Ambergris Caye is Belize’s largest island and top tourist destination for travelers. The island is about 25 miles long from north to south and a little as 1 mile across in some places. It is situated on the southern tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in the clear shallow waters of the Caribbean Sea just a few yards away from the second largest living coral reef in the world. The island is mainly a ring off white sand beaches surrounding a mangrove lagoon and was once a popular destination for early Maya sea faring traders and settlers who traveled along the Mayan Riviera.

The island of Ambergris Caye, Belize – Photo by Grand Belizean Estates Ltd.

The Marco Gonzalez ruins on the southern tip of the island along the Basil Jones site on the north, as well as the many recently excavated “home sites” in thecenter of the island provide evidence of a former Maya population that ha a many as 10,000 inhabitants. The narrow winding channel which separates the island from Mexico is believed to have been dug by the Maya to provide a trade route from the bay of Chetumal to the Caribbean.

To East of the caye, the Belize Barrier Reef continues for some 190 miles along the length of the country of Belize. To the far north of Ambergris Caye at a place called Rocky Point the reef almost touches land. On the west lies the San Pedro Lagoon which is connected to the Caribean Sea by a small saltwater river running east to west about two miles from the center of San Pedro Town.

The northern part of the island is dotted with a cascade of beautiful and luxuries beachfront resorts that support the thriving tourism economy. The island itself has the largest concentration of accommodations anywhere else in the country and offer an array of local restaurants, bars, and night spots to choose from and enjoy. The majority of the island’s population resides in the town of San Pedro, while most tourist resort destination are situated along the pristine northern coastline and white sandy beaches.

In the early part of the twentieth century fishing was the major source of income for the islanders, however, beginning in the early 1970’s the fishing industry gradually faded into the background as islanders began to realize that their “Isla Bonita” (beautiful island) was attracting a steady flow of visitors who flocked there to enjoy the white sand beaches, crystal clear blue waters and the unique hospitality of its inhabitants. With the island’s enchanting combination of breathtaking oceans views, mangrove forests, tropical savannahs, lagoons, warm and inviting people and sparkling white beaches, it is no wonder that this island has become Belize’s most popular tourist destination.