It's Culture / Travel There

A Houstonian’s Guide: A Long Weekend in San Pedro, Belize

San Pedro BelizeThe first time I heard about Belize was on an episode of House Hunters or something like that on HGTV, which is just constantly on in the background at my apartment. A couple was trying to buy THEIR OWN ISLAND for like half a million dollars, which I found incredible that you, like, don’t have to be Johnny Depp to own your own island and that you could be Sherry and Robert Moore, proud Minnesota residents most of the year, but during the winter they wanna chill on their own island with their kids and shit. SAME, Sherry and Robert. SAME.

Anyways, so I googled and quickly added Belize to my short list of places I wanna go to ASAP. Then: My friend got engaged and while Aruba was briefly discussed, I suggested Belize and laid out my argument. It’s cheap to visit, cheap and easy to get to and GORGEOUS. Luckily, our bride was chill af and just wanted beach and pool time so boom Belize it was.

If there’s one thing I want everyone reading this to know is that Belize is an incredible country that is so easy and cheap to get to from Houston (our direct Southwest round-trip flights were $300ish, and tbh where can you fly internationally for that??? My Napa trip was more expensive.) It’s also the most gorgeous place for a girls trip, like we did, or a romantic long weekend, honeymoon, heck, even a wedding! We shared our plane with a whole group going to the wedding!

Belize

Special thanks to Emily Sanchez of Emily5Photography! A lot of these fab photos are hers.
Follow her on Instagram and like her Facebook page if you need a travel photographer or portrait!

We stayed in San Pedro on the Ambergris Caye, and pretty much kicked it there. We had a quick visit to Caye Caulker (pronounced “key”) and boated around a bit, but there are entire other islands pluz Belize inland to explore, which I def plan on doing at a later date.

Here’s how we had the most epic 5-day Bachelorette weekend in my new fave country: Belize!

Stay at The Phoenix Resort

I could say with full confidence that our resort made our vacation as spectacular as it was. First of all, The Phoenix Resort is basically the nicest place to stay in Ambergris Caye. Please tell me somewhere nicer; I will find a way to prove The Phoenix is better. The suites were huge, with large comfy beds (and even a jet hot tub in unit) and complete with a living room, kitchen, and spacious outdoor — the view from that balcony is breathtaking, overlooking the two saline pools and the coast.

I think, if I had to pick, that’s my favorite part of The Phoenix. That breathtaking view fit for a post card reading, “Wish you were here! And I wish I don’t ever have to leave!”

Being a Phoenix guest gets you some major perks. Here were some of the things we loved about staying at The Phoenix… (scroll over to read about each image!)

  • The Sol Spa. “Ooo” and “aaahhh” at the Sol Spa, both before and after your treatments. It’s so cute and you can get 60- or 90-minute massages, facials, mani/pedis and more! The free perks are great too: Yoga on Tuesdays and Thursdays and a full gym for you to use!
  • The pools. The first thing we did when arriving at The Phoenix (well, after eating and drinking, of course) was head to the 24-hour pools. One is heated, so, seeing as it was about 70 degrees, we went to that one. We still froze as our alcohol blankets weared off, and we had to go inside to seek warmth, but totally worth it. The next day, under a warm December sun, we laid out by the pool for hours sipping cocktails and getting tanner than our freezing friends back in Houston would even believe.
  • The rentable things. Phoenix has plenty of free things to borrow (like kayaks, snorkel gear, bikes, etc) but you can also rent golf carts through the hotel, which is the mode of transportation on the island. Tons of golf carts. Not a lot of cars. If you wanted to book, you just tell the front desk. They also assist with booking excursions and have tons of partners fot those.
  • The happy hour. Every single day from 5 to 6, the bar onsite has free beer, wine and rum drinks. And, if you happen to be a group of 8 girls celebrating a bachelorette, a round or two of free shots from the NICEST bartender ever known to man.
  • The rooms. I briefly mentioned how special the rooms were in terms of bed quality, size and beautiful patio access, but our rooms came stocked with coffee, soft robes, comfy slippers and even a starter rum kit — one small bottle of rum, coke, a lime and sparkling water. This got our partying off to a great start!
  • The people. Feels a bit corny to end on, but I fell in love with the Phoenix staff, from the previously mentioned bartenders, to the cleaning team who came in and did a FULL sweep and mop (among other things) of our HUGE rooms every day (just so impressed), and the servers at the Red Ginger restaurant on site who joked around with us on night one to the the front desk ladies (shout out to Natalie for always giving the best recommendations and knowing exactly what we were asking even though we didn’t know what we were talking about).

The Phoenix Belize

Things to Do

Swim with sharks and sting rays

After much back and forth amongst ourselves, we booked 8 spots on a Catamaran Belize tour just a few days out — do not recommend that risky business, but the lovely couple that runs the tour group made it super easy for us and even arranged it so that we were the only group on the tour that day, which was such a special surprise for us!

Basically the tour was: two snorkel stops (gear provided), a visit to Caye Caulker, rum drinks, Belizean lunch on board and a sunset cruise back to San Pedro for just over $100 per person for a 7-hour excursion. There’s some customization options, but that was basically the deal, and it was everything we wanted!

First of all, recognizing we were young and fun, we drank… a LOT! But being safety conscious, we didn’t *really* start drinking until after our snorkels, which included petting nursing sharks and stingrays and seeing tons of fish and coral and lil jellyfishies.

Caye Caulker was a real treat, and you can actually stay on that island, which might be my next trip because the island is SO chill. (Scroll down for more).

The lunch was fantastic, but we were famished between snorkels, so I recommend a big breakfast and bring some snacks. After Caye Caulker, we enjoyed the most beautiful boat ride back in the sunset, which alone was worth the cost of the tour. I mean. Stunning.

Float in a tube at a Palapa Bar

A right of passage in San Pedro is floating in a tube at Palapa Bar and getting Belikin beer buckets sent to you via pulley. Food at Palapa is pretty good, too, but skip it and soak in the sun out back — just be sure to go during the heat of the day, especially in the winter. We were shivering by the time we got out of the water as the shade encroached on us.

Oh yeah, and bring a towel. We failed to do that.

Drink from a coconut Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker is worth a visit if not for just two things: Getting a coconut filled with rum (which I bought for like 8 bucks from a man on the side of the unpaved road) and jumping off the platform at the Lazy Lizard! The former being my FAVORITE activity — we put the lime in the coconut!! — of the visit and the latter being the most daring — eek heights!!

Caye Caulker is a tiny lil island divided in two called “The Split” and on one side is the Lazy Lizard, which you can see the otherside from, and on the other side is Koko King, a cute little bar with swings, a trampoline and tasty frozen drinks — also a must visit.

Where to Eat and Drink

There is no shortage of yum places to go out to eat on San Pedro, from tiny tacos and half-priced sparkling wines to authentic Belizean bites and mojitos. Click here to read my Belizean food and drink guide.

Know before you go

  • The exchange rate. It’s basically 1 USD to 2 BZE. So, divide BZE totals in half, and that’s your USD payment.
  • Getting there. You will have to fly or boat from Belize City (where the airport is) to San Pedro (or any island). Flights are about $150 round trip and involve riding in a 14-person plane for 20ish minutes. V scary. V pretty. We didn’t boat, but it’s a long trip to San Pedro. Tickets are way cheaper — $20ish roundtrip. If you do this, I recommend bringing beers or drink stuff to make a booze cruise of sorts!
  • Beachless. Belize islands don’t have beaches, per say. Yes, there’s some sand, but it’s more of a lake feel than a beach. The time we spent in the water, we walked out on docks and waded in or were on a boat. Walking along the beach, there is sand and technically you can go right into the water, but it’s not really the custom. While our resort is a “beach front” property, there were no lounge chairs or cabanas. We just hung out by the pool.
  • Where to walk. This little sandy “beach” is actually the best place to walk around. I tried at first to use the street to walk around, but it was tough. Lots of golf carts in the street and no sidewalks. We just walked along the coast then cut into town when we got closer to where we were going.
  • Carless. Oh yeah, there aren’t really cars. Just golf carts that are pretty cheap to rent, but we didn’t even need them. Our resort had free bike rentals, but we just walked everywhere!
  • Food and alcohol prices. Rum is dirt cheap — we paid $8 for a full handle. But, other alcohol — and food for that matter — has to be imported to the tiny island, so prices are steep. I saw Titos for like $6o and Doritos for like $8 a bag. Insane. Buying groceries to cook in your hotel might not be the cheaper way to do things in Belize. Just go out to eat.

I love Belize

Pin for later wanderlusting…

9 thoughts on “A Houstonian’s Guide: A Long Weekend in San Pedro, Belize

  1. If you head either north or south of San Pedro town you will find plenty of white sandy beaches. While most areas do prefer to allow nature to take its course ( let the beach grass and seaweed grow so that the ecosystem thrives) many of the resorts clear the growth so that the tourists can walk, wade, swim in the clear blue water. As a Houstonian, a proud owner of an Ambergris Caye property and someone who values what Belizeans are happy to share with us, I highly suggest you revisit A.C. and Belize’s smaller islands to appreciate all it’s natural beauty. Oh yeah, and its miles of sandy beaches. Just please don’t play with the wildlife or touch the coral.

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  2. Thanks for sharing your long weekend on ambergris. We love the Belize. Doesn’t sound like you guys hit secret beach which is on the west side of the island. You do need a golf cart to get there. But if hanging out near the water and walking along beautiful shell type sand is your thing, you need to check out secret beach next time you go.

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  3. Pingback: Where to Eat and Drink in San Pedro, Belize | It's Not Hou It's Me | Houston Lifestyle, Food and Culture Blog

  4. Hubs and I spent our honeymoon in Ambergris Caye! We stayed at CoCo Beach resort. His parents built a penthouse right next to the resort, but it wasn’t done at the time we honeymooned so they booked us a honeymoon villa. We didn’t check out too many of the other resorts, we partied at Captain Morgan one night but that’s about it. I would say definitely check out CoCo Beach! It is SUPER amazing and the on site restaurant had amazing food. We booked excursions through the resort, they had all the amenities like Phoenix and it was just all around amazing. We literally hit up almost every single place on your list though!

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