hurricane destruction along the Lesser Antilles, which is not likely to recede but only get worse, Belize will reap a massive tourism benefit. All of this is to say, I totally get where you and others here who were disappointed are coming from when you say that Ambergris Caye did not meet your expectations. It probably will in 5-years though. Although, it is not a classic Caribbean beach-lover’s island (not just because of the sargasso but because of topography and the reef off shore), and never will be. Belize is for those who view themselves as Eco tourist or adventure travelers, and is a better experience for those who are looking for the opposite of sitting on the beach getting a tan, drinking champagne or a slushy drink while waiting for a 4-star meal to cap the night off. (Think St. Barths.) The better comparison would be Dominica, which few Americans know about. Think hiking, waterfalls, diving, mountainous rainforests, and the like. Not schlepping a newborn around in an expensive sundress (hich, by the way, you looked great in) in search of a mosquito-less beach with crystal blue water. In the end, I think you have done lots of folks reading this a service because you have sincerely painted the picture that is fair and true, that Belize is not for everyone.

  2. Rossy
    March 1, 2019 / 5:59 am

    Some Of these people commenting are truly disturbed. This woman is posting about her experience. Agree or disagree you can not tell her that her view of the place is wrong…ITS HERS! I’m all for pride of a country but Jeez, we all have different styles and taste etc.
    Thank you for your honest reciew, Amanda. You looked stunning on this trip!

  3. Bailey
    March 1, 2019 / 12:41 am

    I visited Belize in early December and we had a lot of the same experience! We went with all adults, early to late 20’s and 50’s and we weren’t thrilled with the experience either. The food, we thought, was really expensive and just not very good. We never really had a meal where anyone thought it was great. Everything was pretty meh. The beaches were a huge bummer and not swimmable unless you went to secret beach, even locals said no one swims in them. The best meal we had in Belize was probably Caramba. They do a seafood platter, family style that you get to pick. You pick all the fresh seafood and different preparation styles. This was the best seafood we had, and it was good. But in comparison to all the the things we’ve ever had, it definitely wasn’t the top of the list. We bought mosquito bracelets and those worked pretty well for mosquitos the first couple of days. We also used bug spray, but by the end of the trip we had tons of bites. Even for adults, we didn’t find a lot of fun things to do in the evenings. A lot of the bars weren’t super lively at night, and things closed early. We took a day trip into Belize from the islands to go to Mayan ruins, ziplining and cave tubing. This all was fun! We also did a YOLO cruise to shark ray alley and snorkeled. The snorkeling was fun but I agree you weren’t really swimming with sharks like its advertised. It was a booze cruise, so the drinks were great and the food was actually awesome. One of our better meals in Belize. Overall, we had fun but it was disappointing to visit a beach where you cannot actually go to the beach and get in the ocean. We wouldn’t visit again

  4. Courtney
    February 28, 2019 / 10:28 pm

    Thank you for this honest review! I really appreciate it, especially because I am a beach gal too and love to travel; but I would have been upset if I booked a trip and this was my experience. I felt the same way about the two weeks we spent in the USVI/BVI. I really love Maui so much that it’s hard for me not to compare all other tropical destinations to Hawaii. Your outfits were so cute!!

  5. Margaux militello
    February 28, 2019 / 9:21 pm

    Thank you for your honest post & review of your recent travels!
    1. Traveling with children (even with help) is difficult and can completely change an entire trip to the grocery store let alone an island! So bravo for having fun and making the most of it!
    2. Agree that the water could be due to many environmental factors but hey you can still feel disappointment!
    3. Your outfits were as always on point during the trip and so were Millers!
    Maybe someday you can return with just you and Troy and have a more positive experience but even if you don’t there is a whole lot of world to explore!

    Stay true and review as you see fit girl!

  6. A. M.
    February 28, 2019 / 8:40 pm

    Belize is an amazing destination and I would highly recommend to anyone who is looking to travel. I have not been to the islands of Belize, however, I firmly believe that we didn’t miss out, here’s why; We stayed at Jaguar Reef in Hopkins and our Villa was right on the water! This resort has the options of all inclusive, breakfast only or no meals, also many of the rooms have a kitchen if you wish to cook. There are many restaurants within walking distance of the resort, Lucky Lobster had a wide selection with decent prices. The resort has a swim up bar with daily happy hour, as well as numerous water sport equipment for guest use. Every morning the staff will rake the beach to rid of any smelly seaweed that may have washed up overnight. The beach itself was beautiful with blue water. The waves crash right on the beach so the current can be strong when entering and turns up sand that makes the water look brown but once inside it is very clear, we even we’re able to see manatees! They frequent the channel between the ocean and river so they are all over this area. The staff was currently building a palapa over the water for bar and hangout spot that will be awesome when it’s done.
    The second part of our trip we stayed in their sister resort called Sleeping Giant in Belmopan which was right on the river in the rainforest! The restaurant here at the resort was amazing and has the same dining options as other since they are sister hotels. Other restaurants are a bit of a drive away in the main town, but worth the drive. This resort is close to “The Blue Hole” and various cave, hiking and chocolate tours. If you are looking for a more cultural experience, the Mayan Ruins are a short drive away that I highly recommend to see. We were able to find someone (for a small price $) before the river crossing to be our private tour guide! He was so knowledgeable of all the history and a huge help when navigating through the ruins.
    All in all, The mainland of Belize is full of beauty and culture and offers a little more than just relaxing island vibes without the extra plane/ferry ride. I would recommend doing research prior to travel, anywhere, to familiarize yourself with the area and what to expect. The beach is not like the Caribbean, it is in a rainforest so expect rain, most importantly, keep calm and drink Belikin!
    Side note; Southwest flies direct from Houston to Belize City and if you were lucky enough to score a companion pass, all you have to do is pay the taxes!

  7. February 28, 2019 / 6:49 pm

    Really appreciate this honest review, and you being authentic in your experience. This review doesn’t turn me off from Belize, just makes me do a little more comparison research of times to go, places to stay, etc. At the end of the day, travel is personal. I had a similar experience with Kauai – it was our favorite island but things have changed in three years. We’ll still go back, but are more open to exploring new places.

  8. Julie
    February 28, 2019 / 5:39 pm

    I have thought about this a quite a bit- and saw your insta story and just felt like I needed to comment. As a lover of beaches, and particularly the Caribbean- there is much to learn from your post and much to be told. The brown seaweed is called sargassum and it wreaking great havoc on the entire Caribbean and the tourism business as a whole. There is a great possibility that you are going to run into the same brown water and seaweed on your trips to both Isla and Playa in the summer. The stuff is everywhere- it’s not seasonal, but it is hit or miss based on currents. I urge you to do some reading on it- in a very basic nutshell, it’s caused by fertilizer and pollution in the Amazon region, the warm water of the Caribbean contains currents that bring it up from the south. It’s getting worse every year. Improper drainage and outflow of waste from Hotels, Resorts and vacation homes does not help and is causing the problem to grow at an insurmountable level. Many of the larger all-inclusives in the regions, including the Cancun, Playa, Tulum and the Mayan Riviera (which is just north of the area of Belize you were in) have tried putting top level barriers to protect the water and beaches and have hired workers to try to clean the beaches daily, but there are times where it is simply an impossible task. I urge you and your followers to learn about this, and learn what you can do to help the problem. Otherwise- it’s not going to get any better, and it will spread.

  9. Debra Howell
    February 28, 2019 / 3:47 pm

    We love Ambergris Caye and have found excellent bug repellent that we purchased on Amazon, I contracted sand fleas first visit but nothing second time…I am truly disappointed about all the Sargassum (sargasso) around the east side of island but still LOVE the food, the people, and they all speak English.. and use the American dollar, buy your booze at duty free in Belize city, 1/3 the price of the island. We are seriously thinking of partial retirement on the island but still have to keep roots in USA for healthcare etc…but I love it there!!! How did you get such cheap flights??? I have a hard time getting cheap flights when I want to go…

  10. Amita
    February 28, 2019 / 12:44 pm

    Here is an honest review of Belize from someone that has been probably more than a dozen times, (but has never been to Maui).
    Ambergris is a bit overpriced, yes, of course, it is probably the most popular and busy spot to vacation in Belize, so I’m not sure what you’d expect. Nope, it is really not a place for kids, so please don’t take them there
    I have been to San Pedro too many times to count, the beaches look like they should be on a calendar, so maybe a storm.was on the horizon. I was on Caye Caulker last year, and again, I have been there a lot, but I was surprised that the water was a bit browned than it had been, but a couple days later, it was a lot clearer.
    Yes, not everyplace in the world has the gorgeous all inclusive you are obviously used to, and yes OF COURSE there are bugs!. These are people.in a third world country trying as hard as they can make you happy. Obviously, it isn’t like all of the OTHER overpriced tourist places that you have been to

  11. Maggie
    February 27, 2019 / 11:19 pm

    I wonder if the seaweed /brown water around the island was a seasonal thing? My husband and I went there on our honeymoon in late September and I don’t remember the water along the beach being bad. We stayed at Victoria House and really enjoyed it but we didn’t venture out much and I wish we did! We plan to visit there again at some time so I was bummed to hear you didn’t have the best time. We also visited during the rainy season so the weather was hit or miss but worth it because we still got plenty of sun and everything was much cheaper!

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