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Arches National Park is located in the beautiful state of Utah. The park encompasses more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches, dramatic canyons, and towering pinnacles.

Arches National Park

The park offers 2 scenic drives and we did both of them. The drives were breathtaking with plenty of viewpoint stops along the way. The parking lots can get crowded, so set aside enough time to backtrack if you can’t find a spot at a particular viewpoint.

We did a few easy and family-friendly hikes inside the park, and we’ll share our experiences with you.

Park Ave Trail, Arches National Park

Park Avenue Trail

A 1.8-mile walk through a gorgeous canyon surrounded by some amazing rock formations.  The trail begins at the Park Avenue parking lot with a fairly steep climb down but the incline is stepped making it relatively easy.  We loved strolling through the canyon and stopped often to look up at the massive pinnacles (like skyscrapers on Park Avenue).  It was a cool day, but I would imagine that the walk would be more challenging in direct sun as there was little shade on the trail.  The trail ends at a formation called Courthouse Towers.  If you are taking a shuttle, you can grab it at the Courthouse Towers parking lot or you can retrace your steps to get back to your car.  Rich doubled back for the car, allowing the kids and I more time to explore and take photos.  

Balanced Rock, Arches National Park

Balanced Rock Trail

This was an easy, partially paved walk to see Balanced Rock. It only takes about 20 minutes and the paved part is wheelchair and stroller accessible.  It’s a rock…balanced…on a tower.  Great photo op!

Sand Dune Arch

Take an easy and scenic hike down Broken Arch Trailhead.  First, take the first right turn to go see Sand Dune Arch.  It’s only 0.2mi down a narrow slot canyon and has a lot of shade. 

Broken Arch

After that, return to the Broken Arch trail and head to Broken Arch.  It’s not really broken, although it is cracked across the top.  The views from the arch are magnificent.  It’s an easy, flat 1.8-mile loop.

Delicate Arch Trail, Arches National Park

Delicate Arch Trail

Delicate Arch is one the most iconic arches within Arches National Park, figuring prominently on Utah state car plates, stamps and in tourist advertisements.  It’s a beautiful arch on an exposed rock face, with scenic vistas behind it.  It is, however, a 3.2 mile round trip from the nearest parking lot, and there is no water or shade, so it’s not for everyone.  You’re advised to bring lots of water, and it’s best viewed at sunset.

This hike may be too much for kids or the elderly.  No problem, just head to Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint.  The viewpoint has a parking lot and is stroller and wheelchair accessible.

 

Arches National ParkFiery Furnace

Fiery Furnace is one of the most challenging trails in Arches, and the park requires that hikers accompany a ranger-led hike.  It is a labyrinth of bright red sandstone fins that even experienced hikers can get lost in, with identical looking passageways and no landmarks.  You can view the exterior of the fins from the parking lot at the trailhead, and it is magical at sunset.  We highly recommend you stop there if you can.

Arches National ParkArches National Park is a national treasure and the park service asks that visitors do their part to protect the park.  It’s important to stay on marked trails to protect the soil.  The sandstone has pot holes called “Ephemeral Pools” that tiny organisms live in.  They should not be stepped in and if full of water should not be touched.  The Arches themselves are fragile and should not be climbed or walked on. 

Arches National Park

Arches National Park also has a Junior Rangers Program. They offer booklets at the Visitor’s Center or you can download them before you go. The book is full of activities that can be completed to earn a badge and a certificate.  The Visitor’s Center also offers Explorer’s Packs that can be checked out and returned at the Visitor’s Center. The packs include binoculars, a hand lens, a naturalist guide, a notebook, and activity ideas. The Junior Ranger badge can be earned with the pack.

Arches National Park

Camping is available in the park at Devil’s Garden Campground. Due to construction, the campground is closed until November 30, 2017. Campsites will be first come, first served from Nov 30 until Feb 28th. For dates after Feb 28th, 2018 you can reserve a spot up to 6 months in advance.

The park is open 24 hours a day, and the visitor center is open daily (closed on Christmas Day) at 9 a.m. and closed at 5:30 in the summer.

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Arches National Park

Antelope Island, Utah

Have you been to Antelope Island State Park on the scenic Great Salt Lake in Utah?  We spent a beautiful day there with our oldest son, Harrison and our golden retriever Oso.  We were absolutely blown away by the beauty of the place.

Deer Statue at the Visitor's Center, Antelope Island, Utah

Bison statue at the visitor's center, Antelope Island, Utah

Antelope Island, Utah

The park is located about 41 miles north of Salt Lake City.  You can reach the park via the Davis County Causeway.  The entrance fee is $10 per car or $3 per person by foot or bike.  Dogs are free!  The drive across the causeway is gorgeous!  

Antelope Island, Utah

We had driven all day and were not dressed for hiking so we decided to do the easy hike to Buffalo Point.  It’s only .8 miles and the views are amazing!  It’s perfect for families with small children and teens who are just in it for the photo-op! 

Buffalo Point Trail, Antelope Island, Utah

Buffalo Point Trail, Antelope Island, Utah

The trail ends at the top of the mountain with some fun rocks to climb and this view!

Antelope Island, Utah

For a more challenging hike, try Frary Peak.  This moderate 6.6-mile hike ends at the highest point on the island and I am told that the view is amazing!

Antelope Island, Utah

The Great Salt Lake is the largest salt lake in the Western Hemisphere.  The lake is about 75 miles long by 35 miles wide.  The Great Salt Lake has no outlets to the ocean so the only way that water can leave the lake is by evaporation.  This leaves all the salt behind, much like the ocean, only saltier. 

Antelope Island, Utah

 

Antelope Island, Utah

There are 4 campgrounds in the park and you can reserve a spot by calling  (801) 322-3770.

Antelope Island, Utah

Antelope Island, Utah

Dog are allowed in most areas of the park but must be on a leash.  

Antelope Island, Utah

There are around 250 American Bison on Antelope Island.  The park has an annual bison roundup ever October which is open to the public.  You can watch from your own horse or arrange a local guide.  Reservations are required.  

American Bison on Antelope Island, Utah

The park is open daily from 6am until 10 pm.  They are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Looking for a great place to stay while visiting Antelope Island State Park?   We loved Kimpton Hotel Monaco Salt Lake City

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A Dog-friendly Day Hike on Antelope IslandA Dog-friendly Day Hike on Antelope Island

Finding a hotel that is both family and pet-friendly is no easy task!  But we stumbled upon the perfect hotel on our recent trip to Salt Lake City, Utah – The Kimpton Hotel Monaco Salt Lake City.  Located in downtown Salt Lake, the Monaco is walking distance from many of the top tourist sites.  It was love at first sight.  

The hotel not only allows dogs, it welcomes them!  The first thing that you find in the entry is a water bowl and this sign.  Our golden retriever, Oso was delighted by the dog-loving valet and the bowl of fresh water.  We’d just driven from Moab, and he was dog tired!

Kimpton Hotel Monaco Salt Lake City
Kimpton Hotel Monaco Salt Lake City

Our teen was drawn to the bright lobby full of comfy sofas and board games.  They even have bikes you can borrow to explore the town.  

The Kimpton offers coffee, tea and hot chocolate in the morning and a hosted wine reception from 5 to 6 pm.  

The rooms are spacious with fun decor!   We stayed in a Deluxe Guestroom with Two Doubles.  We were just traveling with our teen so the room fit the 3 of us perfectly and Oso had plenty of room to stretch out.  We even had a great view of the city!  

The room included all the small touches that make a hotel stand out: large flat screen TV, bath amenities by Atelier Bloem, complimentary overnight shoe shine, and soft robes.  They even include a yoga mat in each room.  

The Monaco made sure to take care of our dog.  The room included bowls for water and food, a door hanger to remind housekeeping that a pet was in the room and no pet fees!  They even have a Director of Pet Relations, who can help with recommendations of pet-friendly restaurants and parks.  

The food at the Kimpton was excellent.  The hotel is home to a New American bistro called Bambara.  It is in a beautiful room with arched windows and a contemporary design.  The space was once a bank and the bank’s vault is now an intimate bar.   We loved the food!  It was so good that we ended eating dinner at the restaurant both nights that we were in Salt Lake.  

We loved our time at the Kimpton Monaco Salt Lake City.  It was a fun place to stay and the staff was so friendly and helpful.  We can’t wait to return!

Looking for something fun to do with your dog on your visit to Salt Lake City?  Be sure to check out Antelope Island State Park on the scenic Great Salt Lake.  It’s an amazing place to spend the day!  

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Hotel Monaco Salt Lake City

Whenever we visit Santa Barbara, we never miss an opportunity to visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center.   Located on Stearns Wharf, what this sea center may lack in size it makes up for in quality.

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center

Upon entering the exhibits kids can look at and crawl through a 1,500-gallon tidepool tank.  It’s up close and beautiful, filled with local creatures.

Our twins loved the Shark Cove exhibit where they were invited to gently touch coastal sharks and rays.  They were fascinated by the baby sharks, which can be seen inside their translucent eggs.

At the Intertidal Wonders exhibit, you can touch and feel sea anemones, starfish and hermit crabs.  Trained naturalists stand by to engage and answer questions.  Our boys really enjoyed this hands-on experience.

Our teen was quick to head upstairs to the dimly lit and beautiful “Jellies & Friends” exhibit.  Black lights glow through tanks full of these gorgeous creatures as they move slowly through the water.  They are like floating artwork.  

Upstairs they also have a small reading area for young kids and an adorable puppet theater.  

Marina Puppet Theater
Marina Puppet Theater

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center is open daily from 10 to 5 but is closed on most major holidays.  

Adults: $8.50
Seniors (65 and over): $7.50
Teens (13-17 years): $7.50
Children (2-12 years): $6.00
Children under 2 years FREE
Museum Members FREE

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center
The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center

They also sell the SB Nature Pass that includes unlimited admission to both the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and the Sea Center for two days.  They’re both well worth a visit for kids of any age.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center
The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center

If you are interested in visiting Santa Barbara, check out our other post on Family Fun in Santa Barbara.

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Sea Center Fun in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara must be one of the most beautiful cities in the United States.  We love the Spanish revival architecture, beaches lined with palm trees, amazing cuisine, and of course the laid-back California vibe.  We lived in Santa Barbara in the 1990s and we still have family there, so we get to return regularly.  It’s always exciting to visit and so very hard to leave.

We spent a week there this winter, which is out of the peak tourist season in summer, but the weather was very moderate.  There were no crowds and getting into restaurants was easy.

We stayed at The Fess Parker: A Doubletree by Hilton Resort, which is a wonderful family (and pet) friendly hotel.  Located across the street from the beach and within walking distance from the pier, it’s in a perfect spot.  The resort has some great restaurants and relaxing pools!

Running through the middle of Santa Barbara, State Street is the ‘main drag’ of Santa Barbara and is lined with shops, restaurants, night clubs and movie theaters.  We spent a good part of our trip there, and it’s fun to wander around on State with the crowds.

Sterns Wharf lies at the end of State Street.  It is one of the only wharves on the entire West Coast of the US that you can drive on and park your car.  The boys loved it!

View of #santabarbara from Sterns Wharf. The sky was so beautiful that day! #sternswharfsantabarbara #flashbackfriday

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It has a great aquarium (see our post on Sea Center Fun in Santa Barbara for more info), restaurants, gift shops, ice cream counters, and an adorable candy store.  You can even book a sunset cruise! We took a ride on the “Lil’ Toot”, which is a narrated boat ride around the harbor.  The boys loved the ride and we saw several adorable harbor seals.  One way tickets are $5 per adult and $1 per child.  

 My favorite thing about the wharf is the amazing view of Santa Barbara!

Santa Barbara Arts & Crafts Show

Another of our favorite things to do in Santa Barbara is to stroll along the beach on Sundays between 10 and sunset to see the wonderful creations at the weekly Art and Crafts show.  

Established in 1965, the show features original works of art made by local artists.  You can find the show on E. Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara in front of Skater’s Point.  

Ideas for Kids and Teens 

  • Grab your skateboard and have some fun at Skater’s Point.   Helmets are required.  
  • Leadbetter Beach is the perfect place to learn to surf or paddle board.  They also have volleyball nets, and surfboard rentals are available.
  • Bike along Santa Barbara’s beautiful waterfront.  You can rent bikes at Wheel Fun Bike Rentals at Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort.  

For the younger ones

Chase Palm Park is a great place to play out some energy.  It’s located across E. Cabrillo Blvd from the beach and art show.   This park features a shipwreck playground and a beautiful antique carousel.  A ride on the carousel costs $2.50.

The Sea Center is great for kids of all ages.  Learn more in our recent post: Sea Center Fun in Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara has something for everyone.  If we missed one of your favorite spots, share it with us in the comments!

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Family Fun in Santa Barbara


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Nestled in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa is a gem of a hotel.  Built in 1865, the Grand Resort operated as a hotel for 122 years, but had fallen into disrepair in the 1980s.  In 1998 it was purchased out of bankruptcy and completely remodeled by 2002 as a 4 star destination hotel and spa.  We spent 4 glorious days at the Mountain View Grand Resort and our only disappointment was that we were unable to stay longer.  It’s a very special place.  

 

 The Resort is situated on a rise in the middle of a valley near the town of Whitefield, NH, with unobstructed views of the White Mountains, including Mt. Washington.  The grounds are gorgeous!

 The resort offers plush, spacious rooms, with modern appointments and excellent room service.  Our family of 5 comfortably fit in the Vista Studio Two-Queen Room and we had a beautiful view of the resort.

Mountain View Grand Resort

 

The Spa is a top-tier spa offering massages, facials, manicures, pedicures, hydrotherapy and makeup services.  Rich and I indulged in massages and pedicures while the boys were watching a movie in the resort’s theater.  The theater was our boys’ favorite thing about the resort.   You can pick out a movie from their extensive library, and they will play it for you at a time of your choosing.  They’ll also deliver popcorn for you and your guests, which was also popular with our group.  The staff was amazing with our boys and had them feeling very pampered.  

 Dining options are excellent, including a casual farm-to-table restaurant, an elegant wine cellar restaurant, drinks and snacks on the veranda or classic summer favorites at the poolside Club House.  You can also order food for in-room dining.  We loved the food and the service was amazing.  It’s the kind of place where the staff remembers your name and your favorite drink.  

 In the afternoon, the resort offers refreshments and wine tastings.  They also have an impressive wine cellar that you can tour.  On one night our stay they offered a local beer tasting in the Harvest Tavern.  Our oldest enjoyed a locally made soda while Rich and I enjoyed the beer.

 The Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa has a working farm that you can take tours of every morning, as well as a children’s program and a plethora of outdoor activities to sign up for, including hiking, biking, tennis, golf, swimming and more.  They also offer Axe Throwing daily, where you get to hurl large heavy axes at blocks of wood, and compete against your fellow hotel guests.  (Rich lost, but he got a couple solid hits!) The boys loved the giant chess board, the pool and fire pit with nightly s’mores.  The hotel also features a game room with games like ping pong and foosball, a gym and a business center.

 During the winter, they offer dogsledding, rig rides, snowmobiling, snowshoes, snow tubes and cross country skies.  They are close to Cannon Mountain for downhill skiing, Santa’s Village for holiday fun and several quaint New Hampshire towns for dining and shopping.  Our boys our begging to return in the winter to experience the cold weather fun!  

We had a great time at Grand Mountain during our summer road trip.  The people were warm and friendly, the food was delicious, and it was a peaceful retreat in a beautiful setting.  We definitely hope to return sometime soon.

Mountain View Grand Resort

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Mountain View Grand Resort

While on our cross-country road trip from California to Florida, we took a detour north to visit Montgomery, Alabama, the site of several important events in the struggle for civil rights in America.  We feel it is important for every American child to learn this history, and we wanted to take the opportunity for our children to see it in person.

Home to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Montgomery is the capital of Alabama, and for a short period was the capital of the Confederacy in 1861.

Capitol, Montgomery, Alabama

Montgomery was where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger, leading to a court case and sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1956, demanding an end to bus segregation.  The Freedom Riders were attacked by white supremacists at the Greyhound Bus Station in Montgomery in May 1961, which brought the cause of desegregation and civil rights to national attention.  In 1965, Dr. King organized a march from Selma to Montgomery, gathering attention that led to the Voting Rights Act passing in 1965.

Montgomery, Alabama

We had booked a room last-minute at the Embassy Suites in downtown Montgomery.  After checking into our room, we chatted with the bellman, who, upon finding out that we were solely there to see the historic civil rights locations, told us he would be happy to drive us around in the hotel shuttle and share his city with us.  We were so impressed and it was a unique experience to be shown around by a local.

We started by visiting the bus stop where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat.  There is a bench and a sign describing what happened and how it affected history.  The Rosa Parks Museum is right there, with the story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  It includes a full-size bus from 1955, built as a ‘time machine’, which transports visitors back in time to recreate the events of that fateful December day.

Rosa Parks Museum, Montgomery, Alabama

Next we saw Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, which is the church that Dr. Martin Luther King preached at during his time in Montgomery, and where many of the planning meetings for the Civil Rights movement happened.  It was closed the day we visited, but we were able to see the outside, and our tour guide told us about its history.

Montgomery, Alabama

Across the street from Dexter Avenue is the State Capitol, which is almost unchanged from how it looked during the Civil War.  It has statues and monuments for Alabama leaders, including one for Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy.  We had an on-the-spot history lesson about who he was, and what the Confederacy was, slavery, segregation, and how it all related.

Capitol, Montgomery, Alabama

But there was also a monument for the speech given there in 1965 by MLK at the end of the march from Selma to Montgomery.

Capitol, Montgomery, Alabama

Finally, we visited the Civil Rights Memorial at the Southern Poverty Law Center.  It is a beautiful and thoughtful monument designed by Maya Lin (the designer of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in DC), with a central fountain of water rolling over black granite.  

Civil Rights Memorial

Under the water, carved into the granite is a history of the Civil Rights Movement, circling around the fountain, so you can follow each moment as you walk around it.  

On the wall behind is part of MLK’s famous quote: “…we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”  It is a powerful monument and reminder of the sacrifices made in the fight for civil rights.  We were all affected by it.

Where to eat

We had a great dinner at Central Restaurant, an open-air New American restaurant in a converted warehouse space in downtown Montgomery.  The food was delicious and the service was excellent.  We were able to walk there and back from our hotel, and the downtown area was well-maintained and pedestrian-friendly.  

Central Restaurant, Capitol, Montgomery, Alabama

Where to stay

Embassy Suites by Hilton Montgomery was a great place to stay for our family of 5.  They include breakfast and each room has a pullout sofa bed, so we had plenty of room to stretch out.  The staff was very friendly and it was centrally located.

Embassy Suites, Montgomery, Alabama

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Montgomery, Alabama and the Civil Rights Movement

St. Augustine, Florida

You might think that the oldest masonry fort in America would be somewhere in the Northeast United States, but it’s actually a Spanish fort in Florida: El Castillo de San Marcos, constructed in 1672 to protect the critical Spanish port city of St. Augustine, itself the oldest city in America, dating back to 1565.

St. Augustine, Florida

And what a fort it is!  The Spanish built it out of a local stone called cocina, which is a sedimentary rock made up of compressed seashells.  It was available locally and easier to cut and shape than regular stone, and it turned out to have a unique defensive benefit: when cannonballs hit the fort, they bounced off, rather than absorbing the impact like stone and shattering.

St. Augustine, Florida

Repeated attacks by the British did little to damage the fort, while the defenders would simply bide their time and take carefully aimed shots at the attacking ships.  Unique among forts in the world, El Castillo de San Marcos was never taken by force.  It was transferred to the British in a peace treaty, returned to the Spanish in another agreement only 10 years later, and finally ceded to the United States by Spain in 1821.

The fort has excellent views of the bay, the Bridge of Lions, and the surrounding city.  The rooftop contains a collection of original cannons and mortars, as well as the iconic towers that the Spanish used to watch for approaching enemy ships.

Within the courtyard, you will find historical exhibits, including period cannonballs and docents explaining how people lived during the height of the fort’s use. The surrounding rooms contain films, exhibits and period costumes.  One room has graffiti carved in the walls by Plains Indians who were held prisoners of the US Army in the 1800s, which is a fascinating intersection of history.

St. Augustine, Florida

Definitely don’t miss the re-enactment of cannon firing, performed by volunteers in Spanish army uniforms every hour on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  They perform the entire loading, firing and cleaning procedure in Spanish, and actually fire the cannon off (no cannonballs, of course!).  Our boys loved it, and it draws quite a crowd.

St. Augustine, Florida

Admission for Adults aged 16 and up is $10.00 and is valid for 7 consecutive days.  Children under 16 are free.  Open daily from 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Visiting the fort is easy, and a short drive from Orlando.  It is located right in downtown St. Augustine, to the north of the Bridge of Lions.  We recommend the public parking right next to the visitor center.  It’s centrally located and reasonably priced. From there, you can explore the Castillo and the Old Town of St. Augustine, which you can read more about here.

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Visiting the Oldest Fort in America

Ambergris Caye is a fantastic place to visit: warm water, friendly people, white sand beaches and delicious food.  You can go out on a catamaran to see nurse sharks and humongous manta rays, go diving in the coral reef, go fishing, sample the delicious cuisine, or just lie on the beach and do nothing.  There are water taxis zipping around all day and night, so getting from one end to the other is not just easy, it’s fun!

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While getting around the Caye isn’t too hard, getting there is another story!  If you’re not flying in from Belize City (on little planes that are rather pricey), you have to take a ferry from Chetumal, Mexico, if you are coming from the north, or Belize City if you are coming from the south.  We were coming from Mexico, so that’s the route we took, and we’ll share our experience with you.

From Cancun or Playa del Carmen, you can drive or take the ADO bus to Chetumal.  We recommend the bus, so you don’t have to leave your rental car sitting somewhere, or pay a one-way fee to the rental companies.  And you can’t drive most Mexican rental cars into Belize, so don’t even think about that.

The ADO bus is pretty easy, just find the area at the Cancun airport and buy your ticket on the spot.  You can also start from any town on the coast of Quintana Roo, like Playa del Carmen or Tulum.  We recommend you take a day at both towns to enjoy their charms, as well as the area around Bacalar Lagoon (see our post: A Day on Bacalar Lagoon).

When you get to Chetumal, grab a taxi out front to get down to the pier (called the Muelle Fiscal).  There are two piers, so be sure your driver knows you want that pier, and that you are going to Belize (Belice in Spanish).  It’s about 15 or 20 minutes from the bus to the pier.

Get there early!  Can’t stress this one enough.  They only run one time per day from Chetumal.  If they sell out, you’re stuck overnight until then next day’s boat run.  They leave every day at 3pm, but they start loading before that, and the line forms before noon.  We recommend getting there before noon and buying your tickets.  They’ll give you a number, which will hold your place in line and then you can go grab lunch in Chetumal while you wait.

There are two water taxi companies, and they take turns doing the Chetumal to San Pedro run, with an optional continuation to Caulker Caye:

San Pedro Water Taxi: http://www.sanpedrowatertaxi.com/

Belize Water Taxi: http://www.belizewatertaxi.com/schedule

San Pedro Belize Water Taxi
San Pedro Belize Water Taxi on its way to Belize

Don’t buy your tickets ahead of time, even if you’re someone who always buys tickets ahead of time.  You might get tickets for the wrong company on the day you arrive.  And there’s no guarantee anything they post online is recent, or they didn’t change their mind last month about who does even days and who does odd days.  We found the San Pedro Water Taxi slightly more comfortable, if you do get a choice.

After you get checked in and they start loading your luggage on the boat, you’ll go through Mexican immigration and give them your tourist visa card, and get exit stamped.  Then it’s boat loading time.  It’s not the most spacious ferry we’ve ever been on, but it’s reasonably clean and well run.  They also pack the boat with merchandise or food for import to Belize.

If you can, get a spot in the middle to the back of the boat, as the boat will hit waves hard as it speeds across the bay to Ambergris Caye, and people in the front were flying up and down a few feet every time.   It’s a very bumpy ride so bring anti-nausea medicine if you are prone to seasickness.  It’s also important to note that there is no restroom on these ferries and it’s a 90 minute crossing.  There are restrooms at the terminal before you get on the boat.   We had pretty decent weather, but if it’s really stormy, you might want to postpone your trip for a day.

After about 90 minutes, you’ll arrive in San Pedro, the main town of Ambergris Caye, and unload on the dock there.  Belizean customs will process you in the order you bought your ticket in Chetumal.  We were the only boat going through customs, but it still took an hour.  Fortunately (or perhaps suspiciously?) there’s a snack shack selling food and drink while you wait.  Hmmm….

Belize fixes the exchange rate at $2 Belizean to $1 USD, so everyone takes US dollars interchangeably with Belizean dollars, even customs.

For the return trip, you must pay the Belizean tourist tax IN CASH, in addition to paying for your boat ticket.  You’ll need about $10 or 20 USD per person 12 and older.  There are ATMs in San Pedro, near the waterfront (on the opposite side of town from the boat pier).  The customs agent will remind you when you arrive what the cost will be when you leave.

And when you arrive back in Chetumal, you must pay another fee to the Mexican government to enter, about 300 pesos per person (adults and children).  We recommend stashing those pesos before you leave Mexico, as the money changers that greet you cheerily in Chetumal will give you a lousy exchange rate.

Hopefully this was a helpful guide to getting from Cancun to Ambergris Caye.  It’s well worth the extra effort, as the Caye is gorgeous, there’s so much to do there, and the people are warm and friendly.  It’s more of a Caribbean island atmosphere than Mexico, and everyone speaks English, so it’s easy to get around and communicate for Americans.

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  • Traveling from Mexico to Ambergris Caye, Belize