How To Get To Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker

All international flights arrive into the Belize City airport Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport (BZE). After you clear customs which took us all of 15 minutes, you collect your bags and off you go.

Most tourists go 1 of three ways:

  1. head to the islands (San Pedro, Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker)
  2. head to San Ignacio
  3. head east to Placencia, Dangriga, Hopkins

During my visit to Belize, I went to San Ignacio first and from there to Caye Caulker. I didn’t visit the other eastern cities so I didn’t personally experience it, but the routes to get to the Cayes are included.

Note: There are other smaller islands that people visit but in this article we’re focused on getting to the two major touristed islands Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker.

There are two domestic airlines in Belize: Tropic Air and Maya Island Airline. I flew on Tropic Air on a 9:30am flight to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye from San Ignacio. To be honest I don’t know what the differences (if any) are between the two airlines., the company who booked all of my hotels and transfers, recommended Tropic Air.

Before we dive in, let’s get a basic sense of the geography. The map below shows you Belize, City and both Cayes. As you can see Caye Caulker is closer to Belize City. Madonna made Ambergris Caye popular and famous in her song, La Isla Bonita and most tourists choose to go there….not because of that song necessarily but the island is significantly bigger so there’s more to do and see. Whereas when you land on Caye Caulker, it’s like time stops.

I stayed on Caye Caulker, but visited Ambergris as well and I think Caye Caulker was exactly what my husband and I needed after a hectic end-of-year push at both of our workplaces.


{Getting From Belize City to San Pedro,
Ambergris Caye}

Conclusion: You save an hour by flying or save about $35 by taking a water taxi, so it really comes down to personal preference: details below.

Flying: The flight is about 45 minutes and costs about $90USD per person, 1 way on Tropic Air.

  • enjoy views from above
  • small plane

Water Taxi: 75 minutes and costs $28USD per adult (age 11+) and $14USD (age 4-10) one-way. Plus you have to factor in the 30 minute/$25USD cab to the water ferry terminal.

  • if you fly it’s door-to-door in 45 minutes
  • if you water taxi it’s a total travel time of an 1 hr. 45 min.
  • save $35 if you water taxi (That’s a few drinks or meals on the island).

{Getting From San Ignacio to San Pedro,
Ambergris Caye}

Drive 2 hours from San Ignacio to Belize City | 45 min. water taxi to Caye Caulker.Private

  • a private shuttle would’ve cost about $250USD
  • the water taxi from Belize City to Caye Caulker is $18USD/person one-way or $28USD/person round trip; and it’s direct.

Fly + water taxi. 15 minute cab to Maya Flats airstrip | 1 hour flight
Taxi: $20USD for up to 2 people
Flights: $90USD for 1 person, 1 one-way

This is a no-brainer – fly.  You could probably find a less expensive transport or go via public bus which would decrease costs.

{Some Photos from Ambergris Caye}




{Getting From Belize City to Caye Caulker}

You have the same two options to fly or take a water taxi. The flight is 15 minutes vs. 45 minute water taxi.

Cost to fly: As far as cost goes, I’m not sure about flying. Since the airstrip on Caye Caulker has been under construction since October 2016, the websites for Tropic Air and Maya Island Air don’t show current fairs. But I’m going to assume it’s a little less than $90 per person, one-way.

Cost to water taxi: The cab to the water taxi terminal is $25, the water taxi costs $18USD per adult (age 11+) and $12USD (age 4-10) one-way.

So basically, the cost to fly is about double.



{Getting From San Ignacio to Caye Caulker}

Drive + water taxi; drive 2 hours from San Ignacio to Belize City | 45 min. water taxi to Caye Caulker.

This would have cost:

  • a private shuttle would’ve cost about $250USD
  • the water taxi from Belize City to Caye Caulker is $18USD/person one-way or $28USD/person round trip; and it’s direct.

Fly + water taxi: 

15 minute taxi from San Ignacio hotel to Maya Flats airstrip | 1 hour flight to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye | 45 min. water taxi to Caye Caulker.

Taxi: $20USD for up to 2 people
Flights: $90USD for 1 person, one-way
Water Taxi: $18USD per person, one-way

It was a little less costly to fly – not much but a little. But there were more logistics involved with flying as we had to get to the airstrip, then fly to San Pedro and then water taxi from there.

We decided to fly. We booked the flight before we left on the trip as we heard the road from Belize City-San Ignacio can be bumpy. Plus the airstrip is so close to San Ignacio town where we stayed that it all seemed great. And it would have been except that the water taxi in San Pedro was really behind schedule. We stood in line on the dock in the heat for almost an hour. Plus it was crowded as this was peak season so there were a lot of people.

If the water taxi had been running on time, everything would have run like clockwork and I’d make the same choice again. How often do you get to fly over one of the world’s renowned barrier reefs?

What I realized when we got to the Maya Flats Airstrip, was that we were the only ones  heading to Caye Caulker. Everyone else’s final destination was San Pedro. For them flying was unquestionably worth it.

I enjoyed the flight portion, simply because I’ve only been in a small airplane a handful of times and the views were awesome.

Since we flew into San Pedro in the morning and we wanted to visit there anyway, we tried to get the help of the travel company that we used to book, to help us set up a place where we could leave our luggage for the day while we checked out the island but they weren’t able to do that.

View from the flight

{Some Photos from Caye Caulker}

Welcome to Caye Caulker! 
The Split

{Getting From Hopkins, Placencia or Dangriga
to San Pedro or Caye Caulker}

From Hopkins, Placencia or Dangriga you can make your way back to Belize City to catch the water taxi, but given how far those cities are, you’re better off flying. Even if you’re headed to Caye Caulker, with the airstrip down, you’re better off flying to San Pedro and taking the water taxi from there.


  • From Belize City you can go either way when it comes to San Pedro. For Caye Caulker better to water taxi.
  • From Dangriga, Placencia, Hopkins it makes sense to fly.
  • From San Ignacio it makes sense to fly to San Pedro. Because the airstrip is down on Caye Caulker, flying vs. drive + water taxi comes down to preferences and your time vs. cost decisions.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our deep dive into how to get to the beautiful Belizean islands. And mostly I hope this helps you plan your trip there. Let me know if it did in the comments. I love hearing from our readers, and fun, funny, interesting helpful stories from your travel experiences! You might like to follow us on Facebook and Instagram too, where we share a lot of different content and images.

Brasil 237
Samta, Founder of PassportPages

Other PassportPages posts you might like:

Things to do on Caye Caulker for the “Outliers” in this article I detail things to do for those of us that aren’t working on a tan, don’t go fishing, are vegetarian/vegan, and get pretty buzzed from 1 drink. You can still have a great time on Caye Caulker!

Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker? 

Vegetarian on Caye Caulker

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