There are more than 200 cayes (keys), which are islands that make up a large portion of Belize, Ambergris Caye being the largest. It is approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) long from north to south, and approximately 1.6 kilometers, (1 mile) wide and consists of three main areas; the lagoons, protected mangroves, and white sand. The Belize Barrier Reef, part of the Mesoamerican Reef lies approximately one half of a mile to the east of the island, and runs the entire length. The reef meets land at Rocky Point, about 27 km (17 miles) north of the island’s only town of San Pedro.
La Isla Bonita Guide Map
Fun Fact 1: Ambergris Caye was named after large lumps of ambergris, which is a solid, waxy, and flammable substance from the digestive system of sperm whales.
The Mayan People
Documentation between the Europeans and Ambergris Caye settlers dates back to the Pre-Columbian time, when the Mayan community populated the area. An interesting and highly intelligent civilization, the Maya lived throughout Central America, flourishing from 250 A.D. to 900 A.D. Mayans were strong and well-developed. They masterminded fantastic temples and made incredibly polished earthenware and stoneware, as well as many other fine productions. They accomplished incredible scholastic achievements and were highly intelligent stargazers. They were also brilliant mathematicians who recorded their history on stone and wooden slabs. Be sure to read about visiting the Mayan Ruins.
Fun Fact 2: Ambergris Caye is not really a “caye” or an island, but rather the end of the Yucatan Peninsula. The Yucatan Peninsula is a region of southeastern Mexico, consisting of the Mexican states of Yucatan, Campeche, and Quintana Roo.
Ambergris Caye & Mexico
One of the Mayans’ greatest achievements was conceiving an efficient and fantastic trade route throughout Central America, starting from Mexico all the way down to Roatan Island, Honduras. In order to make fishing and trading more convenient and suitable, some folks believe that the Mayans actually dug a channel—which is just a few feet wide and not quite a mile long—that now divides Mexico from Ambergris Caye. The Mayans were able to go about their business of fishing faster and more efficiently by not having to trek, via canoe, through the mangroves and around the peninsula to get to the open sea. Still, others believe that the channel is a natural waterway created by a hurricane long ago.
Fun Fact 3: Today, the channel is called the Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve.
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