1657 Laguna Dr, San Pedro, Belize
Tucked in a condo complex just north of the bridge, Coco Loco’s is a cozy little pool and beach bar. On hot days, take advantage of the swim-up bar stools or hang out on the picnic tables closer to the beach. What Coco Loco’s lacks in size, it definitely makes up for in personality. Owners Sue and Steve have done a wonderful job with fostering a community spirit, especially with many of the expats on the island. Look for a number of weekly activities like trivia and cribbage that keep the bar hoppin’ pretty much every day. Open daily noon to 10 p.m.
Placencia Sidewalk, Placencia, Belize
You’ll know Tipsy Tuna when you see it: the bright pink, purple, blue, and green tables and chairs, the leopard print on the walls, the snarky signs plastered everywhere—even on the ceiling. Only slightly less local than its equally loud neighbor Barefoot Bar, Tipsy Tuna is the place to be for happy hour. Most nights, you can find DJs spinning tunes for dancing or lively karaoke going on past 9 p.m. As the name suggests, most people come here for the drinks, which are numerous, cheap, and strong. The food, however, isn’t to be scoffed at, especially if you’re into well-utilized spices and a million types of salsa.
One of Caye Caulker’s best beach bars is also its friendliest. Set right on the Split—a narrow channel dividing the island’s north and south portions—Caye Caulker’s most social corner invites tourists and locals to gather for a swim off an extended dock, or to enjoy a cocktail and music. Lazy Lizard’s recently upgraded look includes a variety of umbrella-covered wooden picnic tables, seating under palapas, and a new beach extension with steps leading into the shallow sea areas for easy entry. On the menu, you’ll find typical bar bites: burgers, fish tacos, and full meals like a lobster plate. The bar holds occasional full-moon parties, live music, family-fun days, and beach volleyball tournaments.
Black Coral St
If you’re in San Pedro on a Tuesday or Thursday night, head over to Wahoo’s Lounge on Front Street for the weekly Chicken Drop. It’s definitely one of the most unique experiences you’ll have on your Belize vacation. Place your bets, watch the lucky person who gently blows on the chicken’s butt and sets him loose on the bingo like board. As you can probably gather by now, expect the chicken to wander around until he finds some lucky person’s number to poop on. Join in the festivities by yelling for your number, as the pot can easily get up to several hundred dollars (Belize). However, before you are quick to run up and claim your winnings – guess who has to clean up the chicken poop?
Head south of town to the tiny beach bar at Mata Rocks Resort. Squirrel’s Nest is a peaceful spot to enjoy a few cocktails while taking in views of Belize’s well-renowned Barrier Reef. For years, I called Mata Rocks my hotel of choice when I visited Belize as a tourist. I spent the bulk of my days lounging by the pool and chatting with the bartenders at Squirrel’s Nest. Longtime bartenders Sherilyn and Criselda are two of the nicest people on the island and serve up some pretty awesome drinks. Try Mata Rock’s specialties like the Mata Colada or Pink Squirrel. Open daily, closing hours vary but usually around 8-8:30pm.
No visit to Ambergris Caye is complete without an afternoon at the Palapa Bar. Situated at the end of a dock surrounded by turquoise waters and cool breezes, Palapa Bar attracts a mix of locals, travelers, and some of the coolest bartenders on the island. On a warm day, eschew the barstools and opt instead to float in inner tubes beside the dock; you can even have cold buckets of Belize’s Belikin beers lowered down to you. In addition to beer and standard cocktails, fun creations like Scotty’s Palapa Punch (three different types of rum, triple sec, mango, pineapple, and a squeeze of lime) offer some island-inspired refreshment. Up in the palapa, recommended items from the menu include sausage dip, pulled pork sandwiches, and the immense half-pound burger. Palapa Bar is 1.5 miles north of town and easily reached by golf cart, taxi, bicycle, or water taxi, which drops you right off at the dock.