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Caye Caulker vs Ambergris Caye – Which is a Better Vacation?

Caye Caulker vs Ambergris Caye – Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye are often compared because they are two of the most popular islands in Belize, located in close proximity to each other. They offer similar activities such as snorkeling, diving, fishing, and water sports, but they have distinct differences in terms of atmosphere, amenities, and pricing.

Ambergris Caye is better for divers with its deep waters while Caye Caulker is better for snorkeling and swimming.

Related Travel Guides on Belize – Caye Caulker vs Ambergris Caye

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Comparing Caye Caulker vs Ambergris Caye

Caye Caulker is smaller and more laid-back, with a slower pace of life and a more rustic, backpacker-friendly vibe. The island is known for its easygoing lifestyle, friendly locals, and affordable accommodations, making it a popular choice for budget travelers and backpackers.

Ambergris Caye, on the other hand, is larger and more developed, with a wider variety of accommodations, restaurants, and activities. The island offers a more upscale, resort-style experience, with luxury villas, gourmet dining, and high-end spas. Ambergris Caye is also known for its vibrant nightlife scene, with a range of bars, clubs, and live music venues.

While both islands offer access to the Belize Barrier Reef, one of the most biodiverse marine ecosystems in the world, there are differences in terms of the quality of the reef and the types of activities available. Ambergris Caye has more options for divers, with access to deeper waters and more challenging dive sites, while Caye Caulker is better suited for snorkeling and swimming in shallow waters.

Overall, the choice between Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye depends on personal preferences, budget, and travel style. Visitors looking for a more laid-back, budget-friendly experience may prefer Caye Caulker, while those seeking a more upscale, resort-style vacation may prefer Ambergris Caye.

Location and Access – Caye Caulker vs Ambergris Caye

Ambergris Caye is the largest and most developed island in Belize, located just off the coast of the mainland in the Caribbean Sea. It is about 25 miles long and 5 miles wide, with San Pedro Town as its main population center. The island can be accessed by either a 20-minute flight or a 1.5-hour water taxi ride from Belize City.

Caye Caulker, on the other hand, is a smaller and less developed island located about 20 miles south of Ambergris Caye. It is about 5 miles long and less than 1 mile wide, with a population of around 2,000 people. The island can be accessed by either a 45-minute water taxi ride or a 30-minute flight from Belize City.

Pros and Cons – Caye Caulker vs Ambergris Caye

Both Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker offer unique experiences for visitors, but there are some notable differences between the two:

Ambergris Caye Pros – Caye Caulker vs Ambergris Caye

  • Larger island with more amenities and resorts
  • More restaurants and bars, with a wider variety of cuisines
  • More developed tourist infrastructure, with more tour operators and activity options
  • Great for divers and snorkelers, with access to some of the best diving sites in Belize
  • Better nightlife scene, with more bars, clubs, and live music venues
  • More upscale accommodations, including luxury resorts and villas

Ambergris Caye Cons:

  • More expensive than Caye Caulker, with higher prices for accommodations, food, and activities
  • More crowded and touristy, with more development and less of a local feel
  • Some areas can be noisy and congested, especially in the main town of San Pedro
  • Can be affected by seaweed and algae blooms, especially during the rainy season

Caye Caulker Pros – Caye Caulker vs Ambergris Caye

  • More affordable than Ambergris Caye, with lower prices for accommodations, food, and activities
  • More laid-back and relaxed, with a slower pace of life and a more authentic Belizean experience
  • Offers a more intimate and friendly atmosphere, with a small-town vibe
  • Excellent for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking, with clear turquoise waters and easy access to the Belize Barrier Reef
  • Less crowded than Ambergris Caye, with fewer tourists and a quieter ambiance
  • Fewer upscale accommodations and restaurants, but plenty of affordable options for budget travelers

Caye Caulker Cons:

  • Less developed than Ambergris Caye, with fewer amenities and fewer tour operators
  • Limited shopping options, with fewer souvenir shops and boutiques
  • Fewer restaurants and bars, with less variety in cuisine and nightlife options

Ambergris Caye Things To Do

Snorkel and Dive

Caye Caulker vs Ambergris Caye - Which is a Better Vacation?
Sharks in Hol Chan Marine Reserve – Caye Caulker vs Ambergris Caye

Ambergris Caye is home to some of the best snorkeling and diving sites in Belize, including the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, the Belize Barrier Reef, and the Blue Hole. These sites offer a chance to explore the diverse marine life and coral formations of the Caribbean Sea.

Explore San Pedro

Caye Caulker vs Ambergris Caye - Which is a Better Vacation?
This is San Pedro in Ambergris Caye, Belize.

San Pedro is the main town on Ambergris Caye, and it offers a wide range of dining, shopping, and nightlife options. Visitors can stroll along the beachfront, visit local galleries and shops, and sample traditional Belizean cuisine at local restaurants.

Visit Secret Beach

Secret Beach is a secluded beach on the northern end of Ambergris Caye, accessible by boat or golf cart. The beach offers a quiet escape from the crowds of San Pedro, with crystal-clear waters and white sand.

Take a Boat Tour

There are many boat tour operators on Ambergris Caye, offering a variety of tours and excursions. Visitors can explore nearby islands and cayes, go fishing or snorkeling, or even take a sunset cruise.

Enjoy the Nightlife

Ambergris Caye has a vibrant nightlife scene, with many bars, clubs, and live music venues. Visitors can enjoy a cocktail or beer while listening to live music or dancing the night away at one of the island’s many nightclubs.

Caye Caulker Things to Do

Snorkel and Swim

Caye Caulker is surrounded by clear turquoise waters, making it a perfect destination for swimming and snorkeling. The island offers access to the Belize Barrier Reef, as well as several snorkeling sites, including Shark Ray Alley and the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve.

Explore The Split

The Split is a narrow waterway that divides the island in two, offering a picturesque location for swimming, sunbathing, and socializing. There are several bars and restaurants located along The Split, making it a popular spot for drinks and food.

Visit North Side Beach Club (Previously Koko King)

The North Side Beach Club (previously known as Koko King) is a beach club located on a nearby caye, accessible by water taxi or private boat. The club offers hammocks, sun loungers, water sports, and a swimming pool, making it a perfect place to relax and unwind.

UPDATE: There is some news that the North Side Beach Club may now be closed, so please make sure to check this before booking anything.

Take a Yoga Class

Caye Caulker is known for its laid-back, yoga-friendly atmosphere, with several yoga studios and classes available for visitors. Taking a yoga class is a great way to relax and rejuvenate on the island.

Visit the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve

The Caye Caulker Marine Reserve is a protected area surrounding the island, offering a chance to see a variety of marine life, including sea turtles, rays, and colorful fish. Visitors can take a guided snorkeling or diving tour to explore the reserve.

Overall, both Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker offer a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors to Belize. From exploring the marine life to enjoying the local cuisine and nightlife, there’s something for everyone to enjoy on these beautiful islands.

Top Hotels in Ambergris Caye

Victoria House Resort & Spa

This luxury resort is located on a private beach on the southern end of Ambergris Caye, offering elegant accommodations, a full-service spa, and a range of water sports and activities.

Grand Caribe Belize

This resort offers spacious, modern condos and villas with panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea, as well as a large swimming pool, onsite restaurant, and fitness center.

Mahogany Bay Resort & Beach Club

This resort features stylish, Belizean-inspired accommodations, a private beach club, multiple swimming pools, and a range of dining and entertainment options.

Coco Beach Resort

This family-friendly resort features a range of accommodations, from rooms to villas, as well as multiple swimming pools, a kids’ club, and a range of water sports and activities.

Top Hotels in Caye Caulker

Island Magic Beach Resort

This small, boutique resort offers beachfront accommodations, a private pier, and a range of water sports and activities, as well as easy access to the island’s restaurants and shops.

Colinda Cabanas

This family-run resort offers cozy, colorful cabins and cabanas with sea views, as well as a private beach, an onsite restaurant, and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.

Iguana Reef Inn

This charming inn offers spacious, Caribbean-style accommodations, as well as a waterfront restaurant, a swimming pool, and a range of water sports and activities.

Jan’s Hotel

This budget-friendly hotel offers simple, clean accommodations in the heart of Caye Caulker, as well as easy access to the island’s restaurants, shops, and activities.

Caye Caulker Plaza Hotel

This centrally located hotel offers comfortable, affordable accommodations, as well as a rooftop pool and bar, a restaurant, and a range of tour and activity options.

Overall, there are many great options for accommodations in both Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, ranging from luxury resorts to budget-friendly hotels and guesthouses. Visitors should consider their budget, preferences, and travel style when choosing the best hotel for their stay in Belize.

Costs of Traveling

Belize is generally affordable compared to other Caribbean destinations, but there are some differences in the cost of living between Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker:

Ambergris Caye

Accommodation: $100-500+ per night, with luxury villas and resorts at the higher end of the price range
Food and drinks: $15-50 per day, with many restaurants and bars offering international cuisine and imported wines and spirits
Activities: $50-200 per day, depending on the type of activity and the level of service
Transportation: $25-100 per trip, depending on the mode of transportation and the distance traveled

Caye Caulker

Accommodation: $50-200+ per night, with budget guesthouses and mid-range hotels available
Food and drinks: $10-30 per day, with many local restaurants and bars offering traditional Belizean cuisine and tropical cocktails
Activities: $25-100 per day, with many water-based activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding
Transportation: $10-50 per trip, depending on the mode of transportation and the distance traveled

Safety and Other Important Travel Details – Caye Caulker vs Ambergris Caye

Belize is generally safe for tourists, but visitors should take the usual precautions to avoid theft and stay safe:

  1. Don’t leave your valuables unattended on the beach or in public areas.
  2. Use a hotel safe to store your passports and other important documents.
  3. Use common sense when exploring the island, especially at night.
  4. Don’t drink too much alcohol and avoid walking alone at night.
  5. Wear sunscreen and insect repellent to avoid sunburn and mosquito bites.

It’s also important to note that Belize is a developing country, and visitors should be aware of the following:

  • Belize’s official language is English, but Spanish is also widely spoken.
  • The currency is the Belizean dollar, but U.S. dollars are widely accepted.
  • Electricity is 110 volts, the same as in the United States.
  • Tap water is not safe to drink, so visitors should stick to bottled water or water that has been treated and filtered.

Cash and Currency in Belize – Caye Caulker vs Ambergris Caye

The official currency of Belize is the Belize dollar (BZD), which is divided into 100 cents. The Belize dollar is fixed to the US dollar at a rate of 2:1, meaning that 1 US dollar is equal to 2 Belize dollars.
US dollars are widely accepted in Belize, especially in tourist areas, but it’s a good idea to have some Belize dollars on hand for smaller purchases and to avoid confusion over exchange rates. Most major credit cards are also accepted in Belize, including Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. However, it’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand in case credit cards are not accepted or if you encounter any issues with card payments.

Check the updated currency exchange for Belize Dollar here.

ATMs are widely available in major cities and tourist areas, and many accept international bank cards. However, it’s important to note that ATM fees can be high in Belize, especially for international withdrawals. It’s also a good idea to inform your bank of your travel plans before departing for Belize to avoid any issues with card transactions.

Travelers’ checks are not widely accepted in Belize, and it’s generally easier and more convenient to carry cash or use credit cards for purchases. However, if you do need to use travelers’ checks, they can be exchanged at most banks and some hotels, although fees and exchange rates may vary.

Best Time to Visit – Caye Caulker vs Ambergris Caye

The best time to visit Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker is during the dry season, which runs from late November to April. During this time, the weather is generally sunny and dry, making it ideal for outdoor activities. The wet season, from May to October, can be hot and humid, with occasional rain showers and thunderstorms. Visitors should also be aware of hurricane season, which runs from June to November and can cause disruptions to travel plans.