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.
*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 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.
*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!
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!