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. Between Belize City and busy Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker, there's regular boat service; but there is no scheduled boat service to the smaller 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. Inquire with your hotel on Tobacco or at Riverside Café in Dangriga about its water-taxi service to Tobacco Caye.

Other than that, you're generally left to your own devices for private boat transportation. 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. 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

Your cheapest option for travel to the main cayes is by water taxi, really a buslike watercraft. There are two main water-taxi companies—San Pedro Belize Express and Ocean Ferry—with fast, cramped boats that hold 50 to 100 passengers (they've been likened to nautical saunas) connecting Belize City with San Pedro (Ambergris Caye) and Caye Caulker. They also connect San Pedro and Caulker. From Belize City it’s a 45-minute ride to Caulker and 75 minutes to San Pedro. There’s also a 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.

Ocean Ferry Belize. This newer company competes with San Pedro Belize Express, but offers fewer trips (five daily) between Belize City, Caye Caulker and San Pedro. Ocean Ferry is the cheaper option. Amazingly, it also has free Wi-Fi on board. In Belize City, it departs from the Marine Terminal, then arrives at Caye Caulker's Front Street near Seaside Cabanas, then in San Pedro just north of Fido's. Once you arrive at your destination, it will be easy to find your way. 10 N. Front St., Belize City, Belize District. 223/0033;

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 and Oak Sts., west side of North Stann Creek River, Dangriga, Stann Creek. 661/6390. Daily 7 am–9 pm.

San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi. This company is quite dependable. San Pedro Belize Express water taxis depart from the Brown Sugar terminal on North Front Street. On Caye Caulker, the 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, Belize City, Belize District. 223/2225; 226/3535;

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 75-minute trip to your destination on Ambergris Caye. You'll get a complimentary rum punch en route. 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, Belize District. 631/9253;


Thunderbolt Water Taxi. This small company has round-trip service between Corozal Town and San Pedro Friday–Monday, departing Corozal at 7 am and departing San Pedro at 3 pm. (Off-season service may be reduced or eliminated.) The trip takes 90 minutes to two hours, depending on weather, with 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 Black Coral Street on the back side of the island near the soccer field. Reunion Pier, Corozal Town, Corozal. 610/4475; 422/0026. No service Tues.–Thurs.; service may be reduced off-season.

Up and Down Ambergris Caye

Coastal Xpress. This is a handy service and efficient, but it demands some preplanning. Coastal Xpress provides scheduled ferry service up and down the island—you stand on a dock and the cozy vessel picks you up at an appointed time. It offers about a dozen daily trips between the Amigos del Mar pier in town and La Beliza Resort in the north, with stops on demand at most hotel and restaurants docks. If you're staying in North Ambergris and want to head to town, have your hotel arrange the ferry and you'll pay when you arrive. At this writing, service starts at 5:30 am and ends around 11 pm. 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. Arrive at your dock of departure 15 minutes early. Prices depend on how far you go, starting at BZ$10. Amigos del Mar Pier, Beachfront, San Pedro Town, Belize District. 226/2007;

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