Ambergris Caye, Belize

Get Your Free Belize Report Today!

Learn more about BELIZE and other countries in our free, daily Overseas Opportunity Letter. Simply enter your email address below and we’ll send you our FREE REPORT - Discover Belize: Reef, Ruins, Rivers, And Rain Forest... Plus Easy Residency And Tax-Free Living

Reviewed by Lief Simon

Lief Simon is the managing editor of Global Property Advisor, Simon Letter, and Offshore Living Letter. He has purchased more than 45 properties, investing in 23 different countries around the world.

Temptation Island

Ambergris Caye, Belize restful relaxing afternoon
iStock/Dennis Swanson - Studio 101 West Photography

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.

This 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.

Despite 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.

Although an island, Ambergris Caye was at one time a peninsula that extended off Mexico’s Xcalac Peninsula. The manufactured 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.

Ambergris Caye is located near to the Belize Barrier Reef, 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 fishers since the advent of tourism on Ambergris Caye. Most importantly, it’s the only populated island in Belize where the reef is so close it feels like you can reach out and touch it.

So, it isn’t that difficult to jump into a kayak and paddle out to the reef to relish this living aquarium. 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.

Ambergris Caye offers expats and retirees life in a tropical English-speaking Caribbean paradise, an affordable cost of living, retirement programs and incentives, and much more.

Cost Of Living In Ambergris Caye, Belize

This island is the most popular tourist retreat in Belize. In the recent past, it has been frequented by scuba divers, fishers, and water sports enthusiasts. But the tides are shifting.

Most importantly, 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.

And, 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 US$2,000 per month.

The currency in Belize is the Belize dollar.

Ambergris Caye is the most popular and well-known part of Belize. Although part of Belize, this is a colorful Caribbean island in look and feel. So, it is not surprising that the cost of living on Ambergris Caye is not cheap––by Belizean standards, but those who live here are happy to pay a bit more than what we would pay to live on the mainland… It is, after all, an island paradise surrounded by the stunning Caribbean Sea.

Every day residents relish the sight of the waves breaking offshore on the world’s second largest barrier reef. Plus, there is a wonderful, active community on the island.

A major cost here is that associated with either buying or renting a home or condominium. So that is the first thing to evaluate.

Property values on the island are pricey due to the value of land near the Caribbean Sea and barrier reef. But when compared to other Caribbean islands, the costs of properties on this island are quite reasonable.

The great deals get snapped up quickly. Word of mouth is the best way to find an exceptional deal.

Your cost of living on this island and the cost of living in Belize in general, will depend on the lifestyle you choose, and how well you adapt.

There is a real cost associated with shipping goods from the mainland to the island. The cost of living on Ambergris Caye, in general, is higher due to tourism and the fact that there are more tourists and expats here than in other parts of the country. But there are ways to cut the cost of daily living if you pay attention and are a careful shopper.

You’ll find that some items are much less expensive than in North America. For instance, you can design your own furniture and have it made from lovely Belizean hardwoods, such as mahogany, cabbage wood or poisonwood.

It will cost about the same as a factory bought furniture in the USA or Canada, but you will have a handmade product built to your specifications.

You can also get by with a bike if you live near San Pedro Town. If you live further out, a golf cart will suffice. Even though golf carts aren’t cheap, the cost of fuel and insurance are negligible compared to what you’ll spend on the mainland or in North America. (Expats cannot bring a car onto the island unless they have a business that needs it.)

Choosing carefully where you spend money will allow you to spend quite a bit at nice restaurants, bar hopping, travel, and imported foods. There are certain foods here that are very reasonably priced.

Many islanders have made beans a staple. They are cheap and wholesome. Fresh fish can be bought at the dock for about US$3.50 per pound.

Expats regularly eat street food, which is good. You can even find tasty chicken taco from a street vendor for as little as US$2.

Liquors and wine prices vary significantly. A bottle of local beer or rum is very reasonable.

But, if you are craving a good gin and tonic, you could spend about US$45 for a decent bottle of Tanqueray gin… Same deal for Jose Cuervo tequila.

Many expats wait for boat trips to Chetumal, where you can buy the same bottle of Tequila for less than US$20. You can also wait and buy gin when returning through Belize’s duty-free store at the International Airport. A bottle of Beefeaters or Tanqueray gin sells for about US$20 there.

On the island, it isn’t uncommon to eat out several times a week and visit Wine de Vine to socialize on Friday nights. Splurge on nice wines, typically running between US$20 to US$25 per bottle.

Here’s an idea of what your monthly budget on Ambergris Caye could look like…

Get ​Your Free ​Belize Report Today!

Simply enter your email address below and we'll send you our ​FREE REPORT – ​​Discover Belize: Reef, Ruins, Rivers, And Rain Forest… Plus Easy Residency And Tax-Free Living

Monthly Budget For A Couple

RentUS$795Unfurnished, two-bedroom apartment.
GasUS$10For cooking.
TransportationUS$74.45For taxis and motos (motorcycles) around town.
InternetUS$80Bundled with cable.
Cable TVN/ABundled with internet.
GroceriesUS$300Basic items for couple.
EntertainmentUS$446Social outings.

Click here for currency conversion at today’s exchange rate.

Infrastructure In Ambergris Caye, Belize

Ambergris Caye is coming of age. The three original town roads are paved, and several 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.

Ambergris Caye has basic utility services such as electricity, water, and telecommunications. Most areas on the island have access to reliable power supply. However, occasional power outages do occur, particularly when there are sever weather conditions (strong winds, heavy rain, and thunder).

Internet is also widely available on Ambergris Caye, too. The quality and speed of the internet varies depending on your location and who the service provider is.

Get ​Your Free ​Belize Report Today!

Simply enter your email address below and we'll send you our ​FREE REPORT – ​​Discover Belize: Reef, Ruins, Rivers, And Rain Forest… Plus Easy Residency And Tax-Free Living

Health Care In Ambergris Caye, Belize

Belize isn’t known for its health care system. Ambergris Caye offers basic medical services and it’s not as extensive or advanced as in other countries.

Belize City, the largest city in Belize, is about two hours by boat from Ambergris Caye and it’s the option you should consider if you require more specialized care.

However, this still isn’t the place to go if you require a more specialized medical treatments or procedures.

Most people who’ve retired or relocated to Belize likely choose to head over to Mexico or head back home to the United States.

Medical care on Ambergris Caye, Belize, is very affordable.

A visit to the doctor will run from US$20 to US$30 per visit, depending on which doctor you visit.

Most prescriptions are sold over the counter and are reasonably priced. (Some people head to Belize City every six months and stock up on meds at Brodies. It is less expensive there than on the island.)

It’s possible to get a full battery of medical tests for between US$200 to US$300 at Belize Medical Associates, in Belize City. That is where expats have their yearly annual blood, and other work, done.

Most expats also have BUPA insurance and say they generally stay well below their deductible. As a result, dental care is also very reasonable, and the quality is good. You’ll find good dentists on the island.

Get ​Your Free ​Belize Report Today!

Simply enter your email address below and we'll send you our ​FREE REPORT – ​​Discover Belize: Reef, Ruins, Rivers, And Rain Forest… Plus Easy Residency And Tax-Free Living

Climate In Ambergris Caye, Belize

The weather on Ambergris Caye is similar to that of Corozal and the coast of Northern Belize. As a result, the temperatures range from a high of 85°F to 94°F during the summer months and from 70°F to 85°F 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. In short, 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.

In short, 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.

Most of these hurricanes don’t come anywhere near Belize.

Get ​Your Free ​Belize Report Today!

Simply enter your email address below and we'll send you our ​FREE REPORT – ​​Discover Belize: Reef, Ruins, Rivers, And Rain Forest… Plus Easy Residency And Tax-Free Living

Belize’s Visa And Residency Information

Most importantly, Belize allows U.S. citizens to enter the country without a visa and remain there as a tourist for a maximum of 30 days per trip.

Belize’s Qualified Retired Persons (QRP) residency program isn’t, strictly speaking, for retirees only.

The only requirements to qualify are that you or your spouse be 45 years of age or older, that you consider yourself to be retired, and that you show that you have a minimum monthly income of at least US$2,000 per month to support yourself in Belize.

So, make sure to stay up to date on any changes made to visa and residency requirement by getting in touch with the Belize Embassy or Consulate in your hometown before booking your ticket and leaving for your new destination.

Ambergris Caye FAQs

Can You Swim In The Ocean At Ambergris Caye?

Yes. The ocean in Ambergris Caye is swimmable. In fact, this is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Belize because of its ocean and the barrier reef. Anyone who enjoys snorkeling and diving find Ambergris Caye, Belize, to be as close to paradise as it gets.

Is It Safe To Drink Tap Water On Ambergris Caye?

Most hotels and restaurants will have purifying systems for their taps. However, most people will prefer to buy bottled water. The taste is better and it’s undeniably safer.

Are There Mosquitos On Ambergris Caye?

Ambergris Caye is a tropical island. Like any other tropical island or country, Ambergris Caye does have mosquitos. Make sure to wear bug spray (mosquito repellent) when out and about.

Is Ambergris Caye, Belize, Walkable?

Yes. Most people who live on Ambergris Caye get around by simply walking. People also use bicycles and golf carts to get around.

Get Your Free Belize Report Today!

Learn more about BELIZE and other countries in our free, daily Overseas Opportunity Letter. Simply enter your email address below and we’ll send you our FREE REPORT - Discover Belize: Reef, Ruins, Rivers, And Rain Forest... Plus Easy Residency And Tax-Free Living

Download your FREE report on

The Best Places To Retire In 2023


Find Your Paradise Overseas