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Ambergris Caye, nicknamed ‘the Pretty Island’, is the biggest island in Belize of Central America. The nation’s most celebrated tourist destination, Ambergris Caye offers sublime Caribbean beaches and world-class diving in the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere.
Slender in shape, but not in the selection of water sports available, Ambergris Caye’s 25 by 5 miles of paradise attracts jet-skiers, snorkelers, divers and keen swimmers from all around the world. The northern reaches are largely uninhabited, but it’s here where you’ll find the best beaches and untouched tracks of land, which can be explored by bike, while the island’s main town, San Pedro, sits on the southern coast.
Southernmost Ambergris Caye also sees its most famous dive site, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, encompassing 18 square kilometres of submerged marvels. Mayan for ‘little channel’, it centres on a 23 metre wide cut through the reef inhabited by over 160 species of fish, 40 types of coral and fascinating types of sea grass. The reserve also contains a 124 metre deep Great Blue Hole: the ideal excursion for the more foolhardy divers.
San Pedro represents the caye’s only metropolitan area, decorated with colourful Caribbean-type houses, souvenir shops and cobblestone streets. Fresh seafood is served in beachfront restaurants, too, which is some of the finest in the country. A gateway for sailing expeditions and reef exploration, the town has recently become more commercially developed, while still retaining the relaxed atmosphere that makes Ambergris Caye so appealing.
Ferries to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye arrive from the capital, Belize City, which sits just 60 kilometres away, in as little as 90 minutes with weekly departures available. Equally scenic ferry crossings are provided from Caye Caulker, situated just south of San Pedro, which is a convenient route if you’re planning on hopping between the stunning islands of Belize.