belize san pedro ambergris caye
Palapa is the grande dame of overwater bars in San Pedro.
Caribbean Video

Why Ambergris Caye, Belize is the Caribbean Capital of Overwater Bars

By: Alexander Britell and Guy Britton - February 8, 2024

You can hear the ballad from Palapa halfway across Ambergris Caye; for a moment you swear the voice belongs to Dolly Parton herself. 

Palapa is the town’s most prominent stage, hosting a revolving door of talented artists for intimate concerts just about every day of the week.

But Palapa isn’t technically in Ambergris Caye’s town of San Pedro. It’s in the Caribbean Sea. 

Palapa is one of the places that makes lovable, funky Ambergris Caye so special: it’s an overwater bar, part of a seemingly endless number of them stretched out across the coastline of the island. 

In fact, there are more overwater bars here in San Pedro than anywhere else in the Caribbean, all connected via thin wooden docks to the “mainland,” unique takes on the classic beach bar that make for a quintessentially Belizean experience. 

So why does Ambergris Caye have so many overwater bars? 

ambergris caye belize
There are more overwater bars here than anywhere else in the region.

“They’re just here,” says Asher, bartender at the Overseas Bar and Grill, the home of the best burgers on this strip. “Since I was young, there have always been these bars over the water on the beach. 

Overseas is a top music spot as well. On the night we’re here, the outstanding Kelly McGuire is on the mic, playing an extended set best paired with Belikin beer and Belize’s 1 Barrel rum. 

But these bars are not just for songs and sipping. The food is rather good, too. 

At Hurricanes, you can savor world-class ceviche, a dish that’s something of an art form in Ambergris Caye, from fresh-caught barracuda to shrimp and conch. It’s a plate that goes very well, as bartender Josh suggests, with Belize’s Old Master Extra Mature Rum. 

overwater bar belize
Delicious barracuda ceviche at Hurricanes.

These are honest, laid back, watering holes that are equally enjoyable by night or by day – indeed, many of them have in-the-water stools and tables for long afternoons spent bobbing in the sea: and the list goes on: High Seas, with its high tables perched right in the water; Cool Beans Cafe, the perfect place for an overwater breakfast and coffee. The list goes on. 

ambergris caye
Hurricanes is a haven for overwater afternoons and some of the best ceviche on the island.

And then there’s the lovable Wayo bar, the farthest one down the overwater strip, representing the core of what draws travelers to this lovely little island — it’s unpretentious, fun-loving and friendly, a place to take off your sandals and unwind with a cold one.

wayo
Wayo.

At Wayo’s, you understand the moment you walk in and see the sign above the bar. 

“If you can read this you need another margarita.” 

For more, visit Belize

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