La Isla Bonita
Travelling all the way here to beautiful San Pedro Island in the pristine of the Caribbean was quite an unique experience to say. Just merely a day and a half stop over in the country of Belize and for 2 equally important reasons. The first was the route. Back in Merida, Mexico, we started to travel overland and while some routes could have been done by plane, this would have set the costs really high. Also, between Cancun and Flores in Guatemala there is no airline connection, leaving the only possible option the bus. We were travelling from Mexico to Guatemala via Belize.
The second reason, getting on a flight over the UNESCO World Heritage Site listed second largest barrier reef in the world to Caye Ambergris and the famous San Pedro Town. The hundreds of paradise coral islands is what we have in mind when talking about Belize and we wanted to experience it first hand. And as an extra, a curious fact this time, who have never heard of Madonna’s song La Isla Bonita? Last night I dreamt of San Pedro… Well, this is said to be the island she might refer to.
Infrastructures are still old and poor and thankfully there are no big hotel properties. This is perhaps one of the reasons the place has retained its charm and laid back attitude. Unfortunately, I guess this is due to change with so many North Americans buying properties on mass and owning business as we experienced first hand, and the ever increasing number of tourists of course. Still, you can enjoy the quietness and tranquility here than if going instead to the over-touristy and also over rated, Caye Caulker.
The city is small but long, with colourful wooden buildings by the beach side, however other than this there is nothing else. This is not a place you come in search of sightseeing, it is a place you come for resting and doing other activities as one of the best snorkelling and scuba diving places in the world, the Blue Hole which is off the coast on the coral reef.
For more information about San Pedro visit Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. Belize’s currency is the Belize Dollar (BZD). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
What to see and do in San Pedro Island
- Snorkelling/scuba diving There are many companies offering this, and all located by the beach side on wooden huts on piers. Generally they do a tour in the mornings and another in the afternoon. Either full day or half day. You can of course, get a private tour at any time you wish but this will set you on a much higher cost than on a collective tour. Our booking was with Amigos del Mar Dive Shop. Check their website for the description of the available tours. We opted for snorkelling on one of the half day tours to Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley where you get the chance to swim along turtles, ray fish and nursery sharks. The total cost of this tour was 40$ USD (plus an extra 10$ USD you need to pay to enter the national park).
- Beaches Well, the whole of the island offers beaches on both sides but don’t expect them to be long, they are small strips in between the little piers and huts.
You have two options on how to get here. By water taxi, with boats every hour more or less, or by plane. Without doubt, the most spectacular way to get there is by plane. Tropic Air offers flights every hour more or less from the Municipal Airport Strip in Belize City. The duration of the flight is roughly 20 minutes and it is likely that you will be making a middle stop at Caye Caulker if anyone is booked there making it even more fun. The planes used are very small, Cessna Caravans fitting a maximum of 10 people and the views you will get are priceless. You will be flying over the turquoise waters and the barrier reef coral islands. You should definitely consider this option even if the cost is higher than the water taxi. In occasions like this is when you should really not think of the cost, which in any case was only around 45$ USD.
Water taxis can either be booked online or on the day at the ticket booth. They do a middle stop over in Caye Caulker and take approximately 1.5 hour to Belize City. You can take other water taxi services between the islands, without the need for returning to Belize City and change boat there.
For the best experience, get yourself a one way ticket by plane, and the return by water taxi. This way you will get to enjoy both.
We cannot recommend any place here as our hotel was based at Belize City. But from the look of it was full with guest houses therefore you should not have any problem in finding a good deal if you wish to stay here. Prices won’t be any lower than what you can find in Belize City and during high season expect to pay quite high rates which honestly with set you on a not good value for money. A good point to start your search is by checking some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engines such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo, LateRooms or Ebookers.