Belize

Ambergris Caye (San Pedro) or Caye Caulker? Belizean Island Comparison

Caye Caulker Lazy Lizard
The Lazy Lizard at the Split in Caye Caulker

What’s A Caye, Anyway?

This article is intended to compare what it’s like to visit the Belizean islands of Caye Caulker and San Pedro, also called Ambergris Caye (used interchangeably here). A “Caye” is an island and it’s pronounced like “key“. It’s defined as being a small, low-elevation, sandy island on the surface of a coral reef.

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Caye Caulker is way smaller than Ambergris Caye

Caye Caulker vs. San Pedro

Let’s break down how these two islands compare by category.

Size

As you can see, San Pedro is MUCH bigger than Caye Caulker. San Pedro is 25 miles long, a mile wide, and the biggest Caye in the Belizean islands.

Caye Caulker is 5 miles long and a mile wide.

Belize Water Taxi Schedule

Overall Prices

As far as the cost of everything, I think it’s comparable on both islands. You will pay a premium for everything since you’re on an island, but supply and demand is a huge factor here. I would say because of this San Pedro is probably cheaper.

Accessibility Options & Costs

Both cayes can be accessed by water taxis leaving from Belize City and surrounding areas, or by plane. Reference the chart below for more info, note that the flight costs don’t ever seem to change based on dates. This is based on adults, one-way trips.

Info valid as of May 2019

Hotel Prices & Availability

Since San Pedro is so much bigger, there are more hotels. More supply=cheaper prices. You’ll find hotels for both across the typical booking sites (find out our favorite), Air B&B, and even in Facebook groups. You will also notice many of the same properties called different names across sites – for example, “Lydia’s Guesthouse” and “Lydia’s Island Retreat Room 1D” are probably the same place.

San Pedro, Caye Casa Hotel

Popularity + How Busy Is Each?

Caye Caulker has about 2,000 residents since it’s much smaller. For this reason, it’s much less busy! It’s known as a “Backpacker’s island” so the demographic tends to skew younger – I’d guess most visitors are under 40 years old.

San Pedro has a year-round population of about 10,000 people. This Caye feels more “Disney-fied” and set up for tourists. Most travelers to the Belizean islands come here.

For reference, the whole country of Belize has about 328,000 people. I couldn’t find any stats on how many people visit each Caye, but here’s some info on general visitors to Belize from 2018.

Caye Caulker dock

Getting Around the Cayes

Caye Caulker has very few cars, we only saw a few trash trucks wandering around in our 4-day stay. Most people walk around, bike, or rent a golf cart but walking is the best way to see the island. I recommend renting a bike for a day or two and walking the rest of the time.

At the “View” restaurant in Caye Caulker

Food

You’ll find more restaurants in Ambergris Caye area, Caye Caulker is much smaller. Both offer great Caribbean/Creole style food such as Jerk Chicken, Rice and Beans, and Stewed Chicken. During Lobster season (June) you can get conch and lobster almost anywhere from the roadside BBQ stand to the fanciest of restaurants.

San Pedro, PC: Flickr

Island Culture

The island motto of Caye Caulker is “Go Slow“. Ambergris Caye is a much faster-paced place – busier, with more to do – maybe even “Go Faster“. This is a great way to decide which one to visit. Both islands feel very “Rasta”, fun, and touristy. Caye Caulker is definitely more laid back.

Caye Caulker = Go Slow

Ambergris Caye = Go Faster

On island culture and vibes
San Pedro

Things to Do

Both Cayes offer similar activities such as snorkeling at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, going to the beach, boating, scuba diving at the Blue Hole, doing a Blue Hole aerial tour, chocolate tasting, adventures to the mainland such as the ATM tour or cave tubing, and of course eating and drinking (so many bars to choose from!). Essentially, there’s just much more of everything on Ambergris Caye.

Waters of San Pedro. PC: Flickr

Final Thoughts

Regardless of where you decide to go, you’ll be on a tropical island in the sea so it can’t be that bad. I would say if you’re looking for a younger, chill vibe go with Caye Caulker. If you want an older or more established location with more going on, choose San Pedro.

Not a bad place for morning coffee – Margarita Mike’s on Caye Caulker

Other Belize Tips

Planning to rent a car in Belize? Find out how to do it without getting scammed, and don’t forget to check out our packing list. Finally, check off these items before traveling internationally. If you’re worried about safety, see how safe I felt in Belize.

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4 Comments

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    […] see my packing list, how to rent a car in Belize, our comparison of San Pedro vs. Caye Caulker, visiting Belize vs. Costa Rica, & how safe Belize really […]

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    […] to visit the islands? Check out our guide on choosing between Caye Caulker vs. San Pedro/Ambergris Caye. Thanks for […]

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    5 Reasons Why You Need to Go To Caye Caulker, Belize | One Chance Travel
    June 15, 2019 at 3:17 pm

    […] off the coast of Belize. It’s only 5 miles long and a mile wide! Caye Caulker is right below San Pedro/Ambergris Caye, a larger island that’s popular with tourists. The island is accessible by water taxi or […]

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    June 22, 2019 at 12:03 pm

    […] you’re on the islands of San Pedro or Caye Caulker you may want to rent a golf cart. For those going to Caye Caulker, I don’t […]

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