Welcome to beautiful Ambergris Caye, the largest of several hundred cayes (islands) located in the northern most waters of Belize, Central America. This narrow strip of paradise surrounded by the azure Caribbean, is approximately36 miles long and was once a part of the Yucatan Peninsula. It is believed that the Mayans occupied the area over 1500 years ago and dug a narrow channel to separate Ambergris Caye from Mexico.
Ambergris Caye, pronounced "am-BER-gis", is the largest island of Belize located northeast of the country in the Caribbean Sea. Though administered as part of the Belize District, the closest point on the mainland is part of the Corozal District.The Caye (pronounced as "key", meaning an island, derived
from Spanish: cayo) is about 40 kilometres (25 mi) long from north to south, and about 1.6 kilometres (1 mi) wide. It was named after large lumps of ambergris which washed ashore here.The Belizean island, where it has not been modified by man, is mostly a ring of white sand beach around mangrove swamp in the centre.
Her coastline is protected by the 190 miles long Barrier Reef, the second largest living coral reef in the world. In Mayan times, Ambergris Caye was a trading post. The Marco Gonzalez ruins at the southern tip of the caye and the Basil Jones site to the north, as well as the many recently excavated “home sites” in the heart of San Pedro Town give evidence to a former Maya population of 10,000. The narrow channel that separates Mexico and Belize was dug by the Maya to provide a trade route from the bay of Chetumal to the Caribbean.San Pedro Town is the only inhabited area on the island. It’s atmosphere is that of a small bustling fishing village but with “hot spots” of events, restaurants, and entertainment.
The town is clustered with wooden houses, some with Mexican decor, others Caribbean, and some still remain with the English colonial architecture. Gift shops, boutiques, bars, cafes, and restaurants adorn Front And Middle streets (now named Barrier Reef Drive/Pescador Drive). A short walk in town and you’ll feel the friendliness of the people and witness the ease of their lifestyles as they go through daily life. Barefeet, tee-shirts, and shorts is the typical island dress code.
The people of the island are called “Sanpedranos” and speak English, Spanish, Creole, and Maya all at the same time, making it their own island dialect. They are proud of their heritage and are willing to share it with tourists. Before tourism picked up in the eighties, the islanders were mostly Mestizos (Maya-Spanish). Today they share their island with the Creole, Maya, Central American refugees, Americans and Europeans that have made San Pedro their new home.
With a present day population of approximately 7,000 in the town of San Pedro plus the island's enchanting combination of mangrove forests, tropical savannahs, lagoons, and sparkling white beaches, it is no wonder that this island has become Belize's most popular tourist destination.