After coming from the laid back atmosphere of car-less Caye Caulker, the streets of San Pedro were a bit of a shock. The traffic here on the narrowish streets consisted of a varied mixture of large trucks, cars, golf carts (electric and gas), bicycles and pedestrians (since there were not always sidewalks). Some of the streets were one-way, so there was no 'safe' side to walk, facing the traffic, in those cases - and those quiet bicycles and electric golf carts can easily sneak up behind you!
Basically, you had to keep your wits about you when walking around in San Pedro - it was not just a leisurely stroll taking in the sights! Although the streets were made of sand as on Caye Caulker, there is no comparison as to which is the relaxing place in which to vacation!
There are dogs EVERYWHERE!! None of them seemed dangerous or mean. I gave this little guy a couple of crackers and he followed me back to our cabana and slept in front of the door. So - if you feed the dogs, be prepared to have a companion for the length of your stay!
Okay, I normally don't complain about mosquitos since I'm an island girl, but the mosquitos here were horrible. I came prepared for them with Off repelent with a high dose of deet, but even though I applied the Off these pesky annoying mosquitos seemed to love my blood. I was bitten in one location at least 6 times from what appared to be the same mosquito, yikes! They sure do itch.
Aaron, one of our guides, was telling us that they don't call Belize the Mosquito Coast for nothing and that the repellent is more like a salad dressing.
Still, I would recommend that you take precautions and apply the wonderful smelling scent of Off Mosquito repellent so you won't be eaten alive and walk away with only a few "battle scares"
We were sitting on a lounge chair in the beach enjoying a few frozen drinks when we noticed two young couples getting instructions on how to use the hobie cat. The guys seemed to pay very little attention, let alone the ladies, who were too busy applying sun screen and adjusting their suits. After the intructions given the two pair of couples sailed away on the hobie cat. We noticed a few minutes later that they seemed to be pretty far beyond the barrier reef.
Miriam mentioned that it looked like fun and if I wanted to go out but that I'd have to be the "captain". I looked around at the beautiful white sand, the sun shining and decided I rather enjoy a few hours of sunning and frozen drinks then working on staying aflot on the hobie cat.
At this moment, which was about an hour after the couples set sail, we spotted a fishing boat hauling them back in. Apparently they didn't adhere or remember the instructions and were swept way out beyond the barrier and couldn't get back. They had to wave a boat passing by who tugged them back to shore.
Lesson learned here "Definitely make sure you know what you are doing before setting out on a potentialy dangerous journey"
I'm glad we decided to just enjoy the sun!
Another problem with the beach on Ambergris is that there are a number of docks along the beach with small buildings that have toilets. Guess where the toilet waste goes. Discreet signs ask you not to flush the toilet paper. I also question the sewage treatment plan throughout the island. I don't know and probably don't want to know what if anything is done. . . Let's just say the only time we got in the water it was well off shore.
I wasn't all that impressed with the beaches on Ambergris. One big problem throughout Belize is that sea grass grows everywhere in the shallows. It washes up on the beach and piles up along the shore. Most resorts rake it up every day, but not everybody does. It attracts flies and it smells. It also fouls the water and makes swimming an unattractive proposition. The up side of the sea grass is it attracts manatees. We ddn't see any on Ambergris, but it was a big attraction at Hopkins on the mainland.
The misquitos can be bad if the wind is calm. We brought what I thought was the best spray in the world (made by Sawyer). At first I thought it wasn't working (because I kept getting bitten) until I realized I had 1/8th the bites that others did. I think you will be bite free if you go with 100% DEET.
For sunblock, regardless of your skin type, get the strongest stuff that you can get and don't skimp by getting some discount brand. When you snorkle, you will spend up to six hours exposed to direct sun. Don't mess around.
I got mugged in Ambergris!
The mugger snatched my brand new digital Canon camera and few Belizean dollars that were inside the camera case. Luckily I didn't get hurt and luckily I had just taken out the hotel keys and golf cart keys from the camera case -just minutes before it happened!
The incident occurred at around 11:30pm - 12am at the beginning of Front Street, there is a passage between the school and the Sun Breeze Hotel, it has bright lights, not a dark alley! We were coming back from a place called Wet Willies on the beach, my husband and I got separated for about a minute, when a tall man in a bicycle came from behind me and snatch my camera. I had the camera across my shoulders, luckily the camera strap broke easily so I didn't get hurt, I say luckily because otherwise I would probably have a cut or a nasty bruise around my neck or there would have been a struggle in which case God only knows what would have happened to me. I am also thankful that he just wanted my camera and nothing else…
Stupidly, I run after the assailant screaming for people to stop him, a man in a taxi gave chase, but the criminal cut through the airport field and simply vanished into the dark. A police pickup truck showed up about 20 minutes later (despite the fact that the police station is about 15 minutes on foot), they took down my statement and left. The next day I went to the police station to get a report for insurance purposes, but there was no record of the incident, no one at the station had any information about the case. To make the story short, after an "officer" wrote down, by hand, all the information again, I asked for a copy of the report, he told me "you have to apply for one, it cost $12", so I say OK, fine, he says "it will take a couple of days", I explained that I was leaving that same afternoon and I asked him again if he could just give me a photocopy of the "informal report", to wish he said that he needed to go to my hotel and search my room, I asked why? The incident didn't happen in the hotel. To this I got no reply, so I left, I have travelled extensively around Latin America (I am Latin-American myself), and I know VERY WELL how things work with the so called “police force”, and I was not going to give this so called "police officer" any money (bribery), I was not going to be robbed twice in Belize!
When I told the hotel staff and also the person from the golf cart company what had happen, sadly their reply was “oh yes, this happens all the time, just last week a tourist was robbed in front of the Yacht Club and another one near Ramon’s Village”. An airport employee also told us that “two weeks ago another tourist was stabbed and robbed at the same place where you got mugged. The police did nothing about it”.
Bottom line, be VERY careful in Ambergris, if you get mugged, don't bother going to the police, they are useless, to say the least! Call your embassy instead.
I visited Ambergris for the first time in 2002, and I can tell you that the Ambergris of today is not the same from back then. Things have changed; there is much crime, in many cases violent. Read through few websites, saddly you will see that my case was not an isolated one. I am so sad about this wave of crimes, Ambergris used to be such an amazing, quiet place...
We were in San Pedro /Caye Ambergris in early February and its tradition for the kids to run wild covering each other in paint, eggs and flour. It gets everywhere and some locals described it as 'licenced vandalism'. It lasts for 3 days--the first two days, the kids seemed to largely ignore adults and tourists (though there were around 200 of them throwing paint all over the beach) but we were told that the 3rd day is more of a free for all. We decided to leave at that point and went back to Caye Caulker which doesnt have this tradition!
When you take sidetrips to the mainland, the Mayan ruins etc., stay on the main path. A souvenir girl was bitten by a fer de lance but luckily survived thanks to rainforest remedies.