Mayor Wally Nunez Discusses Transforming San Pedro, Belize

San Pedro Belize Mayor Wally Nunez

We sit down with the Mayor of San Pedro Town Wally Nunez and discuss what is happening round San Pedro and the future of Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Wally Nunez and his team recently won reelection in San Pedro Town. He took the time to sit down with us and explains his past and passion for Belize and the future vision for San Pedro.

If you’re wondering what is happening in San Pedro and around Ambergris Caye, Belize, check out this video. As we sit down with Mayor Wally Nunez to discuss everything that has recently happened as well as the future plans on the island of Ambergris Caye.

We get Wally’s insight into the Finance & Revenue Collections, Infrastructure Plans, Current Development, Planned Development, Tourism, Local Economic Development, Foreign Relations, Traffic Management, Human Resources, Staff Development Training, Trade & Investment!

Check out the latest video below;

Transforming San Pedro Belize with Mayor Wally Nunez

 

Wally takes the time to share ideas on the island as well as discuss his past term as Mayor and his vision for San Pedro. If you’re interested in Belize real estate and the future of Ambergris Caye, Belize, you want to miss this!

Contact us to learn more about Ambergris Caye & Belize!

 

Belize Tourism Q1 2024: All-Time High & Record-Breaking Tourism

Belize Tourism Q1 2024

 

Record-breaking numbers for the first quarter in Belize’s overnight arrivals!

2024 has been a record-breaking year for Belize tourism! In Q1 2024, Belize has seen record-breaking tourism arrivals (January to March 2024).

This indicates that year-to-date, Belize Overnight Tourism has had a record-breaking numbers and the highest volume in the countries tourism history.

 

 

Belize Overnight Tourism Arrivals in 2024

 

January 2024 Overnight Tourists: 57,628

February 2024 Overnight Tourists: 59,067

March 2024 Overnight Tourists: 69,202

 

Total Q1 2024 Overnight Tourists: 185,897

 

February was record breaking with 59,067. But March saw an all-time high and new record with 69,202 arrivals. March 2024 first time Belize has had over 60,000 overnight tourism arrivals (with 69,202 overnight arrivals in the month).

Both of the record breaking months (February & March) have made Q1 2024 the highest ever quarter for overnight tourism in Belize! Total Overnight Tourists for Q1 in 2024 was 185,897.

 

 

 

Belize Monthly Tourism Arrivals

 

2024 has seen record-breaking inbound tourism numbers. This has been largely due to the increased number of direct flights and the improved accessibility to Belize (internationally).

February 2024 was a record-setting month for Belize tourism. This record-setting tourism month was quickly superseded by March 2024 which saw an impressive 69,202 overnight tourists arrive in Belize!

March 2024 has now became the highest single month for overnight tourism in Belize at 69,202 tourists. The prior single-month record (before 2024) was in March 2019 at 57,697 overnight tourists.

Total Overnight Tourists for Q1 in 2024 was 185,897. This is 27.9% higher than in 2023 (last year Q1) and 17.5% higher than the prior record set in 2019.

 

January to March Belize Tourism Arrivals

 

 

 

Belize Tourism Growth

 

Q1 2024 saw a 27.9% increase in overnight tourism arrivals from Q1 2023.

Q1 2024 was a 17.5% increase from Q1 in prior peak year of 2019.

 

Annual Q1 Belize Tourism Arrivals

 

 

 

Overnight tоurіѕm arrivals to Belize increased bу оvеr 27.9% іn Q1 2024 (Јаnuаrу to March), compared tо the ѕаmе реrіоd lаѕt уеаr (2023). The trend in Belize tourism is expected to have continued growth, this is seen by the 17.5% increase in overnight tourism from 2019 (Q1). This is expected to result in an оvеrаll 11% estimated growth fоr the Belize tоurіѕm ѕесtоr іn 2024.

Belize Tourism rebounded strongly in 2023 and has continued in 2024. The stats from the early months of 2024 signal that the year 2024 will be a record-breaking year for inbound tourism to Belize!

 

 

 

Веlіzе’ѕ tоurіѕm industry іѕ booming, as seen in Q1 of 2024 and the first few mоnthѕ оf the year setting all-time highs and hіѕtоrіс rесоrd-breaking numbers in overnight tourism. The tourism growth (the largest sector in Belizean economy) is estimated tо gеnеrаtе аn unprecedented $1.4 bіllіоn іn rеvеnuе in 2024, this was announced by Minister of Тоurіѕm Аnthоnу Маhlеr.

 

Belize Tourism Q1 Arrivals 2017 to 2024 (January to March)

Below is the overnight tourism trend from 2017 to 2024 for January to March (Q1 of each year);

Belize Tourism Board Data

 

 

Increased International Flights to Belize

The largest factor to the growth in Belize tourism has been the increased air transport and increase in direct international flights to Belize. In March 2024, there were 511 international flights landing at BZE (Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City). 

PGIA Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport BZE

 

Direct Flights to Belize 2024

 

 

 

Direct Flights Washington DC & Baltimore (BWI) to Belize (BZE) with Southwest Airlines

SouthWest Airlines started direct flights from BWI to Belize on March 9, 2024

SouthWest Airlines BWI to BZE

 

Direct Flights New York (JFK) to Belize (BZE) with JetBlue

JetBlue Starts Direct Flights from New York JFK

JetBlue Announces Direct Flights to Belize from New York JFK

JetBlue New York (JFK) to Belize (BZE)

  • Monday
  • Wednesday
  • Saturday

Scheduled flight times are the following (all times are local):

  • JFK to BZE: Departs at 8:29 a.m. and arrives at 12:14 p.m.
  • BZE to JFK: Departs at 1:30 p.m. and arrives at 7:00 p.m.

JetBlue Belize Flight Deals

 

 

Ambergris Caye & San Pedro

Ambergris Caye and San Pedro Town are the top destination for overnight tourism in Belize. With 53.2% of the Overnight Tourists coming to Ambergris Caye.

 

 

Record-Breaking Tourism Leads to Airport Upgrades

The month of March 2024 was record-breaking for Belize tourism. Increased visitors to Belize means an increased demand for the facilities at the BZE Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA). To address that need there is an ongoing, long-term project for the upgrade of the PGIA. Belize along with the BTB (Belize Tourism Board) are increasing the marketing efforts attracting regional tourism and tourism from Latin American markets.

With the Mayan Train in Mexico and increased travel and tourism from Latin America and South America. That said, the airport upgrades are important since the United States represents the largest percentage of overnight tourism arrivals.

Currently Americans (from the US) make up 69.3% of Belize tourism in 2024.

Record Breaking Tourism Prompts Airport Upgrades

 

 

Future Outlook on Regional Tourism

Belize has shown impressive tourism numbers through 2023 and now record breaking in 2024 due to quick and clever travel regulations and practices put into place. Belize has also improved the accessibility with more non-stop direct flights and increased number of airlines (and destinations).

“The success of the recovery is a testament to the power of collaboration. Tourism leaders, businesses, governments, organizations, airlines, and our hospitality professionals have achieved impressive results by working together. We are grateful for the hard work and close partnerships that continue to allow us to recover and soar to new heights,” says Nicola Madden-Greig, President of, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA).

 

The rise and power of the South American market in the region.

 

Tourism in Belize is growing, and the competition is getting stronger now that we can look at the pre-pandemic and post-pandemic trends. Diversifying the attraction and marketing of Belize by widening the net is pivotal. The 2023 data by ForwardKeys shows there is a real potential to convert more international arrivals from Latin America, specifically Colombia and Argentina.

“Through our air ticketing data, we are observing a significant leap from the Latin Markets into the Caribbean and Belize, especially from Central America, Colombia, and Argentina. Even more encouraging is that they are flying in premium-class cabins, more than before the pandemic. A worthy market to tap into,” says Olivier Ponti, VP of Insights at ForwardKeys.

Beyond the main traditional markets, the US and Canada, there are tourism opportunities to be found in the neighboring countries. Latin American markets represent an exciting opportunity for Belize and the Caribbean.

Travel demand for Belize as a destination quickly gained momentum after most regional countries dropped travel requirements. The strong pent-up demand has been propelling visitor arrivals from Latin America beyond pre-pandemic levels, up by 14% in 2023, and with greater growth potential. The best-performing markets in the region are Colombia, Peru, and Argentina.

 

 

Flight Connectivity

 

The restoration of air connectivity is one of the key factors driving post-COVID-19 travel demand recovery, and Latin America is no exception. After years of limited travel activity, now Latin American travelers have fewer options to get to their desired Caribbean vacation. Fewer direct flights, and lower flight frequencies, make it harder and more costly to travel. In this scenario, connections with gateway airports are fundamental to remaining competitive.

Panama City (PTY) has emerged as a key gateway hub for Latin America, particularly, for connecting this region to the Caribbean. This is a result of a decided and successful strategy to transform Panama’s Tocumen International Airport into an intra-regional airport hub. Panama has become the first choice when transitioning to the Caribbean, gaining a share over other regional airports, such as Bogota, Lima and Miami.

While it is not always feasible to develop direct flight connections with emerging markets, establishing regular and frequent connections with the right network airports is fundamental for reaching a more diverse travel audience.

 

 

 

Belize Real Estate & Investment Opportunities

The Belize tоurіѕm ѕесtоr rеmаіnѕ роіѕеd fоr further growth with more development and improved accessibility! This has industry experts орtіmіѕtіс and bullish on Belize as a destination (for tourists and investors).

Tourism growth, increased awareness, offshore residency, and improved connectivity have all led to higher investment yields for real estate and investment properties in Belize. Ambergris Caye remains the the top destinations in Belize for overnight tourists.

Additional Links:

Belize Tourism January & February 2024

Ambergris & Belize Tourism Data 2023

Caribbean & Regional Tourism 2023

If you are looking to learn more about Belize tourism and Belize real estate, contact us!

 

 

 

The Latest Updates in San Pedro Belize March 2024

The Latest Updates in San Pedro, Belize

 

There is so much growth and development around San Pedro Town and the island of Ambergris Caye.

Between the road paving project, new hospitals and medical facilities, gas stations north of the bridge, ferry/water taxi terminal, and additional Mexico water taxi routes.

The development, growth, and pace of infrastructure are truly amazing!

San Pedro Town is located on Ambergris Caye and is by far the top destination for tourists and expats in Belize.

Check out the latest video on the Major Updates around San Pedro, Belize!

 

San Pedro Belize Major Updates

 

 

New Water Taxi Route Connects San Pedro & Mexico

On February 24th, a new ferry route was announced that connects San Pedro & Ambergris Caye, Belize, to Chetumal, Mexico.

This latest route is sure to be a Boost for Tourism and Trade between Belize & Mexico!

San Pedro Belize Express unveiled its latest addition, the Three Star Voyager vessel, marking a significant milestone in the connectivity between Belize & Mexico and expanding its service offerings.

The ferry route (water taxi) enhances the travel experience between Belize and Mexico but also holds significant potential for boosting tourism in Belize and facilitating trade in the region.

This new route also signifies a milestone in connectivity, improving not only transportation for tourism but also logistics. By providing a direct and efficient travel option, it opens up new avenues for economic cooperation and trade.

The trip between Ambergris Caye & Chetumal will take customers quickly and smoothly from Ambergris Caye, Belize, to Chetumal, Mexico.

The water taxi service will further increase tourism to Belize and Ambergris Caye, especially with the recent opening of the Tulum International Airport and the Tren Maya (Yucatan Express Train system).

The Tren Maya (sometimes also Mayan Train or Maya Train) is a railway system that traverses the Yucatán Peninsula.

The railway begins at Cancún International Airport and travels down to Chetumal and the Mexico/Belize border.

 

New Water Taxi Mexico & Belize (San Pedro)

 

New Water Taxi Terminal

A new water taxi terminal is being built in the southern part of San Pedro Town, which will relieve much of the downtown traffic and improve accessibility from Belize City to San Pedro and Ambergris Caye. The new Water Taxi Terminal has started constructing the boat terminal south of downtown San Pedro along Coconut Drive.

The project will be completed this year and is already well underway. This new boat terminal also has a seafront extension, an area for parking, unloading, loading, and dropping off passengers.

 

 

Road Paving in San Pedro

Street paving continues in San Pedro. This is a major infrastructure upgrade, and the island is starting to enjoy the smooth, paved roads around town.

Many of the roads in San Pablo, DFC, and Escalante Marina Drive, with the latest paving, are being paved at the entrance of the San Pedrito subdivision near downtown San Pedro.

Many residents and tourists are overjoyed by the upgrades to the streets, which marks a major milestone in the development of the island.

The upgrade on the main streets in San Pedro is expected to be completed sometime this year.

 

 

New Gas Station

A new gas station opened on the island of Ambergris Caye on the north side of the bridge. This is an amazing addition to the island. For both locals and tourists. Providing a new location to gas up your vehicles.

There is also buzz that another gas station is just starting construction at the junction of Secret Beach!

These new gas stations help propel further infrastructure on the island and are a sign of continued growth.

 

 

New San Pedro & Ambergris Caye Hospital

Residents of San Pedro Town and Ambergris Caye (along with all those who invest and travel to the island) are excited about the latest development announcement. Residents and tourists of Ambergris Caye are getting a state-of-the-art hospital and medical facility.

This facility fulfills the need for accessible, comprehensive medical services both for residents and visitors to Belize’s most popular tourist destination, San Pedro (Ambergris Caye).

New Hospital Ambergris Caye

 

If you want to learn more about Belize and invest in Belize real estate, contact us at RE/MAX Belize!

 

Ambergris Caye Investment & Vacation Rental Data October 2023

Ambergris Caye Vacation Rentals

Ambergris Caye has been the epicenter of the Belize tourism surge and COVID recovery. This has led to growth in the Ambergris Caye Real Estate and investment in vacation rentals.

Ambergris Caye luckily has something we like to call “Island Economics.” When investing in an island, there is only so much land available. The limitations on available land create scarcity, not only scarcity of property but also a scarcity of land and completed resale homes. There is only so much land on an island. Island economics means that you see greater property appreciation on an island due to scarcity of property and limitations on how much can be built.

Tourism growth, increased awareness, offshore residency, and improved connectivity have all led to higher investment yields on vacation rental properties on Ambergris Caye. Ambergris Caye and San Pedro Town (the municipality on the island of Ambergris Caye) are by far the top destinations in Belize. Below, we look at the updated tourism data and vacation rental investment opportunities on Ambergris Caye!

 

Ambergris Caye Tourism

Ambergris Caye has seen tourism hitting all-time highs year-over-year as we become a globally recognized destination. From 2010 to 2023 (13 years), Ambergris Caye overnight tourism (people booking rental units) has grown at an annual compounded rate of 14.8% per year increase, with overnight tourism nearly doubling from 2010 to 2023 (+81.5% increase).

 

Belize Overnight Tourism

 

 

Belize Tourism Board Overnight Arrivals

 

Ambergris Caye Vacation Rental Inventory

Even though tourism is growing, the total rooms for rentals have stayed stagnant, with limited new losing inventory and often even a decline in inventory. Tourism is growing, and this usually correlates to added supply; that said, Ambergris Caye, Belize, is at the perfect time for investment as we have unique market conditions that have led to increased demand and a decrease in supply inventory.

Rental Inventory on Ambergris Caye has dropped by -4% from 2022 to 2023. Also dropped -13.9% over the last 3 years. This is largely due to the influx of people moving to Belize and the growing expat community and people who can work remotely.

 

Ambergris Caye Vacation Rental Lodging Inventory

 

For lodging, as a point of reference, Ambergris Caye saw -4% from last year. Lodging inventory for vacation rentals on Ambergris Caye has seen a -13.9% decrease over the last 3 years.

Ambergris Caye has had a compounded annual tourism growth over 12 years at an average of 14.8% per year.

As you can see, the 3-year trend has been consistent, with many quarters witnessing a dip in rental inventory (even with an increase in demand). This creates a unique opportunity for investors. With the shortage in supply and increase in demand, there is a need for more lodging and rentals.

 

Increase in Demand + Decrease in Supply = Increase in Price & Rent

 

 

 

 

 

Many industry experts predict Ambergris Caye real estate prices and nightly rental rates will continue to increase. This will lead to greater equity appreciation and a higher cash-flow yield.

Even though demand is on the rise, the supply has remained stagnant. With increased awareness comes increased demand, but the lodging and vacation rental inventory supply does not meet the demand growth.

 

Ambergris Caye Occupancy

 

 

In 2022, Ambergris Caye had an average vacation rental occupancy of 54.8%. In 2023, the average occupancy of vacation rentals has been at 61.3%. This is an increase of +11.9% year-over-year (2022 to 2023).

 

 

Ambergris Caye Nightly Rental Rates

 

In 2023, Ambergris Caye has seen ADR (Nightly Rental Rates) for vacation rentals increase by +15% from 2022. In 2023, the average nightly rental rate on Ambergris Caye has been $284 USD per night, which is up from $262 USD per night in 2022.

 

Ambergris Caye Investment Revenue

The increase in tourism with the lodging and vacation rental supply shrinking has led to higher occupancy and higher nightly rental rates (ADR). The increased occupancy and ADR have resulted in higher revenues. On Ambergris Caye, vacation rental gross revenue is up 30% in 2023 (from 2022).

 

Annual Average Rental Revenue

 

 

What is fascinating is the renal income for detached homes over condos (and the % annual growth).

 

Detached homes on Ambergris Caye have seen an average annual gross revenue of $88,850 US in 2023 (Airbnb income). Compared to condos, which saw an average gross yearly earnings of $44,300 US. Detached homes also saw a higher % growth at 23% annual revenue growth (condos with 14%) from 2022 to 2023.

For more information on investing in Belize and Ambergris Caye rental income investment opportunities, contact us at RE/MAX Belize!

 

Luxury Tourism & Luxury Market in Belize

Luxury Tourism & Luxury Market

Belize tourism and Belize real estate is expanding the luxury market. The luxury travel industry has grown unprecedentedly in recent years due to rising spending power, an expanding middle-class population, emerging luxury trends, and the expansion of luxury hotels.

The definition of luxury travel has evolved dramatically in recent years, and people are now far more adventurous. They are more interested in experiencing local customs and cuisine.

Earlier this year, a survey from GlobalData.com found that luxury tourism has recovered quicker then budget tourism.

The global luxury travel market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.8% to 8.9% from 2022 to 2032, reaching a market size of USD 2.32 trillion to 2.76 trillion by 2032.

 

Caribbean & Central America Luxury Tourism

The Belize Region, with the Caribbean & Central America as a whole, outperforms the average recovery trends of the Americas, Europe, and Asia Pacific in the Luxury Tourism sector. This is shown in the revenue and profit trends.

The Caribbean & Central America Region (including Belize) has a higher ADR and Occupancy than other Western Hemisphere markets like Mexico, Canada & USA for luxury tourism.

The Caribbean & Central America Region is expected to have an annual tourism GDP growth rate of 5.5% to 6.7% between now and 2030.

 

Belize Tourism & Luxury Market

The Caribbean & Latin American (Belize) luxury tourism industry will likely be one of the fastest growing between now and 2032, with the most opportunity.

Belize, with the BTB (Belize Tourism Board), has taken steps in advancing and growing the Belize Luxury Tourism Industry.

Luxury travel services cover the most desirable and premium experiences in terms of luxury accommodations, convenient transport facilities, and authentic and exclusive travel experiences.

The Luxury Tourism program aims to provide outstanding, exclusive, and convenient tourism services and experiences to tourists and locals. In Belize, some of the recent announcements around luxury tourism include;

 

Regional Data on Luxury Tourism

What we have learned during every economic turn is that luxury tourism is still a driver. At CHRIS & HOLA (Caribbean Investment Summit & Hotel Operators of Latin America Summit), the data on luxury tourism was shared and how it performed in the market.

Even though luxury tourism appeals to a smaller demographic (unlike cruises and all-inclusive), they are more consistent, yield higher returns, is surprisingly not susceptible to market fluctuations, have better occupancy, and better clientele. The most interesting take is that if there are slower periods, the luxury market can lower prices and push out the “non-luxury” market.

Belize as a whole is pushing luxury tourism, making it easier for yachts, allowing FBO and private planes, creating direct flight routes from high net-worth locations, etc. With all this push, Belize is working on becoming a Cayman Islands, Maldives, Turks & Caicos, Bahamas, or St Martin, instead of a budget destination like Mexico or the Dominican Republic.

Belize is also seeing far more celebrities and high net-worth travelers visiting Belize and Ambergris Caye. But what is interesting is the fact we do not have many of the luxury villas in our lodging inventory to accommodate these travelers.

 

Luxury Tourism

If you build a luxury house/villa with outdoor space and amenities (even 2, 3 or 4 bedrooms), you will capture the luxury tourism market. The house or unit does not need to be large; just provide fixtures, touches, service, etc.

With luxury tourism and luxury travelers, owners/investors are able to charge any nightly rental rate you want. Example: Rolex does not compromise the price of new watches even during an economic downturn, and every store you visit is always sold out.

Earlier this year, a survey from GlobalData.com found that luxury tourism has recovered quicker then budget tourism.

The global luxury travel market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.8% to 8.9% from 2022 to 2032, reaching a market size of USD 2.32 trillion to 2.76 trillion by 2032.

The 2022 Global Travel Trends Report of American Express Travel study found that 58% of respondents opt for solo travel to visit their dream destination, strengthening the demand for luxury travel.

The Caribbean & Latin American luxury tourism industry is likely to be one of the fastest growing between now and 2032, with the most opportunity.

 

Regional Luxury Market

The luxury segment in the region (Belize) is ahead of the all-inclusive and full-service properties in profit margin growth and opportunity.

Luxury Tourism has a Higher ADR (Average Daily Rate & Nightly Rental Rate) and Better Occupancy than full-service or all-inclusive.

Luxury Tourism sees year-round bookings with better ADR and occupancy in high and low seasons. Luxury tourism has less volatility and seasonality. There is no low season in the luxury market segment in the region. Luxury has seen heightened off-season months.

Profit margins are higher in luxury tourism, with annual and quarterly revenue and profits rising due to more substantial rate increases. Luxury tourism has a much higher revenue per room or unit.

Belize Luxury Tourism Announcements

Luxury travel services cover the most desirable and premium experiences in terms of luxury accommodations, convenient transport facilities, and authentic and exclusive travel experiences. The overall aim of the Luxury Tourism program is to provide outstanding, exclusive, and convenient tourism services and experiences to tourists and locals.

  • Four Seasons on Caye Chapel
  • Six Senses on Ambergris Caye
  • FBO & Private Aviation
  • Yacht & Nautical Tourism
  • Filling Luxury Tourism Market Gaps
  • Fine Dining & Restaurant Facilities

 

Belize Travel & Facilities

Belize has a range of initiatives and infrastructure programs coming in to enhance and increase tourism. With additional flights (including New York JFK), improved transportation, etc. You can see some of the tourism enhancements and initiatives below;

  • 3 million anticipated passenger movements at PGIA (Belize International Airport BZE) in 2045.
  • PGIA (BZE Airport) Facility Extensive Upgrade underway and expected completion in 2040.
  • Enhanced Border Facilities.
  • Increased – Ground Transportation Connections.
  • Domestic Airlines with expanded international routes.
  • Interregional connectivity.
  • Renovations at Municipal Airports to expand Private Aviation.
  • Addition of FBO facilities at national and domestic airports.

Learn more about traveling to Belize internationally.

To learn more about Belize real estate and investing in Belize contact RE/MAX Belize. We look forward to sharing more information on Belize and opportunities in the luxury tourism market!

 

 

Best Places to Own Property in Belize

Best Places to Own Property in Belize

Belize has many beautiful areas and destinations. Each with its own uniqueness. With a diverse landscape of islands, beaches, and jungles, there are a lot of great places to own property in Belize. The best place to own depends on what a person is looking for. That said, you have options to choose from when considering buying property in Belize.

Belize has stunning white sand beaches, lush rainforests, and Mayan ruins, with the largest barrier reef in the Western hemisphere, Belize has recently emerged as one of the top emerging tourist destinations. Belize allows full foreign ownership, which makes it a popular offshore investment destination and a great place for buying property.

The growth in tourism has been accompanied by a dramatic rise in interest in Belize real estate. Belize has become one of the hottest places to invest, and retire in the region.

Some of the best places to buy property in Belize include:

 

 

Ambergris Caye

Ambergris Caye is a popular destination for tourists and expats, with beautiful beaches and a vibrant community. Ambergris Caye (and San Pedro Town) are the top tourist destinations in Belize. With that, it is the most popular location to own and invest in property. Ambergris Caye real estate is by far the most desirable property option.

Ambergris Caye is an island on the northeastern coast of Belize. Ambergris Caye is the largest island in the country and is the most popular tourist destination. Ambergris Caye is loved for its long sandy beaches, laidback island Caribbean lifestyle, and its proximity to the Belize Barrier Reef. A lot of Ambergris Caye has been set aside as a nature preserve, marine reserve, and national park, which adds to its appeal as the most popular destination for international buyers and people looking to own property in Belize.

San Pedro Town is the municipality on Ambergris Caye. San Pedro Town and the popularity of Ambergris Caye has it among the most in-demand and developed real estate investment destination in Belize.

Ambergris Caye is one of the most sought-after locations in Belize. Not only for tourism but also for property ownership. It is the undisputed top location. As the largest island in Belize, it has been ranked as one of the top destinations for retirement and investment by Forbes, International Living, MSNBC, and more. Ambergris Caye is famous for its proximity to the Belize Reef which attracts avid divers and fishers. The reef extends the East Coast of the island, and the West Coast boasts calm waters and beautiful beaches (like the popular Secret Beach).

Ambergris Caye also offers abundant options for different kinds of water-based activities, including scuba diving the Belize Barrier Reef, deep sea fishing, snorkeling, reef fishing, jet skis, paddle boarding, kayaking, and more. Ambergris Caye also has great restaurants offering fine dining options as well as an amazing expat community.

Ambergris Caye is commonly referred to as the “Isla Bonita” (which is “the Beautiful Island”). With all it has to offer, there are few who disagree that Ambergris Caye is one of the top choices for expats who were looking to relocate to Belize or investors looking to invest in an emerging island destination.

 

San Pedro Belize Travel Guide (on Ambergris Caye)

 

 

Placencia

Placencia is a town at the very tip of a peninsula located in the southern part of Belize in the Stan Creek District. Placencia is a small, peaceful village on the southern coast of Belize with stunning beaches and a relaxed atmosphere.

Placencia has grown over the years along the peninsula to include; Seine Bight, Cocoplum, Maya Beach, and Plantation. Placencia is an ideal location for buyers looking to enjoy a tranquil lifestyle by the beach.

Placencia is a picturesque village located in the Stann Creek District of Belize, situated on a narrow peninsula along the Caribbean coast. Known for its beautiful beaches, laid-back atmosphere, and vibrant local culture, Placencia is a popular destination for travelers seeking a tropical paradise. It is often ranked in the top 3 destinations in Belize (behind Ambergris Caye & Caye Caulker).

The Placencia Peninsula (which is made up of multiple municipalities) stretches for approximately 25 miles (40 kilometers) and offers stunning white sand beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters. The village itself is charming, with colorful wooden houses, local shops, restaurants, and beachfront bars.

In addition to water activities, Placencia offers various land-based adventures as well as lush jungles and hiking trails in the area. You can explore the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to the world’s first jaguar reserve and offers hiking trails, birdwatching, and the chance to spot other wildlife. Nearby Monkey River also provides opportunities for wildlife viewing, including howler monkeys, crocodiles, and a variety of bird species.

To reach Placencia, you can fly into the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City and then take a domestic flight to the Placencia Airport. Alternatively, you can take a scenic drive from Belize City, which takes around three to four hours.

 

Placencia Belize Trip

 

 

Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker is the smaller island that is just south of Ambergris Caye. Caye Caulker also sees a significant volume of tourists. Though the tourism to Caye Caulker is more backpackers with a number of local hostels. While there are many water sports, and activities similar to Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker is becoming better known for its nightlife. This makes it a popular location for the younger crowd.

Caye Caulker is also located near the Belize Barrier Reef, which makes it popular for diving and fishing enthusiasts. The southern half of the island is mostly developed and the northern portion is separated from the town by “The Split” which is a narrow waterway that runs through the middle of the island.

Caye Caulker is a smaller island than Ambergris Caye which is known for its laid-back and relaxed atmosphere, Caye Caulker attracts tourists seeking a tranquil tropical getaway. The island is approximately 8 kilometers (5 miles) long and has a narrow width of about 1.6 kilometers (1 mile). It is characterized by sandy streets, colorful wooden houses, and a car-free environment. The main mode of transportation on the island is bicycles and golf carts.

Caye Caulker offers beautiful white sandy beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters, making it a popular destination for snorkeling, diving, fishing, and other water activities. The Belize Barrier Reef, which is the second-largest coral reef system in the world, is easily accessible from the island, offering incredible opportunities for underwater exploration.

The island has a small but lively village area with restaurants, bars, and shops. The local cuisine often features freshly caught seafood, including lobster, conch, and fish. Caye Caulker is also known for its vibrant nightlife, with various bars offering live music and entertainment.

 

Caye Caulker Island Belize

 

 

Cayo District

Cayo is near the Belize & Guatemala border (on the westward side of Belize’s mainland). Cayo is home to many Mayan ruins as well as lush jungles. Cayo is a rural area with a growing expat community, offering beautiful scenery and a laid-back lifestyle. Cayo’s most popular municipality is San Ignacio but the district is also the location of the Belizean capital of Belmopan.

The Cayo District is located in western Belize near the border with Guatemala. Cayo is a district and is the largest district in the country. Cayo is known for its natural beauty, ancient Maya ruins, and outdoor adventure opportunities. The Cayo District is home to the town of San Ignacio, which serves as a gateway to the various attractions in the area. San Ignacio offers a range of property options around Cayo. There are real estate opportunities in the jungle, farmland, remote resorts, and more.

One of the main attractions of the Cayo District is its proximity to the Maya archaeological sites. The most famous and impressive among them is Xunantunich. Other notable Maya sites in the region include Cahal Pech, Caracol, and Tikal.

Cayo also has numerous rivers and waterways throughout the district. There are also countless waterfalls including; Big Rock Falls, Thousand-Foot Falls, and Butterfly Falls to explore and enjoy.

The Cayo District is also home to several nature reserves and national parks. The Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve showcases stunning waterfalls, natural pools, and the unique pine forests of Belize. The Belize Botanic Gardens and the Belize Zoo are also worth a visit for nature lovers.

 

Exploring Cayo

 

 

 

Hopkins

Hopkins is a small fishing village on the coast of Belize with a close-knit community and beautiful natural surroundings. Hopkins is just north of Placencia near the town of Dangriga. Hopkins is popular for its small-town vibe.

Hopkins is primarily a fishing village with a laid-back and friendly atmosphere. It is very much a “small town”. The village is known for its strong Garifuna heritage, and visitors have the opportunity to experience the rich traditions and music of the Garifuna people.

The beach in Hopkins stretches for several miles, offering pristine white sand and clear turquoise waters. It is an ideal destination for swimming, sunbathing, and beachcombing. The warm Caribbean Sea is also a great spot for water activities such as snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and fishing.

One of the nearby attractions is the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, also known as the Jaguar Preserve. It is a vast protected area encompassing lush rainforests, waterfalls, and hiking trails. The sanctuary is home to a variety of wildlife, including jaguars, howler monkeys, toucans, and many other species.

 

 

Belize City

Belize City is the largest city in Belize and the economic hub of the country, with a range of property options available. Belize City is a coastal city and the location of the Belize International Airport (Philip Goldson International) which is the only international airport in Belize.

Belize City serves as the commercial hub and principal gateway for international travelers arriving in Belize. As the economic and cultural center of Belize, Belize City offers a mix of colonial history, bustling streets, and a vibrant local atmosphere. The city has a rich and varied heritage, with influences from the Maya civilization, European colonization, and the African, Creole, and Garifuna cultures.

Although Belize City is not typically considered a major tourist destination, it does have some points of interest worth exploring.

 

 

Corozal

Corozal is the border town between Belize and Mexico and the northeastern shore of Belize.

Corozal is a town located in northern Belize, near the border with Mexico (close to Quintana Roo & the Yucatan Peninsula). It is a coastal town/region with Chethumal across the border on the Mexico side. Corozal Town is the capital of the Corozal District and is situated on the Bay of Corozal, which connects to the Caribbean Sea. Across the bay/lagoon sea is the island of Ambergris Caye.

Most people who looking at buying property in Corozal are very underwhelmed and often pursue something elsewhere. In Corozal, there are not as many opportunities for foreign investment. Corozal is on the bayside and is more of a border town between Mexico and Belize than anything. With this, you have a lot of logistics and supply chain traffic going through. Think of it as a tropical truck stop rather than an “off-the-beaten-path real estate investment”.

The town of Corozal has a rich history, with influences from both the Maya civilization and later European colonization. It was originally inhabited by the Maya people, and several archaeological sites, such as Santa Rita, can be found in Corozal. The town of Corozal was settled by Mestizo refugees from the Yucatan Peninsula in the 19th century, and today it has a mix of cultural influences from Maya, Mestizo, and other ethnic groups.

Corozal offers a more relaxed and tranquil atmosphere compared to the busier tourist destinations in Belize. It has a small-town charm and a welcoming community. The town has a central park, known as Corozal Town Central Park, where locals gather and socialize. You can find restaurants, shops, and other amenities in the town center.

One of the main attractions in Corozal is the proximity to the beaches. The Bay of Corozal provides access to the Caribbean Sea, and there are several beach areas where you can swim, sunbathe, or enjoy water sports. Some popular nearby beaches include Consejo Shores, Sarteneja, and Corozal Bay.

Corozal is also known for its proximity to Cerros, an ancient Maya site situated on a coastal ridge. If you’re interested in exploring the natural beauty of the region, you can visit the Shipstern Nature Reserve. It is a protected area with diverse ecosystems, including mangroves, wetlands, and wildlife.

To reach Corozal, you can fly into the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City and then take a domestic flight or a bus to Corozal. The town is also accessible by road from Mexico, as it is located near the Mexican border.

 

 

Best Place to Own Belize Property

Ambergris Caye luckily has something we like to call “Island Economics”. When investing in an island there is only so much land available. The limitations on available land create scarcity, not only scarcity of property but also scarcity of land. There is only so much land on an island. Island economics means that you see greater property appreciation on an island due to scarcity of property and limitations on how much can be built.

Areas and destinations on the mainland with nearly endless developable land rarely see the same level of equity appreciation. One of the difficulties of investing in a property that has nearly endless room for growth (the mainland) is the fact that developers continue to build, so real estate investors don’t see the same level of appreciation that they see on an island, where the availability of land is limited.

This is basic economics, Ambergris Caye has higher demand and less supply. Mainland destinations in Belize have less demand and nearly unlimited supply. On Ambergris Caye, you have far more amenities (with the reef 400 yards off the coast), as well as beaches on the East & West Coast.

 

In Belize, there are some cheaper and less expensive property options. That said, not all Belize real estate is created equal. One of the most famous quotes from Warren Buffett is, “Price is what you pay; value is what you get.”

It is important to conduct thorough research on the area and property you are considering and to consult with a qualified real estate agent to ensure that you are making a sound investment that meets your needs and aligns with your goals. If you are looking to buy property in Belize, contact RE/MAX Belize!

 

 

Top 5 Places to Visit in Belize

Belize Real Estate & Exodus of Expats

The Exodus of Americans Moving to Belize

Every year, more-and-more people are looking at investing and relocating off-shore. Whether it is for lifestyle or retirement, Americans & Canadians are rethinking their lives and where in the world would provide the best future. This is shown by the recent migration stats.

Americans & Canadians are leaving their home countries and seeking foreign visas in record numbers, according to immigration lawyers and expatriate organizations. Belize saw an unprecedented number of Americans not only inquiring about Belize real estate but also following through on their pledge and taking the steps to leave over the last 3-years (2020, 2021 & 2022). This is seen by the growth in the expat population on Ambergris Caye over recent years.

The number of Americans who were recorded as having given up their citizenship or U.S. residency soared to 5,816 in the first six months of 2020, compared with 2,072 in all of 2019, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service.

Dan Prescher, the senior editor of Internationalliving.com, said traffic related to “how to move out of the U.S.” surged 1,676 percent in 2020 and has been a continued trend since.

“Quieter, more stable countries start to look appealing,” he said.

The exodus has been led by not only baby boomer expats, but also young professionals looking for an opportunity and parents looking for countries with open and safe schools that provide futures for their children. No matter the age, the group largely consists of Americans with financial means and the ability to work virtually, or are in a position to relocate.

 

Why are people leaving?

The U.S. State Department reported in April that there are a record 8.7 million Americans live abroad. This number alone speaks for itself – never before has such a large group of U.S.-born citizens lived abroad. They’ve decided that it’s time for a change, to move to a new location where they are able to not just survive but thrive.

People’s motives for leaving or seeking relocation differ. But overall, the objective is a better life and a more promising future. The IMMI Group analyzed the top 10 motives for leaving the US, the list includes;

  1. Money
  2. Cost of healthcare
  3. Taxes
  4. Government regulations
  5. Freedom

 

Why People Are Looking at Belize & Ambergris Caye

Belize Real Estate & most of all Ambergris Caye Real Estate have seen a boom over recent years. Most of the buyers are people looking at living and/or investing overseas. This is seen by the growth in Belize real estate transactions over recent years;

While there is no nationwide MLS for Belize to track the total sales data and the number of real estate transactions, RE/MAX Belize is the largest real estate company in Belize with over 100 agents in 13 offices and shows a good indication of where the market is at and how it has grown. 

Total sales volume increased 8.7% from 2019 to 2020, followed by a staggering 167.7% from 2020 to 2021.  Based on current year-end projections, sales volume and real estate transactions in Belize are expected to grow by 301.5% year-over-year from 2021 through 2022.

From the beginning of 2020, at the start of the COVID pandemic, through to 2021, total Belize real estate sales volume has increased by 190.94%.

For RE/MAX Belize, the market has seen the number of sales exceed 2019 total sales volumes by 300% (299.6%).

Potential buyers are increasingly younger with more-and-more buyers being in their 40’s and 50’s (compared to retirees of earlier years).  Most of the people purchasing Belize real estate are from the US and Canada. Among the top reasons for considering Belize for second homeownership:

  • Allows diversification outside the USA or Canada
  • Provides a safe secure alternative during societal unrest
  • The only English-speaking country in Central America
  • Close geographic proximity to the USA
  • No capital gains tax, very low property taxes 
  • Tropical Caribbean climate
  • World-class fishing, diving, snorkeling, and watersports 

Second home ownership in Belize is like “going abroad with training wheels”.  It’s a very safe and easy experience, and the number one comment from those who have done it is that they wish they had done so sooner. 

 

Ambergris Caye Relocation

The top reasons people choose Belize and Ambergris Caye real estate include;

  • Safety
  • Tax protection
  • Accepting of new residence
  • Stable political climate
  • Affordability
  • English speaking
  • Schools & Education
  • Racial and cultural diversity and acceptance
  • Currency pegged 2:1 with USD
  • Climate
  • Opportunities and room to grow
  • Freedom!

Many countries have restricted accessibility to residency, which makes travel and relocation more difficult. Not Belize. Right now Belize is open and accepting tourists, expats seeking offshore residency, and citizens. Belize is a small country that is very pro-foreign investment with a small population. The country’s agricultural independence and desirable climate make it one of the top destinations for Americans & Canadians seeking relocation.

There are many other thriving places to make a life. This has led to many people seeking a brighter tomorrow, a life that provides freedom, safety, security, and support.

 

Ambergris Caye Real Estate Investment, Tourism & Rental Market

Ambergris Caye Real Estate Investment

Ambergris Caye Real Estate is a hot commodity for both personal use and investment. The investment potential and upside look even more attractive when you look at the year-over-year tourism data and how it correlates to the rental/lodging inventory on the island. Ambergris Caye is the top destination in Belize. Even though tourism has grown, rental inventory has not. This creates a unique investment opportunity. Learn more with the data points and market analysis below;

 

Ambergris Caye Tourism & Rental Inventory Data Points

Even though tourism is growing and we have seen Belize tourism rebound in 2022 to pre-COVID numbers, the total rooms for rentals have stayed stagnant with almost no new inventory and often even a decline in inventory. Tourism pre-COVID grew by over 60% in 5 years (over double-digit annual growth of 14.6%) but lodging and inventory stayed the same. Even now, rental inventory saw a -5% decrease in Q4 2022.

Rental Inventory: A decrease of -5% in Q4 2022

Below you can see the lodging and rental inventory on Ambergris Caye over the last 3 years;

 

Ambergris Caye Lodging Inventory

Ambergris Caye saw -2% in Q2 2022, -1% in Q3 2022, and -5% in Q4 2022. With a -20% decrease over 3 years.

For lodging, as a point of reference, Ambergris Caye saw -2% in Q3 2022, -1% in Q4 2022, and -5% in Q1 2023. So compounded tourism growth over 12 years at an average of 14.6%.

As you can see, the 3-year trend has been consistent with many quarters seeing a dip in rental inventory (even with an increase in demand). Over the last 3-years, lodging/rental inventory on Ambergris Caye decreased by 20%. This creates a unique opportunity for investors. With the shortage in supply and increase in demand, there is a need for more lodging and rentals.

The reason you see a lodging or rental inventory decline is due to the fact people are moving to Belize and we are seeing an exodus of people (especially Baby Boomers retiring abroad).

 

Market Comparison

What is interesting is comparing it to other markets. Tulum for example;

Tulum in comparison saw a +6% increase in Q4 2022 and +8% in Q1 2023. With a 47% increase over a full year. And an 88% increase over the last 3 years.

You can see other comparable off-shore markets and their lodging inventory below;

Tamarindo Costa Rica for example saw a +6% increase in Q4 2022 With a +23% increase over 3 years.

 

Turks & Caicos is a Caribbean island like Ambergris Caye. Turks & Caicos saw a +11% increase in Q4 2022 with a +76% increase over 3 years.

 

Panama City as another example and comparison saw a +4% increase in Q4 2022 with a +26% increase over 3 years.

 

All of the above locations are popular tourist destinations (Ambergris Caye, Tulum, Tamarindo, Panama, and Turks & Caicos) and have all seen substantial growth in tourism numbers. That said, very few places have seen a tourism boom without an increase in inventory. Because of this, Ambergris Caye has an A+ Rating based on AirBNB criteria of Rental Demand, Rental Growth, Seasonality & Regulations.

 

 

Ambergris Caye Real Estate Investment

Prior to 2020, Ambergris Caye lodging remained stagnant over the years even with tourism growing. Even though Tourism is increasing, rental inventory has decreased by 5% and has remained fairly stagnant over 3 years. You can see the inventory vs the tourism for Ambergris Caye from 2015 to 2019 below;

The number of hotel rooms and lodging inventory for rentals has not seen the same growth and is not meeting the tourism demand.

Therefore, many industry experts predict Ambergris Caye real estate prices and nightly rental rates will continue to increase. This will lead to greater equity appreciation and a higher cash-flow yield.

Even though demand is on the rise, the supply has remained stagnant. With increased awareness comes increased demand but the lodging and vacation rental inventory supply do not meet the demand growth.

 

Ambergris Caye Investment Opportunity

To give you an idea of the growth and opportunity with Ambergris Caye Real Estate you have to look at the population and tourism growth statistics. Ambergris Caye (as of 2015) had an estimated population of approximately 16,444 people. Since then the population has grown with an even higher volume of foreigners moving to Ambergris Caye. Over the last 5 years, Ambergris Caye has seen a population growth rate of around 8% per year, and in the previous 10 years, prior Ambergris Caye experienced an annual population growth rate of roughly 17%.

It is also estimated that up to 25% more people reside on Ambergris Caye on a part-time basis (vacation or winter homes). Ambergris Caye as a destination for tourism has experienced incredible growth over the last 5 to 15 years. From 2017 to 2022 (the same 5 years) Ambergris Caye has seen tourism grow at a rate of 14.6% per year (over double-digit annual growth).

When you factor in the population growth and the influx of new residents with the growth in tourism, you really start to see the opportunity. As it stands right now, there is not enough vacation or long-term rental inventory to support the growth in tourism and the growing population.

The reason you see a lodging or rental inventory decline is due to the fact people are moving to Belize and we are seeing an exodus of people (especially Baby Boomers retiring abroad).

Ambergris Caye is an island with limited supply. Even though the supply is limited, the demand has skyrocketed over recent years with more-and-more tourists visiting Belie. In 2019, Belize saw over 500,000 overnight tourists, most of which visited Ambergris Caye. These overnight tourism arrivals grew by 60% from 2015 to 2020. With 70-75% of overnight tourists who visit Belize heading straight to San Pedro and Ambergris Caye.

Since 2010 has had an average tourism growth rate of 14.6% annually. That 14.6% growth each year. So compounded tourism growth over 12 years at an average of 14.6%.

The number of hotel rooms and lodging inventory for rentals has not seen the same growth and is not meeting the tourism demand. What is being developed on Ambergris Caye in the next five years will not be able to sustain the increasing tourism demand. Therefore, many industry experts predict Ambergris Caye real estate prices and nightly rental rates will continue to increase. This will lead to greater equity appreciation and a higher cash-flow yield.

Even though demand is on the rise, the supply has remained stagnant. With increased awareness comes increased demand but the lodging and vacation rental inventory supply do not meet the demand growth.

Ambergris Caye luckily has something we like to call “Island Economics”. When investing in an island there is only so much land available. The limitations on available land create scarcity, not only scarcity of property but also a scarcity of land and completed resale homes. There is only so much land on an island. Island economics means that you see greater property appreciation on an island due to scarcity of property and limitations on how much can be built.

Areas and destinations along the Yucatan Peninsula or other areas with nearly endless developable land eventually have an over-supply that is caused by the fact there is nearly unlimited room for development. Investors rarely see the same equity appreciation they see when they invest on an island. One of the difficulties of investing in a property that has nearly endless room for growth is the fact that developers continue to build, so real estate investors don’t see the same level of appreciation that they see on an island, where the availability of land is limited.

This is basic economics, Ambergris Caye has higher demand and less supply. Mainland destinations in Central America have less demand and nearly unlimited supply. On Ambergris Caye, you have far more amenities (with the reef 400 yards off the coast), with beaches on the East & West Coast.

The reason so many investors choose Ambergris Caye over mainland Belize destinations is largely due to the growth and investment potential. Ambergris Caye is the #1 tourist destination in Belize by a large margin. It also delivers the highest Average Daily Room Rate for an income property. It is also important to note that as an investor, you will have much higher margins, as resale properties on the island sell have more demand and higher returns on investment.

Belize’s tourism has over tripled since 2010, as it has grown by 208%. In 2022, over 11 months (January to November) Belize had a total of 362,628 overnight tourists. That is 81% of the pre-COVID inbound tourism numbers. This shows strong tourism recovery for Belize and Ambergris Caye.

 

 

Belize 2022 Tourism

When you factor in the population growth and the influx of new residents with the growth in tourism, you really start to see the opportunity. As it stands right now, there is not enough vacation or long-term rental inventory on Ambergris Caye to support the growth in tourism and the growing population.

For more information on Belize Real Estate & Investing in Belize contact Remax Belize!

 

Investing in Ambergris Caye Real Estate

Investing in Ambergris Caye Belize Real Estate

In regards to investment, Belize is unique as it is both Central America & the Caribbean, the mainland including San Ignacio & Placencia has more similarities to the Yucatan Peninsula (Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Tulum, etc), while Ambergris Caye Real Estate is more comparable to the Cayman Islands, The Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Etc. The fact Ambergris Caye is an island, there is far more scarcity of property than being on the mainland in destinations like Placencia. As a real estate investor, scarcity works to your advantage for both rental income and property appreciation. The fact that Ambergris Caye is one of the few opportunities with high tourism growth and land available, makes it a unique opportunity in today’s market.

 

Why Ambergris Caye Belize?

Ambergris Caye is the largest island in Belize measuring 27 miles long. Ambergris Caye is located at the northern point of Belize’s coastline with the Belize barrier reef just off the east Coast. Ambergris Caye is the top tourist destination in Belize and sees hundreds of thousands of tourists visit every year. There are a number of reasons Ambergris Caye and San Pedro Town are so popular, but the leading reason is the fact that less than a mile off Ambergris Caye’s eastern shore, you’ll find the Belize Barrier Reef, the largest barrier reef in the second largest reef in the world and the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. The natural beauty of Ambergris Caye and the fact that the island has seen drastic increases in tourism every year make it the no-brainer choice when investing in Belize.

Ambergris Caye luckily has something we like to call “Island Economics”. When investing in an island there is only so much land available. The limitations on available land create scarcity, not only scarcity of property but also a scarcity of land and completed resale homes. There is only so much land on an island. Island economics means that you see greater property appreciation on an island due to scarcity of property and limitations on how much can be built.

Areas and destinations along the Yucatan Peninsula or other areas with nearly endless developable land eventually have an over-supply that is caused by the fact there is nearly unlimited room for development. Investors rarely see the same equity appreciation they see when they invest on an island. One of the difficulties of investing in a property that has nearly endless room for growth is the fact that developers continue to build, so real estate investors don’t see the same level of appreciation that they see on an island, where the availability of land is limited.

This is basic economics, Ambergris Caye has higher demand and less supply. Mainland destinations in Central America have less demand and nearly unlimited supply. On Ambergris Caye, you have far more amenities (with the reef 400 yards off the coast), with beaches on the East & West Coast.

The reason so many investors choose Ambergris Caye over mainland Belize destinations is largely due to the growth and investment potential. Ambergris Caye is the #1 tourist destination in Belize by a large margin. It also delivers the highest Average Daily Room Rate for an income property. It is also important to note that as an investor, you will have much higher margins, as resale properties on the island sell have more demand and higher returns on investment.

 

Ambergris Caye Real Estate Supply & Demand

To give you an idea of the growth and opportunity with Ambergris Caye Real Estate you have to look at the population and tourism growth statistics. Ambergris Caye (as of 2015) had an estimated population of approximately 16,444 people. Since then the population has grown with an even higher volume of foreigners moving to Ambergris Caye. Over the last 5 years, Ambergris Caye has seen a population growth rate of around 8% per year, and in the previous 10 years, prior Ambergris Caye experienced an annual population growth rate of roughly 17%.

It is also estimated that up to 25% more people reside on Ambergris Caye on a part-time basis (vacation or winter homes). Ambergris Caye as a destination for tourism has experienced incredible growth over the last 5 to 15 years. From 2017 to 2022 (the same 5 years) Ambergris Caye has seen tourism grow at a rate of 14.6% per year (over double-digit annual growth).

When you factor in the population growth and the influx of new residents with the growth in tourism, you really start to see the opportunity. As it stands right now, there is not enough vacation or long-term rental inventory to support the growth in tourism and the growing population.

 

Top Reasons to Invest in Ambergris Caye Real Estate

 

High Demand & Limited Supply

As we touched on above, Ambergris Caye is an island with limited supply. Even though the supply is limited, the demand has skyrocketed over recent years with more-and-more tourists visiting Belie. In 2019, Belize saw over 500,000 overnight tourists, most of which visited Ambergris Caye. These overnight tourism arrivals grew by 60% from 2015 to 2020. With 70-75% of overnight tourists who visit Belize heading straight to San Pedro and Ambergris Caye.

The number of hotel rooms and lodging inventory for rentals has not seen the same growth and is not meeting the tourism demand. What is being developed on Ambergris Caye in the next five years will not be able to sustain the increasing tourism demand. Therefore, many industry experts predict Ambergris Caye real estate prices and nightly rental rates will continue to increase. This will lead to greater equity appreciation and a higher cash-flow yield.

Just to illustrate the popularity of Belize real estate, you can see the transaction volumes for RE/MAX Belize (all offices & agents in Belize) below (most of which have been on Ambergris Caye);

Ambergris Caye has become a top destination and as the tourism sector continues to boom and popularity increases there is a need for additional lodging and/or rental inventory. Even though demand is on the rise, the supply has remained stagnant. With increased awareness comes increased demand but the lodging and vacation rental inventory supply does not meet the demand growth. You can see the tourism growth in Belize from 2014 to 2019 below;

BTB Belize Tourism Board Data

Even though tourism is growing and we have seen Belize tourism rebound in 2022 to pre-COVID numbers, the total rooms for rentals have stayed stagnant with almost no new inventory and often even a decline in inventory. Tourism pre-COVID grew by over 60% in 5 years (over double-digit annual growth of 14.6%) but lodging and inventory stayed the same. Even now, rental inventory saw a -2% decrease from Q2 to Q3 of 2022. Below you can see the lodging and rental inventory on Ambergris Caye over the last 3 years;

As you can see, the 3-year trend has been consistent with many quarters seeing a dip in rental inventory (even with an increase in demand). This creates a unique opportunity for investors. With the shortage in supply and increase in demand, there is a need for more lodging and rentals.

 

Belize is English-Speaking

The official language in Belize is English. Belize is one of the very few English-speaking countries in the region. Not only does the population speak and use English, but English is also used for all real estate transactions, legal matters, and business contracts. Being an English-speaking country with British Common Law makes Belize an easy place for Americans & Canadians to invest and do business.

 

Belize is a Low-Tax Jurisdiction

When you buy Belize property or invest in Belize Real Estate you will first notice how low the property taxes are in Belize. If you are investing in Ambergris Caye Real Estate you will have a property that appreciates in value. In Belize, there is no Capital Gains Tax or Estate Tax, so when you sell the property in the future for a profit, the Belize government does not tax your earnings. Belize also enjoys low corporate taxation which makes doing business in Belize even more desirable.

When looking at the income tax rate in Belize on passive real estate rental income the taxation rate is at the corporate tax rate of only 1.75%. The property taxes are also below 1% of the property value. Most property taxes are around 1% of their assessed value. What is even more appealing is that property or land assessments are usually way less than the appraised value or resale value of the property. For example, property taxes for land around Belize Secret Beach start at $75 per year. Property taxes in Mahogany Bay are $108 per year.

It is also important to remember that Belize is governed by British Common Law, which for real estate investors and people investing offshore that as a foreigner you have full property ownership with land title, just as in the US and Canada. In other destinations in the region like Mexico, Panama, Honduras, and Costa Rica foreign citizens cannot own property as easily and have more restrictions on investment.

 

Ambergris Caye is a Vacation Rental Market

Since Ambergris Caye is such a popular tourist spot and vacation destination, the market demand is for nightly rentals, as opposed to long-term or monthly rentals. With nightly vacation rentals, owners and investors see a much higher yield on their investment and multiply the income potential of many investment properties. vacation rentals also give an owner or investor more flexibility and control, allowing them to occupy a residence for their own personal use. Ambergris Caye (due to the high demand and limited supply) sees a much higher nightly rental rate than other destinations, it is not uncommon to see $400+ per night rental rates on properties that would otherwise rent for under $2,000 per month on a long-term lease.

Being in a short-term and vacation rental market, you are able to control the rates and adjust more quickly making it a perfect real estate investment during periods of high inflation.

 

Why Ambergris Caye Real Estate?

Belize is at a tipping point and at RE/MAX Belize we like to make a hockey reference. As Wayne Gretzky famously said, “I skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” Over the last few years, Hilton, Marriott, Wyndham, Margaritaville, Four Seasons, and Six Senses have all started on projects here on Ambergris Caye. There is a reason these brands choose the locations they do and why they are betting on Ambergris Caye over any other destination in Belize. The due diligence team of these large resort brands is much more thorough than an individual investor.

To put it more simply, “success leaves clues.” These brands essentially do the heavy lifting, building a brand around an area, which leads to more development and allows owners to reap the reward. These brands and resorts funnel millions of dollars into marketing and building awareness, which will continue the upward trajectory of Belize most of all Ambergris Caye. As JFK famously said, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

 

Ambergris Caye Utilities

Ambergris Caye Utilities

We are often asked about Ambergris Caye utilities and how much they cost. Electricity, telephone, internet, water, and sewer utilities are all available and relatively reliable in San Pedro Town and on Ambergris Caye. On Ambergris Caye, the municipality of San Pedro (and the surrounding areas including developments that are located in and near town) have full access to utilities. For developments situated north and south of town, septic tanks or contained wastewater systems along with cisterns are typically used.

Cisterns often are often used as a secondary source of water, and there is a reverse osmosis water treatment system in San Pedro Town that provides water to town residents and the developments/communities close to the municipality. The more remote resorts and developments generate their own electricity if they are not connected to the municipal electricity provided through BEL (Belize Electricity Limited)electrical lines.

Most people are surprised to learn that most of Ambergris Caye (especially in San Pedro Town) is on municipal utilities, including; electricity, water, sewer, and high-speed internet. That said, not all areas and communities have the same utilities available as others do. Areas like Secret Beach are “off-grid” with homes currently running on solar and generators for power. Most of the homes and developments north of the bridge have their own cisterns for water and septic systems (not on municipal sewer).

If you are on municipal utilities, your water likely comes from BWS (Belize Water Services) and your electricity comes from BEL (Belize Electricity Limited). Internet providers are Digi & Smart both providers are very reliable and provide high-speed internet to Ambergris Caye. You will be happy to know that almost every corner of Ambergris Caye has cell service and a reliable connection.

Mahogany Bay is one of the few developments that provide new build options that run entirely on municipal utilities. The lots are all individually metered and set up with sewer, water, and electrical. In Mahogany Bay, there is also high-speed internet available with some of the fastest internet speeds in Belize and the Caribbean region.

It is important to note that all projects north of the bridge and south of Mahogany Bay require off-grid water and sewer, in Mahogany Bay, you invest in a property knowing that you are fully on municipal utilities and have the services hooked up to your home with each home metered individually. You receive an electrical and water bill monthly, very similar to the US & Canada.

 

 

Ambergris Caye Utilities Availability

Areas of Ambergris Caye are fully on municipal utilities, these areas include water, sewer, electricity, and fiber optic internet. You can see a breakdown below;

  • Municipal Electricity: San Pedro Town, South Ambergris Caye, Mahogany Bay Village, East Coast, Costa Del Sol.
  • Municipal Water: San Pedro Town, areas south of the bridge (south of Mara Lagoona), Mahogany Bay Village.
  • Municipal Sewer: San Pedro Town, areas south of the bridge (south of Mara Lagoona), Mahogany Bay Village.
  • High-Speed Internet: San Pedro Town, Mahogany Bay Village, and Areas of the East Coast have Fibre Optic. Other areas have high-speed LTE service.

If a property on Ambergris Caye does not have municipal electricity, they often use solar panels and generators. If they do not have municipal water, they often use a cistern that is on-site. If a property is on the municipal water system (which uses desalinization and reverse osmosis) you can drink the tap water (unlike other destinations in the region). If a home, development, or area does not have sewer in place, they will likely use their own on-site septic system.

 

Ultimately, there are areas and communities on Ambergris Caye that has all the amenities of the first world. There are other areas that require upgrades and installations.

 

Ambergris Caye Electricity

If a home or business on Ambergris Caye is on municipal electricity it is likely provided through BEL (Belize Electricity Limited). Electricity on Ambergris Caye comes from undersea lines from Mexico. Unlike Caye Caulker which gets power from diesel generators.

Since all the power and electricity on Ambergris Caye comes from subterranean lines from Mexico, it is cheaper than other Caribbean Islands and other areas of Belize. Generally speaking power and electricity on Ambergris Caye is around half the cost per kWh than other Caribbean islands.

San Pedro Town & the East Coast has on-grid electricity. Secret Beach and the West Coast have off-grid electricity. The off-grid electricity at areas like Secret Beach commonly comes from Solar and Generators. The cost of off-grid utilities (solar/generator) will depend on how much power you want to generate.

Electricity and power prices right now are comparable to domestic markets.

Electricity on the island at this time is around $0.17 to $0.22 per kWh.

This is comparable to the US, Canada, or the UK. The electrical provider is BEL (Belize Electricity Limited). Billed monthly like US or Canada.

 

Solar Power

There are areas of Ambergris Caye that do not have access to municipal utilities and electricity. The homes and businesses near Secret Beach and the West Coast use solar as the primary source of electricity. When designing the solar system to fit your house you need to look at how much kWh you will be using on a daily average so you know how many panels and how many batteries are needed.

Things to consider:

  • The number of outlets you want in the home. 
  • The number of lights and type of lighting.
  • The number of fans and ceiling fans.
  • Will you have air conditioning? If so, how many?
  • What size and fridge.
  • The TV.
  • Stereo system.
  • Septic system.
  • Water pump.

There are 3 things that use quite a bit of power when using solar panels; Air Conditioning, Microwaves, and Washers/Dryers. Almost everything on the island in regards to Air Conditioning is mini-splits.

 

Ambergris Caye Water & Sewer

Ambergris Caye has a desalination plant and the water is provided through reverse osmosis. Water provider through BWS (Belize Water Services). They bought the reverse osmosis plant from Consolidated Water and have since invested $35 million into the system and upgrades.

BWS recently doubled its production. The reverse osmosis system through BWS is now capable of holding 2.5 million gallons of water and daily production of 1.3 million gallons.

Every property in Mahogany Bay is individually metered and the water is provided through reverse osmosis from BWS. One of the other advantages to Mahogany Bay is the fact that just to the south of the community is the facility that produces the water through reverse osmosis, meaning that Mahogany Bay is one of the first communities with access to municipal water. This is important to factor in since the distance the water travels from purification to your home is much shorter than that of a property located further North in San Pedro Town.

The water treatment facility produces 1.3 million gallons of water per day and in 2018 stored 2.5 million gallons of water at any given time. The facility underwent upgrades to increase the water production capacity and storage, that project was back in October 2019. The sewage system put in place on the island cost $90 million and is state of the art.

Mahogany Bay is one of the only communities that can verify the cleanliness of the water, other projects like Grand Caribe, Salt Life, or La Sirene all have to produce their own water and have their own sewer system. In Mahogany Bay, being fully on municipal utilities, you have confidence in knowing that your water is clean and your waste is properly disposed of (without crossover or risk of contamination).

Regarding the quality of the water and being drinkable, yes you can drink the water in Mahogany Bay and the properties that are on the municipal reverse osmosis/desalinization system. As mentioned above, Ambergris Caye has a desalination plant and the city water is as safe to drink as any of the top places in the States or Canada.

Bottled water is available for sale for those still worried. People often purchase 5-gallon jugs and use that for drinking water. The tap water is drinkable and many people do drink it (tourists and locals). In Mahogany Bay, you are assured of safe and clean water. For any property that is not on municipal water, you should be skeptical as I could not verify the cleanliness of the water.

In regards to the water and septic bill, that can fluctuate depending on the home and occupancy. Like anywhere in the world, there are fluctuations depending on how much water is used. The price for water is done in consumption blocks which you can see below;

0 to 1,000 gallons: $12.80
1,001 to 2,000 gallons $15.11
2,001 to 3,000 gallons $16.27
3,001 to 4,000 gallons $17.44
4,001 to 5,000 gallons $18.60
5,001 to 6,000 gallons $22.08
6,001 to 7,000 gallons $26.15
7,001 to 8,000 gallons $29.05
8,001 + $31.96
*note that all prices are in USD

 

It is important to note that most of the island of Ambergris Caye does not run on municipal water or sewage. Most of the southern part (South of Mahogany Bay) and almost everything North of the bridge (past Mara Laguna) does not run on municipal water or sewage and have to have their own systems installed.

The water provided through reverse osmosis and on municipal utilities is drinkable. Though most people get drinking water from 5-gallon jugs.

Off-grid septic uses a combination of leach fields, septic tanks, multi-chamber systems, and compostable toilets. Off-grid water frequently uses rain catchment systems. Additional water can be delivered by BWS if required.

 

 

Sewer vs Septic

The words “sewer & septic” are often used interchangeably, but they are in fact very different. The difference between septic and sewer is quite simple, and often unknown to people not familiar with off-grid systems or home construction. Septic treats your wastewater on-site and is usually contained in an individual house that is not connected to municipal utilities. With a septic system, the owner is responsible for the cost to install and maintain the waste and water system.

A sewer or sewage system, on the other hand, is a system that runs on municipal waste management. A sewage system or home with sewer directs your wastewater to a centralized treatment plant operated by the local government and funded by fees and taxes.

A septic system is installed by a homeowner or a contractor and is an individual waste management system for a particular home or development. Septic needs to be maintained and cleaned at the owner’s expense (which can be messy). Sewer on the other hand is managed by a local government and all waste goes to a centralized place. It is less work and less hassle. With sewer, an owner does not have to worry about waste and water disposal.

Ambergris Caye, around San Pedro Town, has a full state-of-the-art sewer system. This sewage system does not extend the full island. As you pass Mara Lagoona (just north of the downtown San Pedro bridge) everything runs on its own septic system. This is also true in South Ambergris Caye. Mahogany Bay is one of the few communities that has municipal sewer.

 

Off-Grid Water Storage

If you are north of the bridge, at Secret Beach, or in an area that is not on BWS/municipal water you need to have a water storage system or cistern. When designing a water storage system you need to look at how many people will be staying at the house on average since the more people the more water you need.

You should make sure your water tank storage can hold enough water to last 2-3 weeks without rain. It is common for homes to integrate rain catchment systems. On average one person uses 90 gallons of water per day so if you have two people living in a house you need to have 180 gallons of water to last one day to have enough water storage for 2 weeks you will need 2,520 gallons of water storage for two people.

 

Off-Grid Septic

Septic is the most important part of the utilities since you need to make sure you have the right septic system installed to meet Department of the Environment regulations. For Secret Beach there are two systems that are approved to be installed the best system to install is a Hydro action tank the other option is to install a three-tank septic system.

 

 

 

Internet on Ambergris Caye

Internet and connectivity on the island are top of the line with some of the fastest internet speeds in the region. Back in 2017, San Pedro went through significant upgrades. Now the town of San Pedro has some of the fastest internet speeds in Belize. In 2017, Ambergris Caye had a fiber-optic submarine cable installed with connectivity to San Pedro, enabling super-fast broadband speeds to the island of Ambergris Caye.

Since 2017, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye boasts the fastest internet in the country. Super fast Fiber-based Internet up to 130Mbps for home or business.

 

The Fiber Optic runs from Maskall to Bomba and from Bomba to the coastline from there there is underground via an SFOC to the island of San Pedro.

Most of Belize has WIFI with an LTE signal. However, there are places that boast stronger, more consistent internet like Ambergris Caye. With the high volume of tourism and the influx of expats that have moved to the country, and Ambergris Caye in particular, the service has improved to meet demand.

There are 2 primary providers of the internet in Ambergris Caye, Belize; SMART & Digi. Digi offers Fiber Optic internet with the fastest speeds. SMART offers reliable internet and is a popular alternative for areas that do not have fiber optic internet. You can see the rates and internet speeds below;

 

SMART Internet


Prices are in Belize Dollars

 

Digi Internet

Prices are in Belize Dollars

 

Ambergris Caye Utilities in Belize

For more information on utilities, including; cost, availability, and reliability, we at RE/MAX Belize are happy to help answer your questions. Ambergris Caye will exceed expectations when it comes to infrastructure and the infrastructure is always improving.

If you are looking to buy Belize Real Estate or Invest in Belize, contact us!