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Good-Natured Fun in Ambergris Caye, Belize

The incandescence of it all—sun bouncing off sand, sea glistening, dancing boats reflecting light, scattering it—is so irresistible, so mesmerizing.

Mainland Belize may have its fecund jungles, its Mayan ruins and its archaeological caves, but in Ambergris Caye, (arguably the country’s best island), the sun and the salt take precedence.

The tiny archipelago that branches off of Mexico’s Quintana Roo basks in the island way of life. It’s fuzzy, good-natured, splayed with vibrant shades of the Caribbean, with plastic Adirondacks half submerged in water, palm trees dancing in the wind and golf carts running the show.

Yet, for all its mellow attitude towards life, it parties like Ibiza on any given night—minus the pretension. (Well, at least, its denizens do.)

It’s so very infectious.

If you happen to be in the neighborhood—and you should make it a point to be, in the near future—here’s a quick guide to the wild and woolliness of it all:

Sleep

There are no homogenous hotels on Ambergris Caye. What makes Las Terrazas Belize extra special, however, is its attention to detail and locavorean flair.

Its iconic wooden, over-water swings and white Pueblo Revival architecture are only the beginning.

Stay for a few days—possibly in an Ocean Front Sea House or a Penthouse with its own plunge pool—then sample amenities like the de-stressing welcome massage, the full-service spa, the complimentary water sports equipment, the 70-foot infinity pool or the free-use bicycles. Feast on the restaurant’s luscious Belizean and international fare. Feel free to load up on the Belizean Fry Jacks, the fish tacos and the sushi (yes, the sushi).

And when you need a vacation from your vacation, simply secure a cabana on the resort’s quiet, breezy beach and take a glorious afternoon nap.

Things to Do

While small, the island is full of diversions. Carve out some time to drive around—in a golf cart—in San Pedro Town, which is said to have inspired Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita.”

Park and explore on foot: There are a few things worth pulling over for.

Pop into the Belize Chocolate Company for sweet, island-made treats to take home. Stop at the Palapa Bar and enjoy an ice-cold bottle of Belikin whilst floating in the water on an inner tube. Haggle and do a bit of souvenir shopping at the San Pedro Town Artisans Market.

Sunsets are most glorious on the rooftop of Rain Restaurant just outside of town. At sundown, party with both locals and tourists at Jaguar’s and Seaview. Thursday nights, however, are best spent playing a game of Chicken Drop at Wahoo’s Lounge.

Back at Las Terrazas, you can learn coconut-climbing and woodcarving, paddleboard or kayak, take a PADI Discover SCUBA Diving course or sail the Hobie cat.

Excursions

Top excursions include snorkeling or scuba diving at Hol Chan Marine Reserve, swimming with nurse sharks and rays at Shark Ray Alley, snorkeling at Mexico Rocks, diving the Great Blue Hole and sailing to the adorable island of Caye Caulker.

Longer day excursions to the mainland—to see Belize’s Mayan ruins and do some cave tubing, for example—are also available and may be arranged at the resort.

Schedule your essential excursions at Las Terrazas’ White Sands Dive Shop, which also serves as your jumping off point for many offsite activities.

Eats

For a small island, Ambergris Caye has quite a collection of restaurants that serve unforgettable fare.

Wild Mangos offers great Mexican, Central American and South American small plates and yummy smoothies. At Blue Water Grill, the lobster pizza and the fish tacos are worth a try. It’s the string light ambiance, seafood and mojitos at Aji Tapa Bar you’re after.

Getting There

From Belize City’s Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport, hop on a short Tropic Air flight to Ambergris Caye. They have some of the best yet affordable 14-passenger planes, with well-maintained interiors, plush seats and fully functioning air conditioning units.

If you’re small enough, try and grab the co-pilot seat. The view from the front is wildly beautiful.

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