I’m in love – I don’t care who knows it – I’M IN LOVE! We’ve all heard of love at first sight, right? “Like, oh my gosh, I just saw the man of my dreams and as soon as we made eye contact I knew he was the one!” Blah, blah, blah. Doesn’t mean we all believe in it, but we’ve heard of it. Well, have you ever heard of falling in love at first site with a city? I’m sure you have and I’m sure if you’ve ever traveled you believe in this more than the first kind of love mentioned. Well, are you ready to find out who my long, lost lover is? You better Belize it – it’s San Pedro, Belize.
If you’ve never heard of San Pedro, Belize, buckle up because you’re ‘bout to learn something today! San Pedro is a tiny town located on a tiny Island called Ambergris Cay. When I said tiny, I wasn’t kidding – the entire island is 25 miles long and only about a mile wide with a population of 13,000 friendly people. As you can imagine, getting to San Pedro was quite the task. We had to take two flights just to get to Belize, and then a 3rd to get to the island. But let me tell you, every second is worth it. Check out the views from the last airplane!!
We arrive in San Pedro and are welcomed by a giant sign, the whizzing and roaring of golf carts and people laughing.
Every which way you look, you see a golf cart full of happy people. If the island breeze wasn’t the best welcome, the sight of smiling people in every direction did the trick! As soon as we got our luggage from the plane, we were set off on a mission – let’s do this! The first taxi we saw, we hailed down *awkwardly* and jumped in. Not really having an understanding of the Island, we said one word and he knew exactly where to take us. After a 5-minute cab ride and probably the best free tour we’d ever receive, we made it to our house for the next 4 days.
Instead of giving you a play by play on our entire trip, I’ll skip that and go straight to the goods. Eat. Drink. Do. If you’re wanting to have the most unBELIZEable time in San Pedro, these are the things you should check out!
Before I get into all the details, my first suggestion is to go in July. This time of year is their off season, so places are less busy, you can mingle with more of the locals, and *drum roll please*, it’s lobster season. Need I say more?
And that’s how we’re going to transition into the “eat” section of this post…
If you’re craving a light, fresh and flavorful lunch – this is the spot! I had the Reggae Veggie Wrap that had black bean hummus and the freshest of fresh avocado, with the Shrimp Cobb Salad. To top off the meal, I had “The Island’s Best Damn Margarita” and let me tell you, it was the best DAMN margarita I’ve ever had in my life…I may or may not have danced my way to an innertube after that baby!
If you ask ANY of the locals what their favorite restaurant is, they will all say Elvi’s. This place was adorable – sand as the flooring, simple and colorful Belizean décor, the staff is dressed up, it’s loud and friendly. The menu is pretty large and pretty tempting – meaning, I wanted to order one of everything. Obviously that would be impossible: (1) My eyes are larger than my stomach, (2) Who do I think I am – Bill Gates? Ain’t nobody got money for that! To solve the dilemma, I asked our waiter what he would suggest. I was already leaning toward one item, and guess what?! That was the item he said was their most popular. I stopped him in his tracks and just said “Let’s do that!”.
Elvi’s Coconut Curry was headed my way! I ordered it with the catch of the day – which you can’t go wrong with on an Island. The spice from the curry complemented the sweet of the raisins and plantains (which who would’ve thought raisins and plantains would be good in curry?), the coconut rice with cilantro was fresh and aromatic. It was divine!
JYOTO Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar:
This is the last restaurant we went to on the Island and we were lucky enough to be escorted to dinner by one of the locals. JYOTO had just opened so he had never been there, but heard rave reviews. We figured, “why not?” and we’re so glad we went. BEST. SUSHI. EVER. I’m not a huge sushi person, and I couldn’t stop grabbing for more. The rainbow sushi, spicy tuna, avocado roll, everything was beyond amazing. Just thinking about it, my mouth is salivating.
TIP: If you decide to go to this restaurant, you’re going to want to take a Taxi. It’s South of everything and a bit out of the way. Plus, you’re going to eat so much that walking will probably be impossible by the end of the night.
Purple Shed on Laguna Dr (No name?):
I spy with my little eye a purple shed! If you weren’t looking for it, you’d probably miss it.
I kept this for last because it was honestly my favorite dining experience. It wasn’t an actual restaurant – there were no wait staff, the seating was literally a piece of wood on top of a few iron rods that only fit four people, the chalk board menu had about 5 items on it and nothing was over $3 USD. Every morning we would wake up and take the 5-minute walk to this purple shed and order a Fry Jack for $2 and a liter of water, or homemade mango juice. If you don’t know what I fry jack is, you’re missing out! It’s the simplest breakfast on the planet, but it’s pure comfort and pure Belize.
It’s a flour tortilla that puffs up when fried and becomes light and airy – add a some beans, scrambled eggs and cheese – and there you have it! YUM! (If you like spice, go ahead and throw on some the owners homemade habanero sauce – but be careful, it’s spicy!)
To be honest, the food was a great excuse to go there every morning, but it was the woman who owned this place that was the pull. She was the most kind, generous and beautiful human being I’ve ever met. She was proud of her food and culture, and she was excited to share it with us. Not to mention, she also conversated, without judgement, in Spanish with me. Many laughs were shared each morning with her and she will be the first person I see when I go back!
First things first, as soon as you land at the international airport in Belize, run over to Jet’s Bar and order yourself a *strong* Rum Punch. Within 2 minutes you’ll be laughing the day away. Do it. You won’t regret it!
Coconut Mojito: If you like a mojito, you’ll LOVE this. It’s made with coconut water, so it’s extremely fresh and naturally sweet. A perfect drink on a hot, Belizean day!
Belikin Beer: They have a lager and a stout, both absolutely delicious. The perfect drink to have in-between all those sugary drinks. Warning though, the Stout will kick your butt. Who cares though, you’re on vacation!
Rum Punch: I really don’t know too many places that sell this drink in the US, or if they do, it’s probably more of a coastal drink. It’s delicious, it’s not too sweet and it really does pack a punch. Have some fun with these!
Now that you know what to order, let’s talk about the bars you need to go to!
All three of us girls agreed that our favorite bar in Belize is the Rojo Lounge!
You’ll want to rent a golf cart if you’re going to this place; It’s about a 20-minute golf cart ride North of the main San Pedro area. As you’re headed there, you follow these wooden signs that point in a direction that makes you second guess which direction that actually is. It takes you to an opening that looks like a welcoming into the jungle. The road is just wide enough for about a golf cart in a half – just keep moving forward!
After a few minutes of nothing but jungle you’ve made it! Park the golf cart, walk around to the beach front and be AMAZED! Rojo Lounge has three hammocks, a huge deck with couches and lounge chairs, an infinity pool, bags, jenga, a dock that goes far into the ocean, AND stray dogs!!! Seriously – this is the definition of my happy place. Not to mention the food is unbelievable, the bartenders are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met AND you can request your own songs. Again, the definition of my happy place!
On your way to Rojo Lounge, take a break at Truck Stop. This is a cute little “food court” looking place that has ice cream, tacos, and yes, a bar! Depending on the time of day, it’ll either be packed or a little deserted. Either way, it’s the most adorable, but very random, gem.
This wasn’t really the “local” place to go, it was a bit touristy, but nonetheless, it was amazing. Off the dock they have about 10+ inner tubes for people to relax on, a dock that has the clearest water and delicious food. Are you seeing a theme yet? Seriously, Belize has the best food I’ve ever had. On the weekends, they have live music. The Saturday that we were there, they had a cute, old retired man playing the acoustic guitar singing some classic rock songs, as well as some Beatles songs.
Hol Chan + Shark Ray Alley – seriously, do it!
Did you know that Belize is home to the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world? Yup, that’s right. Hol Chan, just a 15-minute boat ride from the shore of San Pedro, has it! There are many places that offer this excursion in San Pedro, but we used Chuck + Robbies. For 50USD we snorkeled at Hol Chan for about 45 minutes and jumped into the ocean with sharks and sting rays. WHAT?! You heard that right – sharks and sting rays. But don’t be alarmed. Just like Casper is the friendly ghost, these are the friendly sharks. I even got to touch one! Unfortunately, I didn’t have an underwater camera so I am unable to show you photos, but you can check it out here: Hol Chan + Shark Ray Alley!
San Pedro Art Market
Just like in any city where they’re trying to sell you things, they will be pushy. But if you can handle it, check out these shops. They had the most beautiful table runners, blankets, purses, jewelry and more. They are open every day from 9am to 7pm.
Run + Yoga
If you’re into running, run the island. Seriously, there’s no better way to learn about an area than physically throwing yourself into it. It gets hot quick, so get up early before the sun hits it peak temperature and before the hustle and bustle starts.
Yoga on the beach is a perfect way to start your morning. Need I say more?!
Things we wanted to do in Belize, but didn’t have time for:
- Skydive into the Blue Hole
- Go to the mainland for some Mayan Adventure
- Cave Tubing
- Hiking the Mayan Ruins
- Golf cart pub crawl (from one end of the Island to the other)
All in all, this was a trip of a lifetime with some of my favorite people. I am forever grateful for the kindness San Pedro showed us and I cannot wait to be back some day.
Hasta luego, Belize. Te veo pronto!
Peace. Love. Cannot BELIZE this is the life I was blessed with.