A popular one among our crew and sailing family (and one we’ve certainly had fun recounting and reminiscing…) is FINALLY here: Our Belize Barhopping Guide, a crafted guide accessed ultimately from a sailing charter.
With authentic live music venues oozing Caribbean vibes, culinary hotspots, cultural meccas, over-the-water bars on remote atolls, rustic thatched island bars that transport you back in time, and spectacular sundowner spots, Belize has it all!
And we can whisk you there as part of your BSV yacht charter. Here are our handpicked ultimate beach bars:
Tranquility Bay – North of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye
Located on Ambergris Caye’s northernmost tip – where the reef touches the land, and just beyond is the Mexican Yucatan, where there is nothing else around except the reef, turquoise waters, swaying palm trees, and warm hospitality in this over-the-water wooden bar and grill that is part of an intimate and remote resort of idyllic villas. The walls are decked with underwater murals, adding to the aquatic ambiance as you watch schools of snapper idle under the dock.
Guests typically access this area via a regular fishing boat (due to the extremely shallow depth of the waters) as part of a “catch and cook’ custom day excursion, highly recommended as part of a northern itinerary!
Crocs Sunset Sports Bar – Tres Cocos, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye
A lot of the emphasis on Ambergris Caye is the beach, but for a vibrant contrast, head to the western lagoon side to Croc’s, just north of the bridge from San Pedro. Overlooking the lagoon and mangroves, spot numerous species of birds, including egrets, herons, and maybe even the roseate spoonbill. Juvenile fish also hang out in the shallows, along with a very occasional elusive croc!
A spectacular spot to watch the sunset and indulge in items from their extensive menu of bar bites. We love the coconut lobster pops with a refreshing ice-cold Belikin!
Nauti Crab – Boca Del Rio, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye
A convivial meeting place at the beach in Boca del Rio, every day at Nauti Crab is an event. They host Guitar Jams, Wheel of Fortune, Hermit Crab Races, Bingo, Paint n Splash, Trivia, and karaoke. Still, our favorite has to be Sunday Brunch featuring lobster eggs benedict, and mimosa towers. You will definitely need to hit the hammock after a visit!
Wayos – Boca Del Rio, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye
“Wayo from Cayo” is a local legend with a large following of locals, ex-pats, and returning holidaymakers. Located over the water in the northern part of San Pedro town, the fun and eclectic playlist is reason alone to visit. Most evenings feature a convivial-themed event, including Name Dat Tune, Festive Fridays featuring local DJs, a regular lineup of live musicians, Chase the Ace card evenings, regular charitable events, and the daily happy hour from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. “Retro Rewind” evening is our personal fave! You are always made to feel like family by Wayo himself and his super-friendly crew.
Estel’s Dine by the Sea – San Pedro, Ambergris Caye
An island institution founded in 1988, it is one of the oldest establishments still intact on Ambergris Caye. Sand floors, chalkboard menus, old maritime touches, and a hub of local characters make this a fun rustic stop, whether for their signature bloody mary or sublime coconut mojito.
The main draw is the enormous ‘build your own’ breakfast plates available all day and their multi-award-winning weekend BBQ, which is not for the faint-hearted.
Sip N Dip, Caye Caulker
As the name suggests, dip in the water as you sip your drink! The collection of inner tubes, water swings, hammocks, and in-the-water tables and chairs will ensure you are as refreshed from the water as you are from your libation.
Expect reggae music and friendly local vibes.
Iguana Reef Inn Sunset Bar, Caye Caulker
On the “lee side” (west side) of the island, this is the perfect place to watch the sunset and enjoy a more elegant island vibe. Spot seahorses in their seahorse sanctuary and hang out with the pelicans and rays congregating at dusk in the shallow waters as fishermen clean their catch.
Become an Instagram magnet with shots of your very own sailboat in the background as the sun goes down over the mainland.
The Lazy Lizard (aka “The Split”), Caye Caulker
Arguably the most famous bar and grill in Caye Caulker and perhaps the northern cayes, The Split oozes the ultimate in Caribbean island vibes with a sprinkling of bohemian energy, being big on the backpacker circuit.
It is located next to the split between the north and south islands (hence the name), which was once a small dug-out channel widened in 1961 by hurricane Hattie. The cool, clear aqua waters make it the most famous swimming area in the northern cayes, and the killer sunsets make it a mecca for sundown.
We’ve no idea what constitutes their legendary “Lizard Juice,” but rumor has it that one may be enough!
Sand Bar Lounge, St George’s Caye
Steeped in British and Belizean history dating back to the 1700s, St George’s Caye used to be the capital of Belize. Only accessible by private boat, it now comprises some private family homes and one long-established beach lodge, the St George’s Caye Resort. Built in the 1980s, the lodge has preserved its past with its grand mahogany bar, wooden floors, and walls adorned with aquatic carvings. Enjoy a mango margarita on the deck in the trade winds as you watch the frigate birds fighting over their catch.
Reef’s End Lodge, Tobacco Caye
Tobacco Caye sits directly on the barrier reef, and Reef’s End Lodge Bar is perched over the water, so you are sitting on top of the reef. It does not get more picturesque than this, as you feel a million miles away from the rest of the world and hear the ocean crashing against the reef.
On a BSV itinerary, we take you snorkeling through the cut in the reef back to the bar; there is nothing like a frozen drink to reward your aquatic efforts!
Kirk’s Bar, Tobacco Caye
With about 30 locals who call this 5-acre island home, Kirk Westby is one of the residents and has been operating his rustic thatched bar for 16 years. Expect a few sleepy locals returning from their day of fishing or guiding the handful of visiting guests as they catch up on their day to the sounds of reggae and Caribbean tunes. You can also find Kirk on Amazon with his legendary book “Kirk’s Belizean Island Drinks,” which is not only a collection of his tropical libations but also a fascinating guide to Belize, a few of his amusing anecdotes and entertaining insights into Belizean culture and the island.
Hideaway Caye, Pelican Cayes
This hidden collection of mangrove islands is surrounded by some of the most impressive coral heads in the country and teem with incredible marine life, making for a great snorkel day. The bonus is a tiny bar hidden away that runs on solar panels and a generator, which makes for a fun pit stop after a day on the water and is not surprisingly called ‘Hideaway Caye’ as if you’d blink, you’d miss it.
Dustin, Kim, and their daughter Ama (a resident since birth) sailed down in 2009 and made this remote outpost home. Ama is avid about marine conservation, and it’s a treat to listen to her stories growing up as a barefoot island gal.
Bully’s Beach Bar, Ranguana Caye
A 2-acre remote island on the reef, Ranguana Caye has perfect white sands, swaying palm trees, and a couple of colorful cabanas for resident guests. Bully’s Beach Bar has all the components for a tropical island beach bar: Palapa roof – check, vibrant wooden signs – check, resident parrot – check, tropical drinks – check, “shot ski”- what? It’s a ski, with cut-out holes for shot glasses, making a round of group shots all that more exciting!
Ranguana is also home to nesting turtles, and some BSV guests have been lucky enough to witness hatchings, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
A private island resort on the edge of the Gladden Spit and Silk Caye Marine Reserve, Ray Caye is surrounded by pristine corals teeming with kaleidoscopic marine life, enjoyed right from our mooring ball, which is reason alone to visit. Add to that over-the-water swings, an exhilarating slide, a volleyball court, and a freshwater pool we are welcome to use make for a fun afternoon island style.
Looking for a culinary experience off the boat? Lionfish, while exotic and beautiful, are an invasive species and harmful to the waters of Belize. The Lionfish Grill, as the name suggests, proudly serves lionfish specials, and the dinner menu excels with creativity. Signature dishes include the lionfish crepes and the ‘Mai Kai’ – a poached lionfish fillet in a coconut red curry sauce. The jalapeno margarita also packs a punch!
Go in search of booty or walk the plank at everything pirate themed King Lewey’s Private Island. Surrounded by pristine azul waters which exemplifies the small collection of bright and boldly painted wooden structures, this is the perfect stop for pirate themed fun day. With all the beach games (corn hole, giant chess, horseshoes and a pitch and put), over the water swings, a giant inflatable trampoline, inner tubes, life sized pirate mannequins, skeletons and of course, a resident parrot, the only thing missing is Johnny Depp.
The Curve Bar, Sittee River, Hopkins
To access the quaint village of Hopkins, we sail up the majestic Sittee River, where you enjoy the contrast from salt water to fresh and experience an abundance of jungle wildlife. We dock at the Sittee River Marina, which has a resident bar, The Curve Bar, which refers to the curve in the river where it is located. Under a giant palapa roof and surrounded by vibrant tropical plants and flowers, it’s a true oasis with laid-back, warm, and friendly service. Look out for the resident crocs; swimming not advised!
Ella’s Cool Spot, Hopkins
The village of Hopkins has deep cultural roots, being the hub of the Garifuna people, descendants from West Africa who arrived in Belize after escaping slavery in Saint Vincent. The Garifuna people contribute to the many authentic cultures that make Belize a melting pot.
Ella’s Cool Spot is a popular beach hangout in the heart of the village and regularly features traditional Garifuna drumming and live music.
Hopkins is a cultural mecca and a great base to explore further, with Garifuna drumming lessons, cookery classes, dancing, and drum making for those wanting an afternoon on land as part of their sailing itinerary.
The Big Dock Bar, Hopkins
One for the Instagram collection, The Big Dock Bar, is at the end of a really big dock! The major draws at this double-decker bar are the over-the-water netted trampolines for lounging, swing bar seats, and a rope swing. A refreshing place for a pit stop.
Yoli’s Over Da Water Bar & Grill, Placencia
A cruiser’s mecca, Yoli’s has been a village institution for decades and a must-visit from the dinghy for a game of cribbage, a trivia afternoon, or even to get in on the regular poker meet. Old school, over-the-water rustic charm is the vibe; this is the type of place songs are written about!
Barefoot Beach Bar, Placencia
Take a walk up the tiny colorful sidewalk in Placencia’s quaint, growing-up fishing village, and you’ll find Barefoot Bar. Or bars, there are 2! Every chair, bar stool, and table is brightly painted and the walls are adorned with vibrant chalkboards of their daily drink and food specials. Music is the feature, with rotating live performances, acoustic nights, DJs, and theme evenings. Those wanting to dance the night away, don’t miss salsa night, our favorite.
Isla Marisol Resort, Southwest Caye, Glover’s Reef Atoll
No Caribbean bar is complete without a pirate story. Glover’s Reef Atoll is named after 17th pirate John Glover who allegedly discovered it (although Mayan artifacts have been found, so they found it first!). Pirates used the islands at Glover’s as a base to raid Spanish ships that had run aground on the reef, and modern-day atoll residents claim to have found historical artifacts such as cannon balls and glass bottles (but so far, no booty!)
Isla Marisol is a rustic diving and sports fishing retreat with classic Belizean charm. Owned by the Usher family since 1942, when it was a coconut plantation, it opened as a small resort in 2002 and has remained locally owned ever since, operating as a diving retreat. Jacques Cousteau claimed that the wall at Glover’s offered some of the most impressive diving in the world, and for our scuba divers, we can arrange diving for you directly with Isla Marisol.
Prefer to snorkel? The 700+ patch reefs in the atoll lagoon will keep you occupied!
Accessing the Atolls requires a 2-hour speedboat from the mainland, or, much easier – sail over on your own private floating hotel and spend a few days exploring the islands. The over-the-water wooden bar could possibly be one of the most remote in the Western Caribbean. Being on the west side of the atoll, be prepared for the ultimate sunset before being smothered in the bath of electric stars.