The Cayes and Atolls Travel Guide
Boat, Ferry, and Water-Taxi Travel
There are no scheduled water-taxi services up and down the coast of Belize, so for example you can’t hop a boat in Belize City and go down the coast to Hopkins or Placencia or to one of the southern cayes. Likewise, except from Belize City, and between busy Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, there is no scheduled boat service to or between Belize’s cayes. There is limited water-taxi service to these northern cayes from Corozal and from Chetumal, Mexico.
Several private boats do make the run from Dangriga to Tobacco Caye for around BZ$35–BZ$50 per person one-way. They leave Dangriga around 9:30 am and return from Tobacco Caye in late morning or the afternoon. Check at the Riverside Café in Dangriga or ask your hotel on Tobacco Caye.
Other than that, you're generally left to your own devices for private boat transportation to the cayes. You can charter a small boat with driver—typically BZ$600 and up a day—or negotiate a one-way or round-trip price, up to BZ$800–BZ$1,500 or more one-way to the atolls. (Gas is about BZ$12 a gallon, and boats capable of handling the open water to the atolls have big dual or triple outboards.) You'll have little luck renting a powerboat on your own, as boat owners are reluctant to risk their crafts, and new laws require that you need a captain's license before you can operate a boat in Belize waters (sailing charters are excepted).
Belize City to San Pedro and Caye Caulker
There are three main water-taxi companies—Caye Caulker Water Taxi Association, San Pedro Belize Express, and Water Jets International—with fast boats that hold 50 to 100 passengers, connecting Belize City with San Pedro (Ambergris Caye) and Caye Caulker. They also connect San Pedro and Caye Caulker. From Belize City it’s a 45-minute ride to Caulker and 75 minutes to San Pedro. Going between Caulker and San Pedro takes about 30 minutes. There’s also a new premium water taxi service, Tropic Ferry, that meets you at the international airport and takes you from its dock near the airport to your resort on Ambergris Caye.
Caye Caulker Water Taxi Association. Caye Caulker Water Taxi Assocation boats leave from the Marine Terminal at 10 North Front Street in Belize City. Despite the Caulker name, there are around six or seven boats per day to and from both San Pedro and Caye Caulker. On both Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye the Water Jets International terminals are on piers on the front (sea) side of the islands. Marine Terminal, 12 N. Front St., near Swing Bridge, Belize City. 223/5752 in Belize City; 226/0992 in Caye Caulker. www.cayecaulkerwatertaxi.com. BZ$30 one-way between Belize City and San Pedro; BZ$20 between Belize City and Caye Caulker; BZ$20 between San Pedro and Caye Caulker.
Riverside Café. This local café on the river in Dangriga is a place to meet local boat owners and arrange transportation to Tobacco Caye. Riverside & Oak Sts., west side of North Stann Creek River, Dangriga. 661/6390. Daily 7 am–9 pm.
San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi. San Pedro Belize Express water taxis depart from the Brown Sugar terminal on North Front Street. On Caye Caulker, San Pedro Belize Express boats arrive at the pier near the basketball court on Front Street, and in San Pedro they arrive at the pier at Black Coral Street on the east (sea) side of the island. They also provide daily service between the Muelle Fiscal or municipal pier in Chetumal, Mexico, and San Pedro and Caye Caulker. 111 N. Front St., Brown Sugar Terminal, San Pedro. 223/2225 in Belize City; 226/3535 in San Pedro. www.belizewatertaxi.com. BZ$20 one-way between Belize City and Caye Caulker; BZ$30 one-way between Belize City and San Pedro; BZ$20 one-way between San Pedro and Caye Caulker; BZ$75 (US$37.50) one-way between San Pedro and Chetumal.
Tropic Ferry. The Tropic Ferry provides a premium ferry service between the international airport near Belize City and most resorts on Ambergris Caye. A ferry representative meets you at the airport for a short ride to the dock in Ladyville. It's around a 90-minute trip to your destination on Ambergris Caye. You'll get a complimentary rum punch enroute. Rates for this service are somewhat higher than a flight to San Pedro. (This water taxi service is unrelated to Tropic Air, one of the domestic Belize airlines.) 1659 Yellowtail Snapper Dr., Vista del Mar, Ladyville. 631/9253. www.tropicferry.com. BZ$170 per person one-way or BZ$270 round-trip between Belize international airport and your hotel on San Pedro.
Water Jets International. Water Jets International boats, also confusingly known as San Pedro Water Jets Express, leave from the Marine Terminal at 10 North Front Street in Belize City. There are around six boats per day to and from San Pedro and Caye Caulker. On both Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye the Water Jets International terminals are on the back (lagoon) side of the islands. They also provide daily service (sometimes every-other-day off-season) between the Muelle Fiscal or municipal pier in Chetumal, Mexico, and San Pedro and Caye Caulker. 10 N. Front St., Marine Terminal, Belize City. 226/2194. www.sanpedrowatertaxi.com. One-way fares are BZ$24 between Belize City and Caye Caulker; BZ$35 between Belize City and San Pedro; BZ$24 between San Pedro and Caye Caulker; BZ$80/US$40 between San Pedro and Chetumal.
San Pedro Taxi
There is now limited vehicular taxi service between San Pedro Town and North Ambergris Caye, along with water-taxi service. Taxis, along with local vehicles, are permitted on the golf-cart path from 7 am to 9 pm as far north as Las Terrazas Resort, about 4 miles (6 km) from the center of San Pedro, road conditions permitting. Las Terrazas is a BZ$50 fare, including the BZ$12 vehicle fee to cross the bridge. Fares to closer hotels are less.
Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt has round-trip service between Corozal Town and San Pedro Friday–Monday. (Off-season service may be reduced or eliminated.) The trip takes 90 minutes to two hours, depending on weather conditions. The boat stops in Sarteneja on-demand. In Corozal, the Thunderbolt arrives and leaves at the Reunion Pier in the center of town; in San Pedro it arrives and leaves at the dock on Black Coral Street on the back side of the island near the soccer field. Reunion Pier, Corozal Town. 610/4475 boat captain's cell; 422/0026 landline in Corozal Town. BZ$45 one-way. No service Tues.–Thur.; service may be reduced off-season.
Up and Down Ambergris Caye
Coastal Xpress. Coastal Xpress provides scheduled ferry service up and down the island. It offers about a dozen daily trips between the Amigos del Mar pier in town and Pelican Reef hotel in the south, and the same number between Amigos del Mar and Blue Reef Island Resort in the north, with stops and pick-ups on demand at all private docks and hotels and restaurants. At this writing, service starts at 5:30 am and ends around 2:15 am. Coastal Xpress also offers charter boat service to other cayes and coastal locations. Ferry schedule and service is subject to change—check locally for updates. Amigos del Mar Pier, Beachfront, San Pedro. 226/2007. www.coastalxpress.com. From BZ$8 to BZ$40; weekly pass also available.