When I was planning my trip to San Pedro, the fact that the main way to get from Belize City to San Pedro is by water taxi thrilled me.
It sounded like an amazingly lovely way to travel. It also seemed a tiny bit complicated, and I was worried about how each leg of the trip would go.
In the end, it was an easier process than I thought, but less pleasant than I had hoped for.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to get from Belize’s Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye.
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How to take a Water Taxi from Belize City to San Pedro, Belize
So you’ve booked a flight to Belize for a blissful vacation in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. And now you’ve just got to figure out how the heck to get from the airport in Belize City to San Pedro.
You can’t take a taxi because it’s to an island…or can you?
Well, no, you can’t just jump in a taxi and head to Ambergris Caye. But you can take a taxi and water taxi combo.
Step 1: Taxi a taxi from the Belize City Airport (BZE) to the Water Taxi terminals.
Note that there is NO public transportation option for this leg of the trip. This will cost about $25.
The rate is pretty standard, but to make sure you don’t get ripped off negotiate the rate and don’t get into the cab until you’ve agreed on the price.
They may tack on an additional $5 per person, but they don’t always. This is the official fair though, so just know ahead of time. The taxi ride is between 20-30 minutes depending on traffic.
Step 2: Take a Water Taxi to San Pedro, Belize on Ambergris Caye (NOT Caye Caulker).
This water taxi is $28 one-way or you can pay $38 for a round-trip ticket (the website now says this is $51.50 for a round trip if you book online, so bring more cash just in case).
The water taxi ride will take between 75-90 minutes depending on conditions. See below for how to book online.
Step 3: Walk to your hotel. Or, if your accommodations aren’t within walking distance, you can take a taxi to your hotel.
How to Book Your Transportation Online
I’ve gotten questions from readers about how to book online, and I’ve found the solution.
You can book your transportation between Belize Airport to the water taxi station or to Caye Ambergris directly online in advance with GuateGo, to ensure your seats and compare schedules, prices and travel times.
They put the work in to bring together all of the transport, routes options on their website.
The best part is that is a little bit cheaper than booking in the water taxi station and they have shared shuttle options if you are traveling alone.
You can book all the main destinations in Belize starting from the airport to the water taxi station or connect to Caye Caulker, Ambergris Caye, Chetumal, or book ground shuttles to San Ignacio or Palencia.
Also you can connect Belize City with practically every destination in Guatemala. You can choose what kind of transport you want to use (shuttle, coach, water taxi, luxury bus, private transport or plane) they have all the main transports in the web site.
Total Cost to Get from the Belize Airport to San Pedro if You Don’t Book Ahead
Between $44-$53 US one-way and between $88-$106 US round-trip depending on if you buy a round trip or a one-way water taxi ticket.
Of course, if you can split the taxi fares, that will save you money.
Note that the prices on the website are in US dollars, but the Belize dollar is $2 BZE = $1 US.
Most prices you will see in San Pedro will be quoted in American dollars, but if you’re ever confused then feel free to ask.
The water taxi companies will also accept US currency.
Total Time One-Way from the Belize City Airport to San Pedro
The transit time is 20-30 minutes for the regular taxi plus 75-90 minutes for the water taxi.
You will need to add time for border control and customs and the airport and wait time until the next water taxi leaves. This makes the total time 95-120 minutes plus wait time.
San Pedro Water Taxi Schedule
There are two main water taxi companies. Their terminals are a few hundred meters apart.
Note that the last water taxi from the Belize City marina is currently 5:30 pm (always check the schedules linked to below just in case something changes).
San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi Service
This is the company I used. You can check their current schedule here.
This company runs daily to from Belize City to San Pedro and Caye Caulker and back. Every other day they have water taxis to Chetumal in Quintana Roo in Mexico.
Ocean Water Taxi
Take the water taxi that’s available. I wouldn’t get picky about companies since they are basically the same.
You can check Ocean Water Taxi’s schedule here. They run daily from Belize City to San Pedro and Caye Caulker and back.
They also service Caye Chapel. They do not have any water taxis to Mexico.
Tips for Taking a Water Taxi
If it’s raining, the windows will be left open, since there’s no air conditioning. Try to grab a seat away from the windows in this case. Once the boat starts going fast, it will be very unpleasant.
Don’t sit towards the front! Even on a very sunny, calm day, sitting in the front was like continually getting picked up and then dropped about a foot.
If you are traveling with luggage, you can check your bag. It will be stored on the top of the boat and returned when you arrive. Keep your ticket they give you so you can prove that the bag is yours.
If you are backpacking, you will most likely be allowed to keep your backpack with you.
These water taxis are used by tourists and locals, so don’t be an Ugly tourist!
If you have some extra time and didn’t pack all the bug spray and sunscreen that I told you to pack for Belize, then buy it in Belize City. Island prices are crazy high. They are as much as 25%-40% more expensive than they should be.
You can pay for the water taxi with cash or with a Visa or Mastercard.
It’s incredibly windy near the open windows, as you can see below. Bring hair ties. Multiple. My hair tie broke and I had crazy wind hair for the rest of the day.
Food and Drink are not technically allowed. However, I never go anywhere without something to drink.
When you get out, plan for it to take a few minutes to pick up your checked luggage. Make sure you have your ticket stub handy so you can do it quickly.
Flights from Belize City to San Pedro
If you want to fly instead of taking the water ferry, Maya Island Air has twelve flights a day, between about 7 am until about 6 pm.
When buying your flight, make sure the time is coordinated. If you buy ahead of time, the price won’t be that much more than the water taxi when you consider the entire price including the taxi.
If you get motion sickness, a flight might be better than risking getting seasick.
Is there a Ferry from Belize City to San Pedro?
No, there is no Belize City to San Pedro ferry in the traditional sense. When people say they’re taking the ferry, they’re referring to the water taxis discussed above.
Private Boats & Private Water Taxis
Yes, you can contact private companies to do customized group pick-ups. Both Nautilus Express Water Taxi and Tropic Ferry offer private water taxis.
They need to be arranged ahead of time. The two main water taxi companies also offer chartered services.
Call or email ahead of time to get quotes and make private arrangements.
How to Get from San Pedro to Caye Caulker & Back
Once on the island, you might find you’d like to go from San Pedro to Caye Caulker.
You can take a water taxi, leaving from the same place you originally got dropped off.
Just make sure to check the return schedules so that you don’t get stuck.
Getting from San Pedro to Belize City
When returning, you’ll leave from the same ferry terminal that you arrived at, and you’ll use the same two companies.
Check their schedules and compare it to your flight times.
Remember that you need two hours for the ferry and taxi back to the airport, plus a cushion in case anything goes wrong on the way.
You can find taxis outside the ferry terminals to take you to the airport. If you want to see the “famous” Belize sign, you can have your taxi driver take you by it en route to the airport.
Frequently Asked Questions about Water Taxis to San Pedro
Here are the questions that get asked most often about getting from the airport to San Pedro.
Do I need to purchase my water taxi tickets ahead of time?
No, booking ahead is not necessary. You can buy your tickets when you get to the water taxi terminal. However, if you choose to book ahead of time use GuateGo.
I get motion sickness. Is that going to be an issue?
What happens if my flight is delayed past 5 pm?
If you get in after the last water taxi, you can try to get on a flight or get a hotel room in Belize City for the night.
Can we sit outside on the water taxi?
There are a few seats outside, but the vast majority of seats are inside.
If you want to sit outside, arrive as early as possible so you’ll be in line first.
One time when I was in the taxi, it started raining and I was very happy (if a little motion sick) to be on the inside.
I’m Bringing a Car with Me. How do I get it to Ambergris Caye?
There is a barge run by Caribbean Depot that takes cars across.
The water taxis aren’t traditional ferries, and they do not shuttle cars across.
Can I bring an alcoholic beverage to enjoy the water taxi?
There are signs that clearly state no alcohol, but sometimes people do. Feel free to try, but if they enforce the rules, then you’ve been warned.
Can I smoke on the water taxi?
No, there is no smoking allowed.
Are there group discounts?
Yes, if you book for ten people, you can get one person for free if you travel on San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi Service. Ocean Water Taxi does not offer group discounts.
Can I bring my service animal?
Yes! Service animals are welcome and do not need to be in a kennel.
Can I bring my pet?
Yes, you can bring pets. They must be in a kennel. If you do not have a kennel, you can ask ahead to rent one for a small fee.
What happens if the weather is too bad for the water taxis to go?
You will be helped to get aboard the next boat when it is safe to go.
5 Things To Bring to Belize
I have an entire post on what to pack for Belize, but if you don’t read it, make sure to have these five things with you before you get to the Belize City Airport:
Lonely Planet Belize which is available as a paper copy or in a Kindle edition.
Mosquito Repellant is the single most important thing you’ll want on you as soon as dusk hits. Have enough to at least get through the first night.
Full Sized Travel Towel This is the best travel towel in the world. It’s pretty enough for the beach, large enough that you forget it’s a microfibre towel, and quick-drying, which is crucial in super humid Belize.
A GoPro for underwater and action photography. Why go all the way to Belize and not be able to capture some of the most exciting parts of your trip?
Travel Insurance Policy because things happen on the road. I never leave home without travel insurance. I pay for World Nomads, and I happily recommend them. It’s especially important to get travel insurance if you’re going to be doing any snorkeling or scuba diving while in Belize.
I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for travel insurance for two years, and I happily recommend them.
It’s especially important to get travel insurance if you’re going to be doing any water sports, like scuba diving, sailing, or snorkeling, or if you’re going to do anything in the jungle or visit any ancient ruins.