Ambergris Caye is an English speaking Caribbean island with an intriguing past and a promising future. From Mayan trade post to pirate hideout, Mestizo fishing village to “Temptation Island,” this once sleepy tropical paradise is coming of age. Although quintessentially Caribbean in look and feel, Ambergris Caye’s political and cultural identity is Belizean to the bone. In other words, the residents of this island are warm and welcoming but also independent and politically active. Belize only gained its independence, from the British, to form a democracy in 1981. The citizens of Ambergris Caye, like other Belizeans, take this privilege seriously.
The Belize Barrier Reef is the second longest reef in the world and the most spectacular in the Western Hemisphere. This stunning natural wonder has attracted snorkelers, scuba divers and fishermen since the advent of tourism on Ambergris Caye. Ambergris Caye is the only populated island in Belize where the reef is so close it feels like you can reach out and touch it. It isn’t that difficult to jump into a kayak and paddle out to the reef to relish this living aquarium.
Cost Of Living In Ambergris Caye
This island is the most popular tourist retreat in Belize. In the recent past, it has been frequented by scuba divers, fishermen and water sports enthusiasts. But the tides are shifting.
These days you’ll find a steady stream of Baby Boomers visiting. They’re searching for the perfect place to retire to or escape to for part-time living. They are privacy-seeking individuals attracted by the island’s natural beauty, easy residency, and lively community. But they also have noted the advantages of the outstanding offshore banking, international corporation business structures, and trusts offered in Belize. A couple can live well in this city for less than 3,996 Belize dollars per month. (The Belize dollar is fixed at BZ$2 to US$1.)
Monthly Budget For A Couple Living In Ambergris Caye, Belize
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Infrastructure In Ambergris Caye
Ambergris Caye is coming of age. The three original town roads are paved, and a number of others have been carved out. A central island roadway continues nearly from end to end, meaning that, now, you don’t have to travel by boat to see the length of the island. You can go by golf cart (the preferred means of transportation these days).
As long as you rent or invest in property near town, you’ll find that the utilities and infrastructure are similar to those in any small North American city. The exceptions to this are the roads and sidewalks. The main drag in San Pedro is paved with cobblestones throughout the major town area. But most streets lack sidewalks or marked parking lots.
Climate In Ambergris Caye
The weather on Ambergris Caye is similar to that of Corozal and the north coast of Belize. The temperatures range from a high of 85 to 94 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months and from 70 to 85 during winter.
Temperatures in the evening are typically at least 10 degrees cooler. During most of the year the heat is moderated by the cooling Caribbean Sea breeze. Only in August and September does this breeze diminish. These are the warmest months of the year. In the winter the northerlies bring chilly breezes; the temperature can drop 10 degrees or more for a few days at a time.
December through March is the period when northerlies are common. Ambergris Caye receives an average of 40 to 60 inches of rain a year. This is significantly less than the southern areas of Belize. Punta Gorda can receive 160 to 190 inches of rain in a year. The dry season runs from November through May. The lowest rainfall is from February through May, making it a perfect time to visit. The wettest months, on average, are June and October.
Belize’s hurricane season is June through mid-November. But the few hurricanes that do occur are most likely to hit Belize in September and October. Atlantic basin hurricanes typically originate off the coast of Africa, near the same latitude as Belize. They track west for a while and then typically head northwest toward Florida or North Carolina. The majority of these hurricanes don’t come anywhere near Belize.
Ambergris Caye is the largest of over 200 islands scattered along the eastern Caribbean shores of Belize. It is 36 miles in length and varies in width. In the middle of San Pedro town, you can see the sea to the east and the lagoon—between mainland Belize and Ambergris Caye—to the west. Although an island, Ambergris Caye was at one time a peninsula that extended off Mexico’s Xcalac Peninsula. The man-made channel on the north side of the island separates it from mainland Mexico. It is said that the Mayans inhabiting the island hand dug this channel so that their canoes could easily move between the lagoon and the Caribbean Sea. From almost any point on the easterly beach you can watch the waves break on the stunning barrier reef, less than a mile from shore.