San Pedro gave me my first impressions of Belize, ahead of spending almost 2 months in the country. I didn’t intend it to be the first place I visited, but things conspired that we ended up on a hugely overpriced boat from Chetumal, and spent our first 2 Belizean nights in the city of San Pedro.
KEY INFORMATION ABOUT SAN PEDRO
- It is first and foremost a holiday destination for Americans and Canadians and is therefore covered in resorts. It’s not super backpacker friendly and prices are higher than average for Belize.
- The main hostel to stay in is Sand Bar, and it’s a really lovely hostel. It’s right on the water, close to everything, has a good vibe, and offers tours.
I had few expectations of San Pedro, and Ambergris Caye in general, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I only spent 2 days there, which is enough, but I did enjoy them. The main reason I came here was to snorkel in Shark Ray Alley. This is a small part of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and is frequented by nurse sharks, rays and lots of colourful fish. I booked my tour through our hostel (mostly because we couldn’t be bothered to look elsewhere and find a better price), and it was a half-day, 100BZD (£40) tour. It’s expensive, but it was actually worth it. I didn’t have much snorkeling experience, so had little to compare it to, but others on the boat said it was the best they’d ever done and had seen much more than they’d expected. So money well spent.
Here I would add that you can actually do this tour, and more from either San Pedro or Caye Caulker. I didn’t know that before coming, and snorkeling shark ray alley was the one and only reason I decided to stop in San Pedro. I’m glad I did stop there to see the place, but it should be noted that you can do a similar tour in Caye Caulker, combined with seeing Manatees and other things for about 180BZD (£72).
Bottom line: snorkeling in Shark Ray Alley and the Hol Chan reserve was amazing!
San Pedro itself is essentially just an island city. People go about there business, there are lots of tourists, and it has the typically Belizean/Carribean feel. The culture here is enjoyable and people are generally nice, but are a bit more boistrous than sleepy Caye Caulker. There are lots of cool, quirky restaurants and bars (aimed at American tourists) which were enjoyable, and there are a few beaches you can drive/cycle to, though I didn’t. Whilst I wasn’t in the water, I was generally chilling at the hostel in the bar or on the private deck. I had a nice time none the less and was glad I visited San Pedro, but was also pretty ready to move on after 2 nights.
After this introduction to the small country of Belize, I was feeling excited about the destinations that were to follow. Excited about the people, the culture, the food and the beautiful scenery.
I have now been in the country for 3 weeks and am loving it. I have experienced so much already and am looking forward to the next few weeks ahead. (I also now have time to catch up with these posts!)
Next stop: Sarteneja