We know that traveling to a new country raises questions about what to expect and how to create the best experience during your beach vacation. For those planning your first trip to Ambergris Caye, Belize, let us help you come prepared. Below are 21 things, in no particular order, that you should know before experiencing the island and our Belize luxury resort for the first time.
- We take COVID precautions seriously here in Belize, but we guarantee that you will still have a fantastic adventure. A negative rapid test is required upon landing in Belize City, masks are to be worn in public, and you must stay at a Gold Standard hotel such as Las Terrazas Resort. You may find more information on our website and in the Belize Health App. Other than that, you may still explore the Belize Barrier Reef, venture into the rainforest to the Mayan Ruins, head offshore to fish, and lounge by our 70’ infinity pool or white sand beach.
- Free Wi-Fi. Las Terrazas Resort makes it easy for you to stay connected to home from our island resort - free Wi-Fi is available to all guests, both in the residences and throughout the hotel, helping your international vacation feel as close to home as possible.
- The early bird gets the worm! The sun rises bright and early - around 5:30am year-round. Ease into your day with a traditional Belizean breakfast and fresh-pressed juices while relaxing by the infinity pool or opt for a beachside brunch at the one of the best Ambergris Caye restaurants the island has to offer. Or rise with the sun and get a head start on adventure; the island has many fantastic excursions to offer. Not an early riser? That’s okay! Our resort in Belize offers luxury rooms complete with heavy drapes to keep your room cozy and dark, giving you permission to laze the day away if you so wish.
- If you are traveling from the US, no adaptors are needed. The standard voltage in Belize is 110/220V and the typical 3 prong outlets used in America are used on the island and at Las Terrazas Resort hotel as well.
- Don’t overpack - our Belize Spa Resort provides luxury bath amenities, including shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion. Also available for your use are hair dryers, umbrellas for those surprise pop up showers, and yoga mats. Your kitchen will come fully stocked with plates, silverware, paper towels, coffee, cream and sugar. Pharmacies and grocery stores can be found in San Pedro town, and ask us about grocery stocking service prior to arrival.
- Water. Your safety is a priority at Las Terrazas Resort. While you should drink bottled water while out and about, Las Terrazas Resort has an on-site Reverse Osmosis plant where well water goes through a series of filters to purify it and is tested quarterly to ensure its safety. Our luxury island resort is the best place to drink your heart out - both in terms of water, and by way of our fantastic O Bar on site.
- No rental cars or GPS necessary. There’s almost zero risk of getting lost as the island is literally three streets wide, with Front Street running along the coast, Middle Street that runs from Las Terrazas Resort straight into town, and a third street on the lagoon side of the island. Las Terrazas Resort offers printed maps should you desire one, but otherwise this is a safe and easy island to blindly navigate on your own. From golf cart rentals (yes, you can really scoot your way around the island this way— see number 8) to land and water taxis, getting around is easy and affordable.
- Las Terrazas Resort wouldn’t be a true Belize beach resort if we didn’t have golf carts available for rent. This is a fun, unique alternative to public transportation and is an easy, breezy way to explore the island. Unlike many other countries, you can feel safe and at ease on our island roads— just watch out for pedestrians. There are no sidewalks in San Pedro so be mindful of those traveling on scooters, bikes, or by foot.
- When in Ambergris Caye, you will be on “island time.” Expect a laid-back approach to life, where everything moves at a nice, slow pace that allows you to soak up all the island has to offer. Ambergris Caye is a place where you can leave your worries behind and slow down for a change.
- Speaking of island time, Belize offers a casual, happy hour vibe. Bars tend to be tame at night as people are more likely to retire early in order to hit the waters the next morning. Belize is home to the Belikin Brewery and to order a “beer” here means to expect a Belikin in return. One helpful tip: If your beer comes decorated with a napkin, use it to wipe off the mouth of the beer. When the salty air hits the recycled glass, rust tends to form so a quick wipe down will do your body (and your drink) good.
- Be sure to tip in Belize. In some countries, tipping can be taboo or even offensive, but this is not the case in Belize. This generous gesture is comparable to the American practice; 15% and up is a good rule of thumb.
- Check your passports before booking your trip. All visitors must have a passport to enter the country, and passports must be valid for no less than six months after the intended period of stay. Most individuals don’t require a tourist visa to enter Belize.
- Contrary to what you may have heard, Belize is not a third world country; it is more accurate to describe it as “developing” or “emerging”. While more rural areas might fit the third world description a bit more accurately, this is not the case on the island of Ambergris Caye. With high-speed internet, cable TV with channels in multiple languages, electricity, indoor plumbing, A/C, international airport, sophisticated transportation system, advanced and easily accessible healthcare, and impressive high literacy, low infant mortality, and high life expectancy rates, Belize is modern and advanced. While some maintenance standards might be lower than travelers live with, it is certainly nothing inconvenient or unsanitary, and these differences are hardly noticeable once you get acclimated.
- Traveling with children? We love kids! US airports as well as Belize immigration require children under 18 years must travel with a valid passport. Immigration officials might also ask to see kids’ US birth certificates. Children traveling with one parent require a notarized letter of authority from the other parent indicating travel consent. Be sure to include your dates of travel, hotel name and location, name of the child, and who they are traveling with. Our Reservations Manager will provide additional information upon booking your reservation.
- Just like on many beaches across the world, sand flies - or “no-see-ums” - are present on Ambergris Caye. They are thought to be most active in the sand after a rainstorm, but a few simple tricks should help you avoid these pesky bugs. Wearing baby oil on your legs is a great deterrent as they can’t bite through it. DEET works and is also a great repellant for the mosquitos - especially between the hours of 5-7pm, as they are most active at dusk.
- Despite the assumption that many developing or central American countries are unsafe, you will find Belize to be relatively safe - and this is especially true of Ambergris Caye. There are few violent crimes, though petty theft does occur on occasion. Pay attention to your belongings, don’t flaunt your things, and don your fanny pack or money belt if you dare. Las Terrazas Resort also has in-room safes to keep your valuables secure. What’s important to you is important to us, and your valuables are safe in our care.
- While our luxury island resort is a paradise on its own, we encourage our guests to get out, mingle with the locals, and experience authentic Belizean life on the island. Belize is known for the warmth, hospitality, and easy camaraderie found among its citizens. You truly won’t meet a stranger while on our turf.
- Unlike other tourist destinations, in Belize you will not be overwhelmed by vendors hoping to sell things to you. Entrepreneurs invite you to buy - it is their job after all - but the culture here is much more laid back. A simple “no thanks” will do the trick; vendors will let you peacefully move on to shop. On the other hand, if you enjoy bartering and want to find the best deals, this style of shopping is acceptable among the open-air vendors in town (think flea markets). Belize is known for its jewelry and wood carvings, and the best place to shop for them on the island is along Barrier Reef Drive. The vendors are friendly and can usually provide you with a neat back story on their business and how their items were made.
- Speaking of island shopping, it is helpful to know that the currency exchange rate is set at $2BZD to $1USD. Currency exchange is available at the airport, but American currency is widely accepted on the island and credit cards are accepted at most Ambergris Caye resorts and restaurants. It is worth mentioning that AmEx is not widely used on the island and ATMs don’t always have cash available. Should you pay in cash, you may receive Belize currency in change (which works great for tipping), but heads up that there is not an exchange service when you depart from the airport.
- A tropical island like Ambergris Caye is more affordable than you may think. Enjoy local fare, like stewed chicken, rice, and beans for just $5USD. Local beer and alcohol typically run for less than $3USD per drink. The island has a plethora of affordable options available to you, but let’s not forget what draws us all to Ambergris Caye in the first place - its natural beauty! The Belize Barrier Reef, Mayan jungles, Caribbean Sea, and ancient ruins are some of the many astounding reasons people are drawn to the island.
- Belize is known for its beautiful beaches, but please know that they are not always 100% pristine. In fact, sea grass and sargassum seaweed are to be expected on the beaches. Sea grass grows completely underwater, is a valuable part of the ecosystem, and is what the sea life here dines on. This means awesome snorkeling, from the famous Mexico Rocks and even right off the shore at Las Terrazas Resort. Sargassum, on the other hand, floats on the water, and ocean currents take it to beaches all over the Caribbean. While this does not always make for the most attractive beach, Las Terrazas Resort rakes the beach daily to minimize damage to the beach while making it most attractive for your vacation photos. We guarantee that you will experience a beautiful and pristine beach while on our property!
And there you have it…. The top 21 things that first-time visitors to Ambergris Caye should expect! You’ve been warned: once you come to Ambergris Caye, you may never want to leave.
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