Every time I mention San Pedro, Belize to one of my friends, I seem to always get the same blank and deadpanned face staring back at me, followed by the question, “where’s Belize?” To which I always respond with a really long-winded anecdote about it being a beautiful little paradise in Central America and how it is unbelizeable that they hadn’t heard of it before.
Although Belize is half the size of New York, it is home to some of the best adventures I have ever been on. Located on the island of Ambergris Caye, San Pedro is the up-and-coming town to visit and stay in whilst exploring the country. Boasting tropical climates year-round, a rich Mayan history situated in the middle of the jungle, and the largest barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere, Belize is the perfect destination for any traveler.
Where to stay in San Pedro
There are a million different resorts in and around San Pedro, however, I like to stay close to my backpacker roots whenever possible. As far as I found, there is one lone hostel on the entire island, however, that seems to be all it needs. With a rating of 8.8 over 545 reviews on Hostelworld, the Sandbar Beachfront Hostel and Restaurant exceeded my expectations as far as hostels go and at $16USD per night, the prices are hard to beat. Each bunk bed has a curtain for privacy, the air conditioning was a welcome relief from the outside heat, and the location is ideal as it is directly on the beach. On top of that, the Wi-Fi was never an issue and the staff was wonderful.
Best places to grab a bite to eat
Hurricane’s Ceviche Bar and Grill
Due to San Pedro being the top tourist destination in Belize, it is covered with a plethora of restaurants to try. You can never go wrong with the infamous ceviche from Hurricanes. Coupled with a craft cocktail and the covered outdoor seating area with panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea, Hurricane’s is not likely to disappoint. Stop for lunch or quench your thirst with one of their iconic tropical cocktails, take a seat and enjoy the sunset.
Eat like a local at Kevin and Owie’s
As I was walking by Kevin and Owie’s for the first time, the aroma drew me over and I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the entire operation. Comprised of a grill and a couple of picnic benches, Kevin and Owie’s isn’t like a typical restaurant. However, that is precisely the reason the food is so delicious.
Opening for lunch every day and closing each night once they have run out of food, Kevin and Owie’s is a Belizean local secret. They are located right on Coconut Drive, just down the road from Marina’s Store. It is $5USD for a heaping plate of mouth-watering food. Because they are a little roadside food stop, Kevin and Owie’s is a bit tricky to find but entirely worth the effort.
Adventures: things to do in San Pedro
Snorkeling and Diving
The Belize Barrier Reef spans 190 miles and is just a portion of the 560-mile Mesoamerican Barrier Reef system. Most tours of the reef will bring you to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley. Hol Chan is a spectacular display of underwater life on a coral reef. During my snorkel, I saw sea turtles as big as my torso, a moray eel that stretched five feet in length, and hundreds of different species of brightly colored tropical fish. Shark Ray Alley was a little bit more intimidating at first, but once I got myself in the water, it was an extraordinary experience. Nurse sharks and stingrays swarm this area and swim around you as if you are one of them.
There are over 30 dive sites around Ambergris Caye, with more than 80 other sites within an hour of the island. Trips out to the reef for diving and snorkeling can be easily booked through Suya Tours located right on San Pedro.
Thousands of years ago, the Mayan civilization flourished all throughout Belize. Dating back as early as 2600 BC, Belize is now a treasure trove of ancient Mayan ruins. Today, travelers have the option to visit, climb, and learn about the ruins that have withheld their structures through the test of time. It is easy enough to book visits to these historical sites through Suya Tours right on San Pedro. Their tours come with a knowledgeable guide, a boat ride on the river through the jungle, and some free time to spend how you please.
San Pedro bars and nightlife
While enjoying a relaxing walk on the beach, I stumbled across Wahoo’s Lounge. Right at the entrance, it is impossible to not question the sign out front that claims it is “home to the world-famous chicken drop”. To find out, stop by on a Thursday night and experience the truly unbeatable vibe that Wahoo’s has to offer. It is unlike any bar I have ever been to and the staff make the atmosphere unforgettable. With different parlor games, admirably hospitable staff, and relatively inexpensive drink prices, Wahoo’s Lounge is an absolute must for anyone visiting San Pedro.
Crazy Canucks is exactly what it sounds like – an absolute blast. During the day a mellow vibe falls through the bar as guests sit and enjoy the beach views and the setting sun. However as soon as that sun goes down, the music goes up and everyone turns on their crazy. Crazy Canucks is home to the hermit crab races, trivia nights, and live local bands until the night is over. The dance floor was packed all night long and the ambiance was upbeat and lively. For a complete night out in San Pedro, be sure to pass through Crazy Canucks for fun with the locals.
San Pedro has so much more to explore than any perfectly painted picture an article can offer you. The adventure is endless, and the culture is like none other. The people in Belize are some of the most caring, friendly, and kind individuals that I have come across in the world. Whether you are traveling to Belize for the Caribbean paradise in an effort to escape reality, or you are looking for an unforgettable adventure and a rich cultural history, it is a destination that should be at the top of everyone’s bucket list.