Since Belize has about 200 miles (325 km) of mainland coast and some 400 islands in the Caribbean, water taxis, passenger ferries, and private boats are key.
Ferries and Private Boats
A local ferry company, Coastal Xpress, provides scheduled boat transportation up and down the east side of Ambergris Caye.
Several private boats make daily runs from Dangriga to Tobacco Caye for BZ$35–BZ$50 per person one-way. They leave Dangriga around 9 or 9:30 am and return from Tobacco Caye later in the day. Check at the Riverside Café in Dangriga or ask your hotel on Tobacco Caye.
Coastal Xpress (Beachfront, Amigos del Mar Dock, San Pedro Town, Belize. 226/2007. firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Riverside Café (Riverside and Oak Sts., west side of North Stann Creek Bridge, Dangriga, Stann Creek. 601/6390.)
There are three main water-taxi companies, with fast boats that hold up to 50 to 100 passengers, connecting Belize City with San Pedro (Ambergris Caye) and Caye Caulker. They also connect San Pedro with Caye Caulker and these islands with Chetumal, Mexico.
Most scheduled water taxis allow two pieces of luggage per person, along with miscellaneous personal items. Bicycles and other larger items may be permitted, if there's space, but you may be charged extra. Life jackets are carried on board the boats but aren't handed out to passengers. Seas, especially in the south between Dangriga and Placencia and Puerto Cortes, and also between Punta Gorda and Puerto Barrios, can be rough. Postpone your trip if the weather looks bad, or, in the case of private charters, if the boat offered looks unseaworthy or crowded.
The Belize water-taxi business is still in a state of flux, and schedules and rates are subject to change.
Caye Caulker Water Taxi boats and Water Jets International, also known as San Pedro Water Jets Express, leave from the Marine Terminal at 10 North Front Street near the Swing Bridge in Belize City; San Pedro Belize Express boats leave from the Brown Sugar dock at 111 North Front St. near the Tourism Village.
Caye Caulker Water Taxi boats arrive at the Main Public Pier on Front Street on Caye Caulker, and on San Pedro they arrive at the Texaco Marina; 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 on Black Coral Street on the east (sea) side of the island; on both Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye the Water Jets International terminals are on the back (lagoon) side of the islands.
Ride Times and Fares
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. Fares vary a little among companies. At press time, one-way fares between Belize City and Caye Caulker were BZ$24 on Water Jets International, BZ$20 on Caye Caulker Water Taxi Association, and BZ$20 on San Pedro Belize Express; one-way fares between Belize City and San Pedro were BZ$35 on Water Jets International, BZ$30 on Caye Caulker Water Taxi Association, and BZ$30 on San Pedro Belize Express. Round-trip rates are slightly discounted from two one-way tickets.
Two of these water-taxi companies, Water Jets International and San Pedro Belize Express, also have daily service between the Muelle Fiscal or municipal pier in Chetumal, Mexico, and San Pedro and Caye Caulker, a trip of about 90 minutes to San Pedro, for US$30–US$45 to San Pedro and US$35–US$50 to Caulker, or the equivalent in Mexican pesos, though sometimes in Chetumal you can negotiate a lower rate. Rates are usually highest on weekends. Off-season, during slow periods, the two Chetumal water taxis may alternate days, so there is only one boat a day. The fares do not include US$5 port fees in Mexico and an exit fee of US$18.75 (BZ$37.50) leaving Belize. You may also have to pay a 295 Mexican peso (about US$22 at current exchange rates) fee leaving Mexico, if you have not already paid it, and 295 pesos when you enter Mexico by boat.
Another company, Thunderbolt, has daily service between Corozal Town and San Pedro for BZ$45 one-way. The trip takes 90 minutes to two hours, depending on weather conditions and whether there is a stop in Sarteneja. In Corozal, the Thunderbolt leaves from the Reunion Pier in the center of town; it arrives in San Pedro at the dock on Black Coral Street on the back side of the island near the soccer field.
Caye Caulker Water Taxis Association (Marine Terminal, 12 N. Front St., Commercial District, Belize City, Belize. 223/5752 in Belize City; 226/0922 in Caye Caulker. www.cayecaulkerwatertaxi.com.)
Requena's (12 Front St., Punta Gorda, Toledo. 722/2070. email@example.com. www.belizenet.com/requena.)
San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi (Brown Sugar Terminal, 111 North Front St., near Tourism Village, Commercial District, Belize City, Belize. 223/2225. www.belizewatertaxi.com.)
Water Jets International. Also confusingly known as San Pedro Water Jets International, Water Jets Express, San Pedro Water Taxi, and San Pedro-Jet Express. Angel Coral St., on back (lagoon) side of island near soccer field, San Pedro Town, Belize. 226/2194. www.sanpedrowatertaxi.com.
Reaching Remote Cayes and Atolls
To reach the more remote cayes and the atolls, you're basically left to your own devices, unless you're staying at a hotel where such transfers are arranged for you. The resorts on the atolls run their own boats, but these usually aren't available to the general public.
D-Express (Shell Dock, Placencia Village, Stann Creek. 523/4045 Placencia BTIA office; 624/6509 D-Express cell in Belize. firstname.lastname@example.org. www.belizeferry.com.)