20 Things to know before visiting Ambergris Caye
Posted by: Las Terrazas Resort
20 Things to Know Before Visiting Ambergris Caye
We know that traveling to a new country can inspire questions concerning what to expect and how to create the best experience while navigating a new culture. For those of you who are planning their very first trip to Ambergris Caye, Belize, let us help you come prepared! Below are 20 things, in no particular order, that you should know before experiencing the island and our Belize luxury resort
for the very first time.
- First things first: Wi-Fi. Everyone wants to know what the internet situation will be when they travel internationally and how they can stay connected to friends, family, and coworkers from afar. Las Terrazas Resort makes it easy for you to stay connected to home from our island resort - free Wi-Fi is available to all guests, both in their rooms and throughout the property, thus helping your international vacation feel as close to home and loved ones as possible.
- The early bird gets the worm! The sun will grace you with its presence bright and early - around 5:30am year-round. Ease into your day with a traditional Belizean breakfast and fresh-pressed juices while relaxing by the infinity pool or opt for a beachside brunch at the one of the best Ambergris Caye restaurants the island has to offer. Or rise with the sun and get a head start on adventure; the island has many fantastic excursions to offer! Not an early riser? That's okay! Our all-inclusive* resort in Belize offers luxury rooms that are designed to ensure maximum relaxation, and your rest is something we strive to guarantee. Each residence at Las Terrazas Resort comes complete with heavy drapes to keep your room cozy and dark, giving you total permission to laze the day away if you so wish.
- If you are traveling from the US, no adaptors are needed. The standard voltage in Belize is 110/220V and the typical 3 prong outlets that are used in America are used on the island and installed on Las Terrazas Resort's property as well.
- Don't overpack! Our Belize Spa Resort provides luxury bath amenities, including shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion, allowing you to minimize your luggage. Also available for your use are hair dryers, umbrellas for those surprise pop up showers, and yoga mats. Your kitchen will come fully stocked with plates, silverware, paper towels, coffee, cream and sugar. Pharmacies and grocery stores can be found in San Pedro town, and Las Terrazas Resort also offers a grocery stocking service for shopping and delivery prior to arrival.
- Avoid getting sick on your vacation! Many wonder if they will become ill by drinking the water in foreign countries, but rest assured that your safety is a priority at Las Terrazas Resort. While you should most certainly drink bottled water while out and about on the island, Las Terrazas Resort has an on-site Reverse Osmosis plant where well water goes through a series of filters to purify it, thereby making it drinkable. Still not convinced? The water is sent for quarterly testing in order to insure its safety for our guests. Our luxury island resort is the best place to drink your heart out - both in terms of water, and by way of our fantastic O Bar right on site.
- No rental cars or GPS necessary! Navigating the island is easy, and our Front Desk will make all the arrangements necessary. There's almost zero risk of getting lost as the island is literally three streets wide, with Front Street running along the coast, Middle Street that runs from Las Terrazas Resort straight into town, and a third street on the lagoon side of the island, respectively. Las Terrazas Resort offers printed maps should you desire one, but otherwise this is a safe and easy town to blindly navigate on your own! From golf cart rentals (yes, you can really scoot your way around the island this way - see number 7) to land and water taxis, getting around is easy and affordable.
- Speaking of golf carts, we wouldn't be a true Belize beach resort if we didn't have them available for rent! This is a fun, safe, and unique alternative to public transportation and is an easy, breezy way to explore the island! Unlike many other countries, you can feel safe and at ease on our island roads- just watch out for pedestrians! There are few sidewalks in San Pedro so be mindful of those traveling on scooters, bikes, or by foot.
- When in Ambergris Caye, you will be on "island time"! Expect a laid-back approach to life, where everything moves at a nice, slow pace that allows you to truly soak up all that the island has to offer. With so many coming from busy, hurried lives, Ambergris Caye is truly a place where you can leave your worries behind and slow down for a change.
- Speaking of island time, Belize also offers a casual, beer-friendly vibe and you might be surprised to see it's not so subtle presence while out on the island. And while happy hours do abound, bars tend to be tame at night as people are more likely to hit the hay early in order to hit the waters the next morning instead. Belize is home to the Belikin Brewery and to order a "beer" here means to expect a Belikin in return! One helpful tip: If your beer comes decorated with a napkin, use it to wipe off the mouth of the beer. When the salty air hits the recycled glass, rust tends to form so a quick wipe down will do your body (and your drink) good.
- Be sure to tip in Belize! In some countries, tipping can be taboo or even offensive, but this is not the case in Belize. This generous gesture is comparable to the American practice, though perhaps with a slightly less percentage; 15% and up is a good rule of thumb.
- Check your passports before booking your trip! All visitors must have a passport to enter the country, and passports must be valid for no less than six months after the intended period of stay. Except for a few countries, most individuals don't require a tourist visa to enter Belize.
- Unbeknownst to many, Belize is not a third world country; it is more accurate to describe it as "developing" or "emerging". While more rural areas might fit the third world description a bit more accurately, this is no longer the case in Belizean cities and on the island of Ambergris Caye in particular. This English speaking, upper/middle income country depends on agriculture and tourism for its economy and is similar to Western countries in many ways. With high-speed internet, cable TV with channels in multiple languages, electricity, indoor plumping, A/C, international airport, sophisticated transportation system, advanced and easily accessible healthcare, and impressive high literacy, low infant mortality, and high life expectancy rates, Belize is more modern and advanced than many might presume. While some maintenance standards might be lower than travelers are used to in their home countries, it is certainly nothing that stands out as inconvenient or unsanitary, and these differences are hardly noticeable once you get acclimated.
- Traveling with children? We love kids! US airports as well as Belize immigration require children under 18 years of age must have proper documentation (valid passport). Immigration officials might also ask to see US birth certificates for each child. Children traveling with one parent require a notarized letter of authority from the other parent indicating travel consent. Be sure to include your dates of travel, hotel name and location, as well as the name of the child and who they are traveling with. Our Reservations Manager will provide additional information for children traveling without both parents upon booking your reservation.
- Just like on many beaches across the world, sand flies are present on Ambergris Caye. They earned their nickname "no-see-ums" because of precisely that - you don't see them or feel their bite until it's too late and you are covered in welts. Whether or not you encounter them is pure luck of the draw, but they are thought to be most active in the sand after a rainstorm and a few simple tricks should help you avoid these pesky bugs. Wearing baby oil on your legs is a great deterrent as they can't bite through it. DEET works and is also a great repellant for the mosquitos - especially between the hours of 5-7pm, as they are most vicious at dusk.
- Despite the assumption that many developing or central American countries are unsafe, the reality is that Belize is relatively safe - and this is especially true of Ambergris Caye! There are few violent crimes, though petty theft does occur on occasion. Pay attention to your belongings, don't flaunt the things you care about, and don your fanny pack or money belt if you dare. Las Terrazas Resort has in-room safes to keep your valuables secure while you are out and about on the island. What's important to you is important to us, and your valuables are safe in our care!
- While our luxury island resort is a paradise on its own, we truly believe that our guests should get out and experience authentic Belizean life on the island! Get out with the locals and experience the town in its true form. Belize is known for the warmth, hospitality, and easy camaraderie found among its citizens. You truly won't meet a stranger while on our turf.
- Unlike many other Central American and cruise port destinations, in Belize you will not be overwhelmed by vendors hoping to sell things to you. Of course, they have items to sell and may try to make an offer - it is their job after all - but the culture here is much more laid back and free of the typical assertion that you might expect. A simple "no thanks" will do the trick; vendors accept your answer and let you peacefully move on as you shop. On the other end of the spectrum, if you have a special knack for bartering and want to find the best deals, this style of shopping is acceptable among the open-air vendors in town (think flea markets), but again - the transactions are mild and fun, no aggressive bartering tactics. Want a fun souvenir that is unique to Belize? Belize is known for its jewelry and wood carvings, and the best place to shop for them on the island is along Barrier Reef Drive. The vendors are friendly and can usually provide you with a neat back story on their business and how their items were made. They are worth the conversation and the purchase!
- Speaking of island shopping, it is helpful to know that the currency exchange rate is set at $2BZD to $1USD. If you wish to exchange your currency, you can do so upon arriving in the airport, but American currency is widely accepted on the island and credit cards are accepted at most Ambergris Caye resorts and restaurants. It is worth mentioning that AmEx is not widely used on the island and that even though there are ATM's, they don't always have cash available. Remember, you are on island time over here! Should you pay in cash, you will receive Belize currency in change, but just a heads up that there is not an exchange service when you depart from the airport.
- Just because Ambergris Caye is a tropical island does not mean it's out of your price range! While it's true that some things are pricey (think food, alcohol, and other furnished goods imported from the U.S.), other things are just as cheap. Enjoy local fare, like stewed chicken, rice, and beans for just $5USD. Local beer and alcohol typically run for less than $3USD per drink. The island has a plethora of affordable options available to you, but let's not forget what draws us all to Ambergris Caye in the first place - its natural beauty which is truly priceless! Instead of spending your hard-earned money on places filled with imported goods that you have access to at home, experience the wonder that is Belize. The Belize Barrier Reef, Mayan jungles, Caribbean Sea, and ancient ruins are some of the many astounding reasons people are drawn to the island, and these natural wonders simply cannot be manufactured in or imported from anywhere else in the world! Even our luxury island resort is full of authentic, handcrafted, Belize accommodations and furnishings, assuring that the money you do spend will gain you a one of a kind, authentic experience that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world.
- While Belize is known for its incredibly beautiful beaches, it might be helpful to know that they are not always 100% pristine. In fact, sea grass and sargassum seaweed are to be expected on many beaches. The wonderful thing about sea grass it that it grows completely underwater, is a valuable part of the ecosystem, and is what the sea life here dines on, which basically creates an awesome snorkeling experience for you! Thanks to the rich sea grass below the water, many awe-inspiring sea creatures abound within steps of our beautiful white sand beaches. Sargassum, on the other hand, is known for floating on the water, and thanks to the ocean currents often ends up on the shore and becomes problematic for many beach goers. While this does not always make for the most attractive beach, Las Terrazas Resort guests can be assured that this Belize beach resort makes it their goal to maximize total beach enjoyment and are committed to daily cleanings, while at the same time minimizing damage to the beach. We guarantee that you will experience a beautiful and pristine beach while on our property!
And there you have it…. The top 20 things that first-time visitors to Ambergris Caye should expect! In case it isn't obvious, this place will quickly steal your heart and threaten to become your new home. The many expats who live on the island and the Belize condos for sale-including the ability to own your own residence right on Las Terrazas Resort's property - will both serve as a personal invitation to pack up your life and call Belize your new home. You've been warned: once you come to Ambergris Caye, you may never want to leave.
*All-inclusive in Belize is not the same as other Caribbean destinations. We offer meal plans of Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner with or without local alcohol.