Off the northern coast of Belize sits the island of Ambergris Caye. A quick boat ride leads you to Las Terrazas Resort & Residences, located 3.5 miles north of San Pedro on the southern part of the island.
Here, you can choose your own adventure—one of the most alluring characteristics of this island. Once you’re settled within one of Las Terrrazas’ condo-style spaces, there’s no reason to leave the 4.8-acre property—if that’s your desire. The boutique, beachfront resort has a luxurious feel, with high-speed Internet, stainless steel appliances, and breathtaking balcony and patio views.
Savor the seclusion of the resort with an afternoon by the 70-foot infinity pool situated in the middle of the grounds. Order a refreshing cocktail from the well-stocked poolside bar. Schedule a massage at Serenity Spa and Wellness Center. If you’ve had too much sun, consider the Belizean Sun Soother treatment. With fresh ingredients such as aloe and natural yogurt, it’ll help soothe your overexposed, dry skin.
End your first night at the resort with dinner at O Restaurant’s rooftop sky lounge. The vantage point from the top of the restaurant gives a stunning view of the sun setting across the Caribbean Sea. There’s also an opportunity for private, custom-catered beachside dining. O Restaurant’s dinner menu offers a melding of American and Belizean cuisines, with seafood a prominent fixture. The signature seafood risotto, a menu highlight, features saffron infused with white wine, fresh shrimp, snapper, and parmesan. End the evening with a glass of white wine and a walk along the beach.
After a day of relaxing on the resort’s beach, head into the emerald water. White Sands Dive Shop, next door to the resort, specializes in diving and snorkeling excursions, and Ambergris Caye is the perfect place to do it. Half a mile off the inward side of the island, you’ll find the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere and the second longest in the world.
This sanctuary gives way to a myriad of colorful fish in a huge underwater coral garden, making it one of the world’s top destinations for snorkeling. The experts with White Sands will guide you along Hol Chan (Mayan for “little channel”) and Shark Ray Alley, where you can share the water with nurse sharks (they’re harmless), southern stingrays, and—sometimes—turtles.
Get out of the water and into the jungle for an afternoon of zip lining and exploring Mayan caves. Getting to this tour is memorable, as you leave the island and explore Belize City before arriving at Jaguar Paw Adventure Outpost in western Belize. (I was lucky enough to have a talkative, native Belizean driver. As we drove throughout the city, Jimmy shared anecdotes about the area, its people, and history. He also accommodated Spanish-speaking guests, alternating between English and Spanish.)
On the banks of the Cave’s Branch River, the outpost sits on 200 acres of Belizean rainforest. After a safety briefing and short hike through the winding jungle, fly 700 feet across the jungle. Make sure to look down at the canopy below. In the second half of this experience, you’ll float through crystal caves. An underground waterfall is the highlight of this excursion.
After experiencing the resort and exploring Belizean jungles, spend some time in the colorful, friendly town of San Pedro. You won’t find many cars on the island, a charming attribute. But Las Terrazas has several golf carts guests can rent to explore the area. Many of the town’s stores are managed by locals, who are eager to share information about the area. Don’t take home a basic t-shirt or magnet. There’s a large and accessible selection of Belizean-made and -inspired art and jewelry. Bring an extra bag for your finds; you will probably need it.
Ambergris Caye is ideal for a quick getaway, but there’s so much to experience and explore. Whether it’s the alluring, clear waters or the warmth of the people, you’ll find yourself back again.