Beach Bars in Belize: Palapa Bar and Grill on Ambergris Caye

While the island of Ambergris Caye in Belize may not have the legendary bar scene that rivals some other famed spots like Southeast Asia, there are certainly a number of nice places to kick back and enjoy a couple drinks.

If you’re looking for the perfect daytime spot (and perhaps a place to catch up on a blog post or two), head north of town to the Palapa Bar & Grill.

Owners, Scott and Jodie Harnish (and Sunny “the Palapa dog”), have really carved their own piece of paradise on the island.  The over-the-water location offers some of the best views, and is a great place to interact with a nice mix of locals, other travelers, and dare I say – tourists!

Oh, and if you’re a magnet for mosquitoes like me, this is definitely the spot to hide out as they typically don’t come out over the water.

Palapa Bar & Grill on Ambergris Caye in Belize
Palapa Bar & Grill on Ambergris Caye in Belize

Palapa Bar & Grill Drink Concoctions

While you can certainly enjoy the island staple of a cold Belikin Beer, the Palapa Bar offers some more interesting tropical concoctions that are worth a splurge.  My personal favorite is the Pitahaya margarita made with dragon fruit, something that might make you nostalgic for Southeast Asia.

Other recommended drinks include the Banango, fresh banana and mango blended with local rums, and Scotty’s Palapa Punch, which has three different rums, triple sec, mango, pineapple, and a squeeze of fresh lime.

Scotty's Palapa Punch and the Kiwi Cooler
Scotty’s Palapa Punch and the Kiwi Cooler

Recommended Food at the Palapa Bar & Grill

The food offerings at Palapa Bar are solid, with a mixture of local specialties and good ol’ western bar food.   While it’s not the cheapest food on the island, it is certainly one of the best deals you will find with that view.

Try their award-winning sausage dip that is a hearty cheesey-type sauce base with nice chunks of spiced ground sausage.  It has just the right level of heat to make you feel that burn, but mild enough not to put out a hit on your taste buds.  Other locals’ favorites include the conch fritters, ½ pound kick-ass humongous burger, pulled pork sandwich, and smoked BBQ chicken wings.

Palapa Bar & Grill dips - guacamole, sausage, and bean
Palapa Bar & Grill dips – guacamole, sausage, and bean

Innertubes and Buckets of Belikin

Settle into the Belizean relaxed lifestyle by jumping in the innertubes at Palapa Bar and enjoy a bucket of Belikins.  It’s the perfect way to pass an afternoon, enjoy the warm water, and people watch.

Hop in a tube and enjoy a bucket of Belikins
Hop in a tube and enjoy a bucket of Belikins

Palapa Bar Shot Stick

If you are hoping for a little more liquid adventure instead of a cold Belikin or a tropical concoction, consider making some friends and trying the legendary Palapa Bar stick shot.  Available for four or five people, the stick shot is quite an experience.

Each person has to work together and do the shot at the same time or it obviously won’t work.  We were given “cherry bombs,” which included alcohol soaked cherries.  If you haven’t done a stick shot before, the shot glasses are placed in holes on a giant bamboo stick.  To do the shot properly, everyone must turn over the stick at the same time, and take the shot and eat the stemmed cherry, without using any hands.

Palapa Bar & Grill shot stick
Palapa Bar & Grill shot stick

Have your camera ready to hand to someone and expect that there will probably be video taken of you.  Thankfully, when the video is with your own camera, it’s much easier to ensure it remains safely hidden away on the hard drive at home.

Leave Your Mark at the Palapa Bar

Be sure to take notice of all the writings throughout nearly every square inch of the bar from travelers who have gone before you.  You will see everything from names and sports team shout outs, to poetic dedications in some parts of the bar.  Just ask for a marker (they are usually on the bar), and you can leave your own signature on paradise before departing.  Somewhere high above the bar in the bamboo beams of the roof is my name from several years ago.

Everyone who comes to the Palapa Bar leaves their mark behind
Everyone who comes to the Palapa Bar leaves their mark behind

And who knows, you might have a “small world” moment like I did last month – ironically I sat right where fellow travel blogger Roni Weiss had been a month or so earlier.  So in the true travel blogging spirit, I made sure to leave a hello to him as well.

Roni Weiss even stopped by the Palapa Bar & Grill
Roni Weiss even stopped by the Palapa Bar & Grill

Directions to Palapa Bar & Grill

Located about 1.5 miles north of the island’s town of San Pedro, the Palapa Bar & Grill is easily reached by water taxi, golf cart, taxi, or a nice long bike ride or walk.  One caveat: during the rainy season, pot holes on the dirt road can provide ample opportunities for a complimentary mud bath, so you may want to consider the water taxi as it’s quick and drops you right off at the dock of the bar.

Palapa Bar & Grill is open daily from 10am until 9pm. For more pictures and to check out their full menu, visit the Palapa Bar & Grill website and join their Facebook page for the most up to date information.

Erin De Santiago

Erin is a US Expat currently living in the Netherlands and Belize. She is a full-time freelance travel, food/wine, and Disney Theme Parks writer who has eaten her way through 40+ countries so far. Erin is also the Taiwan/Hong Kong and Belize, Central America Regional Membership Coordinator for the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA). In addition to the various publications she writes for, Erin publishes a culinary blog, Our Tasty Travels, a new travel photography blog, No Checked Bags and her Disney Travel Blog,Pooh's Travels.

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