La Isla Bonita Ambergris Caye Belize

Published: July 4th 2012
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The Ambergris Caye is paradise. We arrived from Belize city on a buzzing Maya Island Air 5 passenger plane. The view of all the islands and of the barrier reef was spectaculor. Most people drive golf carts around town through the narrow streets and over the many pot holes and speed bumps but there are also an abundance of toyota previa vans (not sure why). Our plan for San Pedro was to relax on the beach, bike ride through town and of course dive the Blue Hole.

We stayed at Mata Rocks Beach Resort just south of town. The hotel only has a dozen rooms all facing a pool and bar maybe 10 steps from the ocean. The white and blue theme makes it feel like you're in Greece. Mata Rocks staff are ridiculously friendly and helpful. Take advantage of the welcome drink, which for me came with a welcome mosquito bite, and happy hour 2 for 1 from 5-7pm. There are also free beach towels, wifi and bikes with locks, bonus! I highly recommend getting a suite with a kitchen where ever you stay on the caye because food is expensive. We brought some from home and bought veggies and fruit at the local market. Your average sea food meal with traditional Belize cuisine (red beans, white rice and a cold veggie salad with mayo) costs anywhere from 20-30USD. In some restaurants, a salad is 15USD or more. It is a very touristy place and Gringo's have taken to buying vacation homes on the island, which explains the high prices. With that said, trying Coconut pie is a must. Enough with the logistics and on to diving, the main attraction.

The Belize Barrier Reef is 185 miles long, the 2nd largest in the world. What makes it even more attractive is the unique diving site of the Blue Hole made famous by Jacques Cousteau. The Blue Hole is almost 400 feet deep in the middle. It was formed by an underwater cave that caved in exposing ancient stalactites and stalagmites which are evidence that the cave was above ground for a long time. This is a very deep dive with the caves starting around 110 feet and going down to 170 feet. Before the dive we were told, "Your computer will go into deco." A little nerve wrecking but I'm glad they told us. The view through the backlit stalactites as you swim through is beyond words. My nervousness went away completely when I saw how large the formations are and thought about how old they must be. It was a gift to see.

Other than one large Caribbean Reef Shark cruising around and a spotted drum sleeping in a crevice there was not much life to see but the 2nd and 3rd dives in the Lighthouse Atoll made up for that in abundance. There are plenty of yellow sting rays, spotted eagle rays (my favorite), eels, sea turtles, nurse sharks and tropical fish. Most dives are not very deep so we were able to stay down for an hour on each dive. If you're not a diver there are a few awesome places to snorkel like Mexico Rocks, Shark Ray Alley and Hol Chan Nature Preserve. Because the barrier reef is a little far off the shore most trips require paying for a boat. When booking a tour always make sure to bargain. I used Amigos Del Mar and White Sands Dive Shop, which both had great dive masters.

Additional photos below
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Lighthouse Island Lighthouse Island
Lighthouse Island

This is where lunch is served after diving the Blue Hole

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