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Which Belize Island is for You: San Pedro or Caye Caulker?

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Trying to decide which Belize Island is right for you? Choosing between San Pedro and Caye Caulker Belize is tough if you’ve never been to either island.

Both of these Belize islands are absolutely fantastic, but there are definitely differences that you’ll want to know about before choosing which one you want to vacation on.

I’ve broken down the comparison by the things that are often most important when planning your trip and you can see which is the best overall (in my opinion) at the bottom of the post.

For more thorough information on each island, check out my blog posts for each island.

The best things to do in San Pedro

Things to Do in Caye Caulker: A Guide

How to Get to San Pedro and Caye Caulker

There are several different ways to get to San Pedro and Caye Caulker.

If you are coming from Mexico, you can fly into Chetumal airport and then take the ferry from Chetumal to the islands. The ferry costs about $50 USD each way. It’s cheaper to book your tickets at the ticket counter than to do it online beforehand, but I don’t recommend this if you are visiting during a busy period.

You can book the boats on this website or this website. There are two companies, but they go on alternating days, so just check the dates to find out which company is going on the day you want to travel.

If you are coming from traveling in Belize, you can fly into Belize City and then take the ferry from Belize City to San Pedro or Caye Caulker. 

The third option is to fly into San Pedro. There is a very small airport here and you can fly from Belize City on a little flight that goes once or twice a day.

Which Belize Island to Choose: San Pedro or Caye Caulker?

There are merits to both of these islands and indeed I like them both for different reasons. However, if you only have time to visit one, you’ll want to know which is better.

the best things to do in belize are just to sit on a chair by the ocean like this

Best for Families

If you are trying to decide between San Pedro and Caye Caulker for a family vacation, I highly recommend San Pedro.

San Pedro definitely has more of a family vibe than Caye Caulker, although you can also find plenty to do with the family in Caye Caulker if it meets your families needs.

In San Pedro, there are more hotel and Airbnb options, the island is bigger, there are more family-friendly restaurants, and a lot more options for getting out on the water.

the best countries for americans to move to depend so much on what you're looking for

Best for Backpackers

If you are backpacking Latin America and want to know which island is best for your budget and where you’ll meet plenty of other backpackers, it’s Caye Caulker.

Caye Caulker has hostels and budget hotel options. There are tons of street-side restaurants that are incredibly reasonably priced. The bars are busy all day long and the boat trips start late enough to sleep off your hangover first.

This is the island where most backpackers head as they make their way through Belize, so if you want to meet fellow travelers, then this is the place to do it.

Read: What to Wear in Belize

Best Nightlife

This is a tough one. Overall, I’d say that the nightlife is better in San Pedro.

Because it’s a bigger town and there are more tourists in general, things are open much later and there are tons of really great bars along the waterfront. Most serve food well past 9pm and even if they close at 11 or 12, they still let you finish your last drink and linger for a bit longer.

Caye Caulker is a much sleepier island and most things are shut by 9pm, including bars and street stalls. 

There aren’t really any street lights around Caye Caulker, so it’s best to get back to your accommodation before it’s too dark anyway.

However, there is one bar that, a few nights a week, is open well past midnight. That’s I and I Reggae Bar and it is the best and really only place to party into the night on Caye Caulker.

belize packing list should include beach attire for sure!

Best Beaches

San Pedro wins on this one since Caye Caulker doesn’t really have a beach. 

San Pedro has Secret Beach, which is a little slice of paradise on the northern part of Amerbergris Caye and easily accessed by car or golf cart.

In the main town of San Pedro, there is also a beach along the east side of the island where you can sit on chairs with your toes in the sand and swim in the calm waters without needing to go into one of the restaurants.

In Caye Caulker, the only real beach to speak of requires a ferry ride across the waterway. Otherwise you will need to jump into the water off of the piers and swim in the water that way. 

Most Affordable Destination

Belize in general is more expensive than it’s neighbors to the north and west. However, there are still definitely deals to be had and most of those are on Caye Caulker.

Since Caye Caulker is a popular spot for backpackers, there are more restaurants and food stalls that do drinks and meal offers throughout the day. 

The boat trips are also significantly cheaper on Caye Caulker than San Pedro if you are on a budget and want to take several snorkeling trips while you’re there.

San Pedro tends to attract an older and more affluent crowd, so the restaurants and hotels tend to suit that budget group instead.

secret beach san pedro belize

Best Belize Island for Food

Foodies need to get themselves to Caye Caulker. It is without a doubt the island with the better food options.

On San Pedro, you’ll find lots of waterfront restaurants and seafood places serving up perfectly fine dishes of seafood. But it’s nothing particularly special, especially for the price that you pay.

In Caye Caulker, there are rows of barbecue spots cooking up jerk chicken, fresh lobster, whole fish, and smoked sausages. It’s all served with heaped scoops of potato salad, rice and beans, coleslaw and plenty of barbecue sauce.

In the mornings, you can smell the fry-jacks from the other end of the island and they are piping hot and delicious. There’s a fantastic little coffee shop that makes homemade donuts.

In the evenings, all of the restaurants open up to serve up more fresh seafood hot off the barbecue and always a complimentary glass of rum punch. 

riding golf carts is one of the best things to do in san pedro belize

Belize Island with the Most Activities

This is a tough call, because it really depends on what activities you are looking to do while on your vacation to Belize.

There are overall, a lot more things to do in San Pedro than Caye Caulker.

San Pedro has more (and better quality) dive shops who will take you to tons of different dive locations around the Belize Barrier Reef.

There is an airport where you can take a flight up and over the Great Blue Hole.

San Pedro is bigger, so you can rent a golf cart and explore the northern area around Secret Beach or head south to the Maya ruins and the quiet beach coves.

There’s the Chicken drop at night, which is an interesting and strange experience. 

Caye Caulker is more of a place to head if you want to lay in a hammock and read a book with an ice cold Belikin beer for most of the day and intersperse your relaxing with delicious seafood.

packing for belize is tricky if you don't know exactly where you're going to be like this little island of San Pedro

Which Island is Better, San Pedro or Caye Caulker?

I don’t think I’ve really hidden my preference in this blog post, but in case you’re still not sure, I really love Caye Caulker.

For me, it had everything that I look for in a vacation destination: amazing food, great bars, lots of hammocks, a few activities, and more amazing food.

I like that you can get the same and often better quality of Airbnb, food, and snorkeling trips in Caye Caulker for a much lower price than what you pay in San Pedro. 

Caye Caulker is small enough that you can walk everywhere and if you really want to explore more, you can rent a bike and head south to the rest of the island.

San Pedro is larger and if you want to get anywhere outside of the town, you need to either rent a golf cart or get a taxi. This isn’t really a negative, just worth noting so that you have all the information you need about each place to make your decision.

However, I would not take back my time in San Pedro. I’m really glad I made time for both islands and if you have the time, I recommend checking out both.

Overall, we spent 4 days in San Pedro and 4 days in Caye Caulker and then we added and extra day in Caye Caulker in the end because we just weren’t ready to leave.