Ambergris Caye is blessed with numerous sites of interest and enjoyment that attract people from all over the world.
Hol Chan Marine Reserve
This popular reserve is located four miles southeast of San Pedro Town on the Belize Barrier Reef and is rich in marine life and coral. Inside the reef the clear shallow water is ideal for both snorkelers and divers who will see a wide variety of fish including sharks, stingrays and moray eels. Night diving is popular to see a variety of nocturnal sea creatures that are completely different than those seen during the day.
This shallow cut in the reef south of Hol Chan is a popular dive spot for those who wish to see sharks and rays up close and personal. Snorkelers can also enjoy this spot. It is definitely a disconcerting feeling to have these creatures rub elbows with you. Once you do get used to these friendly creatures you're sure to have the time of your life. Skin Diver magazine describes it as one of the seven great animal dive sites in the Caribbean. Tours to Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley are common and easily arranged with local tour guides. Wear a bathing suit, light cover clothing, towel, sunscreen, and bring snorkeling or diving equipment.
Boca Del Rio Park
The Park has a playground for children and a picnic area. It is located at the northern most part of San Pedro Town at the channel (called Boca Del Rio or "Mouth of the River") that separates San Pedro Town from the northern end of the caye. There is a swimming area with a slide in the shallow, sandy waters of the park. Swimmers, beware of tidal currents in the deeper channel. Wear a bathing suit, cool clothing, a hat and sunscreen if you're going swimming as the sand can become very hot. It is a leisurely 20 min. walk to get there from the center of San Pedro Town or rent a golf cart or bicycle and get there in no time.
Please note that much of the park was ruined by the swell from Hurricane Mitch, even though it passed 200 miles to the south. The town has plans to rebuild the park.
Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve
One of Belize's newest reserves, the park is accessible only by sea. It is at the northern tip of Ambergris Caye overlooking the Bay of Chetumal and Mexico. The ranger station is located amidst the ruins of Chac-balam, which was an important Maya trading center. Fifteen hundred years ago these same Maya cut the narrow channel that now separates Ambergris Caye from Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.
Diving opportunities are spectacular. Tours to Bacalar Chico can be arranged through local tour guides. Dress lightly; wear a bathing suit, repellant and or sunscreen, comfortable shoe or sandals, sunglasses and a hat.
Little Iguana and Rosario Caye
These cayes are two small mangrove island reserves managed by Green Reef (an Ambergris Caye local based non-governmental organization) along with the Belize Audubon Society. These two cayes are great places to spot blue herons, roseate spoonbills, magnificent frigate birds, reddish egrets and other coastal zone birds. Tours can be arranged through local guides. Dress comfortably. Wear insect repellant, sandals, hat and of course bring along your binoculars.
There are many small Mayan sites on Ambergris Caye. Unfortunately, the sea, wind, and history have conspired to turn most of the sites into little more than vegetation covered mounds. The sites are also located in hard to reach places requiring guides, time, and not a little insect repelent. Should you be interested in visiting any of the sites (Marco Gonzalez, Chac Balam, San Juan, San Carlos), be sure to acquire the services of a guide that knows the locations.
Many guests take tours to mainland Mayan sites. Three of the most popular are Xunantunich, Altun Ha and Lamanai. The Altun Ha trip is by boat to a mainland lagoon, then by vehicle to the Mayan Site. The Lamanai visit is also by boat and vehicle. The Xunantunich trip is by plane to Belize City, then vehicle to the ruins with an intermediate stop at the Belize Zoo.
San Pedro Lagoon
Accessible by boat ride or kayak, this lagoon, the largest on the island offers visitors the opportunity to get a glimpse of a crocodile, raccoons which inhabit mangroves, and countless magnificent bird species. Take a ferry boat ride to the north of the island past the river and have lunch at one of the quaint restaurants in the area. The atmosphere of the north differs because of the littoral forests with its associated plants and animals. Iguanas and Wish Willies are common to this area. Also visit the Zaak Ba Ajo Lagoon in the San Juan Area. Great place to snorkel, go kayaking or birdwatching.
The Lalas Bird Sanctuary
This small sanctuary offers a unique "people perch" for birdwatching. Made by Wil and Susan Lala, the people perch is a large multi-leveled tower with many vantage points to view birds. The Lalas sanctuary is located just a few minutes to the south of San Pedro Town.
Tour guides regularly devise new and exciting ways to entertain visitors. Be sure to make inquiries about what new tour is being offered and how you can enjoy those tours.
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