Traveling is all about discovering new destinations, soaking in different cultures, and uncovering hidden gems. Last month I had the opportunity to visit the charming islands of Caye Caulker in Belize and the vibrant city of San Pedro, on the island Ambergris Caye. While both destinations offer their unique appeal, there’s no denying the allure of exploring these picturesque coastal paradises and comparing them to my home, Puerto Peñasco.

So, let’s dive in!

Caye Caulker, Belize

As you step off the boat onto the sandy shores of Caye Caulker, it becomes evident that this small island offers a distinctive experience. One of the first things that catch your eye is the prevalence of golf carts as the main mode of transportation and the swaying arched palm trees. Forget about crowded buses or stifling traffic; here, you can zip around on a charming golf cart, feeling the breeze on your face while exploring every nook and cranny of this inviting island.

Lining the main pedestrian walkway, you’ll find a myriad of colorful shops, cafes, and awesome restaurants. Among these, my favorite, the fabulous Sip and Dip. Yes, it’s an “in the water bar and restaurant”. It’s a true delight to sit on a stool at a table coming out of the water, in the vibrant clear waters under a palapa and eat lunch or enjoy a tropical drink or beer. The island is small, but the locals are friendly and it’s easy to run into someone you may have just met the night before. If you are a diver or love to snorkel, then you must try one of the many excursions that are offered to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, (where I landed on a nurse shark entering the water for the dive) note, luckily, they don’t bite, but a shark is a shark in my book. Trips to the Blue Hole and the many ruins in the area are also great excursions. This was our third trip to Belize, and also served as one of the main settings in my first novel, A Deep Thing by A.K. Smith.

Caye Caulker continues to change for the better and grow, and the small laid back island charm is hard to resist. Rocky Point could take a cue from Caye Caulker and find a spot to open their own Sip and Dip! Look at the picture. Can’t you imagine something similar in Rocky Point? Sitting at the water’s edge during high tide, where you can savor a refreshing drink all while your feet dangle in the Sea of Cortez. Hmmm.

San Pedro, Belize

San Pedro, the city part of Ambergris Caye is an island about 30 minutes by ferry from Caye Caulker, situated on the sparkling azure waters of the Caribbean. San Pedro entices visitors with its vibrant ambiance and stunning tropical landscapes. As you arrive by ferry or small plane, (we did both) you jump on a golf cart to find your destination through the crowded streets of this downtown area. You’ll quickly notice that it can be quite crowded, however, amidst the bustling atmosphere, countless shops, lively bars, and inviting restaurants await exploration, ensuring that there’s always something new to discover.

As you explore further, be prepared for encounters with the local wildlife, there are chickens, crocodiles, and even the elusive jaguar plus the wildlife we encountered the most… a formidable foe: the mosquitoes. These pesky critters can be a nuisance, so it’s advisable to bring mosquito repellent toward them off and fully enjoy your time in this tropical paradise. Despite this inconvenience, San Pedro offers an array of adventures, from snorkeling the stunning Barrier Reef to exploring the nearby islands, making it worth the visit, but also a huge comparison to Rocky Point, I haven’t been bit by a mosquito for years…

The north end of Ambergris Caye has changed a lot in the years since we’ve been there. New development is popping up and on the north side there is a really cool area called Secret Beach. Don’t worry it’s not like I’m giving away some big secret, as you can see from the picture it is commercial and a super cool area full of beach bars, and restaurants at the water’s edge. This is something else Puerto Peñasco could take a cue from. Wouldn’t it be cool to drive down, maybe the beach area between Las Conchas and Mayan Palace or Esmeralda and the Reef, where local vendors could have a spot to set up a Secret Beach area where you could park and frequent beachfront bars and outdoor cafes?

Another incredible thing that happened, which just goes to show what a small world it truly is, we went to the Moon, (mainly because I’ve always said I wanted to go to the moon) and I figured let’s take the golf cart, 30 minutes north, and see what this place is called “The Moon”. And guess what, serendipity, this beautiful beachside Airbnb, bar, and restaurant, is owned by an Arizonan and a Puerto Peñasco property owner. Can we say small world? And trust me when I say this, if I’m ever going back to Ambergris, this is my spot. I would go back and indulge in their delectable lobster pizza, and if you’re feeling adventurous, The Moon provides kayaks and paddleboards and use of their pool for those eating and drinking over 18. It truly was one of my favorite places.

As I reflect on this journey through Belize, one thing becomes abundantly clear – the beauty of traveling lies in discovering diverse destinations. From the charming golf carts and water bars in Caye Caulker to the beachside bliss of Secret Beach and the vibrant atmosphere of San Pedro, each location offers its unique allure. Yet, no matter where our adventures take us, as Dorothy wisely said in the Wizard of Oz, there’s truly no place like home.